Thursday, February 28, 2013

Making a Small Space Function

See that innocent looking tape measure? I left it on the dresser the other day.

"Why'd you have the tape measure out?" Kat asked when she got home from work.

Doh! I didn't want her to know I was scheming to get the piano out of my sewing room (and primary guest room). I've been feeling way too claustrophobic in there since I'd installed a cutting table. The room is only 9 1/2 feet by 10 feet, and in it fits my sewing table, ironing board, piano, murphy bed, cutting table, and a small chest of drawers. The cutting table folds up nicely, but when I'm using it, I have about a 4 by 4 space to move around in.

My idea was to get rid of the large dresser in our master, downsize my clothes to the small chest currently located in the sewing room, thus freeing space to put the piano in our bedroom. I didn't have everything thought through when Kat found the tape measure, and I didn't want to present my plan prematurely, but too late! She got it out of me -- and flipped upon hearing I wanted to jettison the not-very-old dresser.

Much arguing ensued, during which I dramatically proclaimed that now she could understand why I hadn't wanted to tell her anything until I had it all worked out.

After we both settled down, she thought things over and figured out a way to rearrange the room to make it work without losing the dresser. At first I wasn't too happy, "Why can't we just let go of things?" I said, but Kat is a natural organizer, so in the end I decided to trust her.

I can't believe it, but I love our new bedroom. We did remove a few things -- some book shelves and two pieces of kitty furniture -- but what really opened up the space was rearranging a few pieces of the bedroom furniture. Our piano fits, and the room seems somehow more spacious to me. More comfortable.

And what is more exciting is the sewing room. We pulled everything out and painted, then we centered the murphy bed on the wall; it had been off-center to accommodate the piano. Kat is building cabinets for the top of the murphy bed and shelves along either side so that the whole thing will look built-in (we hope). Our inspiration picture is here at

What is so cool is that we're making good use of vertical space. We'll be able to store pillows and bed linens in the cabinets over the murphy bed instead of in our small linen closet. The shelves will house the books that were in the master bedroom with plenty of room for baskets to hold my stash (as in quilting fabrics :-))

I've taken "before" pictures, but it may be a week or so before I have the "after" shots, so I'll wait to post them.

Wish us luck!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Boundaries and Guilt

I said no.

One of the bullet points of my personal mission statement is to "carefully consider requests to commit my time, accepting or declining as best fits my values and goals." Sounds unemotional and reasonable, but I can't adequately express how difficult living this is for me, and what negative emotions it stirs up! I could benefit from a can't-say-no support group.

But for once, I said no.

I was asked to serve on a new, and needed, parish committee by a person I like and respect. My first impulse was to say yes, but I forced myself to sit with the request and think it through. In this case, I could tell that my impulse to join came more from fear of disappointing this person than it did from wanting to commit time to the objectives of the committee, as worthy as those objectives are. It was a tough decision -- the need to please nearly consumes me -- but in the end, I DID say no.

Do I feel good about it? Not really. I'm struggling with guilt and the feeling that I've let this person down. This is why I end up with too much busy and not enough time spent on the things I value most.

As uncomfortable as these feelings are, I will live with them knowing that I made a good decision. Maybe with a little more practice, saying no won't be so hard.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Last Box

Until a couple of days ago, this is what was left of my real estate life:

I've had it sitting next to my desk for over a month,  intending to sort through it. Finally I seized an empty morning and dug in. Client files I scanned then shredded, and the rest I either scanned then trashed, or gave away.  I did keep a few office supplies.

So it's all over. Still feels strange.

There are vestiges left -- equipment I purchased for the real estate business that I am glad I invested in, as I would never have sprung for these items otherwise (being what Gretchen Rubin and others call an under buyer). At the top of this list of useful equipment is my scanner:

Note the small footprint. Deceptive, because this little guy scans fast and in quantity. Shortly after I purchased it at the beginning of my real estate venture, I took it for a spin by tackling the clutter in our office closet.

We had an entire shelving unit full of binders, which were stuffed with college papers, memorabilia, and photos. I trashed some papers, but what I couldn't part with, I scanned into  labeled folders on my laptop, then backed it all up to an external hard drive. The pictures went into iPhoto, and the actual photos went into photo boxes. We opened up a ton of space, and the scanning was so easy!

I would never have bought this piece of office equipment had I not done real estate. Just too expensive, and I could never have justified it to myself, but it's been worth every penny for its organizing and decluttering abilities.

So thank you Real Estate Venture, for giving me the opportunity to learn new things, make new friends, have different experiences, and own a zippy scanner.