Saturday, February 28, 2015

Reflections on Peter Walsh's New Book

I am in the process of selling my house and also I am dieting with Weight Watchers. Peter Walsh points out that dieting and decluttering all go together in his book released this past week. Amazon got it to me on the release date, February 24th, and I have been enthusiastically reading it during planning periods while I substitute teach.

Peter also adds a third element to decluttering and eating and exercising--mindfulness. And so he launches a plan to work on all three. In this very thoughtful and might I add organized book, he takes twenty-two volunteers on a six-week program. 
From 9/14/12

My Decluttering
But decluttering has taken/is taking me much longer than six weeks.  Walsh uses a room-by-room approach to decluttering as I did when I went through Mindy Starns Clark's book, The House That Cleans Itself.  15 people got Mindy's book that she mailed me beginning HERE IN 2012.* Those of you who have been following my blog saw me prioritize areas to work on, Alzheimer's proofing the house as I went. Along the way I did get help from Pharis for the outside of the property #9. The last two areas, I never got to--the garage #10 and the workshop #11 as my caregiving days became more difficult and even house keeping took a back seat to house maintenance, a sad fact that I have had to remedy in recent days.  My Huntsville brother and Pharis were the ones to clean out Areas #10 and #11 and give me new purposes for those rooms--the garage has hosted three garage sales in 2015 and the emptied workshop is now the staging area for my move to Huntsville, Alabama (Rocket City) as the above banner suggests. The whole project has become a downsizing with rooms changing and furniture leaving the house as I have been chronicling recently.

My Dieting and Exercising
I started back to Weight Watchers at the end of 2011 as reported HERE. In 2012 I lost 25 pounds and I kept off 15 of it as the caregiving proceeded. Who knows! I might have gained all 25 pounds back! As I reported in that first Weight Watcher post, I chose 7 am Saturday as my meeting time. Spring of 2012 also saw a respite cruise paid for by family and on that cruise I maintained my weight. During the last years of caregiving, I chose caregiving above dieting, realizing that I was called to be there for my husband above all while also having to work to make ends meet. My husband did not want me walking outside and so I did get a treadmill that is going with me when I move and that treadmill might have helped my stress level. I might add that Peter says you don't need a treadmill, but because Huntsville is a colder climate, I might not be able to walk outside in the Winter. 

After my husband died, I went back to that 7 am Saturday morning meeting. Weight Watchers has been for me a great social and inspirational time. Why I even checked out Weight Watchers in Huntsville, Alabama last December.  This morning my total weight loss since 2011 is 31.2 pounds. Here I am today with my Lakeland, Florida leader. I looked all over this computer and my Notebook computer and could not find my "before" picture, but people are starting to notice the change. My weight loss is helping me decide  what clothes to keep as I downsize. 

In Walsh's book, he does not plug Weight Watchers, but I certainly want to and studies have showed that Weight Watchers is the best diet program around. 

This area of the soul, the self, for me incorporates my Christian belief and I have been meditating on Scripture regularly. In fact, with a clue from Georgene who has often commented on this blog, I started typing up numerous Scripture passages to meditate on and apply. 

In my caregiving and in my widowhood, Scripture is precious to me--it sustains my days and nights. I also was helped by Staci Eastin's book The Organized Heart, a book that helps us Christian believers be mindful. See HERE and also HERE where I reviewed it. 

So you can see I totally resonated with Lose the CLUTTER, Lose the WEIGHT--with all three of the author's main points, plus learned so much more. 

New Insights from Peter Walsh
Before Alzheimer's came into the picture seven years ago (by my estimation), my husband worked, I would watch Peter Walsh on the Home and Garden Network's "Clean Sweep" in the summers before retirement when I taught in public school. (Those were the days I watched TV before my husband sort of took over the big TV.)  Peter would produce episodes like this one he has pictured on his LIKE* page in his native Australia. 

