Getting Ready – EARLY!!

Before everything else, getting ready is the secret to success. – Henry Ford

The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining. – John F Kennedy

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” Abe Lincoln

…and so on..

Lots of people and it seems , very successful people have given their slant on being prepared.

Well, here is mine:

Being prepared days before an event –  IT FEELS GREAT!!!

I  could add bells and ribbons and balloons. It feels so good.

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The event that found me prepared days before was the Annual Mission Sale at Ooty. A small local event , attended by locals only ..since they don’t advertise. We had a lot of books from our library to sell .

I had sorted out the books over a week, Left to my basic ‘things-will-happen’ instincts, I would have packed them the night before. But, my maid was going on leave. And then, who would lug the boxes up the stairs?

So, I was driven to pack the boxes a week before the date! This for a person who packs the night before travel.

Preparation really feels great. And may the feeling last long enough to to get the worm to turn and turn and keep moving !

P.S: Yes, we sold a lot of books!


A little less

Being housebound for the past three months with the baby, we’ve been

  • reading a lot,
  • watching  House which is a great TV series
  • and doing a lot of uncluttering.

Getting rid of stuff can  get rather addictive. I started with one closet (my husband’s :-)) and the high of seeing neat shelves with spaces in between carried me on through the rest of the house . It gives a very feel-good feel. Like lots of productive stuff going on, and a sense of control , maybe.

This time  I applied a new set of rules  which I found on a manvsdebt, a  website promoting frugal and simplified living :

  1. Pick a room, area, or desk drawer – Pick a single, specific area. Your closet, bedroom, kitchen, office – or even the top of your desk or a “junk” drawer.
  2. Remove everything out of the space – Everything… that’s why it’s called “Clean Slate”. Move it into another area or room.
  3. Go item-by-item – Ask yourself not “Should I get rid of this?” but instead “Does this item add joy, value, or purpose into my life?”…  ”Do I really need it?”. If yes, move it back into the room.
  4. If no, put it into one of three piles – Put it either into SELL, DONATE, or RECYCLE piles. After you’re done with each item, sell the SELL pile, donate the DONATE pile, and recycle the RECYCLE pile. Duh.

Second and third steps made a difference.

I’m happy to say, I’ve given away 25 bags of stuff  and the house still seems full rather than empty, so we can do it again.

Meredith on Penelope loves lists, a blog about organizing for people who are hooked on organizing, says her family does it once every 3 months.  She, of course schedules the Quarterly Cleanout into her calendar and makes sure her family is around. But I like the idea of setting a timer for just 30 minutes and just doing it  and that’s it. And everyone participating.

I figure we Indians hate to let go because of two reasons:

1) Sentiment. We keep things because someone gave them to us which we equate with love and mementos of good times.

2) Money. Traditionally, we are frugal and we are recyclers,  and reason that we might have to buy the thing if we need it sometime.

Getting past all that, it feels very light and fresh  to have  clean surfaces and less around.




Before                                                                                                                                             After  


And our swami shelf has become so bare, Im so proud of it.

Another aid for the fresh feeling was switching pictures around. If a picture hangs in the same place for years, you stop seeing it.  Now I’m really looking at some of the pictures.


The bonus was , while I had these bags of stuff waiting to be given away, the SSLC results were announced. The son of the watchman in the fields nearby came to have his marks read from the website. He had done well and I gave him a small gift. Then another boy appeared and then one more… 🙂

Giving away stuff to people who value it is the biggest high.

Oh Those Tangled Wires

There are some jobs that stay on To-Do lists for weeks , months and sometimes years and you hope they’ve quietly slid off somewhere into oblivion.  One on this list  is  organising the cables at the back of the computer ; straightening them out and creating some kind of neatness out of the jungle out there so the space gets swept occasionally and isn’t  so much of an eyesore .

Today was the day designated by some higher authority for this job (rain outside had a hand in it) and after a few hours of stick-it -iveness,  I   feel I can pat myself on the back for job accomplished  and the halo around my head keeps me walking taller and straighter.

If anyone is doing this job, I recommend getting your stuff together first (which I didnt do and had to keep getting up to get something).

Steps to untangle those darned wires:

  • Rearrange your computer peripherals the way you want them to be
  • Gather together strong twine and scissors, or better if you have those little bits of plastic that can be twisted together to hold wires bunched up; tape (I used the ordinary tape , maybe insulation tape would hold it all better).
  • Put on some music
  • Start at the plugins at the top of the CPU. Take one  out, unravel from the other wires, make the travel as short as possible. Loop the extra length, tie it up or fasten, and then attach to the back of your desk as securely as possible.
  • Don’t stop till you get through the lot.

For those of you who have a laptop or few peripherals, aren’t you lucky!

Now some day, Im  going to go through all those hundreds of CD s and keep only what we need.

The Joy of Clean Space

For some time, the centre table in the living room has been a mess of books, magazines, and mail. The two people who live here seem to feel the need to keep at least half a dozen books handy for the morning read. The table gets cleared up occasionally but things slowly pile up once again.  I have been thinking I should buy a different table, one that has concealed storage, to make the space look better. Before

But staying in Darshini’s empty flat in Madras had got my eye trained for uncluttered space. I didn’t like the mess when I came back home and swept the table clean.  I managed to keep it empty for a few days. And realized the truth in Gretchen Rubin of the Happiness Project ‘s dictum… A clear surface tends to stay clear.’

After- Step 1

A couple of days ago, I bought this coir mat which fits in well into the centre space and adds a certain tang of freshness and comfort.  I thought why have the centre table at all, and removed it. The whole space does look better. Less is better always.

