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.

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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!

Our Minimalist Wedding

Minimalism was not our intention. My husband has a small family, so not a lot of guests on that side. The focus on my end was just to keep it simple. Truth be told, I couldn’t be bothered with all of the planning, headache and heartache.  I’d seen enough of that in the various weddings I’ve attended or been a part of for the better part of 3 decades.

No thanks.

We both agreed that we wanted something where our guests could feel at home. Where they could chat and laugh without having to scream over loud music. Where they could get their clothes dirty with food stains. Where children could frolic in the pool or in the backyard.

Oh, and we had to have two weddings. First, there was the civil ceremony in the Fall. Our parents are in their eighties and it was important for us to have them witness our vows. The Church wedding would take a few months and we had to schedule pre-Cana sessions, a kind of counseling for those getting married in the Catholic Church.  These sessions could take a few months to complete. So a civil ceremony was the answer. The mayor of a local village came to my sister’s house and we had a small luncheon afterwards. It was beautiful.

The “big shindig” took place the following Summer. At first, we were going to have a cool food truck cater the party in my sister’s backyard, but they were busy, so we went with a more traditional caterer. Which was fine, since we were also able to hire two wait staff.  So far, the wedding costs were a few hundred dollars.

Since there is a pool in the backyard, I insisted on hiring a lifeguard. This protects both my sister and her husband financially as well as protecting swimmers. It was a good investment, and we hoped we did not have to make use of it. Thankfully, we did not. This added another hundred or so. So far, the wedding cost is still under $1,000.

My two wedding dresses were bought at a national designer discount store for less than $60 total. The Fall dress was an awesome fuchsia and the Summer dress was just that–a Summer dress, white with lace.  Inexpensive white sandals and a handmade lace shrug from Etsy completed the outfit, for less than $200. The hair clip was from a dollar store.

My hair is naturally wavy, so all I did was step out of the shower and let it dry naturally. The bangs I styled.

The makeup was what I wore daily.

My husband bought his suit and shoes.

Still, the wedding so far costs less than $5,000.

We rented tents, tables, chairs, and portable toilets. The table linens were donated from local restaurants. Hey, it helps to have a sister who is known in her hometown.

We decided not to hire a professional photographer. What we wanted were those candid shots gotten only from friends and family. Turns out a friend decided to bring his professional-grade camera and played photographer for the day. Later, we printed out those pics on shutterfly, and POW! a cute little wedding album for less than $100.

My brother-in-law provided live music for us, for free. Free and priceless.

The alcohol served was a gift from my sister, as were the simple centerpieces.

Bouquets and boutonnieres were bought from Bunches Direct a few days before the wedding.

The cakes were bought at a local big box retailer.

Did I mention the wedding and engagement rings? Mine are sterling silver with cubic zirconia. The hubby’s is a simple sterling band. Just a couple of hundred dollars for them.

Our honeymoon will be a weekend at Wellneste Lodge this coming June. I bought it as a Christmas gift to my husband via Groupon. The cost? $250 for a two-night stay.

The whole wedding cost between $5,000-$6,000. Where we live, $20,000 is considered inexpensive.

We kept asking ourselves, “What’s more important, the wedding or the marriage?” Of course, it’s the marriage. So why waste so much time and effort, not to mention money, on something so temporal as a wedding?

On the big day, it rained a little and the lifeguard got sick. I shrugged it all off. My sister said to me, “I’ve never seen such a relaxed bride.” Of course. The wedding already happened, we were joined in union. The party afterwards was just a celebration of that. Stuff goes wrong. Stuff goes right. Why worry?

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The Fall Wedding. The shoes were actually given as a birthday gift from the matron of honor the previous year.
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The Summer Wedding. Husband used the same suit, just a different tie.
For those who want to see the back of the dress.
For those who want to see the back of the dress.