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How Keeping Organized Changed my Life

I took so many Sociology classes in college; I could have been considered a Sociology minor.  I loved those classes.  I loved the professor.  I loved her vocabulary.  I loved thinking in new ways quite different from how I’d been exposed to the world.  I especially loved that I could vomit on paper and get an “A” in the class.  Somewhat different from my experience in Economics, I might add.  I actually remember much of what I learned in that class, and for me that’s a pretty big deal, because I have the worst memory in the world. 

One of the topics that has stuck over the years is the psychological application of the term “valence.”  It really struck me to think about how the attractiveness of one task over another and emotion associated with that task ordered how I spent my time.  I read a definition I liked from the online psychology dictionary which I paraphrase to say,”… the subjective worth of an activity in the life space of a person.”  Isn’t “life space” a great term?  I love it. Our life space really only has so much room in it. We decide what we put in the life space and usually it isn’t the most important stuff first.  For instance, back in the day, when I had a paper due, I would think I needed to clean the toilet over working on the paper. 

Nowadays, it seems like there are so many more distractions and let’s face it, picking up a device and wasting an hour on a game or a quiz is so dang easy!  It’s always easy to get distracted by email or text messages. That is taking up too much of my life space.

How do we protect our life space, feel productive and still enjoy ourselves?  It’s still a work in progress in my life, but one of the things I know for sure is that when my space (physical or otherwise) is organized, it frees up a whole bunch of my brain and gives me peace.  I know why Marie Kondo is so popular.  I’m not quite that over the top, but over the years I found that when things are messy in my life, there’s always a part of my brain working on it and it’s just not worth that.

Ocotillo in November

The leaves on the ocotillo are changing which means cooler weather is here and I finally felt like working in the garage.

Saturday I spent almost the whole day re-organizing the garage.  Over the summer there is no valence in spending time in a 150-degree garage, so I try not to let my brain get too crazy over the mess that ensues when we quickly throw stuff in a cabinet out there for five months, but now that the weather is somewhat cooperative, it feels so good to have that done!

I recently took a trip to the Container Store and bought all sorts of cool organizational things and redid my nightstand drawer.  The pic isn’t great, but you can see how neat everything is and it’s easy to keep it that way.

Organized Nightstand
Rolling Racks

My husband redid all of our kitchen cabinets with rolling racks which help us keep organized and keep our backs from going out when searching for pots and pans.

In a nutshell, many years ago I learned that the adage of everything having a place and everything in its place really freed up a lot of space and emotion in my brain. It changed my life and gives me peace and gratification.

What I’m Reading

I am listening to The Last Talk with Lola Faye by Thomas H. Cook.  Now, how in the world do I not know this author?  Number 1, it is read by one of my favorite narrators, David Aaron Baker.  That’s how I found the book in the first place.  Number 2, it’s a mystery which I love and, drum roll please, Number 3, and most delish, is that it’s Patricia Highsmith-ish.  It takes the reader gently by the hand and leads down a road you really don’t want to go but can’t stop yourself.  What makes it really different for a thriller is that it all takes place at a restaurant with really no action at all.  It’s mostly all dialogue and character building.  Oh, my, I can see I’m going to have to walk miles to get this one finished.  I’d better order me another pair of shoes soon.

What I’m Eating

Are you a meat eater?  I really don’t care much about meat (although nothing wrong with a burger now and then!) and eat no fish or seafood.  For many years we have done Meatless Mondays.  Now my husband thinks he needs meat three times a day so it’s been quite a conversation over the years to keep this happening.  It seems like a lot of meatless meals my husband would be interested in are pasta dishes and those can be tricky with starch and cheese.  Last Monday I made what I call a Farmer’s Dinner which looks like a normal dinner, but without the meat course.  I steamed fresh green beans, asparagus, sliced tomatoes on the vine and made the Scalloped Potato Gratin.  This dish is so good and makes such good leftovers, it’s made it to our regular meal rotation. I might also add that I buy disposable foil pans from Costco so clean up is nothing.

Meatless Monday

Also from Skinnytaste, I made the Parmesan Crusted Roasted Delicata Squash .  I took a picture of all the ingredients so you can see how easy it is. It looks like an ad for Trader Joe’s, but oh, well, that’s where I shop. With the Parmesan, salt and pepper, they tasted a lot like French fries.  Pretty delish.  They were very easy and the mess factor in my kitchen was a medium.  Only a medium, because I had to get out two bowls and parchment paper.  When I have to get out measuring spoons, cups and spill ingredients on every surface, the factor increases exponentially.

Roasted Delicata Ingredients

What I’m doing

We had a fun weekend (with too much food and drink which I now have to pay the piper for!).  Saturday night we attended a dueling pianos show with our friends Barb and Stu.  Sunday we attended Anastasia and ended with dinner out.  I attended a paint and sip class on Friday and, just has always been the case, I’m much better at sipping than I am at painting.  I’m hoping that when I donate my painting to charity they can reuse the canvas for an art student.  Or line the cage of a rodent.  Whatever.


I hope your week is full of peace and grace.