>The Closet

>First of all, a reality check—Operation Order Out of Chaos is now midway through the first week, and think it’s only fair and honest to report the truth and not present a one-sided view of the progress being made.

The plan was to schedule in exercise (3X week), organizational project (1X week), and writing (at least 3X week) in 2009. So, I came home from my weekend in Little Rock with my calendar all filled-in with the plan, only the week was missing a day—we didn’t come back until Monday. But in my eagerness, I scheduled Tuesday-Friday as though there were 5 days there. And I get so task-oriented, rather than other/people-oriented, that I can be inflexible at times. But here’s what happened yesterday:
PLAN: Church service (Theophany) 9-10:30 am; Coffee/early lunch with out-of-town friend, 10:30-12:30; Organize closet, 12:30-4:30; Exercise 4:30-5:30.

REALITY: Church service 9-10:30; Out-of-town friend stayed and visited with people at church until 12, so….. lunch with friend, 12:30-3:00 (yes, and it was a wonderful, rich visit… a “two martini” lunch, with 2 glasses of wine, actually) but I didn’t get home until 3:30, and in no shape to work out at the gym, so; 3:30-6:30, cleaned out and organized closet.

Not a bad day, huh? Except that I didn’t exercise, and I only have 2 “windows” for exercise left in the week. I can hear your exclamations: “What? You don’t even have a 9-5 job and you can’t exercise 3X week?” But it is the week after New Year’s and there are still people in town and I am a social creature and yes, this is going to be hard to stick with. Not to mention the fact that I HAVEN’T WRITTEN ANYTHING IN OVER 2 WEEKS and I’m craving writing. The first day this week that I’ve blocked out a big chunk of time to write is this coming Friday, and now I’m thinking I need to go to Jackson to see my mom in the nursing home on Friday. Now I’m sure this is way too much information and probably boring and I’ve lost most of my readers by now…. Unless you, too, can identify with the struggle, no matter what your responsibilities in life.

I was talking with a friend on the phone this morning, about these issues, and I told her that at 5:30 yesterday afternoon, while most of the guts of my closet were strewn all over my bed, I turned on the news and watched the awful stuff happening in the Gaza strip and I sat on the edge of the bed and wept and thought, “What’s the big deal about not keeping with my schedule?” It’s all relative, isn’t it? But do I not try to bring order where I am just because there’s chaos in another place?

So… here they are, the “after” pictures of the closet. Keep in mind that the shelves, which are half empty, are just waiting for things that are cluttering up other areas of the house to come and live there. I haven’t decided on next week’s organizational project… it’s such a domino affect, that I’m tempted to just keep going every day with the house stuff… but instead I’m going to continue to try for the schedule to work… for balance… exercise, organize, write.

My husband looked in the closet and saw this shoe rack and said, “Oh, did you buy a shoe rack to help you organize your shoes?”

The shoe rack has been there for years… covered up by loose shoes all over the floor in front of it and falling off it, etc.

I read that it helps to color-coordinate the clothes, so here are my slacks and jeans, the khakis, browns, blacks and denims nicely organized in groups, which does make it easier to find something when getting dressed quickly.

And the blouses, sweaters, and jackets are grouped, a little bit according to color, but mostly according to lengths, so the shorter pieces are hanging over the shoe rack and the longer items on the right end over more empty space. (Actually my 3 pair of boots are under the longer items, but I didn’t get a picture of them.)
When I got finished I was able to get some sweaters out of my drawers, so the clothes on the chair and floor on that side of the room could actually fit in the drawers…. and I put some summer clothes in the guest room closet, which will be another project soon, since it’s overflowing with older clothes that I didn’t get rid of the last time I did this. Oh, and now the trunk of my car is full with a large box and 5 large trash sacks full of things for Goodwill, and I dragged 3 large trash bags out to the garbage. Oooooh, when I write that it sounds really bad to have that many bags of stuff to get rid of from a closet, doesn’t it? But keep in mind, those shelves haven’t been cleaned off since 2001. Oh, and some of the stuff came from the laundry room… yeah, I couldn’t help myself… while packing up tote bags and hats I didn’t want, I added some of both from the corner of the laundry room and voila! Another organized space in 15 minutes! (no photo… maybe later)
Stay tuned for Project #2 next week…. and I’ll report back on Operation Order Out of Chaos! If any of you have tips, please leave a comment!

>The Feast of Theophany

>The Orthodox Church celebrates the Feast of Theophany on January 6. Theophany means “manifestation of God.”

