365 of Me: 243/123

8track

Sunday was another day spent out antiquing. We hit the Antique Mall in south county and the Wentzville flea market. I came home with a few things for my craft projects. Just before my phone died, I snapped this photo of two of my favorite singers on 8 Track. These were still pretty popular when I was a kid. Mom and Dad often played 8 tracks on the stereo console on Sunday afternoons.

I didn’t buy these since I have no way to play them, but it still brought back fond memories. Patsy Cline’s airplane took off from my home town just before it crashed. Her music, and Ronnie’s, has always resonated with me for some reason. Yeah, it’s a nostalgic part of my childhood probably, but that’s okay. We always remember the music that provides the background tracks to our lives.

365 of Me: 242/124

sea2

Saturday night we tried out a new restaurant here in St. Louis called Peacemaker. It’s all about seafood and has only been open for about two weeks. The place was packed and there was a long wait. Luckily, there was a dive bar across the street where we grabbed a drink while we waited.

It has wash tub light fixtures and over-sized pictures of shrimpers and fishermen on the wall. The menu is simple and mostly market prices. I had the shrimp boil pictured above and a side of hush puppies. It was wonderful. In fact, I don’t even remember the last time I had seafood that good. A nice bottle of wine accompanied the meal, and there was blackberry pie and ice cream for dessert.

I don’t eat out much in this city, much less at new venues, so this was a pleasant experience overall. I would definitely recommend it to others, though beware it is a bit pricey. My only complaint was J’s lobster roll was served with potato chips. For what you pay, you’d almost expect fries or coleslaw at least. But that was our only complaint. I’d definitely go back.

365 of Me: 241/125

book1

On Saturday, I had a book signing at The Book House in Maplewood along with five other authors from Rocking Horse Publishing. I’ve blogged about The Book House before. This was the first time I’ve visited their new location since it was still under construction back in December. I only sold 2 copies of my book, Dickinstein, to customers but those 2 copies really made the whole experience worth it because I spoke with each of those buyers for about 30 minutes on various topics.

The first was an older gentleman who shared my interest in local ghost stories. He once lived across the street from the infamous Lemp Mansion, so we had a good long conversation about it. The second copy went home with a young couple who shared my love for Emily Dickinson. We both suggested other authors to each other and even shared our favorite Emily poem.

It’s opportunities like this that really remind me why I love to write. It’s the art of story telling, plain and simple, and everyone has a story to tell. The young girl of the couple told me about how she lived in New Jersey when 9/11 happened. She was still very emotional about it, but I could tell she appreciated my sincerity in listening to her. And it was sincere. Connections like this with readers don’t happen often.

I left three signed copies of Dickinstein at the bookstore. If you are in Maplewood, stop by to see the store and pick up a copy. Oh, and we’ll be back at The Book House in late October for an evening of ghost stories! More details to follow.

365 of Me: 240/126

tree

Oh, how I missed my tree this week.

I park under this tree when I get to work. It’s one of the only spots in our parking lot completely in the shade. Unfortunately, this week was so busy that I didn’t even take lunch 4 of the 5 days. I worked 11 hours straight for 3 days without a break.

Usually I sit in my car for an hour, in the shade, with the windows down and get lost in a good book. In the spring, I let my seat back and read for 30 minutes and then napped for 30 minutes.

I’ve watched a baby robin sit in this tree while its parent retrieved food over and over again to feed it. It’s where my groundhog can usually be found. The geese sought shade here last week. I’ve come to know this tree very well. It’s a friend of mine.

I didn’t spend the whole hour with it today, but it was still a nice reprieve. It makes me happy.

365 of Me: 239/127 – Life Edit: Day 5

I could probably do another 5 days of life editing and still not accomplish everything in my life that needs to be edited. But today is Day 5. I committed to 5 days so today I’m done for now. And everything about this challenge has been leading up to today’s focus – my office!

