How to Eat an Elephant

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Approximate Read Time: 3 minutes

Q: How do you eat an elephant?

(See answer at the end of the post)

 

“I can do something for 12 hours that would appall me if I had to keep it up for a lifetime.” –Unknown

 

Clutter doesn’t accumulate overnight. It starts out small, maybe a paper or two on the counter. Or with a few pairs of shoes thrown together haphazardly near the door.

In 2010, I was 45 years old and weighed nearly 250 lbs. I was morbidly obese level III.

Me 2010
Forty-five years old. My highest weight. My lowest ebb.

 

The weight did not pile on overnight. It was years of bad decision-making.

Losing 100+ pounds was also not an overnight process. It took just about two years of solid, good-decision making, several times a day, every day.

And so it is with clutter. Just as an accumulation of stuff doesn’t happen overnight, de-cluttering is a process that takes time. Sometimes it’s swift, other times it’s a bit longer.

Very few people enjoy the work of losing weight. The thought of having to stick to a daily discipline every dayt for the rest of my life scared the bejeezus out of me.  But a very good spiritual mentor  said to me, “Try it for your next meal.”  I did that, and it worked. Then she said to me, “Try it for just one day.” Seven + years later, I am still doing it one day at a time.

And so it is with clutter. The thought of clearing a room of our excess stuff is overwhelming. We open our closet door and moan:

Where do I even start?

First, we decide.

Start by making a decision. That’s it.  Deciding to clear the clutter is the first step  in a good, orderly direction.

Is your closet a mess? Our usual inclination is to tackle the whole closet in a day or a weekend. That’s too overwhelming. Start with something small, specific and do-able. For example, last season’s shoes. You recently stopped wearing them, so they are fresh in your mind. You know what you wore most and what you didn’t wear at all. What needs fixing and what does not.

Starting with something small, specific and do-able is your next step in a good, orderly direction.

Next, we take action.

As with most project the first thing to do is gather supplies.

Bins

Before you begin, get 3 bins or containers. Usually a laundry basket sized container will do

A Keep Bin. Put shoes that fit, that you love and that are in good condition in here.

A Trash Bin. Any shoes that have worn out soles/ heels, broken straps, etc. go in here.

A Donate Bin. Shoes that are still in good, wearable condition but you don’t want them anymore go in here. Then donate them right away.

Timer.

Use a timer, either a kitchen timer or one on your phone for starters.   Time, like storage bins, is a container. It has a beginning, middle and end.

Try 15 minutes. Quite a bit of work can be done in that short time. As you work, you might find you need more time to finish the task. That’s okay.  Work 15 minutes, break for 5.

Rinse and repeat. Do this until you are done with the task. You might finish in one day, or several. That’s still okay. In the end, you have only the shoes you love AND you will have blessed others by donating pairs you no longer wear. It’s a win-win.

IMG_20140719_115301
Forty-nine years old. In 2013, I met and married the love of my life.

 

Answer: One bite at a time.

 

Supplies I like:

Time Timer: www.timetimer.com

The Drop-front Shoe Box  from the Container Store makes shoe storage and retrieval amazingly easy. AND THEY ARE STACKABLE! No more tumbling down shoe boxes when trying to get just one pair!

A Life of Esteemable Acts

Nothing_stone

It used to be that I would do one of two things to make myself feel better–either I would overeat or I would spend money.

I overate to the tune of being morbidly obese with a BMI of 41 and I overspent in the thousands. With the addiction to compulsive eating and debt to income ratio on the rise, I hid perfectly well in society. I was fat and so were you.  My debt matched yours.

With the higher weight and the higher debt came the greater shame and embarrassment. I crawled into a meeting for people addicted to compulsive overeating. I put down the food.

Five and a half years later, I still weigh and measure my food and instead of being morbidly obese with a BMI of 41, I am at a healthy weight with a BMI of 21.

No longer is there shame attached to my eating.

Today, I pay my bills. No longer do I throw them away in the hopes that the creditor will forget all about it. Yes, I really used to believe that. It makes perfect sense in a world where burying your head in sand seems like a good idea.

My husband, in all of his wonderfulness, does not know this part of me. He finds it hard to believe that I used to be that way, despite the evidence of what I’ve shown him (pictures, defaulted student loan notices, etc.) He knows me as the woman who keeps a clean and organized home, sticks to a regimented food plan, goes to meetings a few times a week, and pays the bills on time (mostly).

What happened? How did I go from being a slothful glutton to an organized and detail-oriented person?

A few years ago, a special woman entered my life. We talk everyday, I tell her what I’m eating for the day, and we talk about life in general.  She is a decade younger than me, but we have similar backgrounds. Our mothers are Irish, fathers Italian. We’re both bad at being Catholic, but love the Church warts and all. Our mothers were alcoholic. And we both have the disease of compulsive overeating.

One day, she said to me, “All the positive talk about ourselves and taking our inner child out to play is all bullshit. Want to know how to build good self-esteem? Do esteemable acts. Get your ass up out of bed every morning. Don’t overeat. Be honest.”

It’s really that simple. Today, my list of esteemable acts has expanded to include other areas.

Be available to those who truly want (not need) my help.

Shut up when they don’t.

Pay my bills on time.

Spend within my means.

Save for my retirement.

Save for a house.

Show up for work on time and ready to do the job.

Tell my husband I love him.

Write.

 

Do you want better self-esteem? Do an esteemable act.