Category Archives: Impossible dreams

The uncomfortable comfort zone

A couple of months ago, margekatherine at Inside Out Cafe challenged all of us to try something new, to take a step outside our own comfort zone. I don’t know about other people, but I’m using the No Comfort challenge partly as a self improvement, “let’s fix Sharon”, project.

And that makes the whole idea of my comfort zone kind of interesting (in the “interesting” = “really really awful” sense). Parts of my life are like a very tiny, hard to find, pebble in my shoe that keeps slipping under my foot as I walk and digging into the arch or the heel or getting caught between two toes. You’d think it would be worth the trouble to stop and get rid of it, but I don’t do it. I don’t want to be embarrassed by getting caught balancing on one leg with my shoe off. I don’t want to take the time. I don’t really think I’ll be able to track it down – it’s such a ridiculously small pebble! – and get rid of it for good. And after all, I’ve been walking on it this long. I’m used to it, sort of. I think I can just keep going in spite of the pebble, can’t I?

We only need half the table for meals – so the other half gets full

One of my most annoying pebbles – the one with lots of sharp edges – is housework. Specifically, getting things organized. You may think you’re bad at organizing, but I bet I’m worse. (And even if I’m not, I feel like I am!) So, this week, I want to celebrate a very awkward-feeling stumble away from my uncomfortable comfort zone. Many thanks to beverleysmith at January to December, who put up a post a couple of weeks ago that reminded me about Flylady with her baby steps for getting organized!

Clear (mostly) at last! Now to keep it this way.

Well, I’m starting – I’m not following Flylady’s entire program by a long shot, but I am keeping my sink empty and making myself find fifteen minutes a day to pick things up. I have a very very long way to go, but things are a little better.

I’m very much an organizing toddler, though. And it’s frustrating. 😮

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How to solve a problem

I wouldn’t put my pocketbook in a dark corner like this where
it can blend in and be invisible, would I? It must hide on purpose. Right?

My pocketbook sneaked away and hid. It does things like that. And it’s really inconvenient and annoying when I need to get myself out the front door, but I can’t go without my pocketbook that has all my essential stuff in it, and I can’t go with my pocketbook, because it’s hiding again.

Well, I have a plan. It’s easy to hide when you’re a plain black pocketbook. But what if it was hot pink?

 

 

 

It wouldn’t be so easy to get away with things then!

 

 

Maybe a few neon green dots would help, too.

And how about blinking lights? Lots of little blinking lights all over. Oh, and why not a siren?

Okay. It might be just a little tiny bit ugly, but that’ll fix the lost pocketbook problem. So there.

😉

What IS a pack rat to do?

Add a table, chair, and shoe holders here? How?

Seriously.

One of my projects this year is to get rid of all the stuff in my house that we don’t use – sometimes because we can’t find it – and find ways that make sense to store the rest. And looking good would be nice, but let’s not boldly go too far from the household comfort zone.

Of course, one category of stuff I’ve bought far too often is books of advice on becoming organized. None of these books solved the problem; but is that the authors’ fault, or mine?

A reasonable guess would be that I’m more to blame than the people who write advice books. So I decided to take the first one I could find and spend a month doing everything it tells me to do. (FWIW, my source of decluttering wisdom turned out to be What’s a (dis)Organized Person to Do? by Stacey Platt. I’d call it a fairly typical specimen of this kind of book.)

The first chapter – “General Principles” – sounds promising. Alas, it’s only eight pages long, with lots of white space. Worse, Platt makes several good points but doesn’t seem to realize that some of us need advice on HOW to apply them. I especially like “Live within your space means”, but! I’ve been overspending my space (a Kindle’s nice, but I could still use a Tardis) for many years. I need someone to explain how to efficiently clear away the mountains of stuff – but I already know I can’t swallow the ruthless “just throw it out, you shouldn’t want it” approach that a friend tried to make me use.

(No, I’m not out of control enough to be entertainingly pilloried on one of those TV shows about hoarders. Just far enough out of control to make life way too complicated.)

Well, never mind. I’m going to follow the room by room advice if it kills me, and by the last page my home will be a showplace. Right?

Not so fast. Platt starts with the entryway, and wants us to organize that area with prettily matching hangers in the coat closet, a table or shelf to hold keys, cell phone, mail, and more, “containers for hats, scarves, and gloves; boot and shoe storage; a place to sit.” Suuure. I’ve got fifteen inches / thirty-eight centimeters of free space next to my front door. That’s not going to hold all that extra furniture.

