Category Archives: Lessons Learned

Comparisons

Have you ever found yourself caught in the comparison game? Have you ever looked at someone else’s achievements, or work, or life and thought, “Wow, I’m a complete failure?” Have you ever compared yourself (the self you actually are now) to the self you imagined you would someday be? Have you ever compared what your goals or plans were to what you are actually living out today? Have you ever been disappointed by these comparisons?

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2012, I Came To Love You Late

Tonight, only a few moments after our celebratory cheers and noisemaking, my oldest daughter, as she drifted off to sleep belted out, “2012, We will never, ever, ever be getting back together.”

I chuckled. I continued on about my business of making sure my home was picked up and secure. I have guests crashing on couches and in extra beds throughout the house. There was a great deal of Martinelli’s flowing tonight, and for the first time in years, some fireworks after the Times Square ball dropped. It was wonderful evening, spent with the people who saw me through the most difficult parts of 2012. I couldn’t imagine celebrating without them. Read the rest of this entry

New Year’s Eve 2012: A Bittersweet Goodbye

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
~T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

When you look back on 2012, what single word would you use to describe your year? Was it a year of triumph, of joy, of wealth or misfortune? Was it a year of stability or change? Was it a year of loss, grief and pain? Was it a year of peace and tranquility? Is it a year you are glad to have lived or is the year for you already reminiscent of heartache, failure, struggle or regret? Is there, if you were to consider it, a theme to your year?

Another year has come, tarried awhile, and is on the verge of bidding us all adieu. This year no doubt brought its share of surprises, joys, disappointments, challenges and successes. Maybe, for some, it was a year almost completely pocked with pain or personal failure. Maybe, instead, the year painted broad brushstrokes of blessing on the canvas of your days.

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A Broken Heart

I know it is an idiom. The idea of a broken heart. Your heart doesn’t literally break like some glass ornament that can shatter when it falls from the tree. It is merely an expression indicating great pain. Pain usually associated with the loss of a love.

I know this pain. I know this pain intimately. For me, this pain, while usually referred to in emotional terms, is one I experience on a physical level as well as on an emotional level. It resides in my chest, just to the right of center and it feels like someone wedged a pickax in at that particular point and is now trying to pull my heart right out from my body. It is a physical pain as well as an emotional pain.

What I didn’t know, until this last year, was that sometimes a broken heart occurs for reasons other than lost or unrequited love. A broken heart can occur absent love. A broken heart can occur when a dream that you loved, that you hoped for, that you worked for, dies. Broken hearts might always be about love, but they are not always about lovers.

Cleaning Out

Decluttering. Minimalist. Organizational Strategies. Less is more. These phrases are the trendy, edgy buzzwords of the new millennium. In movies, the set depicting a cluttered homey living area is more and more equated with low income characters or low class characters. Wealthy characters in the media are more often set in upscale living quarters that are minimally furnished, clean and clutter-free. More and more, it seems, that the trend in decorating is moving to a less is more approach.

I like this trend. My mother toward the end of her life, after many years of living with my father, who was the ultimate pack rat, told me, “Clutter creates stress.” I am not by nature a minimalist. I have some creative hobbies and in the past the supplies for these hobbies dominated a very large portion of the garage I am now cleaning out in my rental. Since leaving the Evil Ex, I have learned that my mother’s words are true. I have spent the last 5 years cleaning out my home and my life of the clutter (and damage) he imposed. The supplies for my creative projects now take up a 2-foot shelf in my closet. It’s been a long process of going through things, cleaning up and tossing out. It feels good to lighten the load of stuff that one must manage, organize, or maintain.

The last thing I want to do is clean out someone else’s squalor. This is exactly what I spent the day doing. Thanks to my friend whose son had the crazy friends, her husband, her son and some members of a community group that is trying to prepare a garage sale to raise money, we were able to get a phenomenal amount of work done today.

It’s late, I just took a sleeping pill, and , while I’m waiting for the pill to kick in, I thought I’d share some before and after pictures of the work that has been accomplished on the Trashed House in the last 24 hours.

Here is the front yard before:

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Here is the front yard now:

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The kitchen:

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Here is the garage:

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Every bit of trash, junk, etc. has been gone through and either trashed or donated. What you see here is the stuff that just needs to go to the dump. This will have to wait until payday, but,at least, there is nothing there that will deteriorate and cause the house further damage.

We loaded up over 10 mattresses:

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The debris in the bedrooms has been cleaned out:

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The bathrooms cleaned up alright:

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The back yard looks amazing:

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The toilets actually cleaned up without overflowing:

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There is now no trash in the house. It has all been bagged up and placed either outside, in the garage or in the living room ready for disposal. Bathroom and sinks are clean; toilets usable. Lighting fixtures have been repaired and new light bulbs put in. The hole in one wall has been repaired and is ready for paint.

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There is still a huge amount of stuff in garbage bags to get rid of, but at least now the place is safe and cleaned out. It is now manageable. I’m deeply indebted and grateful to my friend and her family and friends for giving of their time to help me with this overwhelming project. I could not have done this so quickly nor so well without their help.

This chapter in my life is coming to an end soon. I hope that by this time next month, I am completely free of this house and any responsibility for it. It has been nothing but a huge drain on my time and energy. At least now, it is presentable. I feel a lot better about that. If I ever get into the rental business again, I will hire a property management company to deal with the headaches for me. Furthermore, as I was cleaning the place out, I realized just what a dump fixer the place was. Of course, when I purchased it there was money enough to fix it up. The Evil Ex made sure that never happened. I have learned that I am just not the fixer upper type.

I guess I’ve learned a few other things. Once again, my mom is right:

Less is more.

Clutter creates stress.

Always be very careful who you allow into your home.

Bad things are going to happen to you; it isn’t what happens but how you choose to deal with it that matters.

There are better days ahead.

This year, of all years, indeed to believe that.

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