Charities that will pick up your spring cleaning giveaways.

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Sometimes we are just not able to personally remove all of the unwanted stuff out of our home.  It is either too heavy, too big, or there is just too much to physically put in a vehicle.  So, during my last decluttering session, I went on a quest and searched for places that would be willing to come and pick up all of my discarded treasures.

The quickest pick-up date was given by Goodwill and they were willing to come to my house and take all my stuff as long as it was on the first floor and was near an exit.  Done!  I set up an appointment via computer and they showed up on time and away my stuff went.  In fact, it was so easy I had them come back for more!  It felt so invigorating and freeing to let stuff go.  Less stuff = less cleaning = more energy for other activities.  Woohoo!

The organizations below are not available for pick-up in all locations, but I have provided links below for further information.  These are not posted in any particular order and is it not an all inclusive list.   Happy Spring Cleaning!

 

General household donations:

American Kidney Fund

Goodwill

The Salvation Army

Big Brothers Big Sisters

AmVets

Vietnam Veterans of America

Disabled American Veterans – DAV

Volunteers of American

Military Order of the Purple Heart

The Arc

St. Vincent De Paul

Lupus American Household Goods Donation Program

 

Cell phone/Smart phone/Tablet

Cell Phones for Soldiers

Secure the Call

Medic Mobile

1 Million Project

 

Boat donations:

Boat Angel

Orange Coast College School of Sailing and Seamanship

Chapman School of Seamanship

Angel for Hope

 

Motor vehicles:

American Children’s Cancer Foundation

American Kidney Fund

Wheels for Wishes

Kars 4 Kids

Volunteers of America

The Arc

 

Building Materials/Cabinets/Appliances:

Habitat for Humanity

 

Don’t forget to get a receipt for tax deduction purposes.  All of the stuff you move out of your house to make it more comfortable and enjoyable is going to help others also live a better life.  A BIG win-win situation!

Until next time………….YOU are a superhero and helping others is what superheros do best!

In my kitchen with chronic illness.

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When you are ill, you still need to eat.  Nourishing our bodies with real food is one important way to stay as healthy as we can.  For me, meal prep, well actually all kitchen activities are exhausting.  From food gathering to kitchen clean-up, it all wears me out and makes me want/need to take a nap.

There have been times when I wanted quick fixes in the kitchen.  Overwhelmed with life,  dealing with chronic illnesses, being a wife, a mother, and all of the work that entails, I physically couldn’t do it all and something had to give.  Well, I gave in to the wrong things.  I should have let the laundry go, let the cleaning go……..it was going to get messy again in about 13 minutes anyway.  Nope, I picked the worse thing to let go…………food.  I tried hitting the easy button.  I did my best to still eat a healthy diet in comparison to the SAD (standard American diet) most people were consuming but I short changed my health by taking too many short cuts in the kitchen.  In my opinion, when you are chronically ill food MUST be a high priority, right after your spiritual life.

In the kitchen I am slow, it physically hurts to bend down, and at times it hurts to carry a pot or a frying pan.  So I have tried to work around my physical limitations and make things easier for me, even though it makes my kitchen look crowded and not aesthetically pleasing. I had to give up having things look pretty and organized so the kitchen could be more functional for me.

Here are a few things I did to make the kitchen more functional.

1  –  I got rid of things that I didn’t use.  It is physically exhausting for me to be searching for things that I need.  De-cluttering my kitchen made space for all of the items I use on a regular basis in easy to find uncrowded places.

2  –  I keep all of the pots and pans that I regularly use on top of the stove.  No bending down wasting more precious energy.

3  –  Kitchen appliances that I or my family uses on a regular basis are kept on the counter at all times, this includes a microwave, crock pot, and a blender.

4  –  Everything else that I use on a regular basis is within an easy reach.  Nothing is kept on a high shelf, or a in a low, out-of-the-way cabinet making it a circus performance to get to it.

I know these things sound so simple and you are probably doing all the same things too.  But I have found through my YEARS and years of dealing with chronic illness, you need to be kind to yourself and set up your home in a way that works best for you no matter how it looks to an outsider.  This is true whether or not you are married, have children, or are a single person.  It is harder to do when you have to think about the needs of others in your household, but it is vitally important that you do what needs to be done to help you.  So, if you need a twin bed in the family room because you need to lie down while hanging out with the family, who cares how it looks!  You need a big bulletin board in the dining room to remind you to do certain tasks, put it there!  Those that love you get it………it took me way too long to figure this out.

