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This is Terri Holt with her sister. Teri lost her sister to breast cancer.

“After losing her sister to breast cancer in 1999, a routine mammogram screening revealed a small tumor in the milk duct of the breast. Without thinking twice she decided to have a bi-lateral mastectomy to remove both breast. A brave decision on her part to save her life and her family more heartache. In memory of her sister, she would love to be part of The Survivors Parade. Ten years later she remains cancer free! Breast and ovarian cancer has affected our family in many ways. This is a chance for her to pay tribute to family and friends that have lost their battle to cancer.”

I am asking that you go to the following link and vote for Terri. It’s an easy vote with no registration required. One click and you’re done. While I realize this isn’t normal for Parrot Nation, this is a Flight Attendant family and her wish is so simple: She just wants to honor her sister by marching in a parade. You can vote every day. Please help if you have a moment. Voting ends at the end of the month which is soon. I thank you so much.

                                                                      Please Click here: Survivors Parade

 

Life occasionally has a way of suddenly grabbing you by the scruff of the neck and shaking you like a puppy shakes a toy. Everything is going along just swimmingly and then stuff happens that makes you aware once again how little control you have over what happens, or is meant to be.

Things were going along right on track for me. I was doing my cleaning/organizing/de-cluttering thing. I was due to return to flying after my vacation and was just getting errands done and working on those pesky little projects one never gets to. In a previous post, I talked about how freakin’ miserable 2013 was for me as well as for quite a few of my friends:

  “2013: Ashes, Ashes, We All Fall Down”

Unfortunately for me, 2013′s curse has bled into this year as well.

February 6th rocked my world when I had to perform CPR on a friend while visiting him the day after he got out of the hospital. I managed to keep Kent going until the paramedics arrived and took over. The emergency room managed to get his heart started again and he was put on a ventilator. He lived another 48 hours until complications finally took him. Took a week to get my back, shoulders triceps and abdomen to stop hurting from doing chest compressions by myself for about six minutes until the paramedics arrived. Took me a couple of weeks to get over the shock and stress of the incident.

And by the way, if you don’t know CPR, learn it. You can start here:

Unfortunately, this “Curse of 2013″ thing reared up again when my big brother died late Wednesday evening. We were close and he was my best friend for decades. Naturally, I am depressed about this and really don’t want to go into details about the entire situation, but chronicling the events of the last 20 years regarding my brother, his family and the entire mess would read like something out of a script for a bad reality TV show combined with a soap opera.

I couldn’t possibly write the script or make it up. Suffice it to say, it was like a bad traffic accident in slow motion and I chose to hide my eyes. I didn’t cause it, couldn’t control it and couldn’t cure it. So I stepped away from it.

 I found it distasteful, disrespectful and undignified. So I just never discussed it.  I’ve always been a little short in the human family department as we were never really prolific when it came to bringing children into the world. As it now stands, I’m pretty much down to 1 cousin.

I’m holding my own with caring for my three Greys, so not to worry about that. I’m just not real happy at the moment as you can imagine. My flock senses it and get upset every time I get on the phone. I guess they sense the sound of stress in my voice when I’m talking. So I’ve tried to be conscious of this and I’m trying to modulate it when I’m having a conversation. This isn’t easy as I’ve had to make some pretty hairy phone calls.

I’ll be okay. I have to. We all have to deal with stuff like this. What choice do we have when we’re up against the crap life throws at us? We all go on. And I will go on, too. Just as soon as I get out from the mental state not unlike being in a pre-natal position and under an electric blanket that’s turned up to 9.

All I know is that while it may be true that, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” it sure as hell is hard to go through. But I think that this “having to be strong” jazz is sometimes highly overrated. Because it’s tough. Really tough.

I guess that’s where time enters the picture. It helps. It heals. It gives you perspective. So if there is any reason at all to look forward to the future, it’s knowing that eventually, I’ll feel better.  In the meantime, well, just getting through the day is a big job at the moment. But my Greys and I will be okay. It will just take some time.

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It’s true. And doing this has not been easy for me. It’s strenuous, it’s emotionally taxing and it is a complete reversal of what I was taught: being thrifty, not wasting anything. Reusing, saving, repurposing, hanging onto things in case you need them later.

We’re taught to consume. We’re conditioned that bigger is better, more is magic and a that excess is success. Well, I’m trying to break out of that. I want order in my life. For lack of a better way of explaining it, I’ll do it visually.