Once we got rid of the bed, the spare bedroom became my office. It’s where my closet is, my desk, my computer, a bookshelf, a file cabinet. It’s where I study, where I blog, where I write. You might remember that I redecorated last summer to make it a more creative and enjoyable space for me since I spend so much time in there.

Since the beginning of this year, it’s also become a place for me to store my craft supplies. You might also remember that I started making putz houses back in the winter after the holidays, a fun project that I plan on picking up again very soon before Christmas. So all those supplies got piled in one corner. And I kept adding to that pile when I started another craft project a few weeks ago. And you know how that goes. Pretty soon one pile becomes two and then three, and pretty soon you can’t walk in your office anymore. Need proof? Here is a photo I snapped last night before I challenged myself to edit this space:

unnamed

Sad, isn’t it? Yeah, that chest of drawers is where my socks and underwear are stored too, so everyday I have to fight through the piles of stuff to get to it. That’s my gym bag which just needs to be put in the closet. There’s my laptop which I can never find a space for because I hardly use it. And yeah, there’s a bag of new clothes from Kohl’s that I bought two weeks ago that just need to be hung up. Another bag with a Christmas gift for someone in it that I’ll probably forget about if I try to hide it somewhere. Craft supplies. That box of books I cleaned up from Day 4 of my challenge that will disappear this weekend. Another box of my own books which just needs to be put on the shelf. I have a signing tomorrow though so maybe I’ll sell out. See that pile of stuff on the left under the window? That was my attempt at organizing my crafts back a long time ago. Those are boxes and bins, but they just have more stuff piled on top of them.

After I took this picture, I immediately started editing the space. I had cleared two shelves on my office bookshelf which I was now determined to devote to craft supplies. As you can imagine, it didn’t take long to fill them up. I put the gym bag in the closet. I hung up the new clothes. Tomorrow the box of books and the box of my books will be gone. There’s two bags of flower bulbs for my mom in there somewhere that I will take to her on September 12th.

Though it’s not all gone just yet, it now looks much better as I turn around in my office chair from writing this and look at the space. I feel better about it anyway.

So this challenge was fun and yeah, you could say I set out to do it mainly to get my office cleaned. Sure, that wasn’t really related to my phone or my USB drive, but those were projects that were on my endless mental to-do list anyway and this seemed like a perfect time to do them. I had also wanted to tackle my clothes closet and try to get rid of a lot of things that I don’t wear. With the seasons changing soon, I know I’ll be tackling that anyway when I switch out my clothes for fall and winter.

So, did you edit your life this week with me? What spaces in your life could you challenge yourself to edit? When are you going to start? Remember…one day, one space, at a time.

365 of Me: 238/128 – Life Edit: Day 4

boo1 Several years ago, today would have been quite painful. There was a time in my life when I loved to collect books – the paperback or hardcover kind. Before we moved into our house 8 years ago, I donated almost $1000 dollars worth of books to a gay and lesbian community center and that barely put a dent in my collection.

In 2007, I joined Bookmooch.com and started thinning the shelves a bit, though I earned points there to get books I wanted. It was fun but costs a lot in postage. I also have given quite a bit up to used bookstores the past few years.  Now I like giving them to friends on permanent loan.

Thanks to the Kindle, I buy less physical books now. Sure, I can’t ever resist a used bookstore and will probably find something to purchase every time, but I am a bit more selective these days. book2

Let’s face it.  I have a limited amount of bookshelf space and I have books piled on top of each other.  And other things cluttered in front of the books. And I’m getting tired of looking at it.  Downsizing my book collection has been on my list of things to do for quite some time. It was just a matter of making myself go through the shelves and pull off the books I was willing to part with.

Surprisingly, it only took about 30 minutes before I had gone through every book I owned and filled a large cardboard box of books that I was willing to part with.  They ended up mostly being books I’d already read and know I won’t read again, or books I’d forgotten I even owned and I know I’ll never read them.  Gone now are the books left over from my indie reviewing days and also any advanced reading copies.

