Smothered in Clutter

Clutter here, clutter there, I have clutter everywhere!

 

The clutter I have in certain parts of my home is embarrassing.  I do not have a basement or an attic so we have a hard time finding places for storage. The master bedroom especially becomes a dumping ground in my home.  If someone is coming over to our house and I have clutter in one space, inevitably the clutter just gets moved to another room, most likely the master, because that door remains shut and we don’t take guests into this space.  We have an extra room over our garage that I use for a craft/storage/cat room. That room is rarely not a mess. Honestly, my craft table is so messy right now that there is no way I could do a scrapbook layout there until I remove layers of pictures and paper and scrapbook tools.  Even though I have a bookshelf in that room and many Rubbermaid containers for storage and organization, things just get thrown in there when no better place can be found.  

 

This is clutter in a nook in my bedroom.  How embarrassing!  “Clutter is the physical manifestation of unmade decisions fueled by procrastination.” — Christina Scalise

I am ashamed to admit that I have clutter, but I’m guessing I’m not alone.  I have two acquaintances who have organizing businesses so obviously people do need help with this.  I love getting inspiration from their business Facebook posts showing how they whip people’s spaces into shape.  I do like to be organized, but I just don’t take the time to be organized in certain parts of my life and my home.  Also there is the problem of simply having too much stuff. I am sentimental and thus, I hold on to a lot of things.  Do I really need to keep that ugly pottery piece I made in 7th grade art class? Probably not. I should take a picture of it and throw out the pottery.  Also I have a hard time finding a “home” for things within my home, especially items that I don’t use on a regular basis like certain kitchen tools or gadgets.  Then when I do have a specific place for things, I often get lazy and don’t put them back where they belong and that just makes things messy.

 

I realize that I save too much and I’m tired of moving messes from one room to the next so I have been in a clean out mode for the past week or two.  I have gone through my closet and gathered enough clothes for one large trash bag to be taken to Goodwill. I am not completely Marie Kondo-ing my space, but is helpful for me to be asking myself things like “Do I actually love this?”, “Do I ever wear this?”, “When was the last time I used that?”, “Will I use it again?” “Have my kids outgrown that?” and as Marie Kondo asks “Does this bring me joy?”

 

The only thing that is going to make all of my spaces usable, organized and pretty is to get rid of a bunch of crap that we don’t need or use.  I will try to stop telling myself things like “Maybe I will use that one day”, “Maybe I’ll find another use for that”, “Maybe this shirt or those pants will come back in style”, “Maybe I’ll fit in that again some day”, or “Maybe the kids would like to keep all of these toys from their childhood so they can have it for their kids”.  All of those thoughts need to stay away or I will never get rid of things and my house will remain a disaster.

 

I need to clear out all of the clutter not just so that all of my space is usable and functional, but also so that I’m not embarrassed to have anyone go in any part of my home at any time.  I have seen TV shows when someone famous surprises a fan at their home or comes to give them a makeover or the Publishers Clearing House just shows up at the door with a big check (not that any of this will happen to me), and every time I see that I think “I’m glad they didn’t come to my house because it is such a mess right now”.  I want my home to be a simple, peaceful haven for myself and my family.  If anyone wants to come visit in the near future, it will be guest ready. Amos Lee, if you want to come and surprise your biggest fan with a visit or if Publisher’s Clearing House wishes to give me some cash, I will be ready soon. Time to get rid of the mess! My goal is:

 

Pretty here, pretty there, I have no clutter anywhere!

That Ugly Number

My birthday was yesterday.  Why do I feel like a large portion of my identity is wrapped up in my age? There is such a focus on those digits.  That big, ugly number can feel heavy and overwhelming. Society tells us we are to be youthful, but that loud clock ticking reminds me of all of the time that has passed and how quickly it is moving.  Most likely there are more years in my rear-view mirror than on the road ahead. In the lyrics to “Day That I Die” (Zac Brown Band) it states that “And as time goes by, oh it’s funny how time can make you realize we’re running out of it”. So True!   A little morbid, but true.

Is age what we see in the mirror?  Is it how our body feels? Is it the sharpness of our minds? I’m guessing nobody is ecstatic about our body aging.  Nobody is thrilled to have failing eyesight, hearing, joints or bladder control. I have to say that I would rather not see the frown lines that stare back at me in the mirror.  I would rather be stronger and not have so many aches and pains. I know my looks will continue to change. In “Some Days are Diamonds” (John Denver) speaks this truth: “Now the face that I see in my mirror more and more is a stranger to me”.  These body changes are signs of my age, but they don’t define me. My age shouldn’t define my entire being.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     

 

The older I get, the more questioning and reflecting I do.  Age is a snapshot of the past year and years. It is a review of things that have happened, that haven’t happened,and I’ve longed to happen.  It is a review of the journey, the highs and lows, the mistakes and successes, the dreams fulfilled and dreams killed. It is also a look forward to what will be.

