(Entry below is an excerpt of a handwritten entry from 2/18/15)
I recently read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo which has been really enlightening for me. I got rid of, threw away and donated tons of crap: DVDs, books, VHS tapes I never watched, a bag full of clothes, costume jewelry and shoes, clear plastic sleeves holding magazine pages that I saved in a binder but rarely looked at.
I even went through my Ipod and deleted old songs and albums I no longer listen to, and songs that take me back to the past in a negative way, bringing up memories that I’d rather forget. I consolidated my storage space as well, by following the author’s tips on how she stores handbags inside other handbags (to help maintain their shape) and how she folds t-shirts. I folded a lot of t-shirts and placed them neatly in a drawer, which freed up a lot of closet space instantly.
While reading The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, I was already considering all the things in my possession that didn’t bring me any joy at all and how much I couldn’t wait to be rid of them. This is a book where you have to stop several times while reading because it’s so convincing that you can’t wait to get started clearing out your old stuff.
I immediately went through my closet and pulled out things for donation that I knew I didn’t love, didn’t wear, and had been meaning to get rid of for so long. I could suddenly recognize them as definite clutter. I could never seem to take the last step berfore, but this book somehow did the trick. The author helps you deal with feelings of guilt for items never used or money wasted or things kept out of a feeling of obligation, like unwanted gifts from others.
The advice is so clear and absorbing that it just ends up making perfect sense. This is one book that truly resonated with me and I am reading it now again for the second time. I also went through and read all the reviews of the book on Amazon.com, just out of curiosity about how others went about their clutter clearing journeys. And how their lives changed as a result.
I think it’s good to clear things out because it creates the space for something new- or a new idea or perspective to come in. I still want to work through my kitchen drawers which tend to collect a good amount of junk. It was a relief to go through my cupboards the other day and throw away a bunch of bottles of vitamins and spices that had expired.
I’m more interested now in the fresh and the new, in what’s to come in the future rather than what has been in the past. If I continue to evolve for the better, so the circumstances and people in my life should follow suit and be better for me than anyone or anything that has come before. I have so much more space now in my home thanks to Marie Kondo, even though I thought I was already pretty minimalist.
Prompt: Tell us about the last book you read (Why did you choose it? Would you recommend it?). To go further, write a post based on its subject matter.
The last book I read was Girl, Wanted: The Chase for Sarah Pender by Steve Miller. Actually, I read it twice. I don’t know why I’m so fascinated by the story of Sarah Pender, a young woman who was charged (with her boyfriend at the time) of murdering her two roommates.
The blame went back and forth between Sarah and her boyfriend for the murders. He even went so far as to have a friend of his forge Sarah’s handwriting and write him a letter confessing to the crimes. The letter was later found not to have Sarah’s fingerprints on it. Sarah had, however, purchased the murder weapon.
Sarah was convicted and sentenced to 110 years in prison for acting as an accomplice to the crimes. After filing several appeals and getting them denied, she broke out of prison (8 years into her sentence) with the help of some friends, ex-cons, and even a security guard at the prison.
She had used and manipulated them all to aid in her escape. She was finally caught a few months later and was returned to jail, and the friends who helped her received prison time for aiding a convicted felon. One ex-con was sentenced to 7 years, and the prison security guard was sentenced to 8 years.
I think I find this story interesting because of Sarah Pender. She was a smart person who had somehow gotten her whole life turned upside down. She maintains she is innocent but no one really knows if she was the mastermind behind the murders.
She wanted the roommates out of her home because they were selling drugs and stealing her money, and causing problems all around. I’ve tried to make up my own mind about whether or not she was behind the killings, but the book doesn’t reveal much in the mystery. It only becomes more mysterious and strange.
Sarah was featured on America’s Most Wanted while she was out on the lam. She was in the top 15 of that list, and the only woman featured on the list. She was able to outsmart the U.S. Marshall, buying phones for one time calls to her friends that could not be traced.
She evaded capture for 136 days. During that time, she met a wealthy businessman who helped her get a job (under the table) and set her up in an apartment and paid for her expenses in exchange for sex.
Before the murder conviction, she was working a serious, Monday through Friday, 8-5 office job and saving money to return to college where she wanted to major in physics. She managed to charm everyone around her.
And some say she made others commit crimes for her by some amazing control she was able to exert over people. One attorney in the book refers to her as ‘the female Charles Manson’ because of the way she was able to seduce, control and use people in order to get them to do what she wanted.
Sarah is now in solitary confinement and will not be released until she is 75 years old. The show Snapped did a feature episode on her, but focused more on the crime details than on her time after escaping prison.