Already a fan from back then, I enjoyed these gems from his book this week:

  • Somehow, at some point, you became too large for your comfort.
  • Given the environment we live in . . .  How can your body and home not get to this point?
  • If the stuff you own is not helping you create the life you want, then let it go. My main job in Huntsville is to write that counseling dissertation on dementia caregiving. I do not need stuff. 
  • Pitfall #1: Not seeing enough improvement. Oh yes. I can come home and be upset. Yet I look around and it looks so much different than it does before I decided to sell and move. 
  • Pitfall #2: Lack of time. Walsh suggests you schedule tasks like you would any other appointment. I know that perfection is gone, but today I will pack-up my books which are not selling and donate them.
  • Pitfall #3: Resistance from family. Had my husband still been living, I would have had to leave things the way he was used to. But since his death, my Huntsville brother spent time here in January to help me get repair projects underway and to clean out areas #10 and #11 of my home as I mentioned above.
  • Pitfall #4: Isolation. Weight Watchers is such a great group of friends. They cheer you on and understand when you blow it. I do not feel alone. Also, I have learned to ask for help. 
  • Task 2: SEPARATE THE "BENIGN" FROM THE "MALIGNANT" ITEMS. Malignant items are defined as any items that make you feel guilty, sad, nostalgic or angry. 
There are 11 tasks in all,  and this chapter ends with physical activities. The book continues with the bedroom, bedroom closet and the bathroom. 

Then Peter Walsh goes into meddling with my desk and finances. He suggests zones. Zone 1 should be the area by your desk. That has me thinking about getting rid of my four-drawer file cabinet and just keeping selected filing arrangements. Zone 2 represents material that one uses infrequently. I am going to label Zone 2 boxes for my move, put them in the workshop move staging area, and keep Zone 1 material available. The author tells you to back up your computer files. I have already been trying to change my email because I am moving from the Tampa area and cannot have a Tampa Road Runner email. I do like what he says about maintaining your changes and will perhaps discuss this in another blog post or when I move to Rocket City (Huntsville, Alabama). 

So this week I am all into Peter Walsh insights. Shoo away your extra shoes, he says. Yesterday I brought a dozen or more pair of shoes to put here by the music room in the school where I substituted. 


Today we have rain today in Plant City, so I canceled my 7th garage/yard sale and am just working on my downsizing and putting the house on the market today. Besides, the 80th Annual Plant City Strawberry Festival is on and that is the focus in our area now. 

My deadline for having the house go on the market is March 9th and I have to get back to making my rooms look spacious, downsizing and packing. Might try to get to the festival sometime next week with friends from last fall's cruise I invited. Probably will put books into the car to donate when it stops raining, because books have not sold well in my garage sales. 

* One of my blogger friends (also a caregiver whom I interviewed) suggested I form a "The House That Cleans Itself" group on Facebook; that group is not as active as is the Plant City and Friends FB "LIKE" page that I regularly post on and which has 74 members. I am also following Peter Walsh's FB "LIKE" page now and we have messaged each other. His next book, I believe, is on downsizing for seniors or for your parents who are seniors needing to go to a nursing home.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

The Green Thing

My friend Barb sent this to me via email. 
Thanks, Barb! I added one new graphic to the one in the email. 

Checking out at the store, the young cashier suggested to the much older lady that she should bring her own grocery bags, because plastic bags are not good for the environment.

The woman apologized to the young girl and explained, "We didn't have this 'green thing' back in my earlier days."

The young clerk responded, "That's our problem today. Your generation did not care enough to save our environment for future generations." 

Part of email
The older lady said that she was right -- our generation didn't have the "green thing" in its day. The older lady went on to explain:

Back then, we returned milk bottles, soda bottles and beer bottles to the store. The store sent them back to the plant to be washed and sterilized and refilled, so it could use the same bottles over and over. So they really were recycled. But we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day. 

Grocery stores bagged our groceries in brown paper bags that we reused for numerous things. Most memorable besides household garbage bags was the use of brown paper bags as book covers for our school books. This was to ensure that public property (the books provided for our use by the school) was not defaced by our scribblings. Then we were able to personalize our books on the brown paper bags. But, too bad we didn't do the "green thing" back then.

We walked up stairs because we didn't have an escalator in every store and office building. We walked to the grocery store and didn't climb into a 300-horsepower machine every time we had to go two blocks.
But she was right. We didn't have the 
"green thing" in our day. 

