I ended up not getting the condo after all. After the court paperwork said that I was no longer married, I agreed to let the father of my children pay me directly rather than further bog down the legal system. He was denied a mortgage, and so was I, for essentially the same circumstance. Meanwhile, our children are harmed far worse than consenting adults who made the choice to have them. My loan officer felt bad, my realtor tried to tell me I could apply for an institution that would give me a portfolio loan, a term I was unfamiliar with prior to this, but when I spoke to an attorny, I decided to let it drop. I was at work when I heard the news, it was upsetting, not shocking, I managed to hold it together until everyone else had left. Then I shed some tears that were the culmination of an emotional dam breaking.

It turned out being a good thing, being denied something that I wanted pretty badly. I read the Marie Kondo book that had eluded me ever since publication. I've gotten back into the habit of visiting the library, my sister had an interesting point; you can binge on books, cart them home, and return them even if you never read a single page. I added that last part, but she correctly identified what the process mimics - retail therapy. Rather than hitting the mall, the thrift store, buying something at the grocery store, a bar, a coffee shop, a nail salon; or any of the other places where I have parted with my money, heading to the library costs me nothing other than whatever I spent in fuel, time, and energy to get there. I walk around with books until my arms are full. It isn't a number, or other criteria, it's the weight of them in my arms that lets me know when to stop.

My sister wasn't that impressed with the magic joy promised between the covers. I personally found it lovely, my mom wanted me to explain it to her, and I couldn't. Then she asked me to tell her two things about it, and I fumbled with that too. I think this is because the book favors people who rely on intuition and gut sensations rather than those whose sense is less developed. There's a part where Marie suggests throwing papers away. I took this to mean papers you didn't need to keep such as taxes, legal documents, etc..., since she has a section on warranties. My sister interpreted this more literally. She thought that Marie was saying throw it all away. Probably one of the most profound explanations/realizations was Marie's statement that the highly organized people are actually hoarders.

Being organized myself, or at least thinking that I am, it gave me a pause. The further I went into the book, and into my own life, the more this statement became a truth in my life. Illuminating something I had only vaguely grasped before. Had someone asked me before I read this book how much I could get rid of, I might have said that I had a box or two, perhaps a small bag of things I didn't really need in my life. Before this book I was on the right track, but rather than stop when I felt as if I was getting rid of too many things, Marie urged me to go even further. Marie was right. I've lost track of what we've taken to the thrift store. Bags, totes, bins, furniture, bedding, I haven't even gotten to the kitchen or the bathroom yet. Less than 800 square feet, and an embarrassing, shameful quantity of things that were weighing us down.

My trip to the library yielded other treasures. Previously, Vern Yip, was an unknown to me. An aunt of mine liked his show, as I read his book a new lesson was begun. He had several insets labeled; 'Learn With Vern', I got a lot out of the book, much more than I would have anticipated after judging it by the cover. Vern is to interior decorating what Moneyball was to the Oakland Athletics. He is ruthless about space, measurements, and the idea that interfering with these principles is poor design, which it is. Despite his more mathematical approach to design I put near our kitchen pantry. Why would I partially impede a walkway? I liked the pot and how it looks there. But it doesn't work well in real life. Not long ago I wanted some large pots. They were on sale, my mind conjured up a beautiful fantasy involving them, but I walked away without purchasing anything.

I found a book about decorating small spaces. One morning I drove to the library after a disappointing evening revealed that both of the audiobooks I had checked out earlier were not to my liking. The first was a book on walking, but it had been intended for people who were on a walk with the audio rather than people in a car, such as myself. The second was a book about how a woman had quit sugar for a year. I had cut out sugar previously, and will do so again, but her narrative was not compelling to my ears. Even when I have a plan I sometimes like to wander around and see what else might catch my eye, window shopping in a sense. I think I have seen a book by Judith Orloff before, at work. I remember not caring for it and setting it aside. Her audiobook titled; Emotional Freedom, is borderline miraculous in my mind.

When I tried discussing it with my youngest daughter, she said she didn't like systems that tried to categorize others. She only wanted to be identified as herself. No more, no less. Interesting from a fifteen year old I thought. But as I listened to Judith define the Emotional Types; The Intellectuals, Empaths, Rocks, and Gushers, I was fascinated. Later on she went into the vampire types; the narcissists, the critical, the splitters, and victims. The fifth type eludes me, was it the controllers? I forget. Wisely she explains that we can have some of each type of emotional type in us, and we too can be the vampires in relationships with others. I heard and saw myself as she spoke in her measured, almost heavy voice. To confront the darkness within us and become more aware of how we are sabotaging the lives of others is a bravery she explained. Until we acknowledge a problem exists, we have no tools or strategies for coping and changing. 

