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Thursday, November 23, 2017

The Organizing Journey Day 23 -- It's That Time of Year

I remember reading, while I was pregnant many years ago, that in the days before going into labor many women have a burst of energy specifically geared toward "preparing the nest".

This is sort of how I feel about New Year's Day.  Starting in late November, I start feeling like I want my house in order.

And so here I am back at it in earnest (between all my other life obligations and segues).  I've kind of managing to keep the kitchen and living room clean (okay, it's mostly because I've had a lot of company lately).  But I also made a decent dent in my bedroom.  And as I was cleaning/organizing, I kept finding things and going, "Oh wow, I have been looking for that."


So last week a friend was over and was mentioning that she needed to pick up some scrap leather.  I have some!  Bah!  You guessed it... I have no idea where.  I have no less than 20 boxes of stuff that needs to be sorted for the workroom.  While I won't be getting rid of everything, I will be storing the less used items off-site (meaning, in the garage or something).

It bugs me, seriously bugs me that I don't know where something is when I want it.  I am determined to put an end to that.  A place for everything and everything in its place.

As a start to that, there is that "first step" which is just the bulk organization tactic.  It works, though.  For example, I may not have time to SORT all the pieces of paper in my life, but if I have all the unsorted papers in one pile, at least, that's just one pile I have to look through when I'm looking for something.  It sounds daunting but not HALF as daunting as running around LOOKING for pieces of paper hither and yon.

So yeah, I'm excited to get this over and done with once and for all and then just MAINTAIN.

I also am hoping (fingers crossed) to get all the things listed on eBay or Etsy that I no longer want/need in my life yet are too good to just throw away or donate (yes, I'm stingy like that).  But seriously, a lot of what I have is niche stuff... and I'd rather have it go to someone who actually wants it than to think it's going to sit in some thrift shop for life.

So this is going to be brief because I have to get back to it now.  But I just wanted to touch base and let you know I *am* working toward the goal and I'll show you some of the good ideas I am implementing (when I get around to taking photos).  Right now I'm just gonna say the dollar store is your friend.  Don't go elsewhere for storage bins.  :-)

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Seven Months After Starting the Elimination Diet: Follow Up

Yeah, so organizing has taken a back seat for now.  I'm not happy about that, but it is what it is.  I've got two more jewelry shows then I can get back to it with renewed vigor.  In the meantime, I've decided to share a personal experience with you.  This is one I'll be blogging about hopefully on a semi-regular basis.  It has nothing to do with jewelry making or with organizing, but that's why blogger has tabs. :-)

The short version of the story is that seven months ago I decided to try the "elimination diet" to see if I could pin point any food intolerances that were zapping my energy.  Yes, I'm overweight and that contributes to being tired, but I felt there may be something else going on.  We need to listen to our intuition. I'm a great believer in that.

In April 2017, I did six weeks of the hardcore elimination diet--where you cut out the foods that are most frequently the culprits (gluten, sugar, dairy, nightshade, citrus, corn, alcohol, soy, nuts, coffee, etc). [You can get lots of info if you google “elimination diet”.] Anyway, I re-introduced the foods one at a time and take note of any symptoms.

The other way to do this is just cut out one food for a certain amount of time and see if you notice a difference. As I see it, though, the problem with that is that if you are intolerant of multiple foods, you’ll never know it by cutting out only one at a time.

It was a pretty strict diet but it didn’t seem as hard as I thought it was going to be.

The results: cow's milk gives me migraines, yeast gives me eczema, sugar gives me the heebie jeebies, corn makes my ears itchy inside and stuffs them all up.

Of those four items, corn is the hardest to avoid.  I just got back from grocery shopping and it's pretty clear to me that I can never again buy even the slightest of processed foods. Things I thought were "safe" (regarding all my food intolerances) have hidden agendas.  I'm doing a 3-day show this weekend and wanted to find foods I can snack on throughout the day because meals are hard during shows, and I thought "Oh I'll get some roasted almonds". But no. They are roasted in oils that most likely contain corn. Hmph!  (Either that or canola oil which I want to avoid.)

I have to accept that my life is now "Make it yourself or you don't eat" (pretty much). I'm leery of anything that says "spices" or "flavoring" or other vague things. So I picked up celery, radishes, carrots, and raw almonds (I can roast them myself at home in coconut oil).