Back then we washed the baby's diapers because we didn't have the throw away kind. We dried clothes on a line, not in an energy-gobbling machine burning up 220 volts. Wind and solar power really did dry our clothes back in our early days. Kids got hand-me-down clothes from their brothers or sisters, not always brand-new clothing.

But that young lady is right; we didn't have the "green thing" back in our day. 

Back then we had one TV, or radio, in the house -- not a TV in every room. And the TV had a small screen the size of a handkerchief (remember them?), not a screen the size of the state of Montana. In the kitchen we blended and stirred by hand because we didn't have electric machines to do everything for us. When we packaged a fragile item to send in the mail, we used wadded up old newspapers to cushion it, not Styrofoam or plastic bubble wrap. Back then, we didn't fire up an engine and burn gasoline just to cut the lawn. We used a push mower that ran on human power. We exercised by working so we didn't need to go to a health club to run on treadmills that operate on electricity. 

But she's right; we didn't have the "green thing" back then. 

We drank from a fountain when we were thirsty instead of using a cup or a plastic bottle every time we had a drink of water. We refilled writing pens with ink instead of buying a new pen, and we replaced the razor blade in a razor instead of throwing away the whole razor just because the blade got dull. 

But we didn't have the "green thing" back then. 

Back then, people took the streetcar or a bus and kids rode their bikes to school or walked instead of turning their moms into a 24-hour taxi service in the family's $45,000 SUV or van, which cost what a whole house did before the "green thing".  We had one electrical outlet in a room, not an entire bank of sockets to power a dozen appliances. And we didn't need a computerized gadget to receive a signal beamed from satellites 23,000 miles out in space in order to find the nearest burger joint. 

But isn't it sad the current generation laments how wasteful we old folks were just because we didn't have the "green thing" back then? 

We don't like being old in the first place, so it doesn't take much to tick us off--especially from a tattooed, multiple-pierced young person who can't make change without the cash register telling them how much.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Reflections on Valentines' Day

This is my first Valentines Day in 15 years without my husband. About half of our over 14 years of marriage to my Sweetheart, was involved with Mixed Dementia. He knew me to the end, although he didn't recognize those who did not see him often. 

The first Valentines Day before I moved to the Tampa area to marry him, I was the envy of teachers at my school in Miami. He sent me a dozen roses to the school. Then we married and moved to our home in Plant City within the first year of our marriage. That first Valentines Day in our home he had an automatic garage door opener installed so I could park my car in the garage while he parked his outside. That garage is now ready for a garage sale today, Valentines Day 2015. Another widow from Grief & Share is helping me and we will go to dinner after the sale.

I did write an Eulogy for him on this blog HERE. I was thinking this week about other praise for him. Despite his handicap he exhibited great contentment. He loved me, our life, our home, his car, and our dog Ziggy who was always by his side when he was home which was most of the time. 

Now godliness with contentment
is great gain.   1 Timothy 6:6

When I first married him, he had such ambition. He had one and a half jobs and I would miss him. Then when he needed to retire and I had retired, but needed to bring in more income, he accepted my leaving the house to substitute teach or to teach an occasional class for DUI offenders.  Always it was great to get back together, and he never wandered as many Alzheimer's patients do. 

As he went downhill, his daughter thought of a nursing home I could bring him to and his doctor faxed the application to that nursing home. My heart was broken; fortunately our insurance did not take that nursing home and he never was put in a nursing home.  So glad I could have him home all his days. Hospice came in and helped me with his last days as I chronicled HERE

One of the last things I said to him was, "I will be okay." It was the second time I became a widow, and at 70 I feel "okay" but I miss him. The LORD has been so gracious to me and I have wonderful memories. 

Valentines Day in 2013

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Moving, Part Six

I have pointed out that during my caregiving days much else didn't happen. While my husband had been active in home repairs before 2008, I just held on and studied how to be a caregiver, not a manager of taking care of the home. After his death there have been a lot of repairs that have needed to happen inside and outside to put the house on the market.

First off was getting rid of rust stains and installing a new water softener.
Rust on right

Drip made it worse
During my husband's illness, I was not proactive about maintaining the water softener. The result was RUST in sinks, showers, on clothes and in dishes. A whole set of dishes will probably be thrown out.