If you weren’t around in the 60′s and 70′s, this is what a typical stereo system looked like:

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And you can’t even see the speakers in this shot which typically took up floor space. And of course you had all of those vinyl records and reel-to-reel tapes you had to store. That’s a lot of  stuff. It takes up a lot of space. And it’s heavy as hell.

And this is what a set-up looks like now with tons more data:

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It’s an iPod dock by Klipsch. The dimensions on this are: 4.75 x 12 x 4.625. It weighs four pounds.

I guess what I’m trying to explain visually is that bigger is by no means better. And it isn’t necessarily true that everything is getting “Bigger and Better.” Because it isn’t. Some of it, like technology, is getting smaller.

In a way, I want my home to be in spirit like that Klipsch dock: It does what it is designed to do and it does it well. It doesn’t do anything more, or anything less. If functions perfectly. Another example in spirit would be this Kohler faucet commercial. I happen to love the simplicity of this ad and the expectation the woman had of the architect:

As strange as my references might be, they do hold a basic truth: In order to bring simplicity and clarity into your living space, you have to get what is not simple and what is not clear right out the door. Everything you keep in your life needs functionality.

Okay, so let’s cut the crap and look at the definition of “Functionality”:

“The quality of being suited to serve a purpose well; practicality.”

That is something I didn’t create very well in my living space. I get that. And I also understand that this is a skill I have to learn. And believe me, I’m not only trying to change my living space; I’m trying to change the way I think about my living space and the stuff it contains. And as I said, nobody said this was going to be all skittles and beer.

I am by no means an expert. I am just chronicling my experience of doing it on my own. And no, it’s not a “journey” or a “path to enlightenment.” It’s not a voyage or an odyssey.

I just want a really clean and orderly home. And I want a home that is easy to keep that way. I want space.

And I know that I have to change the way I look at “stuff” in order to get it that way and keep it that way.

I know roughly what my goal is. I know where I want my place to be in a couple of months. And I’m trying to perform not only the external work of editing my possessions, I’m doing the internal work of trying to change the way I think about possessions. I want fewer possessions. And the possessions I keep need to serve a purpose.

So many people think they need “more.” Maybe the true trick to this is to think about wanting what is “needed.” Because  if you have that, “more” is simply uncomfortable.

Photo on January-27-14 at 7.04 PM #2This is why.

It’s simple: It’s about time. It’s about space. It’s about peace of mind. It’s about getting it clean and orderly and getting more elbow room. It’s about creating space for not only you but creating time for you to spend with the flock. They are important enough to make time and space for.

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Unless they would prefer that you use your time filtering through your stuff to find the stuff that you need, you are better off with an efficient and streamlined life.

Personally, I think your birds would want to have you spend time with them rather than plowing through stuff you don’t use trying to find something in the back of your closet that you do need.

I know, I know.  All of your stuff seems important. It all looks valuable. And it is. Until you get it out of your home. That is when you will never remember you owned that damned pair of pants that never fit right anyway. Give yourself some space. Give your flock some space.

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This space gives you a gift: The gift of time. You need this mantra when you are going through this process:  “I don’t need it.”

Say it: I don’t need it. And to be honest, you probably don’t. You really don’t. You may want it. You may like it. But be honest. How many sweatshirts do you really wear? How many T-shirts do you need?

Please realize something: This is what washing machines are for. They wash the clothes you own. They recycle dirty clothes back into clean clothing. Most of us do this at least once every couple of weeks. At least. So please. Think about this. You simply don’t need 50 T-shirts. You just don’t.

Yeah, I know. It’s hard. I have sentimental T-shirts and sweatshirts. I love them. Some I am so very proud of! But good God, get rid of the ones that are shredded due to your parrot. Get over it already. Move on! It’s a piece of cotton with some graphics on it.

It’s simple really. You may like it. You might really love it. But if it serves no purpose, if you haven’t worn it, used it, if it’s broken or cracked or if it is stuck in the back of a closet or in the attic and hasn’t seen the light of day in years, there is simply no reason to own it anymore. It’s taking up valuable space in your life.

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What is more valuable than time? Some people want to do the Ebay thing. Some think they are going to make a fortune on a yard sale. Well, I’ve done the yard sale thing.  And it wasn’t worth the hassle, the time and the energy. Give it to your favorite charity and move on. Take the damned tax deduction and simplify your life. Make it easy on yourself.