The days of convenience food are over but I am now migraine free, eczema free, and free of stuffed ears. It was worth it.  I do think I have more energy but that one is a work in progress.

Am I mad at the medical community for telling me (for seven years) that my ears itch because I must be getting shampoo in them when I wash my hair?  Am I mad at the medial community for never considering that forty years of migraines might have been avoided had someone thought to consider food sensitivities?

I don't know.  I'm certainly disappointed, but I can't say I'm surprised.

When we look back on archaic medicine and laugh (or shudder) at some of the things they did (ingesting mercury to cure irregularity problems) or thought (smoking cigarettes cures asthma and cancer)... it makes me realize that the early 21st century will eventually be looked back at with the same (or at least) similar shock and derision (assuming the human race survives).

But I do see a time in the future (I mean, it's in the present too but in such minuscule amounts!) when people will have a better understanding of the gut's role in our health.  The importance of a healthy, whole-foods based diet will be clearly understood.  Sugar will be a thing of the past (I can't picture that, but it's so detrimental to our health it saddens me no end).  I believe most illnesses stem from inflammation in the body and I believe that most inflammation is caused by what we eat.

I realize that doctors are excellent for trauma situations but I'm hesitant to make them the "go to" for illnesses or other complaints.

Anyway, just wanted to update you on the latest with my elimination diet.  In my next entry I want to share some of the foods I'm enjoying.  Due to sensitivity to copyright issues, I won't be re-posting recipes from books that I own, but I will be referencing them and the page numbers.  I'll also be giving you hyperlinks to online recipes I'm trying.  I will give you my opinion on the outcomes as well as informing you of any tweaks I make.

Here's what I'll show you next.  This was awesome!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Day 21 – The Elimination Diet and Getting Rid of Clothes

It’s 4:30pm and I’m tired.  Aside from painting some sheets of plywood (that I will make into a garage door), I went and got the flagstone (finally) for the pond.  That stuff’s heavy! 

So I decide to do something a little mindless (not that painting and hauling rocks isn’t mindless).  I want to start tackling the clothes.  I never (ever!) thought of myself as a collector of clothes, but wow, I really have more than I need by a long shot.

I’ve got that same excuse that many Americans have… I’m “between sizes”.  Which basically means I’m on my way to losing weight.  But just to make this legit… I really am.  It was almost unintentional.  In order to discover if I had any food intolerances that could be causing my migraines or my eczema or my exhaustion, I decided to try the “elimination diet”. 

It was a pretty strict diet but it didn’t seem as hard as I thought it was going to be. 

A side effect (other than no migraines [dairy], no eczema [either wheat or yeast], and more energy) is that I lost 15 pounds.  So yes, I am in transition for clothing size.

Anyway, I want to streamline.  Like, instead of having six cardigans, maybe I can do with two or three.  But mostly if there are clothes I’ve outgrown or just plain old don’t wear anymore, I will take them to the garage sale.  Last garage sale I took a big 100% cotton fantastic bathrobe.  It was a tough decision, but there’s no way I need more than one bathrobe (I got rid of both of the ones on the right).

 The closed shoes are all going.  I can’t wear closed shoes anymore.  When I wear anything other than sandals or Keens, the balls of my feet hurt so badly the next day (or later than same day) that I can barely walk.

But I still have piles and piles of clothes and as I see it there is no need for that.  What do they say?  The majority of people wear only 20% of their closet 80% of the time.  I do have a drawer (well, it’s a box, but for the sake of normalcy we’ll refer to it as a drawer) of scruffy t-shirts for work, I can’t remember the last time I wore socks...

... and I really only need a handful of nice clothes.  Underwear, I need a ton of (triple-digit summers means lots of showering and changing).

BTW, not to self: stop buying red things!  No more red towels, dish pads, socks, t-shirts, pajamas, etc.  They sit in the hamper until I have a full load of “red” things.  So stupid!  I need to buy all neutral clothing.  Ha ha ha!

Thanks for all the wonderful comments and feedback.  It’s great hearing from you all and finding out that I’m not alone in this journey.  :-)  Share your tips, tricks, ideas and experiences too, in the comments section.

To see the beginning of this journey, click here.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Gratitude Segue: Thank You For Letting Me Be An Artist

This necklace just sold at the gallery today.  That makes me happy, of course.  But maybe not in the exact way one might think.