Other books in my stash deserve honorable mentions. The Simple Living Handbook by L Lipincott, and a book on finance by a woman named Carrie R, something about keeping money in your pocket. I would get up and look, but I have a rule that requires me to sit and write because once I get up, I might get distracted, and then I will lose my train of thought, and possibly never finish what I set out to do. I found a book on work people and types that gets into the Myers-Briggs sets. It's okay, but I regret the dollar I spent on it since it's a very light and quick skimming summary that I didn't find particularly insightful, or that helpful. Perhaps it will be of future value, maybe it will be culled from my collection. Today I have a bookcase in the living room that is full of books I own. In another room, my empty bookcase is for volumes I am currently interested in, or actually reading. My active library books live there, their kin in a bag I chose for them.

What Marie, Vern, Juith, Carrie, and Lorilee did for me was to give me the power to face my life and my outer world. This is the teaching a man to fish version of lifestyle change rather than simply giving him a fish. The books have all played a valuable role so far, and I know that like a lot of what I read, these are changes that will shape the remainder of my life. Never again will I go back to my prior ways now that I know some of these secrets. I'm sure there will be times when I stumble, trip, fall, or make an even greater fool out of myself, but the core competencies remain. Now I can see the why behind rooms that don't work in key ways, and have unveiled a much lovelier place for myself and the girls. Perhaps not everone would donate all the pillows that came with their patio furniture. I'm glad that I did. The bench is beautiful, and the pillows were a cheap and unlovely shade of tan that still makes me cringe.

I'm resisting the final stages, or are they really the middle ones? It can be hard to tell where one is at in the process. But Marie has shown me the wisdom of inverting the phrases - my place is too small, and I really need X. Today I have learned that my stuff is too big, and X is almost always a seductive lie. Judith Orloff recommends making a list of top five fears. I live a fear based life and I want to move past that into safety and security. 1. I fear that I will be punished for doing the right thing, that there will be no reward, and rather than a treat or the rightful gains I should be receiving, I will instead be blamed or harmed for having done what I should have. This has happened to me several times in my life, today I release it and put that behind me. I will no longer let fear of punishment prevent me from saving money, or taking a needed action.

2. I fear that I will be trapped and emotionally manipulated. There's a song about smiling faces showing no trace of the evil that lurks within. In the past I have been more gullible and naive. But I never want to become that cynical bitter emotionally crippled person who views others as a useful tool to get what they want, or to avoid getting punished for doing something wrong. Today I acknowledge their smallness and rely on the power of my generosity to forgive them. 3. I fear numbness and isolation. To have children who are, as one author described it, entitled guests, most of my life has been swimming against the stream. I'm tired of these energy vampires weighing me down, making me feel that I am less than, inadequate, or have been placed on earth to serve them at the expense of getting my own needs met. I prefer pain to the empty black hole I have fallen into before. Today I am covering that hole and putting large signs around it, warning me to keep away.

4. I fear good things happening to me. I am suspicious, fearful, angry, and alone. To have a partner, romantic, or otherwise, requires me to become more vulnerable, loving, and to let people behind some of the walls I've put up in a vain effort to try and keep the bad out and the good close to me. Walls do not work that way. They block the good and the evil find the windows, doors, and cracks. Today I envision a warm and safely loving home where I determine who is knocking at my door, or tapping on my window. There are mechanisms I can put into place that allow those who lift and build me into my life while keeping the harmful at bay. 5. I fear drudgery, and ugliness. The other day I washed my dishes. I rinsed my breakfast dishes off today, and that was a very important transformative step. What I never realized before, we had so much stuff I didn't feel like I could tackle housework. Decluttering allowed me fewer things to wash, dry, and eventually put away.

I feel better having written this. My fiction has suffered. But it has taken a priority in the past at the expense of dishes, so in the grand schema, there has been a righting of the scales. My life will never be perfect, but I am on the cusp of seeing it emerge into more of what I would lie, and less of what I do not. Fortunately for me, I am learning to enjoy my own company. To be your own best friend, to choose peace, calm, transquility, serenity, and let chaos swirl around me, the eye of the storm is an interesting place to be. Sometimes I have to sit very still in order to avoid getting sucked back into the storm. We have been battered, bruised, broken, and bested, but today we have been given rest, relaxation, a chance to heal, nurturing, nourishment (I've hated that word for a long time now), today the slings and arrows of the past have fallen at the physician's feet. We are not whole, but we are better than we were before. This gives me great hope.



P.S. I'm still tired, I don't really want to drive up and meet my family, but I can do hard things. I will have tomorrow off, and go back to work on Monday, knowing more than I did before.


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