I’m tidy!

Have you read ‘the life-changing magic of tidying up‘ by Marie Kondo yet? It’s a best seller, and for good reason. Ms. Kondo has been tidying since she was 5. In her book, she writes clearly about all of the systems she has tried over the years and the insights that she has had. It’s a small and tidy book—a quick read. She does repeat herself a little but that’s OK. By the time I was finished I was motivated to tidy.

I have always considered myself to be a tidy person and in the past several years I have weeded out my possessions several times. But I still was aware of an underlying sensation that there was just too much stuff around me. I read this book and realized that I have always gone about the weeding out process the wrong way. Rather than deciding what to make go away, it works better to consciously decide what to keep.

She recommends starting with your clothes. Take everything out of the closet, out of your drawers. Pile them on the floor or bed. Don’t do this room by room. If you can’t tackle all of your clothes at once, work in categories: pants, shirts, dresses, etc. I decided to tidy all of my clothes at once. I share a small-ish closet with Steve (who was not remotely interested in tidying his clothes). You can see my empty shelves…


And the empty rod. There’s another empty rod on the other side of the closet. I get/need more closet space than Steve**.


Here’s almost everything on the bed. I emptied drawers from the dresser onto the bed after I took this photo.


One of the best parts of the book is the way the author makes you understand that you really only want to keep what gives you joy. Those clothes that I bought and maybe only wore once gave me joy back in the day, but not any more. Holding onto them is not doing me (or the clothes) any good at all. Once you accept that and get the hang of deciding, it actually goes very quickly.

She also explains the logic of how to fold and place your clothes in drawers. I was skeptical until I tried it. I am now a true believer and will never fold and stack clothes in a pile again. I promise.


Ms. Kondo likes storing things, standing up (not stacked) in simple boxes on shelves.


I have a lot fewer clothes in my closet. No more hanging t-shirts, they are all folded now. I realized that what remains is truly what I was wearing all the time. The rest was just in the way.


It took me about 6 hours to tidy my clothes, fewer hours than I thought it would take. Everything was touched and either bagged to go away, folded neatly to go into a drawer, or rehung and placed in the closet. After the clothes I moved on to purses and bags, shoes, books, and bathroom stuff. As I said earlier, I have been un-cluttering for the last few years and that helped this process go faster.

I still have categories of things to tidy but I’m taking a short break. What I can tell you is that I feel mentally lighter. I am finding it easier to concentrate. If you are feeling a similar urge to tidy, I strongly recommend this book. Everyone I know who has read it, has the same feelings about it.

**I did try to encourage Steve to read the book. He is beyond not interested—and he gave me a look that make me think that I was perhaps going overboard with the tidying ideas. That got me to thinking.

I realized (again) that our house is full of my stuff (that his salary helped to buy). Steve has never been a shopper, or a collector of stuff. He is interested in tools, but only the tools he needs. He has to be forced to buy clothes. He is not into knick-knacks. He is particular about what goes into the kitchen but he does not over-stock it.

He likes the way our house looks and functions, and he likes it tidy, but he doesn’t feel the weight of our possessions in the same way I do. So I have given up trying to get him to read the book and am instead being thankful that he has always loved me enough to put up with my acquisition, and de-acquisition, of things.

Be careful with your brain…

I recently wrote about why I quit watching football. I can no longer take pleasure in watching a sport where 1/3 of the players will end up with brain damage. I have been surprised since then at just how little I miss watching the games, and at how much more time I have on the weekend. Who knew!

Anyway, I found this TED Talk by Nancy Kanwisher. She uses fMRI scans to find and map activity in brain regions, and she shares what she and her colleagues have learned. It is a short talk and very interesting. As I watched it, I could not help thinking about how lucky most of us are not to hit our heads hard enough to damage our very-precious brains.

Our son, Jeff, is a biostatistician (at Columbia!) who has dealings with fMRIs. I’m his mother, so what those ‘dealings’ are is a mystery to me. So I asked him to try to explain to me what an fMRI really is:

Basically, an fMRI works by taking hundreds of full brain images in rapid succession — a couple of seconds apart for several minutes or longer. As the video says, these images should be slightly different from each other depending on what the subject’s brain is doing. Areas where neurons are firing need more oxygen, and this difference in oxygenation shows up in individual images. In the experiment, the subjects are shown pictures of faces or other objects; by the end of observation, there are many images under each condition and the researchers ask if, on average, on particular location in the brain has a different oxygenation level for faces than for other objects.

