Three Things: 2/21/13: Bit by Bit

Thursday, February 21, 2013


Intro: one woman’s war against clutter, stress and pounds – by tossing three things a day.

No toss today, just a progress report (though I did finish a box of cereal and toss it, along with yesterday's junk mail).

This represents where I started, sort of. This is actually after about an hour's worth of clearing, when it occurred to me that I'd want a "before" picture:

And this, about two weeks later:

Today (the three week mark):

This is as good as it gets. The goal was never to completely clear “it.” The goal was to control “it.” Left to right, the things pictured have a purpose. The tee-shirt is from the first run I completed without stopping to walk. My change jar is there so I can clear my wallet daily; the brown pottery holds my daily make-up. Pictures of my kids; necklaces hung on a tie-rack attached to the dresser. Couple art pieces. In short, things that make me smile when I see them, instead of a pile of stuff that makes me feel defeated as soon as I open my eyes.

Okay, so it took three weeks for me to get where others could get in about 3 hours. Or 3 minutes, if they had a big trash can and a tiny heart. But one thing I've known from a career of managing retail stores is that you can spend a few days getting everything cleaned up but if you don't fix the root cause, you're going to be back there cleaning up again in a couple weeks.

This go-slow philosophy has translated into other areas, with good results.

In three weeks, I’ve managed to shave two minutes off my 2-mile time. I started at 33:15 and have slowly increased either the amount of time I run (alternating with walking) or increase the speed at which I walk or run. My long-term goal is to do 3 miles in 30 minutes. It could take a while.

This system works for me: I have a pad of Post-It Notes in the pocket of my treadmill. As soon as I finish um, slogging, I jot down my time. I transfer the time into my planner. I like how the color of the Post-It translates onto the page. Feels good.

Here is where I started, breaking no land speed records.

My running style can best be described as “lumbering” or “flat-footed,” but I’m not discouraged since I am still much much much faster than (as they say) the people who never get off the couch to do it at all. My form improves as I get stronger, and if you are also an overweight runner, I promise that "butt-bouncing-around-independ
ent-of-your-stride thing" goes away quickly. Plus, I mostly run on a treadmill in the basement so no one sees me anyway. Mostly. I occasionally run on a treadmill at the gym. No one cares. In a good way. Once in a while you see someone sneaking a peek at how fast you’ve got your treadmill set for, or what incline. Sometimes that sneak is me. I tend to fall in step with the person next to me and often it will propel me to a faster pace. I’m not judging you, I’m being inspired by you. Yeah. Yeah!

Here you can see how laying it out calendar-style shows you how your improvements stack up. Still breaking no land speed records. That was never the goal. The goal is control.

It’s not smooth progress. Some days it’s not even progress. It’s more like trying to hold a dozen ping-pong balls under water with two hands: one keeps getting away. On those days you either learn to let the ball go or ask for another hand. Neither of which has ever been easy for me. But I’m trying.

Bit by bit.

“Our plans miscarry because they have no aim. When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” ~ Seneca

PS. That art piece I said I was returning to my daughter? She also agreed it needed to go. Trashed clutter and guilt in one move!
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'm glad the bunny made the cut. It's make me think of Watership Down, or the "Presto" album by Rush if I were to look at it, and both are things that make me smile.

    And I call the Walk/jOG intervals WOGging. That makes me laugh, too.
    1884 days ago
    I really enjoyed this blog. First of all, you have created an honest to goodness Clutter-free zone, right there in your house. It looks GREAT! and now you have achieved this monumental SUCCESS you can press on to create another clutter free zone. IMAGINE how many you will have by the end of the year!!!! =)
    Second, I love the idea of a calendar with big squares to track exercise and nothing else. I think I will do that too. What a great idea, thanks!!
    Third, your ping pong ball analogy was dead on--it made me laugh but also accurately describes what happens to me when I try to do my enormous list of self-improvement goals. That analogy is going straight into my vocabulary.
    And finally, I love the little saying at the end of the blog. Its so true, and so simple. I love these kinds of things and I want to take them to heart. My favorite one is, and I don't know who said it, " If you chase two rabbits, both will get away".
    1885 days ago
    I may have to "borrow"your idea for tracking your fitness regimen. I keep track of my fitness here on spark people, but lately I have kind of felt that I needed to do more. Trying to improve my reps, I have a difficult time remembering just how many I was able to do the last time I worked out. (I so love getting old.) I do strength training on my total gym one day and cardio on my Wii fit plus the next. Just keeping track of minutes hasn't really been enough lately. When I saw the pictures of how you are doing it a little light went off! This would work. There is enough room to put everything in an organized place. I was thinking about a notebook, but that kind of calendar book would be so much better. Thanks!
    Your dresser looks fabulous! Looking at your pictures I looked over mine, much smaller, but absolutely a disaster, and it gave me some hope that maybe I could get mine down to at least a "dull roar".
    1885 days ago
    You are making such GREAT progress! You really are an inspiration. :)
    1886 days ago
    1886 days ago
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