I thinned my Dean Koontz collection quite a bit.  There hasn’t been a new book of his in a few years that I’ve cared much for.  I even bought his last two book3on the Kindle and didn’t like those either. About the only thing I didn’t touch is my hardcover Stephen King collection, though I did throw in an audio book of his, only because I already had it in hardcover.  King is one of the few authors that I know I’ll continue to buy in hardcover. I also found a few duplicates of some titles and part ways with at least one of them.

Like I said, years ago this would have been a painful process, but as I get older (and as technology improves), I’m not as emotionally attached to my books any more.  And I need shelf space for other things!  Believe me, there’s a bigger problem to address on Day 5!  This Life Edit challenge is about making space and utilizing that space, but in order to accomplish what I have planned for Day 5, I need more space!  So something had to give and the books were an obvious choice.

As I pondered the books, if I had second thoughts it went back on the shelf for me to think about some more.  But most of the books were easy for me to part with.  I’m an Ebook reader and Kindle lover, so if there are doubts later, I can always buy the Ebook version.  There will always be more books (new and old) to read!

book4The pictures you see here are of the bookshelves in my office and the three shelves in our dining room.  Our house is already so small that when the shelves in the dining room get cluttered, stuff starts to pile into the floor as you can see, and the small space starts to feel even smaller!

I also utilized my new night stand, which is taller and has a door, for hardcover books that I have already read. That cleared a lot of shelf space for tomorrow’s project!

So are you with me or against me when it comes to parting with books?  Yeah, I know.  Most of you are probably against me.  And that’s okay.  Editing your life of things like this which you love is tough. Like I said, several years ago I wouldn’t have dared part ways with a single volume, but I’m different today.

I like who I am today too.  I’ll never stop loving books.  I’ll never stop buying books.  I’ll never stop reading books.  But today’s technology should be embraced.  The devices are awesome and easy to use.  And think about how much physical space in your life you can save or devote to other things!

Box of books ready to be donated!

Box of books ready to be donated!

365 of Me: 237/129 – Life Edit: Day 3

050 Today’s Life Edit challenge wasn’t too hard for me, but as I said yesterday, this could be a tough one for some of you out there. I’m talking about cleaning out the photos on your cell phone. Unlike many, the cell phone isn’t really a necessity for me. In fact, I hate charging it and carrying it around. It really is only for emergencies, but I still hate that bill each month.  I use it for texting on occasion.  Most of the time when it rings, it’s a wrong number.

I like the iPhone for its capabilities and apps.  I use the Kindle app on it at the gym.  I use it to listen to music sometimes.  And of course as you know, I use it to take photos.  At one time, I had over 400 photos on my phone since I’d been using it to snap my pic a day for my blog most of the time.

Today when I looked at it, I had just over 250 pics on it.  Now I’m down to 140 and could probably get rid of some more.  I also erased a few videos and all of my Instagram photos that were stored on the phone since those are available on Instagram.

Like I said, quick and easy for me. But how many pics do you have on your phone that you could probably delete?  Challenge yourself to edit your life a bit and start with your cell phone!  Move the photos to your blog or to Facebook (or a USB!) if you need a place to store them.

365 of Me: 236/130 – Life Edit: Day 2

drawer1 Today, for Day 2 of my 5 Day Life Edit challenge, I decided to tackle something a bit more physical. For Day 1, I cleaned up and organized my USB Drive and the desktop of my computer. Today it’s the dreaded junk drawer in the kitchen!

Everyone has one. That one small drawer in the kitchen that you never really utilized (though you should have!). And so it becomes the place for important recipes you wrote down, batteries (new and old), screws, nails, that screwdriver you forgot to put back in the tool box, small toys, junk mail, receipts you think you need to hang on to, bread ties, pencils, tealights, phone numbers, trivets, miscellaneous kitchen gadgets you wanted but never use, the important directions that come with everything you’ve ever bought, you get the idea!

