When one door closes…

December 30th, 2012

“When one door closes another door opens; but we so often look so long and so regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the ones which open for us.” — Alexander Graham Bell

Wise words for a time like this.




Being Shoved Out The Door

December 28th, 2012

by Victoria M. Johnson

The banker’s realtor showed up on our doorstep to tell us we had three days to get out.  This even though he had taped a notice on the door itself.  He could see boxes everywhere, could see I was harried from overwork, could see empty rooms and that we were well on our way to getting out.  Yet he felt a need to threaten us with lawsuit if we weren’t out in three days.  My hubby somehow remained poised.  Personally, I wanted to punch the realtor in the nose.  He looked around, making sure we weren’t damaging the ‘bank’s’ property.  Was he for real?  My husband spoke sternly to him, causing the goon to retreat.

While the downstairs had been dealt with, I hadn’t yet begun on the upstairs rooms.  And, worse still, I hadn’t made a dent in the garage.  Just when I had been feeling positive, my spirits sunk.  I would now have to rush.  Rushing compounds stress.  But it had to be done.

Being Shoved Out The Door

That goon would show up again on the second day and on the third day it got really ugly.  Did the bank treat other families like this?  The goon’s behavior was abhorrent and I can’t imagine single moms or senior citizens having to deal with a bully like him.  What was his hurry?  Did he have buyers lined up ready to steal the house for a fraction of the cost?   Did the buyers demand to move in by the end of the week or something?  Who knows the cause of his rudeness.  We weren’t leaving a moment before the 72 hours on the notice.

Rented Storage Space to the Rescue

July 6th, 2012

by Victoria M. Johnson

With the need to move faster at packing, and the realization that, although a lot of items were being donated, we still had too much that couldn’t fit in our new home.  My hubby and I recognized that a storage unit would be necessary.  Normally I would think that this tactic went opposite of downsizing.  Who needs to pay rent to store things that they don’t need?  Well, I felt I still needed items and I wasn’t ready to part with them.

As you can imagine, emotions run high in stressful situations, such as losing a home.  Why add to the stress by forcing yourself to do everything all at once?  Help keep your sanity and your marriage intact by not stressing over the small things.  Making decisions on several items might have tipped me over the edge.  I don’t know.  Thankfully, my hubby agreed.  We rented a storage unit and I promised I would return to it within a year to review the contents to see if I still had the need for each item.  That’s a great strategy.  After a year of living without the item, surely it would be easier to say, “This can go.”

A Diva’s Movie Room

Packing my beloved Movie Room occurred fast after that decision.  Everything was a keeper—except the furniture.  I felt a twinge of nostalgia for my 65” HD television that had been the star of film screenings of my short films, Oscar parties, and Syfy Channel original movie premieres.  (Shark Week, anyone)?  Much laughter, film discussions, and stimulating conversations occurred around that TV.  It went to the Goodwill, along with the sofas and coffee table.  I had the certainty that friends would still gather in our new home, and that we would make new memories regardless of the size of our TV or home.

What do you think?  Was renting a storage unit a wise option?

A Bit of Inspiration

July 1st, 2012
Stressed spelled backwards is desserts.  Coincidence?  I think not! ~Anonymous

A Change of Strategy

June 21st, 2012

by Victoria M. Johnson

I wish I could tell you that I recycled and donated most of the items from our living room.  As it turns out, I purged very little from this room, yet still had two large boxes of donations of mostly hardcover books from the bookcases.  Since I didn’t have a fireplace in the new home, I packed up my treasured heart collection—many years worth of gifts from friends and family resulted in beautiful, unique heart boxes and various heart candleholders—into one box.  My Day of The Dead collection was coming with us, but not the credenza that they were displayed on.  I donated the frames on the shelves and kept the photos.  I wanted to keep the bookcases, even though they wouldn’t fit in our new place.  They were hard to find.  I would never find Spanish style bookcases with that many shelves, and that wide.  The only furniture coming with us from the living room was a cute wrought iron and Spanish tile mosaic table and chairs.  We had used them for reading since our living room had functioned more like a library.  Now the bistro set would be our daily table for eating meals.  From the walls, the heart painting that hung over the fireplace and my cross collection were coming.

Many happy parties were held here!

The dining room was easy.  The antique dining room furniture would make some other family happy.  It had a rare table with two connected leaves that slid under the table.  We had pulled the leaves out for parties, nearly doubling the size of the 52” long table.  Partyware in the china hutch were packed, along with the crystal stemware that hung from the wine rack.  Both the hutch and wine rack were Spanish style and they had a place in the new home.  The pinkish-purple and orange striped drapes that I had added Swarovski rhinestone studs to for dazzle were packed, as was the Spanish style crystal chandelier that I had searched over a dozen stores to find.

When the two rooms were done, several boxes held keeper items that wouldn’t fit in the smaller domicile.  I’m telling you all this for two reasons.  First, if you’re in a situation with a daunting task, you can learn from my experience.  Getting started is hard—it’s the hardest part—but once you’ve begun just keep going.  Try not to be overwhelmed with the BIG project.  Take it a piece at a time.  I started with a ‘bookcase.’  That’s easier than starting with the ‘living room.’  I passed on things that others could find useful.  If it’s tough for you to part with items, donate them.  Knowing that someone else will get use out of them makes it less painful.