 

With another birthday, here are some of the questions I ask myself:  Am I who I am meant to be? What will be my legacy? Am I doing what I should be doing?  What should I change? Am I the woman I am supposed to be? The wife? The mother? The daughter? The sister?  The friend? The Christian?

 

Age is a growth and a wasting at the same time.  Am I doing more growing or more wasting?

 

As the saying goes “Aging–It’s better than the alternative”. So yes, I am thankful for every breath and every minute I get here on earth. I’m grateful for the people that have been placed on my path.  Grateful for where I’ve been and for dreams pushing me onward.  

 

Age is a length of time, nothing more.  Age itself is not a limitation. Time may be a limitation, but age is not going to tell me who I can be and what I can do.  Let’s just forget about the number, shall we?

I’m the Worst

I am the worst gift receiver.  Seriously bad. I am sure my husband must dread getting me gifts.  Let me give you a couple of examples of when I didn’t respond joyfully when he gave me a present.  

Several years ago, my husband gave me a Kindle.  When I opened it, I said that I didn’t want it because I enjoy holding a book and turning the pages. I also like the smell of a new book.  Fast forward–I now love my Kindle! I can travel with a few books and it takes hardly any room in my luggage.  

 

One time for Valentine’s day, he got me a wireless speaker to use in my kitchen.  I thought it was the stupidest gift and so not romantic. He, however, realized that I would enjoy it because I love to sing and dance while I cook (Do not judge!).  Now I love this little speaker and I use it all the time.

 

When he gave me these nice things, why couldn’t I just express gratitude and appreciation for his thoughtful gifts?  Am I just a mean, ungrateful person? Do I just feel unworthy to be given nice things? No idea. It is sad that I am so unkind to my hubby instead of graciously receiving what he has chosen to give me.  

 

I am ashamed and embarrassed that I am so bad at receiving gifts since I love, love, love to give gifts!  But isn’t that the way we are in life? We love to be the givers of the gifts, the service, and the blessing to others but feel uncomfortable, and sometimes guilty, when we are the receivers of the gifts, service and blessing?  For instance, we delight in doing things like taking someone a meal after they’ve had surgery, but if someone offers to do the same for us, we decline because we think we should be independent and not have to rely on others. We need to realize that humbly and graciously receiving the blessing blesses the giver too.  I’ve recently come to understand that even when we don’t think we want or need whatever is being given, it is better to focus on the sentiment and thoughtfulness instead of focusing on the gift.

 

On the flip side, how does it feel when people don’t accept what we offer them?  My husband had a birthday last month and two of the gifts I got him ended up being returned because he said he wouldn’t use them.  That is when I understood the rejection and hurt when someone declines a gift that I had carefully chosen. Even though I’m grateful that those items won’t just sit in the back of the closet gathering dust, it still felt crummy.  I get it.  

 

Now my birthday is next week.  Will I be a good gift receiver this time?  Well, yes, but it is because I ordered my own gift.  Rude? Perhaps. From now on, instead of purchasing my own birthday presents or questioning what is given to me, I need to be better about being open minded and receptive to what he gives me.  How lucky am I that my husband celebrates me with his thoughtfulness and gifts? I am extremely blessed. I promise to be a better gift receiver from here on out. 

The D Word

I am in my mid 40s and I am aware of numerous people around my age who are falling victim to the “D word”–divorce.  I have noticed that divorce is prevalent amongst those around my age. I see it and hear about it all the time. Why is this and what can we do to change the trend of these statistics and not become a statistic ourselves?

Before I go on, I need to acknowledge that I am aware that there are people that are domestic abuse victims that are also getting divorced at this age. And if you are in this situation or have ever have been, I am so sorry that you have walked that path.   I think those of you living this life come to the realization as you are getting older that you only have one life to live and you don’t want to be stuck in an unloving, unhealthy relationship any longer. You know you don’t want to live this way any more. You finally understand that you are worth more than the name calling, the mistreatment, the aggression, and the demeaning.  You want better for yourself. In those circumstances, divorce may not just be inevitable, it may be the safest and wisest–albeit hardest–decision of your life. I am blessed not to have lived that type of marriage, but totally understand why divorce happens in these situations.