Pharis had some tricks of the trade, however, to get everything back to normal. Pharis and my brother also got hair out of the drain so the water would go down better in the shower, as I had so worried about it spilling over onto the floor when I showered.

Paris was able to clean the tub and the shower with CLR first
and then the Fast Orange.

Quite a difference from before.  

Old garage door
The garage door was repaired before the first January garage sale and now it secures the next garage sale later in February.
New garage door works like a charm and
allows easy access for garage sale set up. 

Outside in addition to yard maintenance, Pharis has been painting. The house looks fresh.

Jose and John of Admiral Carpet Cleaning
Now for the rug cleaning. According to the realtor at first, the rug had to be torn out and the concrete painted. Then we came down to a compromise.  She recommended a rug cleaner, Admiral Carpet Cleaning (813-654-1397). My main task was to clear the den so it could be cleaned by February 7th when my brother scheduled them to come to the house.

Jose and John were very efficient and were out of the house in less than two hours; Ziggy hung out at Sally and Jake's house while the rug was cleaned and dried. Jake was at the Plant City Senior Center and Sally and I enjoyed a lunch in western Tampa with a $25 gift card I had given her for her birthday--at TGIF Fridays. I thought there was a close one when I selected this gift card, but I was wrong. We talked and talked and as I drove and drove. It would have been too hard for her to use it with Jake and I thoroughly understood remembering days with my husband. Mental note: be careful when you select gift cards for people. I will really miss Sally when I move, but at least she has learned to text now!

Now my rooms are very spacious with clean carpeting because large furniture has been sold and other furniture has been moved to the garage for the garage sale or the workshop for the move.

I have boxes and newspapers! I got them from Strawberry Crest High School where I substituted in January. The cafeteria ladies regularly gave me boxes to fit into my SUV. Those boxes are ready for me in the workshop--some packed and some ready to be packed or repacked and labeled. Of all the times I have moved before, this seems to be the most complicated, but there is a saying You can eat an elephant a bite at a time.

Meanwhile I have another challenge.

Can you teach an old dog new tricks? 

It turns out with my busy caregiving days Ziggy has not taken advantage of two doggie doors in the house to go outside to do his business. John and Juan got out stains and the house smells great. But by a leg of the piano he did a horrible thing. When the piano was moved, it left this.

Admiral Carpet Cleaning did a magnificent job of the other stains, but the acid went to the concrete leaving a hole to the concrete.

After: less than an inch to the concrete that I have to re-carpet. 
Admiral Carpet Cleaning Recommends Club Soda

This morning I caught Ziggy! He peed on my cleaned carpet by that chair leg! He is getting retraining so I can keep this fresh carpet smell! Used that club soda this morning. 

Stay tuned for further reports on my packing,  
retraining Ziggy and 
of course selling and moving! 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Moving, Part Five

The last big piece of furniture is gone.

My friend Cheryl and her sister Lori and their kids fell in love with this 1948 Gulbansen piano. They came back several times, researched the make, loved the feel of the piano, and then rented a small U-Haul and away it went. The girls will get piano lessons like their mothers.

But they did leave me my needlepoint bench and I hung my sunflower crewel picture above it. They need a longer bench for the girls to play duets on, or a mother to supervise piano playing. In my new place in Huntsville, Alabama,  with less square footage, that needlepoint bench will be used for mittens, hats and Ziggy's harness and leash.  Who knows, I may come back to this area to hear the girls' recital one day. 

Now the rugs can be cleaned on Friday, and I have to finish taking care of clutter. I have that big trash can to keep putting things in and I am reminded of this quote. 

Clutter is anything that gets between
you and the life you want. 
--Peter Walsh

The new life I want includes writing that dissertation on being a caregiver. The new life I want means renting, so a landlord can take care of the repairs that I have had to do here: new water softener, new garage door, painting. I am so happy I am downsizing and moving to live by family. 

Pharis continues on projects to make the house ready for the market. 

