Tuesday Tools: Flylady

I don’t feel well today. My allergies are terrible and I have cramps. I want to curl up and watch all remaining episodes of Unbreakable Kimmie Schmidt. 

But I won’t. In fact, it’s been a decently productive day. And it’s all thanks to today’s Tuesday Tool. 


I found Fly Lady about a decade ago when a friend and I were looking for lists of everyday cleaning tasks. We had decided it was time for us to learn how to take care of a house like grown-ups. We’re both Moms now, and both still very much works in progress. But anything I’ve learned, I’ve learned from Fly Lady. 

One reason her system works for me is because she acknowledges that for some of us, difficulty with housekeeping is related to mental health. I need to look at things in baby steps. I need a ton of do-overs a day. 

Last week my focus was on decluttering my schedule. This week, I’m sharing how I am decluttering my home/ physical space. Sloooooooowly. And it all comes down to Fly Lady. 

What are some tips you have for decluttering your space?

How to Run the Soft Reset on your Life

Two weeks ago, we moved into our new apartment. The next day,our cable was installed. I was quite proud of myself for being so on top of things. And hour later, the screen went pink. We were busy moving, so I didn’t have time to deal with this inconvenience. A few days later I decided to call for help. When I found the phone number, I read an all-but-plea from the cable company. It essentially begged that before you call, at least try resetting your cable box on your own. So I did. And it worked. I was basically a super hero. I sent my husband a text explaining what happened.


His message really resonated with me. When in doubt, restart.

A little under three months ago I committed to making some changes in my health. I was doing well for a while. And then, well, lots of things. I lost a friend to cancer. And we moved. And this happened.
I wrote a blog a few weeks ago vowing to return to Project 40. Work-outs since this blog: zero.

I find myself on a other Monday morning. And I’m ready to start again.


Before I had a smart phone (remember the time before smart phones? My daughter doesn’t.) I was a Palm Pilot user. Big big fan. Relied on it heavily. And every once in a while it would slow down or get stuck. Since this was in the pre-software-update-every-few-months era, the problem was often that the device needed a soft reset. Remember those? You put a paperclip into that little hole and held your breath, hoping you didn’t lose everything?

And then you would turn the device off. And turn it back on. And everything was up and running again.

Sometimes you needed to delete something that was causing problems. Sometimes you lost a bit of work. But for the most part, you could start again.

Today, I am running the soft reset on my life. (Without the paperclip.) I have Flylady habits established from my past. I know what to do. I have a new home that sure, still needs to be unpacked a bit… But there is a place for everything, even if everything is not yet in its place.

I am participating in an abs challenge group, and have some plans to get me back on schedule for Project 40.

I am participating in Camp NaNoWriMo, working on a new book for the first time in years.

I even plan to *gasp* practice the piano accompaniment for the student show I’m musical directing this summer. (I usually just wing it.)

If a student came to me deciding to make all of these changes, I would discourage it. It’s too much all at once.

Except. These are habits that have already been in place in the past. It’s not a new Palm Pilot out of the box. It’s just a soft reset. Sure, I may lose a little of the work I had already done (like the few pounds I had dropped that are back…) but for the most part, I can pick up where I left off.

Turning off.

And… turning back… on.

And everything is up and running again.

The Dr Oz Three-Day Cleanse: Introduction


I didn’t have coffee this morning.

I can’t really wrap my head around that. But it’s true. I had one cup of green tea. All in the name of art. (And, you know, getting healthy and stuff. But it’s easier for me to commit to things if it’s in the name of an artistic venture. If that sounds crazy to you, you’re probably not an artist.)

I have decided to do a cleanse. I have never done anything like this before. So I’m a little nervous. And I wanted to be careful to choose one that didn’t sound like something through which the human body should not be put. So I chose the Dr. Oz three-day cleanse. It’s totally food-based. I recognize the things I’ll be putting into my body over the next three days. In fact, you’ll recognize them too. Here they are laid out on my table.


Yummy, right?

I’m not terribly concerned about hunger. I am not a huge eater anyway, and the smoothies seem pretty substantial. I am worried about no coffee for three days though. And I also hope that drinking my tea plain, rather than with a slice of lemon and stevia as suggested, is acceptable. Because I absolutely cannot tolerate any sort of fruit in my tea. Seriously. It’s a thing with me. And I figured the stevia couldn’t possibly be doing anything beneficial. And I like plain green tea. But if this whole thing is a bust, we’ll blame the tea.

There are a few things I’m really looking forward to with this challenge:

1. Seeing what sort of benefits it has on my body. I’m hoping for some belly loss and improved energy.

2. The evening bath each night. That’s a nightly ritual for me anyway. I’ve always been a bath person. But this one is with Epsom salts and lavender. And it’s mandatory. The things we do for our art, right?

3. I know exactly what I’ll be eating and when and how and all of the ingredients are on hand. That’s pretty exciting. It occurs to me that with some planning, this could always be true. WHY HASN’T ANYONE TOLD ME THERE COULD BE SUCH PEACE OF MIND IN MEAL PLANNING???
(Lots of people have told me. Especially Flylady. For years.)

