Monday, February 11, 2008


It was a long night...Tessa is having trouble sleeping these days, so she climbed into my bed and tossed and turned with me. Right on schedule, at midnight, her children's Motrin wore off, her fever climbed, and she felt awful. I think I actually slept between about 4am and 7am but the rest of the night was long.

Some of the restlessness was mine, not Tessa's. I've been having sleeping issues for months (years? I've lost track....but it's a post-diagnosis thing) and had resorted to taking Ambien CR at night, but of course I don't want to do that when I'm caring for Tessa; I need a clear head for her, and the other night she was up and crying and Ryan cared for her and I didn't even notice because the Ambien kept me sleeping. I didn't want to risk that with Ryan out of town. Anyway, I lay in bed tossing and turning myself. (The only good news? I read "The Constant Princess" in its entirety; it's one of the Phillapa Gregory series about the women of the court of King Henry VIII. Not as good as "The Other Boleyn Girl" but a good distraction anyway.)

But this morning, Tessa is playing ponies, singing to herself, and seemingly content. Her sweet voice is music to my ears; she appears to be feeling much better at this moment. She did have another Motrin this morning (she was hot, then cold, and she said her bones ached) but either it's working or she is starting to feel better.

On a totally different note...

A few days ago I watched Oprah (rather unusual for me) and it had an anti-clutter guy who has just published a book called "Does this clutter make my butt look fat?" Despite the silly title, I liked his premise: we clutter in lots of ways, and head, heart, home, and hips are all connected. Sometimes we walk in to a home with clutter, and our heads feel overwhelmed, we get sad, and we eat to avoid. It's pretty simple, but logical to me.

Anyway, it inspired me to do some decluttering in our home. It has been therapeutic; I don't feel like talking, I don't feel like thinking, and I don't know what TO do when I'm not caring for Tessa, so I started decluttering. The office was the first line of attack, as it's the worst part of our house, and it had gotten to the point where it wasn't functional. It's an ugly room (no carpet because of the flood, mismatched stuff, in need of paint, used to be a kitchen for the MIL suite, and the clutter-collector of our house), but it didn't need to be that ugly. I still haven't done the filing, but it's a billion times better.

I decluttered the top of the fridge. I decluttered my closet. I decluttered my dresser. I even decluttered some toys in the playroom (Tessa hasn't noticed yet; I think that this is a sign that she didn't care about those toys).

I want to get rid of some stuff. The theory is that too much stuff weighs one down. The declutter guy (Peter? I can't remember) said that clutter falls into two categories: "I might need it one day" and "memorabilia." In looking around our house, I think I'm relatively good with the memorabilia (I'm comfortable with it, in any case) but the "might need it" category is ridiculous.

Case in point: an old ski jacket. I got it when we lived in Bellingham, and it wasn't perfect when I got it. The style is outdated (duh), it's not best quality, and it's a size large. And yet....I kept holding on to it, thinking, well, I might need it some day, or we'll have a guest who needs it. Obviously that's ridiculous: I don't think I'd worn it in 8 years. It's clutter. It's in perfect shape, barely worn, but it's not useful. (It's gone now.)

There's also the consumerism component of all of this. The clutter buys into the "more is better" philosophy of Americans, and I'm (pardon the pun) not buying it.

My friend Jenny lived in Scotland for a time (hi Jenny) and has shared some of the European ideas about stuff (things) with me, and I have spent some time thinking about them. She said that having shabby, hand-me-down things in Scotland was a sign of class and sometimes of wealth. The thing is, the shabby things belonged to the upper class.

This bears some thinking.

I like it.

Hand me down things, of quality, speak of heritage. It speaks of understanding value. It's anti-consumerist. Things made to last; things meant to be handed down; things meant to stand the test of time...these are signs of wealth. Not the newest thing. Not the latest color.

My living room is like this; Grandpa Goddard's beautiful bookcase (our wedding gift); G.G.'s piano; Aunt Grace's dining room table and chair's; Mom & Dad S.'s sideboard.

My family room, downstairs, is old, but not's more garage-sale than anything else. I don't think that the philosophy is about having ugly things, it's about recognizing that quality things transcend trends and don't need replacing all the time. My family room needs work (although it's perfect for little kids jumping around, and it IS comfortable) and that's okay; my philosophy isn't to just take whatever, it's to recognize "enough".

So, in part of my pro-environment, pro-pocketbook, pro-spiritual quest, I'm trying to remember all of this. I'm trying to remember that the clutter IS making my butt look fat (ha), and that we have enough. That I do not need to collect bits of this and that just in case. That, like writing, the editing is more important than just about anything else. (Not that there is any editing here, but that's another problem to tackle another day.)

These are random thoughts, distracting me from the problems of the day. Today I'll tackle a new corner of clutter (there are always more) while Tessa rests.

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