Sarah is a strange character, showing emotion when feeling sorry for herself at the end, but showing no real remorse about the deaths of her roommates (in the interview portion of the Snapped episode).
She writes a letter (mentioned in the book) to someone and states that ‘killing people is no big deal, people die all the time.’ So I have to wonder if she honestly realized what she was writing, or if she really was unstable or evil beneath the surface.
Sarah presents herself as sweet and innocent, but that’s also how she likely lured people into her traps and got them to go along with her plans and do her bidding, even at the risk of themselves and their own freedom.
I think feeling as socially inept as I often do, I find it so interesting that a young woman could have so much control over others, know how to quickly gain love and trust and friendship, and absolute loyalty from people she meets and befriends. I would definitely recommend this book.
I chose to read this book after watching the movie that was based on the Sarah Pender story, called She Made Them Do It. It aired recently on Lifetime. See official page- http://www.mylifetime.com/movies/she-made-them-do-it
(Entry below was handwritten on 3/12/14)
Prompt: Make a list of things you love. Keep listing until you feel amazing.
(from the book, The Power by Rhonda Byrne)
I love my mother, my niece and nephew, my sister, my dad, my extended family. I love staying in, I love dusk in the summertime. I love the fall season. I love unexpected gifts.
I love days off from work, new pens, a new journal, gray eyeliner and orange lip gloss. I love being warm and cozy in bed, sleeping in late, hot bubble baths, exercising, hot showers, using Wen.
I love buying lottery scratch off tickets, meditation, reading and writing. I love watching movies. I love writing or meditating with a group of people. I love discovering new places I’ve never been to before. I love music, the first few warm days of spring. I love Shirley Manson, Garbage’s music, Blondie’s music.
I love to learn new things, expand my knowledge, do research. I love shopping for new dresses and handbags, and shopping on the charity website- thehungersite.com.
I love getting ‘likes’ after posting an entry on my blog. I love to fantasize, to be quiet and observe. I love weekends, going out to eat Mexican or Chinese food or Italian food.
I love Europe and the effortless style of many Asian women. I love minimalism, not owning so many possessions. I love taking walks, listening to my Ipod or not.
I love comfortable clothing, and wearing things that absolutely suit me and my personality. I love my zumba classes, and dancing as a fun way to exercise and burn calories.
I love being free from debt, remembering my dreams, burning scented candles, going to the library. I love discovering new aspects of myself, and new interests to pursue. I love museums, live musical performances, plays, theater, going to concerts, watching artists draw or paint.
I love wearing jewelry and fancy perfumes. I love my beige, Longchamp handbag, all my furniture, my books, the apartment I live in that’s in a quiet, private home on a quiet street. I love working from home.
What do you love?
(Entry below is an excerpt from an entry handwritten on 2/1/2014)
I just finished reading The Help the other night, and one of the reading group discussion questions at the back of the novel is: Who was your favorite character? Why? My favorite character was Eugenia Phelan, nicknamed Skeeter. She was my favorite character because she was akward and insecure of herself at first, but by the end, her true character reveals itself.
She felt strongly about a topic, and decided to interview maids and write a book about it. This decision was very brave and very dangerous, (considering the time period in which the book takes place) but Skeeter was determined to complete her project and write her book. She even worked around the clock at the last minute in order to get the manuscript to the publishing house in New York in time for the deadline.
Skeeter lost her friends, her social status and acceptance, and her first boyfriend. All that did not deter her from reaching her goal. She decided to write something extremely controversial, yet important, with the hope that it would open people’s eyes and create change. And the book she wrote succeeded in creating a dialogue between the maids and the families they worked for.
I admire Eugenia for withstanding so much criticism from her mother for not having found a husband, and for everything about her appearance that was criticized as well. And then for later dealing bravely with her mother’s serious illness and failing health. Eugenia is a strong character. She is patient and empathetic, as well as blunt and honest.
Eugenia published her book “Help” anonymously. She didn’t do it for recognition of accolades. She did it because it was an important topic to her, and it was something that no one else had ever written about before.
It’s hard to believe that The Help is the debut novel of Kathryn Stockett because the characters are so alive and the scenes are all so vivid. She has a great imagination and way with words. I was thinking the other day, how awful it would be to get to the end of my life having never written or published anything substantial- without having left behind some sort of creative legacy.
I hope that one day I find my own story, and finally get it written down, committed to paper and published.
Prompt: What was the title of the last book you read?
I recently started reading The Help by Kathryin Stockett, and I’m finding it very enjoyable and entertaining. I saw the movie first, but always wanted to read the book because I liked the story and watching movies about writers.
And this is a book/movie of how a writer wanted to write something important. She was more interested in writing than in getting married. Her mother is constantly criticizing her and pushing her to find a husband, while she feels that the more meaningful thing for her to do was to write something that would be read someday by people.