One final note before I finish my first breakfast shake. (Which is delicious, by the way.) I will share the full 3-day cleanse plan. But since I haven’t actually done the cleanse yet, I’m not comfortable putting the information out there. I’ll share it when I’m done 🙂

The Last Day Before the Last Year


In a few hours I turn thirty-nine.


Forty is one thing. It feels like something worth celebrating.

But thirty-nine is just…almost.

Almost forty. The last year I’m thirty-something. And the last year of my childhood.

(Oh, that was seventeen, you say? Millions of thirty-something’s disagree.)

Speaking of almost. I’ve had several projects this year that have fallen flat. Let’s take a look at them, shall we?

Flylady and Decluttering
Ugh. It occurred to me yesterday that I had given up. The clutter was piling up. The dishes were piling up. The laundry was piling up. I say “was” as if it’s a past-tense situation. I am baby-stepping my way across the living room. But it’s just so slow. We have too much stuff. The past several weeks I was consumed by our Spring Musical at school and I did nothing. I will figure this out. I will discover what it is about this process that is not working for me. But it hasn’t happened yet.

So, in the meantime, we’re crisis cleaning for Easter this week.

Speaking of Spring musicals….

Lily’s Challenge
Much to my disappointment, I think we have outgrown this. It breaks me heart because it was so much fun. But Lily is now more than ever, her very own little performer. And unless we had a month of “Let it go,” I don’t think I can make it work at this age.


Sunrise, Sunset

Running for Lent
Again, that whole Spring Musical thing… (It was “Little Shop of Horrors,” by the way.)
Two years ago I did two Spring Musicals at once. It was way too much, and the really short version of the story is that I ended up hospitalized with pneumonia. Like, the real, actual, fluid in both lungs pneumonia. I don’t recommend it.

So it occurred to me after missing a few days of running that perhaps this was not the time to start a project like that. Perhaps during this time I just needed to focus on getting kids to sing “Skid Row.”

So that’s what I did.

Now. Why am I tying all these up in a neat bow? First, to remind myself of this:


Maybe it reminds you to be reasonable, too.

But second, and more importantly, it’s because I’m headed towards the end of an era.

No. Really. I’m not tryin’a be all dramatic about it. It’s a Bible thing. Important things happen in forty-year chunks. Tomorrow starts the last year of my very first chunk. And man, do I have plans. And I didn’t want anything hanging over my head. (Oh, shoot. “Let it Go” totally would have worked here…)

Tomorrow stars a huge year-long project for me. I’m excited. And scared. (Cue Little Red Riding Hood.) And I can’t wait to share it with you.

My Cinderella Story

“Impossible things are happening every day” – Rogers and Hammerstein

“Cinderella” was my very first musical. I had auditioned for our community theatre several times before, but had never been cast. Something clicked in my brain though, the end of my eighth grade year, about the energy required for a successful audition. I sang “Wouldn’t it be Loverly.” And I sold it, man. I was cast in the ensemble. And the rest was history.

It seems appropriate, then, that my first 5k would also be a Cinderella theme. Here I am with my medal. So cute, right?


And while they are different versions of the same story, they both seem fitting. Wanting something so badly that seemed out of reach. The R&H version of the story features a song of hope. The Fairy Godmother sings that “impossible things are happening every day.”

Yesterday was no exception.

I finished C25K.

I wrote in January about my desire to complete the program. True, the actual 5k was almost a month ago. The hype and promise of a medal and location helped me push through. Running through Epcot Center at sunrise is considerably more interesting that running on the treadmill at the YMCA.

But yesterday I finished the 24th workout. Yep. I did all 24. In order. As designed. And I’m here to tell you. It worked.

Two months ago I could hardly run for a minute at a time. And now I can go out for a 30-minute jog. It. Worked.

I CAN breathe. My legs WILL hold out. This program breaks it down into baby steps. Which I still hate. But I guess they work or something.

The only thing to do now is keep going. 10k Lent Project, here I come!

Note: I have already started the project. But now I get to move from the 5k training to the 10k training. 18 work-outs in 35 days. Wheeeeeeeeeeee!

And one additional note: Those of you who were following my Flylady progress. I have been running a lot more than flying. My sink is still shiny. But as for the rest… Let’s hope the running success inspires some cleaning success.

The Fog

My first year of teaching I had this principal who was kinda goofy. One time he stopped me in the hallway- called out my name from fairly far away- to tell me he loved fish sandwiches. He was just… goofy. But he used a phrase that has stuck with me throughout my teaching career.

The Februaries.

Any teacher knows what I’m talking about here. Christmas vacation is long over. Spring break is far away. (Although here on the East Coast we get February Break too. Probably so we don’t kill each other during the Februaries.) The weather is awful. Everyone is sick. Skies are grey. Kids are grouchy. Teachers are grouchy too. And parents. Everyone is grouchy.

The Februaries are ROUGH. And we’re dealing with it big time at our house. Lily and I have been sick for two weeks. If we have another snow day I’m gonna scream. She gets angry and throw things. I cry. Ugh. How long until spring?