First of all, any and all sales are good.  Selling my work lets me continue doing my work, something I thoroughly enjoy (and it keeps me out of trouble).  But my first reaction when that piece sold was happiness that "someone understood what I'm saying". 

I'm not a great communicator.  You'd know this easily if you knew me in person.  I often stumble on words and spend time reaching for the elusive way to tell you how I feel.  then the next person comes along and speaks so eloquently and I'm like, "Yeah, what she said."

So when I make a piece of jewelry that really speaks to me, something that has a subject or a technique that is special for some reason, I feel like the buyer and I "communicated" in some way.

Kind of like they're saying, "I get you, Laura."  And that's a nice feeling.

My jewelry is not speaking in any literal sense of the word.  While there can occasionally be an actual "story" behind the inspiration for making a piece, that's not a given. The communication I am talking about having with the customer is a bit more ethereal.

One of the reasons I tend to make jewelry that I like is because it makes me happy.  I've had jobs where I have to do what others want.  But in my studio, I can mostly make what I want.  I say "mostly" because I do take on the occasional custom order and while I still like doing custom orders, it's more stressful than me just experimenting and creating without a finite plan.

But I digress.  This blog post is my round about way of saying that I appreciate all y'all who look at my jewelry and feel something, whether it's thumbs up for a job well done or a passionate "I have to have that" because I'm telling a story you want to hear.  I appreciate each and every one of you.

So thanks!  When you buy (or even comment on) my pieces that are maybe a bit off the beaten path, it makes me feel closer to being in communication with you. 

Saturday, August 19, 2017

The Organizing Journey Day 20 -- You Can Sit On Your Butt and Still Be Organizing

Day  20 –You Can Sit On Your Butt and Still Be Organizing

You know what else counts as organizing?  Going through your email, putting appropriate ones into folders, deleting ones you don’t need, unsubscribing from newsletters you don’t read, etc.

That counts for other things on your computer/mobile device too.  Photos.  Organize them into folders so you can find what you need when you need.  Stick everything else into an “archive” folder.  I create an “archive” folder in just about every main category on my computer.  Any file I’m probably never going to open again goes in there.  No, I don’t just delete it.  I’m not THAT ready to let everything go.  But “archive” keeps them out of my hair and makes looking for important things much easier.

New habit: Every night before bed I open the “gallery” of photos on my phone and delete anything I know I don’t want.  It takes seconds because if I do it every day, I’m only looking at photos I took that day.  Easy peasy.  And doing that every night keeps me from having to spend hours one day deleting photos I don’t want because I ran out of room or just because I don’t want to see them. 

Some could argue that there’s no difference in seconds each day versus hours every couple of months/years.  Probably not.  But I feel better with a continually clutter-free environment.

Now, you know what I’ve been up to lately?  Not organizing, that’s for sure.  Ugh!  I need to make peace with the fact that I have a full-time job (and then some) and organizing will only take place in my free time (you should hear me laughing as I type THOSE words).

But I need to stop beating myself up over the fact that of late I’m getting NO organizing done.  Well, if cleanliness is close to organizing, I did mow and weedeat the entire orchard when I got back from my Tahoe show.  Then after that I scrubbed the ceiling of the bathroom upstairs, cleaned the tub, and did some caulking repairs.  I think that counts toward organizing… the orchard and the upstairs bathroom now make me happy and don’t get me stressed out.

Yeah, Tahoe.  The show was great.  I mean, it was probably my best show to date.  But it was also great because the company was fabulous, the customers were fabulous, my vendor neighbors were fabulous, and the organizers of the event were fabulous.  I think I have 4 or 5 more shows before the year is out.

I’m making this one short.  Just letting you know that even when you delete email, organizing photos, or even move a few files around… you are organizing, so keep it up.  You and me both. 

Thanks for all the wonderful comments and feedback.  It’s great hearing from you all and finding out that I’m not alone in this journey.  :-)  Share your tips, tricks, ideas and experiences too, in the comments section.

To see the beginning of this journey, click here.

Self-confidence is the first requisite to great undertakings.  (Samuel Johnson)

Thursday, July 20, 2017

The Organizing Journey Day 19

Day 19 – Sorting the Sorting Table

So today I’m actually cleaning/organizing.  And what do you know… I feel GUILTY for not working in the studio!  Oh my gosh, I’m a lost cause!

