When Things Turn Out…Differently

You know those pesky best laid plans of mice and men that often go astray? Yes, that. So I had a plan. And now I have a new one. Actually, since my plan to dramatically lose a gazillion pounds by eating more carrot sticks isn’t working out like I’d hoped, I suppose I have two new plans. And shoot-dang, neither one includes vast amounts of chocolate or chocolate liqueurs. They do, however, include a good attitude and soap.

I’ll skip my nonexistent weight loss plan. After all, people’s diets are about as interesting as their vacation photos. So I’ll skip right on over to my other plan. Because ya know, skipping burns more calories.

Last fall, I had this great plan to reduce and simplify my life by vast amounts. We all know I dream of living in an IKEA-inspired world but since I don’t want to leave my husband and kids or get a police record for trespass, I am forced to attempt to reign in the chaos of my life and living spaces. It’s good to have a plan for such things. Mostly so you can see how pretty the dream was as opposed to the gritty reality of your life.

In late November, I took a peek at the 2012 calendar and made a proclamation along the lines of some ruling queen. I decided January would be the month of “Love It, Like It, Leave It” and February would be the month of “Spend No Money”. The plan was to purge my 1800 square foot house of all the crappola and then save oddles of money in February. Then from March until December we could laze about in our tidy rooms, rolling in all the saved money.

Yes, I agree. I must have been hopped up on Extra Bold French Espresso when I came up with that plan.

So, let’s see how things have been going since we are now on the 10th day of February.

I have 2 bags of stuff to take to Goodwill.

The debit column is way bigger than the credit column.

So, well, things apparently turned out a bit differently than I had planned.

You see, in order to frog-march a family of five into a lifestyle of less stuff and more togetherness in tranquility, a mom must first get up the gumption to do so. And it takes a heck of a lot of arm twisting and grumbling to encourage four other humans into purging their stuff. Because what my order-seeking eyes see as chaos and too much stuff, my family sees as familiarity and important stuff. For example, I grabbed a box and asked my two oldest kids to go through the books on one of the kids’ bookshelves. I wanted them to separate the books into “Love It” – hold on to them for the next kid to read or forever!, “Like It” – hold on to it for now because we’re just not sure, and “Leave It” which means give it to someone else to enjoy. Here’s what they managed to come up with. Four books all by themselves in a great big cardboard box. You might imagine it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for.

If I am going to purge this family’s possessions to a reasonable amount, perhaps a month is too short of a time. And perhaps expecting my family to embrace the process wasn’t too bright of an idea either. I’m thinking that this process is mostly going to land on my shoulders. There are twelve rooms in my house and five closets. I still have twelve rooms and five closets to go. Go me!!

As for spending no money. Well, considering the upright freezer we are borrowing from my sister-in-law broke on Monday and 9 hours after I realized the freezer was D-E-A-D, my stove broke (as in it doesn’t work at all), let’s just embrace the notion that take-out is going to happen way more than normal.

The nifty part of having to empty and throw away most of the contents of an upright freezer? Well, nothing. But the unforeseen benefit is that I have certainly increased my inventory turn-over. And when a defrosted gallon-sized bag of left-over baby shower punch (orange juice, pineapple juice, 7-up and sherbet) topples over as you stare in amazement over the scads of defrosted food in your upright freezer, well there gets to be copious amounts of soap and hot water and profanity in your day as well.

So my new plan? Because I too love it when a plan comes together, and we could all do with more togetherness. My new plan is a bit different.

For the next ten months, I’d like to purge more than we buy. And I’d like to spend less than we make.

I suppose this will all turn out. Just a bit differently than I’d hoped. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to drive to IKEA and go sit in one of their showroom areas and pretend it’s my life. If you see a short and chubby middle-aged lady napping on a couch, kindly don’t wake her up unless she’s snoring too loudly.

ps. I don’t know how to cook with a microwave. Reheat left-overs, boil water for tea, no problem. The stove repairman won’t be here until Wednesday. The 15th. So I am feeding my family with a crock-pot, toaster, microwave, and a borrowed electric griddle. And the phone. “Hello Dominoes….”

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2 thoughts on “When Things Turn Out…Differently

  1. I’m trying to look on the bright side of all that and all I can come up with is “Oy”. And that as a wife of a comic collector I feel your pain. At least he has a man-cave now so I don’t have to see it all the time. 🙂

  2. Oh, if you only knew how many times I’ve gone through my house. A move every three years prevented too much accumulation, but now that we’re settled (despite my minimalist attitude and borderline OCD) the stuff multiplies. It doesn’t help that kids come and go leaving everything behind—and I’m talking drum sets, amps and recording paraphernalia, along with sound proof padding nailed all over the basement walls. My daughter still has every note written to her from jr. high through high school in multiple shoe boxes.

    But I also know that it won’t hang around forever.

    Your plan to spend less than you make and ditch more than you buy is realistic, doable, and your family won’t feel traumatized in the process.

    And good luck with the stove.

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