February Habit #18 A Work In Progress

Hi Fly Lady,

I am a relatively new flyer.  However, one night I was visiting a friend and I told her how just the first step was changing my life.  that is “Shine your sink“.  About a week later, she told me that she was doing that too and it was positively impacting her life too.  So thank you for getting us started.  February is 15 minutes of decluttering.  You can’t imagine how many times a day I go to the recycle bins in the back of our facility between paper, cans and other containers.  My friend dropped by unexpectedly and said my place looked fabulous.  What a wonderful feeling.  Thank you for your routines and tips.  Emerald City Flyer.

My Declutter journey is still a work in progress and actually began in November of 2014.  Our basement is one large open room with many uses; it is a laundry room, my antique upright grand piano is there.  Part of it is a garage, the weight machine and other exercise equipment is located there, there is a shower and toilet, it is our storage area and at one time, was a playroom for our children who are now grown.  It is home to the freezer, where I store my canned goods, and since 2014, it has become the home of my sewing room as it is not damp, but dry and comfortable at 66 degrees year round.

Nearly ten years ago, this big dirty cluttered room full of stuff had me fed up once again.  I bought a number of new shelves and began clearing out an area so I could work and felt I was making progress then my oldest son moved home and started divorce proceedings with his wife.  My newly cleaned area became home to his excess stuff, some of which was still there in 2014.  I can’t count the number of times I have started this project, only to run out of time or energy, and it seemed that every time I started the project over, it was far worse than it was the last time I tried to complete this task.  I have allergies, and every time I’d sweep or dust anything in the basement, my head would fill up and I’d sneeze, have extreme sinus drainage, watery eyes, and be stuffy and miserable for days; there’s something down there that doesn’t agree with me.

The basement area became so bad that at times, there was barely a path to the washer and dryer, the shower, and the freezer, and I had to step over things to play my piano.  Not to mention there was no chance on God’s green earth that a vehicle was ever going to fit in the garage portion, as you couldn’t even walk through it.  It was so bad that I put up a folding door at the top of the steps, and when people actually had to go in my basement (furnace repairman, dish network installer) I’d tell them that I told other people that if they went in my basement, I’d have to kill them.  It was bad and caused me lots of embarrassment, not to mention, I just didn’t like to go down there or spend time there.

November is deer season, and we have anywhere from ten to thirty deer hunters visit for one to five days at a time during the ten day season.  In 2014, deer season rolled around once again and I STILL did not have that nasty mess cleaned up, all the hunters were stuck using the upstairs bathrooms, so I sat down and made a plan.  First, using pencil I drew out the basement to scale on graph paper that I printed on card stock so it is stiffer than plain paper.  I drew in the appliances, the partial bathroom, and things that would remain in the same locations.  Then I started playing with things that I could move, such as the piano, the weight machine and other exercise equipment, a clothes rack, added the new shelving, and the sewing table I’d bought seven prior that was still in the box.  In a short time, I had, on paper, an organized functional basement.  This scale drawing is now on the wall where I can see my goal every day.

I then divided the basement into areas, and for an hour each day, I went to the basement and worked on a set area.  I started with where I wanted my sewing room to be.  Each day I worked for an hour and when it was over, I headed off to do something else.  Before, I would start a project and not quit until it was done.  By this time, the rest of the house would have gone to pot and I’d have another mess to clean.  During the rest of November, December, January, and February, I made great progress every day and kept the rest of the house clean too.

Instead of sweeping, I took my old vacuum downstairs and vacuumed everything, and I no longer sneezed.  Instead of dusting, I used Windex and the purple rags to clean surfaces that can’t be vacuumed, clean.  Before I painted the walls, I sprayed sealant to kill whatever was causing my allergic reactions.  I hauled off dozens of bags of trash and I’m sure I’ll haul off dozens more.  I took things to the second hand store.  I GAVE my son his stuff back (and still have more to give him, and others.)  I cleaned, I scrubbed, I painted, and by March of 2015, I had a beautiful sewing area, I could walk to my piano, sit down, and play, I had good lighting for both areas, and I thoroughly enjoyed that area of the basement.  I cleared the laundry area and the area around the freezer so there was no longer just a path.  I made a place inside the basement door for my husband to hang his chore coats and store his boots.  Things were coming together; I looked forward to my hour in the basement every day, it was relaxing for me to go to the basement to clean for an hour, and then I’d stay and work on a sewing project and/or play the piano for a while.  Then I’d look over what I’d accomplished for the day, and decide what I’d work on the next day before coming upstairs.  You wouldn’t believe the things I found; things I’d been looking for, for some time, things I forgot I had, things I didn’t remember ever having in the first place, and things I thought I got rid of years ago that are now gone for sure.