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Because I can tell you this: The time and energy you save is worth more than the measly couple of hundred bucks you might make on some yard sale.

Be quick about it. Just put it in the donation bag. It isn’t a friend, an old buddy or anything to get wistful about.

And if it has a tag on it, especially if it has a tag on it and you haven’t worn it within a reasonable amount of time, get rid of it. It is no longer worth the value stated on the tag. It was simply a mistake and you do not have to live with this mistake. Forgive yourself and move on.

I never just go shopping simply because there is a sale going on. I shop for clothes when I have an immediate need for something. And if I need it immediately, it means that tag is coming right off because I bought it to wear, not to hang in my closet and admire. I do not collect clothing. I wear it.

I have an absolutely gorgeous jacket I bought around eight years ago. It’s a black jacket that comes to my waist. It has lots of tucks, pleats and tiny stitching in brown thread. It’s stunning and looks really nice on me. Doesn’t look much on the hanger, but trust me.

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 It also cost me a fortune. The thing is, I’ve worn it over and over. And over. I’ve gotten the cost-per-wearing factor on this jacket down to next to nothing.

It’s comfortable, gorgeous, timeless and classic. I’ve had it all of this time and I have worn it dozens of times. It’s good quality and it has an ageless and enduring cut. It will never go out of style. It is the “Little Black Dress” of jackets. And to me, that jacket is the kind of piece you want in your closet. In this “disposable society,” some of these timeless pieces will save you money and space.

Shop mindfully for quality, shop when you need something and shop for things that are classic. You can accessorize them and change their look. If you keep that in the forefront of what you need, in the long run, you will save not only money but time and space. And isn’t that what this is about?

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1000 pounds. That’s a lot of stuff. At least it sounds that way. But I think it’s easily achieved if I include the heavy items like furniture, pots, pans, tools, cast iron cookware, bags and bags of clothing, paper, glassware, china, coffee mugs and  other assorted crap I never used but for some reason kept in my space. Why I shared it for so long with these items is pretty clear: It never occurred to me that I should get it out.

I don’t need 15 coffee cups. I don’t use 12 pieces of cast iron cookware. It simply isn’t necessary and I chose not to live with it anymore.

I must have turned a blind eye to it and just lived with it. Well, no more.

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I cleaned out my bedroom yesterday and today.  I made a bad decision almost 2 decades ago by choosing form over function.

Years ago, I bought a fairly large bed frame and dresser.  Furniture looks smaller in the store in such a large space. I didn’t realize how big it was until it was delivered and I tried to move around the bed in my bedroom.

While I liked the look of it, I didn’t realize I would be repeatedly banging into the sharp corner of the top rail of the footboard and bruising myself.

I did this repeatedly over the years, badly bruising my upper thigh in the same damned place, over and over. If I did it once, I must have done this 30 times leaving a big bruise that got ugly. I’d had about enough of this.

 I offered it to one of the guys doing construction on the building I live in. He came back after work and picked up the frame. The following day he came back for the dresser, queen-sized mattress and box spring which are in perfect shape.

And in thinking about it, with the bedroom furniture included, I’m pretty sure that I have easily surpassed the 1000 pound mark. Of course I’m going to have to replace the bed, mattress and dresser. But I’m getting a full-sized bed instead of a queen, a slimmer bed frame and a smaller dresser. Getting rid of this stuff has had a huge impact on me. It’s made my mind a little easier.

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Having a lot of stuff tends to clutter not only your space but it clutters your mind. I got tired of having to move stuff in order to find something I needed. It took up not only my space but my time.

I couldn’t just decide to use something. First I had to find it. Then I had to move a few things in order to get to it. Then I had to put the other stuff back. This became a pain in the rear end. And I’d about had enough of that.

I’ve realized that there is more possibility in having less than in having more.

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Employing a sliding drawer in my pantry helped organize envelope-type food packages.

Thinking “through” your space is crucial when you’re reorganizing your home. It’s all well and good to take everything out, clean the space and the stuff and then put it back. But it isn’t really benefitting you as much as it could. My pantry for example.

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This revolving turntable works nice in the pantry for bottles. It might work nice in the fridge, too.

My pantry wasn’t a pantry until I turned it into one. It was a coat closet. I didn’t need a coat closet. I wanted a pantry. So I had a friend put in shelving. He didn’t do a real bang up job, but I got the shelves and that’s what matters. I no longer keep a lot of canned goods and the like in the kitchen which gives me a bit more elbow room.

