Tag Archives: Organize

A Journey Towards Being Debt Free: Part One

Part One: Cleaning out the clutter and creating a cozy lair

Sometimes the art of creating cozy can be quite a labor intensive process. I have moved back in with my parents this past weekend to start a planned journey towards becoming debt free. (That will be the part-two of this post.)

In order to move back in, there was a lot of work that needed to be done in terms of preparing the house for all of my belongings and well, for me. For the past several weekends, I have been working in the basement of my parent’s house that was built in 1908, uncovering, sorting, organizing, clearing, cleaning, reminiscing, giving away, and recycling 30 years of stuff. By no means are my parents hoarders, at least no more than anyone else who has lived in one place for several decades. It’s just that a house requires upkeep and maintenance, and if you don’t put more effort into maintenance that you do into consuming, the “very important stuff that you need” inevitably wins. And so you continue to store camping gear, sleeping bags with broken zippers, past school work and transcripts, old decorations and frames, furniture that was handed down by the older generation, outdated electronics, and the list goes on and on and onandonandon, for years without really thinking about it.

Then you get this.

And all of a sudden, one realizes that it is impossible to go down the basement stairs without tripping on a bag of sailing gear or some other piece of stuff that lives in the stairwell because, well, it’s simply too traumatic and dangerous to take it down any further.

And so the clearing began. The “camping corning” was the hairiest of all the beasts. Beneath the camping gear, were boxes of baby clothes and school work that also needed to be sorted into “yes this is worth keeping” and “I’m not sure how this made it down here” piles. My mom was a trooper and was there every step of the way, recognizing the therapeutic value that all of the magazines and other miscellaneous items had provided in their time, but also being able to purge and move forward through the cobwebs to eliminate the superfluous stuff that had taken over.

The recycling bin was filled to the brim for several weeks. Piles of things under a sign labeled “Free” suddenly disappeared off the lawn, and soon the stuff was all gone.

Sigh of relief.

Over Memorial Day weekend, I moved. I set up a little cozy living space in the “camping corner” and I’m quite pleased. Who knew there was even a window there! It’s not much, but I don’t need much. I have all of my art supplies out and accessible, and a space to relax after work.

I’m on my way to becoming debt free and this is a small sacrifice to get there!

The Proverbial Life Check List

So back in March–within a post entitled Adventure is in My Blood–I wrote about the direction (or lack there of) that my life story is taking. The mental check list that people use in order to achieve life goals that they have identified as important to them. At the time of that post, I indicated that my check list no longer included the “spouse, pet, nice house, 2.5 children, job that is bearable, etc. = Nice happy love story with a happy ending” goal.

Funny thing happened this weekend. I have been helping my parents clean out the basement of their 104 year old home over the past few weekends. It’s not terribly messy per se, the basement has just housed several decades of school work, camping gear, toys, art, and other miscellaneous memorabilia that was deemed important.

Among the items stashed in the “Kelly’s Art” cupboard was a time capsule that I had created in the fall of my 8th grade year of middle school. In this time capsule, which had already been opened (I’m sure by me not too long after it was created), I found the proverbial life check list I had referred to! And it even had the little sail boat.

First, I think that it’s funny I remembered drawing this little picture of me sailing in a Topper, since it was drawn over 15 years ago. Second, it’s interesting that I made two different life paths that included a) going to USC to become a professional photographer/camera operator, having a “serious relationship,” house, kids, and the rest of that whole life etc. OR b) going to Standford medical school, not dating at all, and then moving to California to get an apartment.

Kinda of makes me feel like a person’s life is one big game of never ending MASH.  You know, MASH (Mansion-Apartment-Shack-House), the amazing game you played at sleepovers to predict what your life would be like when you grow up?

Time for another round!!!

Out With The Old, In With The Nouveau

Today I’m sitting in the sun, drinking my home brewed iced americano, listening to some tunes, and having a yard sale. Yep, I decided to move! I’m selling my stuff. This includes art I’ve created, vintage furniture, clothes, and more art.