After- Step 2

Uncluttering is contagious. And now it is spreading from room to room and Im busy tackling one room a day. Great feeling.

Water Blues

Our overhead tank has been empty of water for a couple of days for complicated reasons.  When it’s NO-Power, NO Phone situation, I can cope.

But NO WATER heads the list of terrible things to strike. NO Gas would be terrible too but I know one friend who managed with an electric plate for months.

I was in a kind of limbo. Sort of when-will-this-get -over phase . I couldn’t have a bath which seemed so important suddenly although I don’t think I was dirty; it was just the habit that made me feel dirty. Life seemed to be on hold, while I wooed electricians and plumbers and other!

I had to force myself to try and be rational… to come up with coping strategies.

  • First I had to think this too will pass and see how to make the best of it.
  • I didn’t cook.; resorting to minimal food like dosais and bread
  • We did manage with buckets of water stored in bathrooms and basins which I didn’t have to carry.
  • I heated up some water on the stove and had a small wash at night.
  • And spent most of the day painting my mural which was soothing.

The situation improved towards late evening and now there is water to clean and cook… life seems alright again or almost.

In the evening, while chatting with one of the masons, he said he and his brother were here (from far away Vellore) because they couldn’t work the land. Three crops had failed because of lack of water.

When are our powers that be going to focus on basics like water and agriculture?

the only thing you can change

This is from one of my favorite people- no poet of words but a poet of life -Leo Babauta of zen habits

You can’t change your entire life.

You can only change your next action.

You can’t change a relationship with a loved one.

You can only change your next interaction.

You can’t change your entire job.

You can only change your next task.

You can’t change your body composition.

You can only change your next meal.

You can’t change your fitness level.

You can only start moving.

You can’t declutter your entire life.

You can only choose to get rid of one thing, right now.

You can’t eliminate your entire debt.

You can only make one payment, or buy one less unnecessary item.

You can’t change the past, or control the future.

You can only change what you’re doing right now.

You can’t change everything.

You can only change one, small thing.

And that’s all it takes.

Losing a Cupboard

Adding a cupboard /closet/dresser/table… anything that stores things can be a big high.  It is so good to  sort out eyesores and move things around into the new storage in neat piles and all that clear space.

But, getting rid of storage space is a little difficult to cope with.  Where does all that stuff go? I’ve been dealing with decisions today. Hard ones. Those old SLR cameras which used film, shuttle bats, old x-rays, certificates, video games, things you might pass on as gifts…and more. Im sure everyone has this one cupboard in which you keep things you don’ want to think about. For me the time to think about it came today. I  put it off as long as possible by going out, doing all the different things I could before I faced the mess.

Feeling that one bedroom was too cluttered with furniture, when a friend mentioned that she was looking for  a cupboard, I said immediately , take this one.  And she did,  immediately too. Which left me rather unprepared:-(

But sorting out stuff to give away, store, trash has an impact on everything else too. Finding space in other cupboards for stuff I want to keep, means I have had to sort out there too.

I’ve been rather ruthless with the kid’s clothes which were in the cupboard.   But then,  I have to rethink mine  too . It’s always easier to be tough with other people’s things.  I liked these rules on in Let Go of the Past.

  • The item should represent your current style and the image you wish to project to others.
  • You should like how you feel when you wear the item (for shoes, they should not cause blisters).
  • You should have an occasion in the next year to wear it.

All of which could mean a lot of downsizing.

Thich Nhat Hanh and Mindful Eating

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen Buddhist monk, writer, poet, and peacemaker who is quoted everywhere. And I was delighted to find a detailed post on him on the Abundance Blog.  About Mindful living. By the wonderfully creative Marelisa.

Just this morning, I was saying to Sindhu that I am going to practice  mindful eating from April 1st.  Why from April 1st? she asked. ‘ Because I will have more time then. ‘ And its so difficult for me. For  the past few months, I’ve been weaning myself away from eating in front of the TV and also eating while reading a book.  But, still I want to eat fast and get back to my book or whatever.  Sindhu on the other hand, can spend 25 minutes with a glass of watermelon juice. We can learn occasionally from our children,  difficult though it is to admit it.

We have been having fresh juice at breakfast ever since she came home. Made to perfection, served in  tall  glasses, breakfast has become very classy.  And a great start to the day.

By being aware of your actions, you can enjoy your life while you make tea, or while you wash the dishes.  All of this means that you can stop running after things which you think will make you happy.  By being aware of what you already have–and of the beauty that surrounds you–you can be happy right here, right now.

Clearing out the desk is like Coming out of a fog

I finally did it. Sorted out the piles of paper on my table into these colourful folders and now, the table is such a nice space to work in. And I know where things are instead of  ‘somewhere here’.

There are some fabulous workspaces on , a website devoted to uncluttering.

Have a look. Sure inspiration for cleaning up your space and adding some personal touches.

Getting Focused

Do one thing at a time.

Set only one goal and work at it till you finish.

Do your most important task first thing in the morning.

Do creative work while the idea still has got its grip on you.

So many diktats to get work done successfully.  And this morning everything worked.  It felt so good.

Primarily because my husband and daughter left the house early. And the maid came late, I had a couple of hours just to myself. I didn’t spend them picking up things around the house,nor doodling in the kitchen. Just sat down at the computer and posted on my finance blog. And then I was free to do so many other things.

Especially after a Sunday when the family is around, and one seems to be doing things for other people most of the time, time alone feels so good. I remember one sprightly old lady telling me, she loved Monday mornings when the whole family left her at home alone.

One can also learn to focus from the young.  Sindhu can leave the house with her bed unmade, clothes lying all around, hardly any breakfast in her, happily. If I did all that (or didn’t do all that), I would be very unhappy.