But for me, there’s a lot more going on.

I call it “The Fog.”

The fog is my most difficult, and most common depression symptom. I’ve been meaning to write about it for a while. The problem is that when I’m in the fog, the last thing I want to do is write. And when I’m out of it, I don’t want to think about it.

So this may be a little more stream-of-consciousness than I usually like. But here goes.

When I’m in The Fog, communication is difficult. I’m thinking about a lot of things. All at once. But they’re big concepts or dreams. Details are tough. So I start ignoring them. I abandon my calendar. I have trouble answering or even reading emails. I feel just slightly removed from the world. I CAN break through. But it is very, very difficult and completely exhausting. Sleep is comforting because I can lose myself in dreams completely.

But here’s the important thing about The Fog. When I’m there, I don’t feel “depressed.” Honestly. Nothing is wrong. I’m not sad. Just sort of lost in thought. In fact, once I’m out of The Fog, I’m often ready to take on one of the projects that was brewing. I’m guessing that an awful lot of artists spend a significant amount of time in The Fog.

But it can really be a problem after a while. Because I don’t want to deal with day-to-day details. Routines go out the window. I stop doing the things I KNOW I must do in order to fight depression. Check my calendar. Shine my sink. Declutter every day. Yes, those are to keep the household running well. But more importantly they keep ME running well. And then I’m sitting there in a mess with stuff everywhere and no clean clothes to wear and missing appointments and bills that need to be paid.

Routines are key to getting through The Fog. And they are the last thing I want to think about.

I’ve been in The Fog for a few weeks now. I was doing so well with shining my sink each night (over a month straight without missing a night) and running nearly every day and updating my blog. And then it all just…. Stopped.

We’ll be in Florida next week. My hope is that the Florida sunshine will break through The Fog and I’ll be back. Back to cleaning, back to blogging, back to life. I’ll have pictures and videos for Lily’s Challenge and entertaining, informative Disneyworld stories and I’ll tell you all about the 5k and show you all the things I’ve decluttered.

But today I’m going to eat some cookies and see how far I can get in Candy Crush.

Breaking the Surface: Adventures in Decluttering

This is the worst it has ever been.

I know I’ve said that about the apartment before. And it’s been bad before. In fact, I often use this picture as a profile pic.


It’s a silly picture I took of Barbie on the bathroom floor. I looked down. I saw her. And I was like yeah, Barbie. Me too. Drowning in clutter.

So it’s always been bad. But now it’s worse.

The other night Ryan said, “I want to set up a time-release camera to see how this happens.”

I know how it happens. And I told him so.

We. Have. Too. Much. Stuff.

Over the last few weeks I have been following Flylady’s advice and developing a new habit. I’ve been shining my sink every night. I’ve shined my sink every night for the past twenty nights. If I shine my sink that day, I get to call it a success. More on that here. And I have to say, I’ve done better at this than any other little “start a new habit” challenge I’ve tried in the past.

So I’m ready to start the next one. Technically it’s not February until the end of the week. But I’m starting now for three reasons.
1. We’ll be in Florida for a week in February. Sure, I can work on it in our little cabin. But to make it a full month, I need to start early.
2. I was tripping over things and couldn’t take it any more.
3. I get it. The reason it’s Shine Your Sink and THEN Declutter and never Clean Your Entire Home Right Now. And that’s the part of the battle I kept losing before.

I’m usually pretty open about things. But it’s so bad I’m not even willing to share pictures. I present to you, then, an artistic representation of our home throughout this New Habit process.

First, here’s what the apartment looked like after the holidays.


Next, this is what it looked like yesterday morning after 20 days of a shiny sink. (That’s the little silver star. I’m very proud of myself.)


Then yesterday I was teaching a piano lesson at home. There was no way I could have people see this. So I followed the directions for Crisis Cleaning. I’ve tried this method before with mixed results. This is the first time I’ve followed the directions completely. And after six hours, my home looked like this.


Better, right? It really is better to have that living room so clean. Ryan and Lily were THRILLED. And a I was proud to have done it.

But here’s the problem. It’s the same amount of stuff. Just squished together. And THAT is the issue. Too much stuff.

I get why the Shiny Sink is the first habit. And I’ll write more about that on my final Follow-Up Friday for that habit. But it’s time to Declutter.

I started in the kitchen because it is the easiest, emotionally. That has mold on it. Toss it. I also solicited help from the rest of the family. Lily loves to toss the recycling into that grocery cart. After just a few minutes, this is what was evicted from our living space.

(Don’t worry, friends. That’s just the box from Catch Phrase. Not the game. I got that version of the game in 1998. The box is no longer a box. But the game remains one of the most hysterical sources of late night entertainment ever. We’re keeping the game. Just tossing the box.)

Today’s challenge: my car. Because I can’t put the “Give Away” items in a car full of trash. I’ll keep posting pics every Friday on the blog. But if you want to see the daily progress follow me on Facebook, Twitter, or tumblr 🙂

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