I got up at 5am and did my two hours of orchard work, then I did some dishes and vegged for a bit (yes, I need to work on that). 

Sometimes cleaning is so tangential it almost feels like I’m spinning my wheels.  My self-appointed task today was to clean off the love-seat in my bedroom.  I basically use it as a storage point for clean laundry.  Yes, putting clothes away is an issue for me.  I don’t like hiding them away and I don’t like having to pull them out of hiding when I need them.  But the system is being tweaked so there isn’t so much “hiding away” anymore.  You’ll see.

In the meantime, here’s the love-seat.

Wow, there’s actually a lot of potential for positive change here.  Aside from cleaning off the love-seat, I need a more appropriate bed cover.  I love this blanket because it’s lightweight and SUPER soft.  But ick… I do not like the looks of it.  I need to fix the thing on the wall with pockets (for bookmarks, flashlight, glasses, etc).  I dunno… maybe I should get rid of it entirely.  I’m not into the wall color, but I hate painting, so the jury is out on that at the moment.  I do, however, have a ton of artwork that needs to be hung up and I see prime real estate there. 

Oh, so back to the tangential thing.  Once I got all the clean clothes off the love-seat (including winter sweaters!!!  It’s 107 degrees outside right now… why are my winter sweaters still out and about?!).  Anyway, once they were gone I saw how dusty the exposed parts of the couch covering were so I popped that into the wash.  Then I pulled the nightstand out and ew… dust bunnies!  So vacuumed and mopped.  But see, these little things add up.  Cleaning clothes off a couch isn’t just cleaning clothes off a couch.  There are other things that it leads to. 

Okay, so now I’m tackling the large table that’s been using up about 80% of my bedroom.  Ha!  It started out as a sorting place and ended up being a catch all.  I must eliminate all the catch-alls in the future.  I shared this image with you a couple weeks ago.  Since then there isn’t a single square inch of free table surface.

Yes, I feel guilty about not being in the studio today but I feel really good about getting some cleaning/organizing done.

At the end of the day, all the clothes were put away and I’d actually tackled everything that was on and under the big “sorting” table in the bedroom.  Here’s a shot of one closet wall.  It’s not totally aesthetically pleasing (yet) but it’s a great start as far as clean and organized goes.  The most important thing is that I can FIND what I need without rummaging through boxes, bags, piles, etc.

And now I have to spend a day in the studio, so I won’t get back to organizing until Friday.

Thanks for all the wonderful comments and feedback.  It’s great hearing from you all and finding out that I’m not alone in this journey.  :-)  Share your tips, tricks, ideas and experiences too, in the comments section.

To see the beginning of this journey, click here.

Monday, July 17, 2017

The Organizing Jouney Day 18

Day 18 – Quit Being So Hard On Yourself

Okay, first off, you may have noticed I’m NOT posting every day.  That’s just not feasible for me and rather than bury myself in an “all-or-nothing” game, I’ve decided… YES, I’m still organizing my life… and NO, I can’t do it full time… and YES, I still want you to be a part of it.  So there it is… I’ll do it as I can, just like I do everything else in my life.

Which has been (my life, I’m talking about) a bit chaotic lately.  And the mess and chaos and STUFF is stressful and depressing.  So I plow on, taking time here and there to organize even though other parts of me are screaming, “You need to make jewelry for your upcoming show!”  “You need to list jewelry on your website… it currently looks like bat barf!”  “You need to list some workshops because you have students who are waiting for projects!”  “You need to make a video tutorial because you have people waiting for that!” You need, you need, YOU NEED!!!

Chronic over-thinker.   

Critical + over-thinking = much unhappiness.

Yes, I am very hard on myself.  Something I need to work on.  So here’s an interesting conundrum…

What if *I* am the negative person?  How do I not “hang out” with myself?  Obviously, this is not an option.  So… I truly, truly have to work on being less critical of myself.  How shall I start?  Okay, I always tell others, here’s the order of things:
  • Know what you want to change
  • Start noticing when you “blow it”.  Obviously at first you’re going to notice AFTER you blow it… that’s fine.  That’s what this step is.  No need to beat yourself up… just say, “Ah, there was an opportunity to change that habit/thing/behavior.  I recognize it and eventually I will catch myself BEFORE I act.”
  • You will eventually catch yourself before you do the behavior… or even in the middle of it.  You may not CHANGE the behavior or you may not do a great job of it, but catching yourself before the deed is done is important.  Super important.
  • As you start catching yourself in the moment of and/or before a potential bad habit, you will begin to have a chance to change your behavior.  Now is when your training comes in.  Training?  What training?  Well, have you been reading articles or going to therapy?  There are lots of techniques out there.  Do some research.  I can share some of my ideas with you (at a later date). 
  •  Eventually, you will catch yourself more and more often.  You will “fake it ‘til you make it”.  And someday you will find that it has not only become a habit, but that your new reactions are sincere and genuine and you are a changing (or changed) person.