This is important when you consider my kitchen is the size of a Boeing 767-200 galley. It’s pretty small. But considering the fact that flight crews can feed 180 people out of a space that big, you can do pretty well if you know what you’re doing.

If you reconsider what a space is supposed to “do,” you can arrange it to make it work better for you. Case in point: My cast iron cookware.

These used to live in my oven.

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When I had to use my oven, I’d have to pull these out. Then I’d put them back in when I was done. That was a lot of  heavy lifting and screwing around. Why did they live there? Because I didn’t think I had another place to put them. They weren’t in the lower oven drawer because I had my pot lids there. Why were my pot lids there?

Because I didn’t think I had another place to put them. 

It wasn’t until I completely cleaned out another cabinet area that I figured out that I could store the pot lids vertically in there and the cast iron stuff could go in the lower drawer.

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By rethinking the space I had to work with, I was able to make my kitchen work for me and not the other way around. So take a minute and look around. Think about thinking differently.

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A friend of mine kept her coffee maker in her bedroom. Why? Because that’s where she drank her coffee in the morning. She didn’t have to get up, go out to the kitchen and get the coffee. She just walked two steps and snapped it on. It brewed her coffee while she was in the shower. She’d then get out of the shower and her coffee was ready to go right there. Made perfect sense to me. You see coffee makers in hotel rooms all the time. What difference does it make if you do this at home? Will I be doing this? I don’t know. But it’s a thought.

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Well? How much is enough? Easy enough question. But not many people have the answer. Bernie Madoff certainly didn’t. And look where that got him.

We are trained by the media to buy, buy, buy. We need that toaster oven, that pasta maker, the doughnut fryer, the 92-piece Calphalon cookware set, and the gourmet body scrub. We deserve the immersion blender, the stand-alone jewelry cabinet the size of a side-by-side fridge and that “Precious Moments” figurine.

Just for the record I hate those damned things. I hate Precious Moments stuff almost as much as I hate Capodimonte stuff. They’re dust-catchers and so over-the-top cheesy in my book that I cringe when I see them.

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Maybe it’s just me, but I wouldn’t have this in my house on a bet.

I’ve come to a conclusion. We all have too much shit. Well, you may not have enough shit, but I’ve determined that I do and whether I’ve used it or not, whether it is of some “value,” or if it could be useful someday, here is the deal:

If it doesn’t make my life better or easier, bring me joy, is of use in the immediate future or makes me feel good about having it in my life, it’s gone.

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I am also over the guilt of getting rid of something just because it belonged in my family or it belonged to my parents or anybody else that decided to give me some of the shit they didn’t want, didn’t have room for or felt that I should be the one to look after this particular pile of shit.

 If it was so damned important to them, they should have taken it with them. And in the future, do your family a favor: Don’t do that. Do not guilt your kids or Grandkids into keeping your shit after you exit. It’s not fair. I’ve kept a few things, but I’ve culled a lot of stuff that did nothing positive in my life. It just sat there. It took up space. It made me feel bad.

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Okay, okay…You can Ebay me to death, but I’m simply not going to do that. Why? I don’t have the patience for it. I don’t much like going to the grocery store let alone trot my keester down to Fed Ex and mail something to someone if I can just drive 6 minutes away to Goodwill with a bunch of other crap and make someone else happy by bringing it into their home. I want it out of here now dammit, before I change my mind and just throw it out.

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I am tired of being the steward of a bunch of “Stuff” I don’t want to have to deal with anymore. I don’t want to look at it, dust it, deal with it, trip over it, move it or think about it. I’m done. Obviously, I’m not particularly good at organizing.  So, the less I have, the less I have to deal with and organize. So to me, it’s simply logical. I no longer want stuff I don’t use, don’t need, don’t want or can’t find happiness in. I can find happiness in a clean sink.

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Good example for you. I have four pilsner glasses.

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They were given to me by the Mom of a boyfriend I dumped over a decade ago. (Trust me, he deserved it.) I’m not much of a beer drinker. I think I used one of these once. And yet, here I am, probably 15 years later, still looking at these damned things, still having to dust them once in a while and still having them take up space in my house. Why? I don’t use them, I didn’t buy them, and I have no reason to keep them.

As we are known to say in the airline business, “Buh-Bye.” Nice? Yes. Pretty? Yes. Useful to me? Umm, no.

 I think I’ve about had enough.

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