So……back to the kitchen.  Set up your kitchen in a way that makes food preparation as easy as possible.  Make it functional, whether it looks “pretty” or not.  A functional kitchen makes a healthier you.

How do you make your kitchen more functional?

Until next time, YOU are a superhero and healthy food is your fuel!

My favorite de-cluttering and cleaning book.

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I have read many many books on decluttering.  For a while, I would say it almost became a hobby of mine to search out and find books on the topic.  I would search shelf after shelf in used books stores, Goodwill stores, libraries, and occasionally websites of full-price retailers like Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Despite the numerous books that I have read, many fell very short in their benefits.  In fact, many books I read were down right disappointing.  In my very humble opinion, there was one book that stood out among the rest for readability, practicality, and relatability.

My all-time favorite decluttering book is, Clutter’s Last Stand by Don Aslett.  This book is the only decluttering book that kept me interested from beginning to the end, I didn’t want to put it down.  Mr. Aslett drew me in with his humor and casual writing style, putting me at ease with the fact that I did not have my clutter under control.  If you would be interested in checking it out, you should be able to get it through your local library in order to save money (who with CI doesn’t need to do that?).  If your local library does not carry it, many libraries will try to find a book for you through an interlibrary loan at no cost to you.  Otherwise, you may be able to find it at a used bookstore.

Until next time my friend…….happy reading…….you are a super hero!

 

..

Great reasons for de-cluttering…..

bed bedroom blanket clean

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  • less stress
  • home will be easier to clean
  • you will gain more living space
  • more energy left for fun things
  • find your stuff easier
  • surroundings more visually pleasing
  • think more clearly
  • blessing others with your extras
  • find things you forgot you had
  • you will actually know what you have
  • save money by not buying things you already have
  • your home will be cleaner
  • a cleaner home is a healthier you
  • cleaner air to breath
  • you may find things to sell and make money
  • surround yourself only with things you love
  • think more clearly
  • increased focus
  • move more freely through your home
  • walk safely through your home
  • rid yourself of emotional baggage
  • feel more comfortable having people in your home
  • tax write-off for donated items
  • reduced anxiety
  • coming home will feel more relaxing
  • you will smile at a job well done
  • feelings of accomplishment
  • guilt-free Netflix binge watching
  • more appreciation for what you have
  • you get to make the decisions
  • You will discover another super power!

…….Until next time………………….YOU my friend, are a superhero!

Prep work before de-cluttering

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Big projects such as decluttering take a huge amount of time, physical and emotional energy.  Dealing with CI while taking on large projects requires some prep work.  In addition to  gathering the necessary supplies (discussed in a previous post) it is also important to plan ahead for meals.

When you are worn out after a long day,  the last thing you want to do is to head to the kitchen (especially if you have been working in it) to prepare a meal.  Feeling exhausted, it is easy to go for something fast and convenient and probably unhealthy.  This is when meal prepping  before you start your day comes to the rescue.  By gathering ingredients and putting them into your crock pot or pulling a home cooked pre-made meal out of the freezer to thaw will be extremely beneficial at the end of your long day.  It is also important that you have healthy snacks such as cut fruit and/or veggies in the fridge plus a portable drink to be with you during your cleaning sessions (most of us with CI need to stay hydrated!).

Setting a timer to remind yourself to take your medicine and/or supplements on time may also be a good idea.  If you are like me, you tend to get caught up in the work and you lose track of time.

Also, don’t forget to take breaks as needed, no need to power through.  We all know that we will pay dearly for not listening to our bodies.  The most important thing to remember about decluttering is that you are creating a better living environment for you (and your family).  So make sure you take the best care of yourself so you can accomplish all that you are able.

Until next time, don’t forget that YOU are a superhero!  Who else could do what you do?

 

 

Now it gets tough……

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The really difficult task of decluttering spaces, items or boxes full of stuff that you have a  strong and sentimental attachment to is next.  This is when things get really tough and unfortunately can lead to stress, anxiety, and an overall feeling of sadness.  This is the stage where many people, not just those of us with CI, give up because hard decisions need to be made and feelings of loss are awakened.

Those of us who have had the unfortunate experience of losing  someone(s)  precious and dear to our hearts know how hard it is to handle inherited items or items that were given to us before s/he passed.  We keep the goods stored away believing that holding onto their stuff  keeps our loved one closer.  To get rid of anything could be seen as a rejection of that person, the “willingness” to  let go of our memories and fear they will soon be forgotten.