I find the way that Kathryn Stockett writes to be very engrossing, very detailed and realistic. The stories are told with chapters narrated by different characters, so the reader gets a peak into how they live their lives and what they experience. I’ve read chapters so far narrated by the characters: Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter. Each of their voices is distinctive, affecting and deeply honest.
Each chapter and point of view is so clearly defined that you feel that you know these characters intimately right away. The story never drags and I find it hard to put the book down.
It’s been challenging to try to read it since I’m also in the midst of moving to a new apartment. But I try to get back to it every night because I just can’t wait to get to the part of the story when Skeeter starts to write the book detailing the experiences of the maids.
I’m only up to chapter six, but I would definitely recommend this book. The writing is crisp, real and humorous and it’s easy to imagine each moment as it is vividly described by the characters. I’m excited to read further on and see how the rest of the book is shaped. It’s already better than the movie.
The following are a list of the next books I want to read, luckily I looked them up and they are all at my library so I will be checking them out soon:
“Chilly Scenes of Winter”
“The Heart is a Lonely Hunter”
“Travels with Charley”
“Possession: A Romance”
Last night I attended my first class for the next course on my list to get my Certificate in Editing from NYU. It’s called From Writer to Reader: An Introduction to Book Publishing. And it’s taught by Esther Margolis. She founded Newmarket Press, I believe it was back in the 60s, when it was unheard of for a woman to do something like that.
She told some amazing stories. Like being the only woman in a sales meeting of 300 once, and getting to work with the Nobel Prize-winning poet Maya Angelou. Esther worked on the publicity for one of Angelou’s first books. And she created an event (to be covered by the press) in which Angelou would speak to school children in Harlem.
Maya agreed to do so on one condition. She asked Esther, ‘What will they pay to listen to me speak?’ and Esther said, ‘Maya, these are school children in Harlem, what do you mean?’ And Maya said ‘It doesn’t matter if it’s just 10 cents or a quarter. They should pay something because they will listen differently if they have paid to hear me speak.’
And Esther said it was one of the biggest lessons she learned in her career doing publicity for book authors. Maya Angelou is a poet who’s words I fell in love with in high school, and here was this woman who had worked with her, just casually telling the story as if it were anybody.
She said Maya was extraordinary though. And how could she not be? The kids ended up paying a quarter to get into the auditorium to hear her speak, and the money raised by her appearance did not go to her either, it went to charity.
We also watched a brief video about the publishing business, which featured Nikki Giovanni, another amazing poet that I love. And I actually never even knew what she looked like. I was encouraged by the way that the authors and editors described all the different facets of working in publishing, And how someone could tailor their particular interest into a career in it.
They can start as editorial assistants and move their way up all the way to senior editor, or someone could start in administration or HR or even in the legal side in the contracts department, or production, art, or many others. I know there has to be a niche somewhere in their for me. Right now I feel like it may be editing. but I’m not absolutely certain yet.
I guess it just takes getting your feet wet to see where you most want to end up. The first homework assignment is really interesting which seems promising for the whole course.
“Always carry a notebook. And I mean always. The short-term memory only retains information for three minutes; unless it is committed to paper you can lose an idea for ever.”
For as long as I can remember, I have always loved blank books. I remember being in the supermarket with my mother and having just discovered (at around ten years old) that I could make up my own stories and poems. I begged my mother to buy me some steno pads with red covers that were square-shaped.
It’s a pretty vivid memory still to this day. I opened those fresh steno pad pages and smelled the paper and imagined the possibilities. I imagined the world I could create in them, just from my own mind and imagination. And it was a thrilling feeling. It was the silent invitation from those white, lined pages to scribble down all my ideas.
Now I have several blank journals on hand all the time, just in case inspiration strikes. I have a tendency to pile them on my nightstand along with whatever books I’m currently reading. Here’s a picture of my nightstand that I took last night. With all those journals just waiting for my words, I better get to work.
My latest acquisition is this journal which was a birthday gift from someone very special that I love. It is soft and leather-bound, hand-made in Italy. It will be a joy to write in, and I love the feel of the floral engravings on the cover. Even though it is large in size, its soft leather covers allow it to lie flat, which will prove useful for when I’m writing in bed, which is most of the time. This journal is a joy, even just the feel of it in my hands.
The thing is, even though I may have a beautiful, new journal to write in, I always have to finish the one I’m currently writing in first. Maybe I don’t want to cheat on it, or break up my life story. The journal I currently use is used mostly for writing prompts and my responses to them and other writing exercises, but I can never seem to stick to a theme in my journal.