I had just started the worst section ~ what had been the playroom.  It was the area, no matter how many times I started cleaning I never seemed to progress to that corner, it was always last on my list.  I spent an entire hour, two days in a row, picking puzzle pieces out of the jumble of toys in the floor ~ someone had spilled five 1500 piece puzzles and over the years they’d been scattered everywhere.  I knew this corner was going to take the longest to sort out as many of the toys were mixed together and we of course had thousands of Lego’s,  tinker toys, Lincoln logs, Constructs, Connects, and all these little toys with hundreds of little pieces that hadn’t been played with in years, all dusty and dirty.  Our youngest is now 27 and we have seven grand kids, which equals several years for dust to collect.  Most people would grab a shovel and dispense with all of it, but these are my children’s memories, so I sorted, cleaned, organize, and now my grandchildren can play with the same toys their daddies played with growing up and in the same play area, but I didn’t complete that in 2015.  My husband and I became ill with a bad case of the flu and were sick for over a month, by then we were both behind and outdoor work,  which included  six hours of mowing a week, one hour of mowing a day, kept me away from the basement project.

It wasn’t until after deer season of 2015 that I started back to work on the basement, again.  I took my drawing down and mentally and physically assessed what I had completed and what was left to do, then put my “to do” list on paper.  Finally at the end of December, my first priority was to finish that awful corner where the play area was, I knew if I could complete it, the rest of the basement would be a breeze.  It took nearly three weeks by the time I cleaned, sorted, pitched, painted, and put things back.

I then cleaned and reorganized the sewing and piano area since it hadn’t had much done to it since 2015, spent the time sorting and organizing all my music, getting rid of duplicates, etc.  Next I cleaned the exercise equipment and put it into a newly cleaned and open area, I now have both a clean pleasant place to do it, and a little more time to exercise; I’ve actually lost six pounds and look forward to my exercise time, too.

I  moved on to the freezer area, cleaned out the freezer, defrosted it, moved it out, cleaned and painted behind it and moved it back.  Next was the laundry area, again, moving out the appliances, painting and cleaning behind them and moving them back into place.  Some days I just walk around my completed spaces for five and ten minutes at a time, amazed at the difference; I can’t believe this is MY basement.

While I painted the rest of the basement walls with white durable semi-gloss exterior grade paint, I painted the laundry room area a bright sky blue using the same exterior type paint.  I put up a rainbow decal complete with little clouds, a smiling sun decal, a decal of planters full of life like bright red tulips above the chest freezer, and along the floor, a strip of life like green grass with multiple colored flowers and butterflies.  Even in the dead of winter I feel like I’m outside on a summer day when I do laundry; it makes me smile, smile, smile, and is such a pleasant place to be.  I’m almost disappointed when the laundry is complete.  If I find clothing that needs repairs in the laundry, I can take it directly to the sewing area, repair it, and put it away.  If it needs ironed, my ironing board is located in the sewing area as well.  I can “do it now!”

I have the garage area, the area below the stairway, one other small area where the laundry chute and sorting baskets are located, and the partial bath to finish cleaning and painting.  God willing, according to my list, the first week of April should be the final week.  Thank you Fly Lady for teaching me that I’m not behind, that I just need to jump in where I’m at, and that I don’t have to attempt to do it all at once (which causes you to crash and burn, or give up because you’re overwhelmed).  You also taught me that it doesn’t have to be perfect, and to keep plugging away until one day I can look around with a big proud smile and say, “It’s done!”  You can do anything if you just take it one-step at a time and keep plugging away. It didn’t become a mess in one day, so it’s taking a while to make it into a clean, comfortable, organized, useful space.  It’s a long hard climb, but praise God, I’m gonna get there!

A FlyBaby

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