And then I asked what he, the biostatistician did with the data. He wrote:

The stats comes in when you try to decide which image locations are different under the two experiment conditions, after the fMRI data has been collected. Changes in blood oxygenation are typically small and there’s a lot of noise in the image, so it takes some effort to pick out areas that “light up”.

Hah! I almost understand a little bit of what my younger son does!

Last but not least, here’s a comic poking fun at TED, just for grins,…


I think I could come up with one or more NED talks :-). Really, aren’t the possibilities endless? Maybe we should start a trend, youtubing NED talks :-).

I’m going to miss football…

I grew up in Oklahoma. I loved going to football games in high school! Cool, crisp night and everyone was there. Boys, girls… lots of romance in the air. Seriously, how could a person not love that!

My first date with my husband, Steve, was at the 2nd OU game of our sophomore years. I don’t remember who OU played, but I’m sure we won. That was a championship year! Steve and I went to every home game as undergrads and many when he worked on his Masters degree.

I’ve watched and enjoyed NFL games for nearly 30 years. I have been Cowboys fan and that has not been easy for the last 17 years.

But now I’m done. I can’t watch football any more. It’s not actually because of the domestic abuse cases that have been in the news. Bad as that is, be honest, there is a lot of domestic abuse out there and it’s not all football-related.

No, I can’t watch football anymore because of the recently released data that shows that 1/3 of all of the players are going to suffer brain damage. And worse, there are more and more kids dying from hits taken on the field… 3 more last week. Honestly, how could I have been surprised. The physical abuse suffered by players has been right there in front of me for years… but now there is hard data to back up what we all should have known.

diet-you-can-take-a-look-back-in-time-to-the-roman-gladiators-20140718084517-53c87c2d499c5I am reminded of Rome, back in the day. With gladiators fighting and dying to provide a show. It was a spectacle, and you know that the watchers enjoyed it. Football feels like that to me now.

There’s more that’s wrong with football, lots more, but this is what has tipped the scales for me, and for Steve.  By watching the game, and enjoying it, we have both begun to feel like we are condoning the injuries to the players. Neither of us can do it any more.

Until the game changes, until players at all ages are more protected, we are waving goodbye to football.


Sneeze, squirt…

If you are a woman who has had children, you know what I’m referring to. Even though kids are wonderful (see end of post) and it’s hard to hold a grudge, it hardly seems fair that you have to cross your legs when you sneeze!

I used to think that this happened just as we got older but Lorna, my DIL who has 3 kids, says that it can happen sooner than that. Lorna is training to be a doula and she knows things about a woman’s body that I don’t. If you don’t know what a doula is, here’s a quick definition, or click here to go to the DONA International web page.

The word “doula” comes from the ancient Greek meaning “a woman who serves” and is now used to refer to a trained and experienced professional who provides continuous physical, emotional and informational support to the mother before, during and just after birth; or who provides emotional and practical support during the postpartum period.

Studies have shown that when doulas attend birth, labors are shorter with fewer complications, babies are healthier and they breastfeed more easily.

Anyway—to get back to the sneeze/squirt thing—Lorna said that I should start peeing in the shower. Specifically, that I should squat and pee in the shower. Take a deep breath and get over the ick factor, then click here and read what Heather Dessinger  @mommypotamus has to say.

Lorna said it works. That was a few weeks ago and and do believe that I agree with her, which is all I’m going to say about it :-).

How old are you on the inside?

I watched another TED Talk yesterday, this one by Isabel Allende titled How To Live Passionately. It made me smile, nod, and get a bit teary-eyed. I think this is something most of you will enjoy…

If the video doesn’t work for you, click here.

I remember a time, some years ago, sitting with my grandmother, who was in her 90s (but didn’t look a day over 75!), and my mom. We each agreed that we felt a lot younger on the inside than our age would suggest. Isn’t that true for everyone? I still don’t exactly feel like a grown-up, and I suspect that I never will.