Even though they may start out as dream or prayer journals, or poetry journals, I always end up writing personal entries and thoughts about my day in whatever book happens to be close by. I don’t tend to compartmentalize my thoughts into separate blank books, though I’d have plenty to choose from if I decided to do so. I don’t think I will ever stop collecting journals. I buy them compulsively and receive them often as gifts from those people who truly know me.
(Entry below was written on December 1, 2008)
I love Janice Dickenson. Since I don’t have work tomorrow, I’m up at 3:24am watching her sell her jewelry on HSN (home shopping network). All the cocktail rings are lovely, but of course at size 5, too big for my fingers.
I adore Janice’s personality. She’s loud and obnoxious, but in a way that is fully, unapologetic-ally her. She is not afraid to be who she is. To be loud or overbearing, To be fun and stylish, sexy and fabulous no matter how old she gets. She has admirable ambition and drive and has made herself into a success in the modeling world on her own terms.
I’ve read 2 of her books- her autobiography, No lifeguard on duty which I lent to my mom who loved it too, and Everything about me is fake and I’m perfect. Her writing style is fresh and she has a natural way of telling a story that draws you in, as if you were in conversation with her. She is the epitome of strong.
I wish I could be that way. I mean so socially strong that I intimidate others with my confidence and sense of self. That others are at a loss for words when around me because I make such a secure impression on them. To be like her, not like myself- shy, always retreating, second guessing. That is my ultimate dream. To be unafraid to speak my mind. To be who I want to be and see myself to be.
I was addicted to her show back when it was on the Oxygen network, The Janice Dickenson Modeling Agency. I had rented the first season from Netflix and became addicted. mostly because Janice took every opportunity to showcase her best self.
She has talents for photography, modeling and is also a model agent and mentor. It was really hypnotic to watch her work. There was a scene on her show where she encourages one of the models in her agency by telling him that growing up, “I believed you could be, just anyone you really wanted to be.” That just sums it all up, doesn’t it? She said it with a conviction that would remove any doubt. She was dead serious.
Janice came from humble beginnings and an abusive household, and still had the determination and strength to go after her dream of being a model in a time where models looked nothing like her. They were all blonde and blue-eyed. She paved her own path and became an in demand model anyway when most agencies turned her away at first
She didn’t let anything defeat her. She later decided she wanted to have a modeling agency of her own, and film the whole process for a reality show, and so it was done. Just like that. She decided to write books, so she became a best-selling author. And it’s easy to see why.
She is a distinct personality. An amazing woman who has accomplished so much. People may ridicule her but she lives her life in her own way and makes no apologies ever. She knows exactly who she is and is unafraid to show it. and that is so stunning to me.
She makes it all look so easy and so fun because she really lives her life and makes the most of it, and encourages others to do the same in her books. So now I guess she has a jewelry line, I had no idea about it. the bracelets and rings and necklaces are very pretty too. I guess there really is no limit to what a person can do or what she can get if she really wants it.
(Entry below was written sometime in 2009)
In total I have recently gotten rid of about 230 things, and every time it gets easier and feels better. Two bags full of clothes donated, two bags of other miscellaneous stuff donated, a big box of jewelry gone, pile of books and pile of CDs donated to the library, (and more to go) my hallway closet almost completely empty except for some scarves and 2 party dresses, and I’m still discarding.
For some reason, the idea of discarding one thing a day really clicked with me, and made decluttering something easy that I can do in small steps that really add up. I believe I first read about this tip in Francine Jay’s book, The Joy of Less. I took to committing to discarding one thing a day, and ended up discarding about 10-15 things each day over a period of a few weeks. Writing them down in a list was also helpful.
I want to have a minimal wardrobe, but that’s been hard for me. So what I have been doing is discarding a lot of lounge clothes and pajamas, which I really had in abundance. I got rid of a lot of things from my regular wardrobe, but I was weak and ended up replacing some of it.
I have been good about doing the ‘one new item in, one old item out’ rule though. That has been great for clearing space in my closet and dresser drawers. If you look at it as just getting rid of or donating one thing a day, it doesn’t seem so daunting to tackle a whole apartment.
It’s funny how being at work and having a physical separation from my things, make me think of more things I can let go of easily. It helps when I have them just in mind, and can’t see or hold something which I will then talk myself into keeping.
There is really very little that we need, and I am even starting to see some things that used to be vital to me as possible clutter, and thinking what would be the worst thing to happen if I just got rid of them.
It’s amazing how none of the decluttering books have motivated me as much as the minimalism books/blogs and online communities have. Especially the pictures of their minimal spaces and closets/wardrobes! The best decluttering book I’ve read is Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston, which kind of cemented this (living lightly) philosophy in my brain. I’m happy that I read it in my teens.