Shaking Things Up

I tend to stick with things for a long time. I’ve been in my current job for over eight years (a really long time for a software developer). A few weeks ago, my husband and I celebrated our 22nd anniversary. We’ve lived in the same house for that long, too.

Those are all good things. But being in a good rut is still being in a rut, and both my husband and I have been feeling a need for a while to shake things up.

My family is a real blessing, so we don’t want to shake that up. And my job has been good–I’m blessed to work with and for nice people, in a relatively low-stress environment, and it pays decently. It’s not always challenging and interesting, but it is enough of the time that it’s good.

But neither of us has ever lived outside of southwest Ohio. My husband has never even lived in a different city. It’s been a good place to live, aside from some crappy winter weather and presidential campaign seasons. But we’re feeling a need for change, so we’re looking to move south. Not any time soon, but probably in 5 years or so. Just because we feel we need something different.

He’s actually been talking about this for a couple years. It took me a while to come around, but gradually, I did. Now that I have, it’s exciting to think about. This is one reason why I’ve been particularly inspired by Patricia’s story of leaving California and following her and her husband’s dream to Mississippi, where they bought a bed and breakfast (that I definitely hope to visit sometime!).

The main reason for our timeframe is that we want to get our daughter through college and pay off the remaining debt on our rental properties. The other reason is the massive amount of decluttering this house needs. It needs a lot of little nitpicky repairs too, but the clutter has to go first.

So I’ve gotten back into Flylady. I joined Flylady back in 2002 when I was laid off for a couple of years because there were no software jobs around here. I wanted to get my house in order, and learn how to keep it that way.

It took a while (I honestly don’t remember how long), but I did pretty well. The only thing I didn’t get to was completing the closets, and the basement. And when I went back to work, a lot of the Flylady habits fell by the wayside.

Some I’ve kept up. I do have a morning and evening routine, and I relegate my bill-paying and bookkeeping to Monday evenings. But I now have a lot more motivation to get back into decluttering.

I normally spend only 15 minutes a day on this, as Flylady suggests. And it’s already made a noticeable difference! For example, I have a huge built-in bookcase in my office/study that’s three feet high, by about twelve feet long. The top of it was completely full of clutter! I spent fifteen minutes putting stuff away and throwing trash out, and it was DONE (the top, not the contents. That will come later). We didn’t have anything suitable for the giveaway bag, though normally that’s a part of my decluttering, too. This bookcase top was just one of those things we think will take a long time, but if we just do it, it doesn’t. I did the same thing with an occasional table in the dining room that seemed to have a sole purpose as a home for junk. Fifteen minutes was all it took! I can’t believe I forgot this basic truth. Even things that took more than one fifteen minute session to declutter were easier than I thought.

Having the additional motivation is a big part of it, I’m sure. Now I not only think, “Do I use this? Do I love it?” I also think “Would I want to move this?” If the answer to all three is No, out it goes!

What I’ve been reading: In the midst of all the decluttering, of course I still have time to read! That’s even more so now that I’m trying to establish a habit of walking at least 15 minutes every day. If the weather’s nice, Isis gets another walk. If not, I walk on the treadmill–and read! Right now, I’m reading an advance reader copy of an exciting science fiction novel. I’m about halfway through it, so should finish by next week. I’ll discuss it then.

ROW80Logo175ROW80 Update: I finished the revisions based on my beta readers’ comments! Part of this is because I decided to stop dawdling over those from one reader, whose suggestions for changes were quite extensive. I initially agreed with her comments, but the more I dug into the book with them, the slower the revision went, and the more I balked at making the changes at all. I finally realized that this was because those changes weren’t right for the book–they either would have deviated from my vision for the story, or they would have made it different, but no better. I did work in her more overall suggestions, so it’s still a stronger story. Now I’m having them look it over again, along with a third reader, because I want to make sure the changes make sense. For this week, I really need to buckle down and get the book description to my publisher, plus a cover comp. I also need to complete another cover for a Mythical Press client.

What about you–have you ever felt the need to shake something up? What did you do? Has clutter taken over your home, or are you good at keeping it under control? Have you tried Flylady’s system? How are you doing on whatever goals you might have? Please share in the comments–I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.

10 Responses to \

  1. I live in constant clutter! I know that it has to go sometime, but I’m just too lazy to do anything about it now. We’d love to move to a condo, but no way would all our stuff fit. Choosing what stays and what goes is hard.

  2. I hate the clutter here – I still haven’t gotten rid of most of my teaching stuff and I retired almost 3 years ago! Sounds like a shake up has done well for you. Sounds too as if your novel is taken shape. All the best.

  3. I’ve had enough shaking up over the past year to last me a while, though I see more shaking up coming in the foreseeable future, most of it for the better.

  4. Oooohhhhhh how intriguing! South, as in Mississippi south? You have to come visit Vicksburg before you decide on a location. It’s not for everyone, but I think it’s pretty cool. I’m loving the south. And – bonus – you’d already have a friend here. (wink, wink)

    And, thanks for the shout out. I hope others will swallow the scary part of their journey and just get out there and do it. Like you (and me) they’ll know when the time is right and start taking steps to make that happen. Sounds like that’s what you’re doing. Baby steps. A jug is filled drop by drop. You won’t see results at first, but eventually, you’ll see the jug filling.

    I look forward to more info on this. Stay focused. I’m excited for you.

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  5. Stacy and Bev, you would be amazed how much you can get rid of if you just spend 15 minutes a day on decluttering. Give it a try!

    TS, shakeups are definitely best when they’re our choice. Hope you have some good ones soon that you choose!

    Patricia, thanks! We’re thinking more on the lines of Tennessee, but that’s that much closer to Vicksburg! And you are so right about baby steps! They get the job done.

  6. Pingback: The Hardest Thing to Declutter | Jennette Marie Powell

  7. Exciting! We just did the decluttering/downsizing after living in a house for 20 years. It’s a big deal, but also a good kind of shaking up. And I think I remember the flylady thing from a very long time ago. All that comes to mind is something about cleaning the kitchen sink each night? i think it was a baking soda vinegar method which I still use, but don’t exactly do every night… 😉 Hope you have a great week!!

  8. Ahhh. Yes, a move would certainly shake things up a bit. You have to know that I’ve moved a lot. Mostly back and forth between California and Arizona. But I’m a west coast kind of girl. I love the amenities of both states and what they have to offer. Now my brother-in-law moved several years ago to Knoxville, Tn. and he loves it there. He’s really in Marysville because, well, I think it’s cheaper there? But he’s living at the base of the Smoky Mountains which is a beautiful area. The cost of living is a lot more affordable than other areas of the country which makes his money go further. So I think you and hubby have a wonderful idea. You know my hubby’s from Ohio. It’s a beautiful state too. But hey, there’s a whole other world out there to explore! I look forward to updates on this subject. You are going to have so much fun. 🙂

  9. Coleen, LOL yup, Flylady’s thing starts with shining the sink. But I don’t remember anything about vinegar, unless it’s in the one-time get-it-clean to start with part. Mine was already clean, so now the trick is to just keep the dishes put away.