Realistically, we all know that the items are not the person and the memories of our loved one do not live in the items.   But for those of us with CI, we live with the uncertainty of our health, and as we declutter emotional items we unconsciously deal with our own mortality.  Our unpleasant thoughts create even more stress and since we deal with more than our share every day………….we shove it all back in a box and tell our self,  maybe another day!

This is why I believe it is so important during the decluttering process to physically hold every single item you have in your home.  I know, this sounds ridiculous and overwhelming and time consuming and you are right……….it is.  But, it is the only way you are going to be able to truly declutter and make appropriate decisions.  No where is touching every item more important than when dealing with the sentimental stuff.

While going through that box of  knick-knacks from grandma………….touch each and every item individually.  Does it make you happy?  Do you remember where she had it in her home?  Is this something important enough for you to place in your active living space?  Would giving it away bring you emotional pain?  How about a box of old pictures………..do you know who those people are?  If not, are the pictures even labeled?  Is there someone else who would enjoy the photos more than you?

As you touch each item, you can feel it’s vibe, it’s memory (or lack thereof) and sense what you should or shouldn’t keep.  Maybe there is a treasure in a box that means absolutely nothing to you but would be beneficial to another.  Or maybe there is something worth money you don’t care about that you could sell and pay off a medical bill.  Hey, maybe that is why it is there in the first place!

Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing inherently wrong keeping items boxed away.  But are we really honoring our special people by doing so?  Would your loved one really want you to have your basement, storage room, attic, or garage stuffed with their past possessions?  I highly doubt it.

As you work through the difficult items to declutter, just remember that you are not discarding memories and you are not going to forget about grandpa because you only kept 2 of his 15 fishing poles.  Instead, you are blessing others with your loved ones generosity and you are putting Aunt Martha’s beautiful vase on a shelf  where you get to enjoy looking at it every single day.

…………until next time.

You are a superhero!

 

 

Now it gets a little more difficult……

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Now that you have done an awesome job decluttering areas in your home where you have little or no emotional attachment to the items, it is time to move on to a more difficult task.  Your next step is to choose areas where you have moderate attachments to the items, which in my case is clothing and books.

Although I am a minimalist in my day-to- day clothing, I have still held on to some “special” articles……….a few dresses I wore to friends’ weddings and other pieces of clothing with special memories.  I have kept them all with a desperate hope that I would be able to fit into them again someday, despite it being over 15 years.

It is healthy to keep these items?  Probably not………….every time I see them I immediately feel like a complete failure for not being able lose the weight needed to fit into the clothing, even after all of these years. So, I have to ask myself, even if I become skinny again, is this something I would wear?  I most cases, the answer is no.  So, we need to be honest with ourselves.  We need to love ourselves enough to let go of the past so we can move on.   I realize this is a much scarier proposition for those of us with CI as many of us live in fear of what the future may hold.  But here is one area of your life that YOU are able to have complete control.  While cleaning, you are able to choose every single item you  keep in your life.  You choose what you look at every day, what to use to create a peaceful living space that provides a place for rest and relaxation.  There is no way that living in clutter is beneficial to healing nor is keeping items that make you feel bad.  So, you can do it.  Dig deep, surround yourself only with things that bring a smile and realize you are in control.

………..until next time.

You are a superhero! (no matter how crappy you feel)

 

 

 

a home adventure begins…

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Now that you have decided to declutter your home, what is the first step you should take?  Well, that is a very good question.  From my many past mistakes, I can tell you that trying to work on the entire house at one time is not a very good idea.  You end up with the whole house torn apart, nothing gets completely done – or partially done for that matter – and due to your CI you can’t finish the project for weeks/months and now you have created a bigger mess than when you started.  This leads to more feelings of  frustration, disappointment, guilt and overwhelming sense of failure and who the heck needs that!  So, the first thing you need to do is to prepare yourself for the project.

