Monday, January 11, 2016

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up-the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo.

Yesterday a friend asked me if I could write a book review of the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up-the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo, for a newsletter for retired teachers.  

I thought I had actually already reviewed it and written about it  here, but I hadn't so now I am, as promised.

I confess to being a clutterer which does bother me and has  drawn me to Simple magazine and shows on decluttering.  My problem is I like my things and can be quite sentimental, but I also can get frustrated and overwhelmed when I can't find something.  I also have sometimes felt that people who spend their lives tidying don't get much done (but that is probably because it seems to take me a long time to do so).

Many teachers tell me that they are going to get organized at home when they retire.  No doubt because many of us tend to be pack rats because we might have a use for something someday.

The first step is cleaning out your classroom.  Organized people walk out of the school the last day of employment with everything done.  It probably took me off and on two weeks, and since my room wasn't used as a classroom for another year, I ended up spending a day a year later going through books left behind with the teacher, new to grade seven, who was taking over the classroom.

And of course I did bring home boxes from school and just as I was told most of the files I did keep have not been used.

But I think that all has something to do with the difficulty of letting go.

One of my friends had told me about this book initially and then I found it in a book store had had to bring it home.  I loved her writing style.  I liked the titles-section one-Why can't I keep my house in order? and chapters like-Tidy a little each day and you will be tidying forever, The moment you start you reset your life etc. etc.

I also liked how she told personal stories-explaining as she did how she developed her approach.  As my friend said it was inspirational.
Her bottom line is you must discard and then decide where to store things.

I started with my clothes and I did one drawer at a time-discarding what wasn't worn and using her folding method so that now I could see exactly what was in my drawer.  I mean who knew I had 31 pairs of socks!  And I have stuck to the folding method!  Why?  Because I know what is where!

As I brought out her book again (please don't ask to borrow it as I refuse to lend it)  it took me a few minutes to find it so I think there are some more books that need giving away.  Note she believes in tidying by category-easiest categories like clothes first.  She also believes that you make tidying an event not a daily chore.

I also like how she feels that the real task of tidying is to not the final destination, but a tool to establish the lifestyle you want, once your house is put in order.

So bottom line, is my house clutter free? No… but has this book helped me? Yes!!!  To learn more without even buying the book just go to her website!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Every year I struggle with writing my Christmas letter, something I have been doing for almost 30 years!!!  Wishing you all a very happy holiday season!!!

So here is this year's version.

Another good year.  I went to South America for the first time.  I got to literally fly to Rio and take a cruise ship back to Miami.  I went places I never dreamed I would go.  Who knew that when I read the book, Papillon, and later saw the movie long ago that  I would actually go to Devil's Island, the French penal colony in French Guinea?   There were many magical moments with stops in Rio, Salvador, beautiful Recife, Belem on the Amazon, Barbados, and Gordon, BVI,  , and my friend, Val, from Montreal was a great travelling companion.

Watercolour classes on the ship inspired me to take water colour classes here which I thoroughly enjoyed.  A friend gave me a membership to Van Dusen Botanical Gardens and I took two courses in doing botanical watercolours. It was so much fun.

Before the cruise in February, I did a weekend in Seattle in February with friends.  In April, Val and I went to Salt Spring Island, staying at Sandy's mom's condo now sold.  I spent a couple of days in Victoria in May and made several trips to Whistler.  I began the summer with a trip to visit Elaine and Terry at beautiful Christina Lake where we had a rather warm Canada Day celebration after which I had to throw myself in the lake to cool down!!!

My friend, Donna and I did a fun road trip in August to the Shakespeare Festival in southern Oregon in Ashland and stopped off in Oregon's wine country and Portland as well.

In September I went back east to try to catch some leaves changing colour-I had a great trip with stops in Ottawa, Quebec City, and North Hatley, as well as Montreal, but the weather was warm and the leaves were just beginning to change.  It was great to reconnect with friends and family, and to visit favourite places.