Anyway, I did something amazing today (truth: totally not amazing).  When the mail came, I immediately took it over to the kitchen table, opened each envelope and package, threw most of it in the garbage, and put the rest where it belonged (supplies in the studio, coupons in the coupon file, etc).

Why was this amazing?  Because I normally do any of the following:
·         Leave it all in a pile to look at later
·         Open important looking things and leave the packaging AND the contents in a pile
·         Throw the garbage away and toss the important stuff in an “important stuff” pile to sort later

Of course, the only reason I could do this is because the kitchen table was clean.  Ha ha ha!  But really, these stupid little things (daily mail) add up… fast.  I have a laundry basket of “crap” that I’ve pulled from my car. 

I would bet 90% of the contents of that laundry basket is trash.  But I didn’t feel like “sorting it” or “dealing with it” right away so I put it aside for later.  Ugh! 

As a matter of fact, let’s do this.  Let’s see just how much of that laundry basket full of car contents is trash that has been taking up valuable real estate in my house for the past month.

So left to right and then clockwise I’ve got:
  • A pile of trash 
  • Things that need to go somewhere specific (back into the car, into my studio, returned to a friend, etc) 
  • Paper and plastic bags for re-using
  • Newspaper recycling 
  • Cardboard recycling 
  • Papers to file 
  • Papers to deal with this week
Done and done.

Today I also decided I needed to get rid of “high-maintenance” items in my house.  One of which is little water fountains.  I love them… the humidity they add to the air and the sound they make and how they look… but they are too much work.  I have to clean them often and constantly fill them with water… oh, and I have to be very careful where I put them (spills).

So they go.  Sigh…

In their place, I am purchasing these less aesthetically pleasing, but more practical humidifier/diffusers.

I bought that one on Amazon Prime Day.  Next one I’ll have to pay regular price.  I do like the mist that comes out, the auto-shutoff, the optional cycling lights, and the essential oils diffuser part of it.  We’ll see how long it lasts with our well water.  I can’t be bothered to use distilled water.  Hm… maybe I should.  Maybe I should keep a gallon of distilled water under the kitchen sink and… well, let’s see how it goes with well water.  If it ends up being a problem, then I can switch to distilled water.

Oh and there was one more little moment in the studio (remember, those little things add up!).  I needed some E6000.  I use E6000 about five times a year, if that.  Remember the earbud holder I made?  That’s what I need it for.

So here’s the E6000 I have in my regular glue place.

This is SO not working for me.  I use only a teeny tiny bit each year and the stuff just hardens up and is really hard to get out of the tube, etc.  It also takes up more space than I need for such a seldom-used product.

So I bought some of these (they come 4 to a pack).

More expensive, absolutely.  Er…. Maybe.  I mean, if the larger tube ends up being unusable, then no, it’s not more expensive to pay more for the little ones that actually last longer for me and my usage than one large tube. 

I tossed the large tube in the garbage and put one of the tiny new tubes in my “glue place”.  The remaining three unopened little tubes will store well in my “studio supplies” box that stays in storage until I run out of a staple. 

See, that’s how it works.  I keep a certain amount of “things” in my studio (glue, tape, latex gloves, etc) and I keep more of those things in a box (or five) in my storage shed.  When I run low of something in the studio, I know I have more in the storage shed.  And when I take the penultimate of any item from the storage shed, I order more immediately.  I will show images of the storage shed when we get to that area.  I do a once a year purging/cleaning every summer so it’s coming up pretty soon.

Thanks for all the wonderful comments and feedback.  It’s great hearing from you all and finding out that I’m not alone in this journey.  :-)  Share your tips, tricks, ideas and experiences too, in the comments section.

To see the beginning of this journey, click here.