We’ve lived in this house for almost 8 years now and not once has our kitchen junk drawer ever been cleaned out. I’m not kidding!  As you can see from the first picture, I could only open it halfway because it was so full of junk.

drawer4

The gadget pile: lots of things we thought we needed but have yet to ever use!

I started by pulling everything out and organizing it into piles: important papers, gadgets, things that can go somewhere else or back to their proper place, and junk.   It only took about ten minutes to empty the drawer and divide the contents into my different piles.

I was not surprised at all by the junk pile and how easy it was to decide what to part with. I found receipts that were two and three years old. I have no idea why we were keeping them.  Old coupons. Bread ties. Those flower fertilizer packets that come with live flowers at Valentines Day.

Old warranties for products we don’t even own anymore – Hmm…guess we should have looked for that warranty when it played out. Money mailers that we never opened. Fast food straws. Blank envelopes that come with bills – why we kept them I don’t know.  We have recycling!  So, this was my largest pile which I was happy to part with.

What I had the most trouble with was all the paper I had left over.  I didn’t want to spend time going through what needed to be kept or what didn’t, so I quickly narrowed it down to only the instruction booklets for gadgets or items we still had.  I also kept some recipe booklets I’d found, and that was it. The rest got added to the junk pile very quickly.

drawer2

I found minions in my junk drawer!

I also had a pile of batteries – new and old and no way to tell what was what.  So, I threw them all in a Ziploc bag as a means to at least keep them together.  Any stray tools and screwdrivers and tape measures went to the basement in the toolbox where they actually belong.  I started another Ziploc bag for fast food salt and pepper packets which we do occasionally use. But any sauce packets got tossed!  And another Ziploc bag quickly filled up with stray nails, screws, nuts, and bolts – which also went to the basement toolbox!

drawer6

Bag of stuff

It now took less time to reorganize the drawer by deciding what to put back in it.  I put the stack of booklets and papers in the back. The trivets went up front since that is the one thing from the drawer we do use the most.  A few odd and end items and the Ziploc bags went in between. Lastly, I grabbed that trash can, took the lid off, and happily swept a big pile of stuff in the trash!

Now, you might be thinking….so what?  Shannon cleaned out a junk drawer.  Well, remember what I said earlier. This junk drawer hasn’t been cleaned out in almost 8 years!!  Just like I said in my beginning Life Edit post – this is about addressing spaces in your life that you’ve constantly overlooked. This kitchen junk drawer has always been on my mind, time after time, year after year, but always got overlooked. So, that’s what life editing is about: Finally taking charge and getting that overlooked task done.

I put the tools back where they belonged.  I organized things the way they should have been done in the first place. I got rid of receipts and old warranties – things like this pile up and you know it! An even better idea to get rid of these would be to scan them into electronic files and put them on your USB drive. Then you can throw the hard copies away and don’t have to worry about keeping up with those ever. But for now, I’m okay with these results.

And you know what?

drawer5

Into the trash!

It felt great!

Yeah, the kitchen drawer is a tiny part of my life, but for now, and hopefully for a bit longer, I won’t have to think about it anymore.

drawer7

The finished result…Junk drawer no more!

 

Tomorrow I’ll be facing another not-so physical space.  This will be a quick fix for me personally, but for some of you out there, Day 3 could take a very very long time! ! !

365 of Me: 235/131 – Life Edit: Day 1

4How many of you have one of these?  Or maybe I should ask how many of these do you have?  If you are like me, you probably have several. Maybe they serve different purposes, or again, if you are like me, maybe they are just used to try to keep you from filling up your computer with files and pics. They are definitely a necessity in today’s high tech world.

I have several and I keep them in a candy tin on my desk.  But there’s only one USB drive that I use the most and that’s the one pictured.  It’s the largest as far as memory space goes, a nice investment I treated myself to several years ago when my other USB’s kept filling up.  And since buying this one, I can’t remember the last time I had to go back and find a file on one of my old ones.  What does that tell you?  Well, when it comes to editing your life, your computer’s memory, desktop, or your USB drives are a great place to start.