Sometimes it’s called Epiphany, which means “manifestation from above.” We celebrate Christ’s baptism, which sanctified water, making it available to us for sustenance and healing.
We’ll have a Liturgy and the “Second Blessing of the Water” this morning at St. John Orthodox Church here in Memphis.
I’ve been out of all town all weekend and don’t have time to write much, so I’ll invite you to read my blog post from one year ago, here. It’s got photos and links to other sources if you’re interested in reading more about this beautiful feast.
KONTAKION (hymn) OF THEOPHANY

“You have revealed Yourself to the world today, and Your light, O Lord, has shined upon us. We recognize You and exclaim to You: “You have come and revealed Yourself, O Inaccessible Light.”

So, how will I celebrate this feast? On this, the twelfth day of Christmas, I will clean out and reorganize my closet! (After the church service and lunch with a friend visiting from out of town.) No, it’s not an Orthodox Theophany tradition–just part of my New Year’s schedule, my plan to bring order out of chaos. I’ll be humming “twelve drummers drumming” to keep my energy up. I usually take down our Christmas decorations on this day, but my daughter (yes, the one who cleaned out the attic just before Christmas) took them down for me. She’s returning to grad school at UTK today… I’m going to miss her so much!
I’ll complete this short post with these words from St. Gregory the Theologian:
Christ is illumined; let us shine forth with Him. Christ is baptized, let us descend with Him that we may also ascend with Him.
Blessed Feast!

>2009: Order Out of Chaos

>As I write this I realize it’s my first blog post in 2009! It feels like it should be something really significant, you know? And maybe it will be…. we’ll see….

Yesterday morning I met my friend Nancy Starbucks for coffee. You’re probably thinking that I meant to say, “I met my friend Nancy at Starbucks,” but the syntax was intentional. You see, her real name is Nancy Mardis, but I have another good friend named Nancy, so I refer to this Nancy as “Nancy Starbucks” because we actually met at Starbucks about six years ago and have been getting together there regularly ever since. (When we met, we discovered that we are both artists and we both have adopted children from South Korea and we both love to read, and the friendship has grown from there.) This is Nancy and her husband Lloyd, who is battling cancer. He’s also an artist and a writer. Sweet, creative people.

Anyway, Nancy told me about Maryanne MacDonald’s column in the Home & Garden section of the Commercial Appeal, and yesterday’s article, “Ten Steps to Bring Order to Your Home in 2009.” She said that one of the tips was to “make appointments with yourself to work on organizing projects” and another was to “schedule two to four hours a week.”

So, I said to Nancy, “Really? That’s what she said?”

And Nancy said, “Yeah, why?”

“Because just yesterday I decided that’s what I’m going to do! I decided to set aside Monday mornings for organizing a space each week. I can’t believe that’s what the expert said. I feel very affirmed in my decision!”

Check out Maryanne’s web site. And especially her article, “Closet Control.” When I saw that article and the photos, I knew I would want to start with my closet. Well, actually, what started it all was my daughter’s amazing gift to me just before Christmas—she cleaned out and reorganized my attic! If you missed that post, it’s here.

So… here are the “before” pictures. (I won’t show my husband’s side of the closet because, well, because it already looks pretty much like an “after” shot. Yeah. He’s like that. Well, okay, here’s a shot of his shoes. But you should see his desk!)

And here’s my side of the floor of the closet…. the shoes.

And here’s a vew of the shelves above my clothes.

And one more, a view of the shelves at the end of the closet. (I must say in my defense that it’s a very small closet for two people to share… especially two people who have been married for thirty-eight years and at one time had a much, much larger closet. This scaling down concept only works if you get rid of clothes, I think. I’m pretty sure that’s going to be part of the organization next week.)

I went on to tell Nancy that with the beginning of 2009 I was making plans to schedule in exercise (elliptical machine at the gym at first, and maybe add in some strength work later) three times a week, and also schedule in time for writing, but I haven’t decided how many hours or days yet.

Organizing.

Exercising.

Writing.

Sounds good already! So… I started with exercise yesterday afternoon. I hadn’t worked those muscles in over a month, so I could only go for 20 minutes, but that covered a mile and a half, so it’s a start. The Cotton Bowl was on TV in the gym, which made the exercise go quicker. (Go Rebs!)

My daughter and I are going to Little Rock for the weekend to visit a friend, and not returning until Monday, so I won’t be able to get on track with the organize, exercise, write schedule until next Tuesday, but I’m actually getting excited about it. Stay tuned to see how I’m doing. This feels kinda’ like telling a friend you’re going on a diet and thereby making yourself accountable, you know? I know my blog readers will want pictures of each organized space and results of writing and exercise schedule (no before and after photos will be posted of the body!)… so stay tuned in 2009.

And in case any of my artist and writer friends are worried that all this order is going to quench my creative spirit, have no fear: even if I succeed in getting the entire house in order, I’ll always have my own very messy mind to go to for my creative energy! As Nietzsche said, “One must still have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star.”

Happy New Year!

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