I became a cherry blossom spotter  (Vancouver has a big cherry blossom festival) and learned more about cherry trees than I ever imagined it was possible to know!  I tried to teach myself Brazilian Portugeuse with a couple of iPad apps but fortunately I didn't need to use my rather inadequate language skills much in South America!

I took another knitting class and actually gave away a couple of hats away!  I kept on with yoga and my fitness class as well as taking lots and lots of walks and I took zillions of pictures.  I continue volunteering two mornings a week in a first grade class and have been tutoring my next door neighbour's seven year old.

I got involved in an unsuccessful  campaign to recall a provincial MLA and enjoyed the enthusiastic people I met in the process.  Even though I supported the NDP in the federal election I was still thrilled to have a change in government with a Liberal victory.

The garage finally was taken down that had been falling down for years and eventually (after an aggravating summer on this front),  my backyard was restored although I still need to fill in my new back garden bed.

It was  a winter with little snow even on the mountains and then a summer with no rain so that the rainforest seemed to be becoming a desert but we had enough rain this fall and the mountains have had snow already.

Even in retirement there are issues-hard seeing some friends and family struggle with serious illnesses, and I was shocked and saddened when an old friend died in Nova Scotia and my cousin in Winnipeg.  On the other hand, it has been nice to reconnect with some old friends and generally discovering that we are older but not really all that changed.  My most serious medical problem (not very serious) was a mysteriously wrenched shoulder this fall, but thanks to physio I am back to normal.

Next year I am looking forward to a trip to Spain and Portugal in March.  Many places beckon but I still love living in Vancouver and try to keep exploring.

Holly the cat is fine, slowed down but still furry and purry and yowly at 20 years old!

So I really have no major complaints with 2015.  It was a really good year!
Wishing you all a wonder filled 2016!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Easing into November

I always hate the first week of November.  Now the time changes back to Standard on November 1 and the fun of Hallowe'en just ended and suddenly it's dark at 5:00.  For Canadians the next "holiday' is Remembrance Day which is not exactly joyous.  Americans have their Thanksgiving it must be a mad panic to Christmas, but at least they have a fun holiday in November.

The leaves are not giving quite as colourful a display anymore and it's too early to want to think of Christmas.  The weather is usually rainy and cold as well, and I wonder why didn't I book a trip somewhere warm and sunny the first week in November.

When I taught report card writing was another thing that spoiled November.

Some people don't like January but by then the days are getting longer and when you live in Vancouver you can see new growth beginning.  I went away in February last year for three weeks and missed my crocuses!  I am planning another trip this spring but feeling a bit sad I probably won't see some of the bulbs I planted in bloom.  So January I can tolerate...

And that is another thing about November, I always end up still planting bulbs and it's cold or damp or both.

I have to ease into November and start to see the positives.  I love craft sales for instance and they are already beginning.  I finally feel inspired to knit again (keep in mind I didn't knit anything for over 40 years until a year and a half ago) and I am honestly enjoying it.  It seems the right thing to do in November.  I also can feel still ahead of the Christmas rush.
 I don't think I like change in some ways.  I like holidays but I am usually late in preparations and then don't want to let them go.  So now in the second week of November I can feel myself easing in, content to stay home this evening and think that maybe a fire in my fireplace would be cozy.

I am going to try to embrace the Danish concept of "Hygge", the idea of welcoming winter and enjoying the "coziness".  Okay, Vancouver doesn't have a very wintry winter but the nights are long and we do have many grey days.  But yesterday, although it  was November, was brilliant and I made sure I took advantage of it.

But now I am going to knit, light a fire, find my Newfoundland socks, watch TV, and look, I even got a blog done!!! And I have a new Elizabeth George mystery waiting for me as well.  And some recipes to read (I might even try making them eventually).

So embrace the darkness and find your favourite afghan to wrap up in.  And maybe I will tell you the time I had two winters in one year...