My candy tin of USB drives

My candy tin of USB drives

Think about all the pics, files, spreadsheets, videos and more that are stored on your computer or drive.  I see everything on my favorite drive at least once a week when I have to access it.  But I don’t remember the last time I deleted, organized, or cleaned it up.  So, that’s what I did today for Day 1 of my Life Edit.  I started first by doing a quick sweep of my desk top.  That was easy and took less than a minute because I actually try to keep it clean.  I like to temporary store files on the desktop, but then I usually move them to my drive when I no longer need them. I rarely save files to my actual computer – I’ve had too many computers crash on me over the years and I’ve lost everything.

Next, I inserted my drive and clicked on properties to see how much space I was using.  It was nice to see that I wasn’t even close to filling it half way up. Only 2.38 GB of 14.9 GB of space used! But I was determined to still do some cleaning.

Here’s a snapshot of the properties screen before I got started:

Before

Before

So I spent a good hour going through the numerous files of pics I’d accumulated going all the way to 2010. I deleted over half of them! Next, I created folders and moved like files into them just to make things seem a bit more organized. I ended up deleted more files that I didn’t need, and when I was done I clicked on properties again to see how I did:

2
Yeah, I only got rid of about .38 GB but look how much the bytes decreased!  It sure felt like a trash can full.  But even better, it felt great cleaning up this very small space of my life that I depend on so much.  Tomorrow I’ll be moving on to a much more physical space.

Life Edit – 5 Days of Editing My Life

lifeeditLast Sunday I heard an interesting story on NPR about space.  Not the space as in the great beyond, planets, stars, solar systems.  I’m talking about the space we inhabit. The story focused on our need for space in several aspects, but how our life is affected by how we fill that space and by how much space we have to fill.  And of course, they talked about how we should fill that space in a way that doesn’t clutter our lives. And there was a bit of advice on how to simplify your space too.

Part of the story talked about a man who lives in an apartment that is only 423 square feet.  As you can imagine, everything is very compact.  The dining table might turn into his bed or fold up into the wall.  It’s a micro apartment where every part of the space is taken advantage of and the things in the space serve multiple purposes.

But he has held a dinner party in the apartment for up to 10 people and it never felt crowded.  He’s even building an apartment building in Brazil where every apartment will be like this!

The story went on to talk about some obvious aspects of our own lives that we can “clean up.” Those being a closet or a bookshelf, space under the bed, the basement, or the attic. Those are all pretty obvious spaces that most of us have in our homes which often get cluttered.  What about the junk drawer in the kitchen or nightstand? Or that bottom drawer in your dresser? The filing cabinet in the office?  All spaces that we probably look at and say, “Out of sight, out of mind!”, right?

Yep, I’m guilty of that myself. Cleaning it or organizing it goes on my mental list of things to do, and the next thing you know three months have gone by and I haven’t touched it.  And chances are it’s also gotten worse.

But what about other not-so-obvious spaces in your life that might also be cluttered?  Think about  the glove box in your car, or that side panel pocket on your car door.  Or a USB drive might be full of files.  Even the desktop on your computer might be full of pictures or files that need to be moved.  What about the number of apps on your cell phone you don’t use; or even photos on your cell phone? Again, this got me to thinking about how I have those problems too.

So, here I am with a challenge I want to share with you. What if we devoted just five days of our lives, not even a full week, to cleaning up these spaces in our lives? From the obvious, to the not so obvious, if we just stopped and devoted a small amount of time each day to cleaning up these spaces, think about how nicer these spaces would be and in turn, how nicer our lives can be.

That being said, I’m challenging myself over the next 5 days to edit my life a bit by addressing at least one “space” in my life each day that needs some editing. And I’ll be using my “pic a day” post to talk about those spaces.  Want to learn more? Visit LifeEdited. Or stick with me over the next 5 days (starting today in my next post) to see how I do!