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I will say that I find this process to be very therapeutic. As I’m organizing, sorting, and evaluating my possessions, several things go through my mind. I remember how these things came to be mine, the purpose they’ve served, and how they are now superfluous to me. I create art for me. Art for Art’s Sake. I don’t care if other people like it, love it, or hate it. I don’t make art for others, I make it because I need to create.

“Why should you think that beauty, which is the most precious thing in the world, lies like a stone on the beach for the careless passer-by to pick up idly? Beauty is something wonderful and strange that the artist fashions out of the chaos of the world in the torment of his soul. And when he has made it, it is not given to all to know it. To recognize it you must repeat the adventure of the artist. It is a melody that he sings to you, and to hear it again in your own heart you want knowledge and sensitiveness and imagination.” -The Moon and Sixpence by William Somerset Maugham

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Based on the life of artist Paul Gauguin, Maugham writes about an man who escapes his life to live and create art in Tahiti. He abandons all that is familiar to him–wife, home, friends–because his need to create is greater than his known life. An artist must create or his soul will whither. Creation will define itself for the artist. Writing, painting, composing. Any urge to create or construct beauty from chaos. To bring light into the darkness of the soul.

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And so it is time for me to create new beauty in my life. I’m working towards becoming debt free by 31. I may end up living on a boat or moving to New York, but I’ll decide that for sure in a few months. One year ago today, we filed for divorce. As I look back over the year, and then look ahead, I am more and more excited about what the future holds. I never knew broken glass could shine so brightly.

Competentism

Unfortunately it doesn’t seem like the rest of the professional world shares the view of work smarter not harder, or at least this mentality is not a widely rewarded (read compensated) one. My dad’s motto is “make things work better.” However, he and I have both had to figure out that sometimes people don’t want help or to hear from others how they might be able to make something happen in a more effective manner. Although I “get” this, it still seems like pure madness. I most certainly would want someone to share with me the best way of going about something. Why would I want to struggle along and continue to make things quite difficult for myself?! Especially if learning this new skill might allow one to improve other areas of their life. Arrogant, entitled, narcissistic, skilled, competent, bright, smart, organized, motivated. These are all adjectives that I’ve been described with—all being used to describe the same skill set. So what’s the deal? The skill that is usually being described is my excellent ability to help others identify and remove barriers that prevent them from reaching their goals. ( <– I asked my co-worker to craft this sentence so that it was an accurate and unbiased reflection.) Alas, this skill allows me to heed my own advice, and thus practice it through my daily routine. I remove barriers and accomplish my goals. Some take longer than others (like this whole debt thing), but eventually I can make it happen in an efficient and relatively painless manner.

Coming back to my main point, there appears to be a subtle form of discrimination when it comes to ability and competence—competentism (yes I just made this term). The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission states “The law forbids discrimination when it comes to any aspect of employment, including hiring, firing, pay, job assignments, promotions, layoff, training, fringe benefits, and any other term or condition of employment.” They outline the different types of discrimination by type (age, disability, equal pay/compensation, genetic information, national origin, pregnancy, race/color, religion, retaliation, sex, & sexual harassment) but this extensive list doesn’t really capture the whole picture. Take reverse ageism for example. Ashley states;

“So what does reverse ageism look like? Well that is probably different for everyone, but for me it typically involves being the catch-all for everything technology related yet being overlooked when it comes to other aspects of my job. You see, another stereotype of our generation is that we know a lot about technology…and that one is pretty universally true. We grew up with computers, iPods, text messaging and the internet. We don’t use the instruction manuals on our new electronics. We turn them on and teach ourselves. So when our employer switches our e- mail system to Outlook, or purchases a new web-based database to track customers, we adapt. And quicker than our older coworkers, it seems. Because of this uncanny ability to learn new technologies, we are often taken advantage of. We are the first (and sometimes only) people to learn how to do something so we are forever the “experts” on the subject. Don’t get me wrong, I’m happy to help. I will even teach someone how to do something if they are willing to learn. What I won’t do is their job for them every time they need to utilize this new technology but don’t know how. All too often our generation is expected to do this because we are the resident “technology gurus,” but when it comes to other areas of expertise, we are dismissed as young, naïve, or inexperienced.” (Read more at http://entrylevelobservations.wordpress.com/2010/02/07/reverse-ageism/)