Before you start make sure you gather the necessary supplies.  There is nothing more frustrating than to pump yourself up to begin a project only to find out you don’t have everything you need to actually start.  Here is my list of things I think you will need:  trash bags – not the huge 40 gallon contractor size bags as they will become way too heavy to lift.  So unless you have dedicated help from start to finish, even to the point of the trash being taken to the road or dumpster, go with 13 gallon trash bags or smaller.  Cardboard boxes, again smaller is better, you will need to be able to lift the box and it’s contents and dark colored markers to label the boxes.  Also gather paper towels or rags, a multi-purpose natural cleaner , gloves and a mask.  I always wear a mask when cleaning and vacuuming so I don’t inhale any dust particles.   All of the items I listed can be purchased at a Dollar Tree (at least at my local store) except for a natural cleaner, and boxes can be found in a Starbucks or grocery store dumpster.  Now label your boxes:  belongs in another room, donate, give away (to a specific person), consignment shop (if needed) and sell.  I would strongly caution you against making a box (boxes) for selling unless you have someone who is going to do it for you or at least help.  Selling takes a lot of time and energy and you don’t want boxes of unwanted stuff sitting around creating more clutter or find its way back into the general population.  Last but not least, a pen and paper to write down all that you are donating for tax purposes.  I have also used my phone to take pictures of donated items.

Now pick a week you hope to start, for example, the first week of April.  Why pick a week and not a specific date…….well, we all know that CI is unpredictable and again, you want to make it flexible to work around your needs and set you up for a win.  No need for giving yourself the extra pressure of picking a specific date and then waking up feeling blah.  If you feel poorly one day, don’t begin the project………you have a whole week to get it started.  Starting when you are having a bad day  will only give you bad results.

If a start week is too rigid for your circumstances, maybe choose a month you are going to begin to clean,  just don’t put it off too long.  If you keep pushing the dates out, it could mean that you are not really wanting to declutter your home.   But, I have found that watching a few episodes of Hoarders Buried Alive or a similar program is all I need to increase my motivation.

Now that you have gathered the necessary supplies, you need to set yourself up for a win and experience a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment for a job well done.  In order to do this, my first suggestion is to go small.  Make sure you pick an area within a room, like a closet or side of a closet if it is a walk-in, a desk, a bookshelf or one cabinet and work only in this designated spot until it is completely finished.  If you are like me, staying focused on this one area will be a challenge as you will discover things that need to go elsewhere…………don’t move on.  Stay on task.  Having the right supplies on hand will help with this.

Until next time…..

 

 

Out with the old, so you can let in the new.

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I believe, with my whole heart, that the most important thing a person with CI can do (besides taking great care of yourself) is to reduce clutter in your life.  I know this is a wildly popular topic – one that is covered everywhere from blogs, YouTube channels, books and magazines dedicated specifically for the purpose to teaching people how or the reasons to declutter.

Early on in my diagnoses I realized I needed to jump on this simplifying/decluttering bandwagon if I was going to be able to navigate the CI life with any success.  But getting to a more simple life (or as simple as it can be in this world) has been an ongoing process and one that put me on a quest to accomplish this goal.

I searched on-line and in bookstores for reading material spurred on with the hope that I would read THE  passage that would enable me to create my new living space.  Numerous books and many reading hours later, I attempted different cleaning and decluttering approaches and was ultimately frustrated with the end results.  I quickly learned no book I had read (I realized there could be some out there and I just haven’t found them yet) touches on how difficult it is to declutter when you are chronically ill.  Decluttering is a monumental and exhausting task, even if your home wouldn’t make it on an episode of Hoarders or Buried Alive – because let’s be honest…….that is a whole other issue.

The most important point is that you have to want to declutter your home.  Despite all the benefits to having less stuff around:  more visually pleasing living space which creates less stress and less stress is important for all of us with CI; cleaner air because of the reduction of  dust;  you will know what you have which can save you money and we all need more of that to pay for our ridiculous endless medical bills; easier to get to what you need therefore using less energy finding/retrieving items; less guilt looking at unorganized and cluttered spaces……….really the list could go on and on.  But first you must really want to take on this task because it is an enormous undertaking requiring patience, persistence, dedication, introspection and – the big one – the ability to let go of the past.

Letting go of the past is a hard one for most of us.  We never imagined our life would turn out this way……….we were so energetic, full of life, bursting with goals and dreams and our living space reflected that – filled with things that we use to be able to enjoy but now they have become a constant reminder of what is not to be.  Letting go of these things can be very difficult as we tend to see this purging as giving up and giving in to the stark reality we don’t want to accept.  Instead of focusing on my past, I had to force myself to instead view my decluttering episodes as events to make room for my future.  Was this easy, hell no,  and it still isn’t.  But living in the past only holds you back from what could be.

Until next time………………

p.s.  Don’t forget YOU are a superhero!