And the four and a half feet (135 cm) wide floor space in my kitchen isn’t going to hold a butcher-block island and the kitchen table she suggests either. What was all that about living within your space budget?

I don’t mean to jump on Platt, or not very hard. Her book is typical of the genre. On the other hand, I’m not about to rush out and buy a bigger house so I can follow her advice.

I guess I’m on my own. 😦

Poking a nose out of my comfort zone

Noses are hard

One of my projects for this year is to learn to draw. And that means that somehow, sometime, I need to figure out how to draw noses.

Think about it. Eyes are fairly easy – they’ve got eyelashes, which are usually dark like a pencil line, to outline them, and the iris and pupil are nice and dark too. Lips aren’t too hard either, since there’s a noticeable boundary between the lips and the rest of the face that justifies using an outline to show the mouth.

But noses? In profile they’re no big deal, but head-on they blend right into the rest of the face! You can’t show the shape without making it look like your subject’s nose is on sideways. Or can you??

Well, artists can. I’ve tried to draw noses by using what I can figure out on my own, and the results look like nothing from this planet. So why not steal techniques from people who know what they’re doing?

I sat down with a book of drawings by Ingres – if you look hard enough in this house, you can find a book about just about anything – and copied Ingres noses for a while. Not as good as his, but much much better than I’ve been able to figure out by myself.

Then I tried drawing noses from photos.

Ingres was really, really good. (Surprise.)

I’ll need to spend a lot more time working on this. (Surprise.) But really, bad as these are, they’re the most convincing noses I ever drew.

Balance while juggling

I haven’t been doing very well at keeping my life in balance over the past several weeks. That sculpture in the photo, the one that looks like a pile of chairs almost ready to topple? That’s how I feel.

True, I tend to leap feet first into many more projects than anybody has time to manage. And true, it’s been a stressful month, realizing that my mother needs a lot more help than she used to but really, really hates accepting help, and trying to find ways to help her that she’ll put up with. And true, I’ve been writing a lot more over the past month, not just blogging – though it’s been a bloggily productive month – but, more important, noveling. And I’ve been ensnarled in several quasijobs that I’ve promised to other people.

But I really need to find time to put the laundry away and get back to throwing things out!

Ah well. Just at the moment, I feel like I’m dropping balls, tripping over them, and winding up in unintended cartwheels. Luckily, I’m skilled and experienced at lurching away from disaster. And I never even aspired to ballerina-like grace, at least not after flunking out of dance class at the age of three. (Really.)

I would like to find a way to continue giving all the projects and duties little dabs of effort, though, enough so that they stay airborne, or at least enough so they haven’t rolled out of sight before I can collect them and toss them up into the juggling circle once more.

Losing hope

I feel as if I’ve been struggling to drag a huge shapeless bag – full of water maybe, so that when you try to coax it over an obstacle it just slumps into a different awkward shape – and getting nowhere at all, painfully.

Now I’ve lost hope. I can’t fix my mother. I can’t make her happy  or healthy or make her days full of interest and enjoyment. I can’t make her young again.

What can I do? I can visit her every week or two (mostly with my excellent husband; thank you, Paul, for patience and driving, a hundred miles out and another hundred home again) and buy groceries and take her to the bank and make sure she pays bills and pick up prescriptions and organize her pills so she knows which ones to take each day. I can phone her, three times a day, in the morning to order her to take her morning pills, in the afternoon to chat so she doesn’t go day after day with no human contact, in the evening to tell her to take her night pills right now. I can remind her when she has doctor’s appointments. In between, I can go on with my life. I can’t fix her, and knowing that, it turns out that I can give up being guilty and fretful.

I’ll let that bag of water trickle away and concentrate on picking up one stick or stone at a time and putting it where it needs to be. Losing false hope; what a relief!

Stone 6, fifteenth day

Studying the Stash

There’s so much yarn. And oh I love it all.
Maroon and red, hotpink rosepink palepink
and browns, in darkbrown redbrown cream and beige
and greens and blues and grays and white and black
and orange yellow purple lavender.
I want to knit so many dreams or socks
or sweaters hats or dreams. And if I had
just ten more arms, six knitting pairs, enough
to make a spider jealous – soon I’d buy more yarn.