Similar to reverse ageism (which definitely occurs), competentism is the act of assigning additional tasks, increasing workload, requiring a person to remain present for a full 8-hour work day etc., in spite (term used deliberately) of the fact that the employee has already finished their original job tasks (and probably some others as well) in an efficient and timely manner. Now, I’m not suggesting that a person do the bare minimum and just slide by in life or in the workplace, but I do think they should be compensated for their abilities accordingly. Let’s say it takes Jane Doe 1 hour to complete a task, and their co-worker 2 hours. Jane Doe should be able to complete the task and then leave early (and dare I say be praised) right? Wrong. Instead, she hears “you’re entitled, you really should help so and so finish,” or “well, can you work on this since you have extra time?” This is discrimination for competency. This culture promotes laziness and rewards a stagnant work environment.

Like Ashley said, I’m happy to help, and I’m willing to teach others these skills, but please don’t call me entitled when I ask for a little compensation here and there.

*Disclaimer-These are just thoughts that I’ve had over the years, which are only meant to be a commentary on general workplace cultures I’ve encountered, not a specific reflection on my current job (which I love 😉 )

Beautiful or Useful

Everything a person owns should be beautiful or useful, preferably both.

I have not lived in any one location longer than a year, since I left for undergrad over 10 years ago. Around month 8 I start to get antsy to leave–I need a change. Moving is always the last result, and of course I try everything else to settle myself prior to lugging my stuff into a new place. But truly I have moved into a new home every year out of shear boredom. It’s around month 4 that I start to re-arrange the different rooms of the house to feel as if I’m actually somewhere new. I know it’s no good when I end up with the “original” configuration that I started with when I first moved in–which is when I end up moving. However, this bizarre and nomadic process allows me to purge quite a bit of stuff that has collected over the years. It’s interesting to see what things have made the final cuts. Journals, books, cameras, art, and a few collections of very colorful things such as thread (which I still sew with) and vintage swizzle sticks that my grandpa collected.

When I look around my little home, I imagine how quickly I can pack it up. What would I keep if I was only allowed one backpack?

My (newest) camera (there are 5 on these shelves alone and you can barely see the tri-pod with the 6th extra body on the right) and my passport. I’ve recently been looking into the idea of living on a boat.

I’ve been in my current home for 10 months. I’m back to the original furniture arrangement.

Any thoughts on my next adventure?

Creating Cozy

I’d like to think that making things “cozy” is one of my very special skills. It’s a little difficult to define, but can at least be broken down to a the creation or collection of colors, textures, lighting, and events that evokes a feeling of serenity, calmness, and internal warmth.

Similar to the studies of Mihaly Csíkszentmihályi (MEE-hy CHEEK-sent-mə-HY-ee) one of the world’s leading researchers on positive psychology and the effects of happiness and creativity–and the attainment of these–on the individual. In his seminal work, Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience, Csíkszentmihályi outlines his theory that people are most happy when they are in a state of flow— a state of concentration or complete absorption with the activity at hand and the situation. It is a state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter (Csikszentmihalyi,1990). The idea of flow is identical to the feeling of being in the zone or in the groove. The flow state is an optimal state of intrinsic motivation, where the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing. This is a feeling everyone has at times, characterized by a feeling of great absorption, engagement, fulfillment, and skill—and during which temporal concerns (time, food, ego-self, etc.) are typically ignored.

Creating Cozy will therefore be my own theory similar to Finding Flow.

As an art therapist, I have been specifically trained to understand additional information in regards to how a person’s mind can be effected by the visual language. How color can connect to emotions. How we not only process through words and actions, but through the senses. Most certainly it can be agreed upon that looking at “beautiful things” makes us feel good. Similarly, I should like to suggest that being in a state of “coziness” can support self-soothing strategies we attempt to implement to decrease the anxieties and stress of daily living.

I have had many requests from people through the years–two today alone–to help them organize their homes/lives and make things cozy. This may seem silly to some, but not to those requesting the support! I hope to document some examples of this process along the way, and may even turn this endeavor into a small business of sorts.

Time to get our cozy on!

Reference

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly (1990). Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience. New York: Harper and Row. ISBN 0-06-092043-2