Ziggy watches and Pharis and neighbor Mr. White discuss getting the house ready. In the second backyard, Pharis' daughter is loading dry branches to hall away. Mr. White was also willing to help with the piano moving. Instead two neighbors lent a hand with the piano. 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Moving, Part Four

I took this picture in June of 3013 so I could write about Shingles. I knew I wanted to write about Shingles, but I didn't know I would do it from personal experience.  Oh I did have a prescription to get my shingles vaccine, but didn't want to spend the money and my husband was going downhill and that was my priority. So this is the first thing that has come back to haunt me. You see I have had Shingles recently with its physical pain and with the realization this might have been avoided. 

The next thing that has come back to haunt me is plumbing. I have well water and  have not maintained the water softener and consequently have rust in the water.  I should have been on top of this in the past. Actually the plumber was called almost a year ago about the rust problem and he didn't show. See HERE.  I didn't keep on the problem, perhaps because I was attending to my husband. 

When the sink clogged up and the wash machine over flowed, I did get a new plumber. He solved that and was to bring someone else in to give an estimate for helping with the rust. Before that could happen, however, Sally gave me another plumber who has put in a new water softener and saving me maybe $700.

How can I substitute  teach all January and have plumbers come to the house? My retired brother from Huntsville recognized the problem and came to Plant City. Together we strategized on what would be needed for the house to sell. 

We went through all my books and had three stacks:
  1. Books I need to keep.
  2. Books for my Huntsville nephew to sell on Amazon.
  3. Books for a yard sale or eventually to donate. 
My brother was honest about what should not be moved. My realtor also is honest about the house. Less furniture will mean an easier move and will allow us to have the rug cleaned. The rooms will look larger. Pharis and my brother both cleaned out the workshop and the garage. When I went through the series on this blog, The House That Cleans Itself, the workshop and the garage were the last two areas that I didn't get to because of my caregiving duties.

The garage is now the designated spot for garage sales. One was held last Saturday and later in February more yard sales will happen.

Saturday, January 24,  we (my brother and I) had another yard sale for my stuff and only signs at the end of the street publicized the event. Even so I made $335.50. Large items included that corner cabinet I featured December 25 on this blog HERE. That corner cabinet would be problematic to move. A large chest was also sold. More yard sales will follow at the end of February. and someone is coming tonight to look at the piano tonight.

The workshop is now the designated place for boxes to be moved and boxes to be packed and put in the workshop. Where have I gotten these boxes? From the cafeteria at the high school where I have been substituting.

The house will be sold "as is" and has yet to be put on the market. The carpet will be cleaned on February 6th rather than taken up.

So much has been done and I have my marching orders. I have this table of stuff to go through before the carpet cleaner comes on February 6th.

Where the pool table used to be

I am so grateful for my brother from Huntsville, Alabama, who was able to come for a week when I just had thrown my hands up in despair at getting ready to move. Logically this retired rocket scientist took me through rooms and we made decisions. He met with the plumbers, and the carpet cleaners. I am so grateful for Pharis who has been fixing things around here so the house will be ready to sell and who is even coming today while my brother is driving back to Huntsville, Alabama.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Taking Care of My Grandfather: Guest Post

Janeen at Strawberry Crest High School
This was a simple assignment I gave at the beginning of January at the high school where I have been assigned as a substitute for the month of January until the school can hire a new teacher. 

What is the greatest gift you have been
given and what are three reasons why?

I was very surprised to get this heart-warming answer from sophomore Janeen, who has as a career goal to be a Cardiovascular Surgeon. For a summer she received the gift of helping to take care of her grandfather who passed away two years ago. She is so glad she did and her memories of helping him are amazing. This photo and writing are used by permission of her family. 

The best gift that I have received this year was being able to get through another year without my grandfather. Yes, it seems like a weird present to be grateful for, but when I explain more you will understand. When it came to my grandfather's death, everyone saw it differently. 

For me, I was relieved. You see, my grandfather had a disease called dementia, king of like Alzheimer's, but a little more complicated. In his last year I got to be by his side during the summer. At first it hurt, but then I got to experience the good--such as watching old westerns and hearing him laugh or when he lost his leg and cried in the ICU. Actually he let us get closer to him and take care of him. It really touched my heart.

So when he passed away of course I was sad, but at the same time, I was happy to know he isn't in pain anymore. Every year I remind myself he is okay and I will be too.