 

I also want to acknowledge that I understand that you may have been married to someone who didn’t take “to death do us part” as seriously as you did.  You may have been ended up divorced even though you were completely loyal to your life partner. If this is your story, I am sorry that this happened to you. 

 

But for those of us in healthy, loving, committed relationships, we often become complacent in our marriage.  We aren’t nurturing it. We aren’t carving out alone time with our spouse. We don’t go out on dates. We are so busy with work, kids, schedules, and maintaining the home that we often merely exist as roommates.  The passion may have waned. The children have zapped our energy. Our schedules are so packed full that we don’t feel we can add one more thing to our plate and therefore our relationship weakens. Marriage is a precious, sacred, and fragile gift.  If we don’t take good care of it, it can easily become broken. 

 

I know that travel soccer for our two kids trumps most other activities for our family for the majority of the year. It is very time consuming.  Weekends are full of games and traveling to and from games. When we get home, do we feel up to putting on nice clothes and going out for dinner and/or a movie?  Nope. I heard Rachelle Gardner, a literary agent, say “action begets motivation”. I think this is spot on in many areas of our lives and definitely holds true in taking care of our marital relationship.  We just have to make time for one another and when we do, we will want to do it more. I know that if my husband and I are out on a date, I often see something in him that I adore that I don’t notice in the everyday hustle and bustle and I think “that’s why I love this man”.  Because I am taking the time to focus just on him and not be distracted by other things going on in my life, I fall deeper in love and like with him on these date nights. 

 

When was the last time you and your spouse had a date night?  When was the last time you did a random act of kindness for your spouse like put a love note in his car or in her lunch?  Told him what you love about him? Gave her flowers for no reason at all? We need to express love and appreciation for our spouse.  When we feel appreciated, don’t we want to do more for that person and that relationship?

 

I believe we don’t intentionally grow apart, but when we are neglectful of the relationship and of the vows we have made, distance is inevitable. What do you do to nurture your marriage?  What is working for you and what is not working? I think it would behoove us to take an in-depth assessment to see where our relationship stands. Marriages don’t crumble overnight. Piece by piece and day by day it disintegrates when we aren’t connecting, communicating and understanding one another.  It may not even be noticeable at first that this is happening. What are you going to do to care for your marriage?

 

I’ve promised my lifelong love and loyalty to my husband and with that, it means I promise to put forth effort.  As I’m witnessing others my age get divorced, I’m feeling very convicted to take care of my cherished relationship.  I know we are often in the rut of busyness and routine, but I also know that I don’t want to fall victim to the D word because of laziness, indifference, and lack of connection. I do not want to be another statistic. 

Don’t Name Your Child That!

My name is Deanne.  Well, my middle name is Deanne.  My first name is a derivative of my grandfather’s name since I was named after him.  I used to hate that name. I don’t hate my name so much any more, but what I do dislike is that the name I go by, Deanne, is not my first name.  I think it is nice to honor someone you love by naming your child after them. My grandpa was a special to me so I’m pleased I have his name. I think parents name their child with the middle name being the name they go by because they think it sounds better and flows smoother than if the names were reversed.  Naming your children with the intention of calling them by their middle name can cause confusion and sometimes embarrassment.  

When I started going to school, my teachers would take attendance on the first day and they would call out my first name.  I would be embarrassed and immediately correct them and tell them that I go by my middle name. Not a fun way to start a new school year.

 

Then when I got a little older, other kids heard my name and teased me about my first name because they knew it got under my skin. One year a boy in my Sunday school class found out my first name and proceeded only to call me by that name from that point forward.  To be honest, I only let him continue calling me that because I thought he was cute.

 

Recently, I wanted to get a new library card.  I had written on the form that my name was Deanne Persinger, but when they looked at my driver’s license, they were confused.  They said I had to put my real first name on my card. Why? I don’t go by that name. I had them look closer to see that my middle name is also on my driver’s license.  They eventually relented and let me put my library card under Deanne.  

 

If I get a phone call (I know who gets calls these days?) and the person calling uses my first name, I know they don’t actually know me and I can just hang up.  When I go to the doctor or dentist, they call out my first name no matter how many times that I’ve written on their forms and told them in person that Deanne is my preferred name.  <Sigh> It is annoying and frustrating. 

 

What about nicknames?  Yes, if you name your child Nicholas, you may call him Nick.  If you name your daughter Isabella, you may call her Bella or Izzy.  I did give my daughter a nickname. I regret it a little, but it is so much better than being called by a middle name. 

 

For those of you that actually go by your first name, you may be asking, “what is the big deal?”  It is a big deal! Would you like it if every time you are at an airline counter or doctor’s office you were called by your middle name, the name you don’t go by?  Of course you wouldn’t!