Secondly, when I glanced in the family room, my spirits sunk.  None of the things in there could go with us.  We were gong to have to rent a storage unit.  A storage unit is cheating, I know.  Don’t be disappointed in me.   Allow me to explain.

Packing Up My World

August 8th, 2011

by Victoria M. Johnson

Maybe starting in the living room was a bad idea. I realized that my most nostalgic and treasured possessions are kept there—you know, the items that I can’t possibly part with.  As it turns out, this is the worst place to start for two reasons.

  1. Because each item means something to me, packing is progressing at a snail’s pace. Family photos fill shelves. Favorite books spill out of bookcases. A Day of the Dead collection that has turned into a memorial for my dear mother. My heart collection that dressed up the fireplace mantle. SLOW is detrimental to a family that must vacate their home immediately.
  2. Because each item is special, I’m not tossing anything out. This is bad for morale, as I must DOWNSIZE. I must produce boxes of things to donate. I must fill the garbage bins. It’s impossible for everything to come with us. I need to change my approach. I have a whole house to get through!

What is Clutter?

I want to downsize, I really do. I’m ready to move into that cute little cottage-like mobile home. I’m ready mentally for less clutter (especially in the office). I’m ready for a new beginning. As my husband puts it—clear out the old to make room for the new.

But the old is still meaningful. The old still brings a smile to my face and warmth to my heart. However, I’m sure hoarders start out with this line of thinking. Maybe someday I will seek therapy. I wish I could bring back my professional organizer. But this task is too personal. I have to do it myself.

Where Do I Begin?

July 27th, 2011

by Victoria M. Johnson

You know how it is when you have a hundred things to do and you begin one thing, which reminds you to do two other things, which reminds you to do another? Well, that’s my life right now and it isn’t pretty.

We need to paint our new home before we can move things in. We also need to purge before we pack, but first we must sort before we purge, which requires making room for spreading out in order to see what should be donated, stored, packed, or tossed.  We can’t really clear things away, until we know where they’re going. I feel like I’m running in circles. I’m not looking forward to the dreaded tasks (purging and cleaning). I want to enjoy the fun tasks (painting and moving in).

Divas use Recycled Packing Materials

I actually got a head start with my office two months ago. I hired a professional organizer who came to help me clear the clutter. As you might imagine, a writer collects a lot of paper. She had gasped at my office threshold.

“Is this the worst office you’ve ever seen,” I asked her.

“No.” She kept her composure. “But it will take longer than I thought.”

With her help, I filled about 9 boxes for shredding and a couple of bags for garbage; and made the office more efficient. So I feel confident saving my office for last.

I decide to start in the living room. It wasn’t as daunting as the kitchen or bedrooms. It shouldn’t take me long at all.

A Bit of Inspiration

July 17th, 2011

“Laugh when you can, apologize when you should, and let go of what you can’t change. Life’s too short to be anything… but happy.”- Anonymous

Happy 4th of July

July 4th, 2011

by Victoria M. Johnson

We’re pausing from trailer park issues on this patriotic holiday to have a little barbeque with family. No talking about packing today. Just entertaining with some scrumptous food, margaritas, good conversation, music, and a moment to thank our blessings that we live in this fantastic country of ours.

Happy Independence Day!

What do you do to celebrate our nation’s independence? Do you gather with friends, go to a festival or parade, or watch fireworks? Do you share a special tradition?

I think it’s important during stressful times to revisit those traditions that bring us comfort and renews our spirits. It also helps to surround ourselves with loved ones that remind us how lucky we are. Life is too short to do otherwise.

Making It Work

July 3rd, 2011

by Victoria M. Johnson

The wall measurement is a minor problem though. The living room wall has a cut-through to the kitchen, a feature I very much like, but the credenza we own won’t fit there.

That means our credenza will be added to the growing list of furniture we’ll donate. So far our dining room set, sofas, 65″ TV, bedroom set, and half of my office furniture has to be donated, along with many more items.

A Diva’s Measuring Tape

I knew we were downsizing, but now that we’re taking measurements, it’s not so much about having less square footage, as it is that our furniture pieces are too bulky for the places they belong. And I’m not just saying that because I want to shop for new items. Some pieces simply won’t be replaced.

One cool thing about the kitchen is that it has an open counter, and with a few bar stools we might not need a dining room table. My goal is to make our home comfortable and airy, not claustrophobic. With the right choices, we can have an inviting, stylish home for ourselves and our future guests. So I am not sad about the wall measurements. It will all work out.

More Than I Bargained For

July 1st, 2011

by Victoria M. Johnson

Who knew there was so much to do BEFORE I began packing? There are so many decisions to be made. I thank all those of you who have sent me comments–words of encouragement–through this chapter of my life. I’ll fill you in on the hold ups, surprises, and snarls. Stay tuned. This weekend will be a good time to pause from all this madness to give you an update. Don’t be alarmed. There is no way your move will be as drama-filled as mine. At least I sincerely hope you’ll have a smoother transition.