 

People, please, for the sake of all that is holy and good, do NOT give your child a first name other than the name you plan to call him or her.  Trust me, I know how big of a pain in the butt it can be. Don’t do this to your kid.

Neglect of Flowers, Faith & Family

At the beginning of each summer, I buy flowers for my front porch and back deck. When I first get them, I water faithfully, weed diligently and deadhead regularly to encourage new growth.  I do all of this to ensure that my beautiful pots of flowers are flourishing. Then as summer goes on and I see the flowers are growing well, I back off on tending to them daily and I check on them and water them every other day.  Then I get even lazier and by the end of summer I care for them one to two times each week.  Now that summer is coming to a close, the neglect of my flowers is evident in most of my flower pots. There are a couple of flowers that are still blooming despite my weak efforts. Others are half blooming and half dried up and the rest are totally dead.

My plants have me thinking about how tending to the flowers is similar to tending to my faith.  When I feel closest to God and strongest in my faith, I go to church, pray, read the Bible, and am active in Bible studies.  Just like my flowers, my faith grows well as I tend to it. I then get comfortable in where I am spiritually and let up on church attendance or Bible study or in my prayer life.  I can feel my faith wither. My faith roots are still deep but my growth becomes stagnant when I’m not putting in the work required.

 

I also relate my flowers to caring for my marriage and to parenting my teens.  When my marriage is in a good place, it is easy to forget the necessary watering and weeding.  Not giving attention to that tender relationship will damage the flowers, the stems, and the roots of our marriage.  It may happen quickly or it may happen slowly over time. If work isn’t put into caring for our relationship, drought and rot can take hold and overcome what was once beautiful.  If we don’t want this marriage to die, hard work and effort need to be part of our daily life.

 

It is also important not to give up on parenting once our kids have reached a point where they are bigger and more independent.  Even if they appear to have been planted in good soil, are growing well, and maybe even blossoming, we cannot think they can continue to mature completely on their own.  They are just budding and still need guided, pruned and nourished. We can’t stop tending to them since their stems are still delicate and their roots still shallow.

 

When it comes to faith, marriage and parenting, I must not get lazy. Neglect in any one of these areas could be a fatal mistake. Even if I see blooms and growth, I have to realize how quickly the beautiful can become scorched or withered or overcome in weeds. I must be sure to carefully and vigilantly nurture my faith, my marriage and my children so that all will thrive unlike my poor flowers at the end of summer. 

Expectations Squash Dreams

When we are children and especially when we are teens, people ask us questions such as “Where are you going to college?” or “What are you going to be when you grow up?” or “What are you going to do to change the world?”.  My son is a junior in high school and he has been getting asked similar questions recently. Sometimes it isn’t a question asked, but simply a statement like “He is going to change the world!” No pressure!

 

Right now my son’s responses to these questions go something like “I haven’t given it much thought, but will need to start figuring it out.”  Other teen responses I’ve heard are similar to “I’m going to be a scientist and find a cure for cancer” or “I’m going to make sure nobody in the world goes hungry.” Again, no pressure!

 

I believe we adults need to be cautious when asking teens questions about their future.  They have enough anxiety and expectations thrust on them at school and by their peers so we shouldn’t add to that.  Knowing what college you are going to or what career you’d like to have is a lot to ask of a teen. How many of us had our lives mapped out by the age of 16?  I certainly didn’t.  

 

Lofty expectations at one point made me not want to be a dreamer because I realized I can’t do big things by myself such as cure cancer or eliminate hunger or be a similar world stage changer.  So I stopped dreaming for a while. How sad is that? And when I stopped dreaming, I stopped doing. But, ultimately I am a dreamer! I am in social services, for crying out loud. You know all of us in social work want to change the world.

 

I’m not saying not to dream.  Dream big! We want cancer to be cured and nobody to be hungry.  Don’t let the breadth of your dreams deter you. We need to help our teens break down their dream into achievable steps.  When expectations are too high or unrealistic, our dreams can become squashed. All of that pressure gets to be too much so we just give up.  Teens may think that if they don’t get a certain GPA or particular score on their SAT, then their life plans are ruined. Or they may believe that if don’t go into a certain field of study, their lives won’t be valued.  Or perhaps they believe that if they don’t get into a certain college, their dream is dead. What pressure is your teen feeling right now?

 

Let’s not let our teen’s dreams die.  We can help them by providing support, open doors of communication, and direction and insight when needed or requested.  Maybe we should be asking our kids to expect only what they can do. But what can they do? No pressure!

I’ve heard my mother-in-law quote this many times.