Getting and Keeping Organized

I am a messy creative who thrives on organization, which is something of an oxymoron but is the absolute truth on how I operate. When I’m in the middle of a project, whether it be painting or sewing or baking or sculpting, the act of creation itself is mess-inducing. When I’m writing or making music, I get distracted from everything else. So piles end up building up – a stack of paperwork here, paint that hasn’t been put away in two weeks over there because I only get a short time to work, etc. I will then slowly drive myself crazy until I reach a breaking point and need to organize everything in my life. The problem, though, is that when projects keep coming, I don’t have the down time to organize my life in useful ways. So one of my goals while being out on maternity leave is to lay the groundwork for keeping myself organized. I’m starting in my workroom (eventually I’ll want to invest a couple thousand dollars into this area, but we’re a few years down the road so I’m making due with what I have in the meantime), which is where I keep many of my supplies, and I’ll hopefully have time to get to the arts and crafts and music area – but we need to buy some shelves first for that. So what am I doing?

  • Continuing the unpacking process – there are still boxes and boxes from my move in April
  • As I unpack, I am questioning everything I have kept in the past. Will I use this leftover art supply or scrap of fabric or bit of yarn, or should I toss it out or donate or try to sell it? There is no reason to keep things I can’t repurpose and use up.
  • Find a home for everything that I am keeping that is easy to get to (ie. not stacking bins so high that it’s a pain to put something away in a bottom bin, etc.). Label the homes if necessary.
  • Decorate my workspace to make me want to spend time in there.

All this is of course challenging with an infant, so I’m really only chipping away 30 minutes here and there. But to continue on my organization efforts, I’m also organizing myself electronically which I can do one-handed while nursing or holding her sometimes. My project right now is going through my oldest email account and saving emails I want to save on my harddrive and unsubscribing from way too many companies – places I bought an item from once or twice and get bombarded with offers from, restaurants we never go to, and so on. It was a bit nostalgic for me, because I unsubscribed from a bunch of businesses in the Los Angeles area finally. It is bittersweet. I really loved being out there in my mid-20s, and I had a good time. I’m happy with the life I’m building here, but there were so fewer responsibilities ten years ago. One of those responsibilities is currently sprawled across my lap napping right now as I twist myself in an odd position to write this blog so the laptop isn’t too close to her.

It will be a long time until I’m fully organized because I’ve got areas of unpacking and sorting in my personal life too, but as long as I can really designate a spot for everything to go, picking up the pieces of my creative whirlwinds will be a far easier task.

A Tale of Two Earrings

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I was almost twelve when I got my ears pierced. It was a rite of passage, and I was pleased with my little stud earrings. My ears didn’t heal properly, though, and I had issues with an infection and the holes trying to close themselves up for months. It turned out that I was allergic to the metal in the earring and I needed to switch to solid gold. So my mother, even though we were tight on money at the time, bought me gold posts instead. And my grandparents bought me beautiful birthstone posts for my birthday, that were not meant to be worn every day.

Fast forward several months, and I had already lost one of my everyday gold posts, thus having to wear my peridot earrings every day. I had gotten cast in a touring production of the ballet Hansel and Gretel, and while on tour, we accidentally left my earrings on a music stand in the room we were dressing in. My mom called the following day to see if anyone had turned them in, but they were lost forever. So, knowing that I had to have gold earrings, she pulled out the earrings in the photo above for me. They were my great-grandmother’s earrings brought with her from Sicily in the 1920s. My mother warned me to take Very Good Care of these earrings, being an heirloom.  And I did. My ears stopped trying to heal themselves over after a while, and I would switch out my earrings daily, but these were the pair I wore the most and that I slept in to make sure the holes wouldn’t try to close themselves in my sleep.

Fast forward to 2007, when I lose the earrings in southern CA. I had them on my desk and then they were gone. I searched everywhere, feeling sick to my stomach, but to no avail. Then when we moved apartments in spring 2008, I searched again. Still nothing. I put out a heartfelt wish to the universe that I would be incredibly grateful if they somehow ever found their way back to me, even while acknowledging how impossible such a task seemed. I assumed they had somehow fallen in a crack or under the carpet or our cat had swiped them and were lost forever.

Yesterday, I come home from work, and I saw one of the earrings sitting on the butcher block in the kitchen. I asked my husband about it, and he said he had found it while unpacking and sorting through a bin of art supplies. In that bin was a canvas papercraft organizer that I had sitting next to my desk in CA, and even though I’ve been through that organizer multiple times over the years since, it seemed that at least one earring had worked its way in so deeply that I never saw it. He showed me where he had put all the papers that had been in the organizer in our new art cabinet, and a few hours later, shrugging my shoulders at the likelihood of finding the match, I started sifting through. By the time I had gotten 1/4 of the way down the pile, I had found it. After over 8 years of thinking them lost forever, I had my great-grandmother’s earrings again. And I’m of course wearing them today.

It’s funny, because of course they’re just a “thing”, not even worth very much if I were to try to resell them (though because they are a unique design in that they enter from behind and hook in the front, there may be value there). But in many ways, it feels like a blessing from my great-grandmother on the house and the next chapter of our lives. And as I’m having a daughter, it’s nice to know that I now have something sentimental to pass on to her someday.

Status Update On All Things Creative (and Some Not-So-Creative)

In an effort to continue to hold myself accountable, I am recording how I have begun 2013 thus far, and I must say it hasn’t begun that auspiciously as we’ve gone from bad head colds to lingering sinus issues to two-year molar teething, which all equals severe lack of sleep.  But I can make baby steps, and here I will put them down.

  • I am making good progress with the line edits on my novella and should finish right on schedule at the end of next week.  This is good because we’ve signed up to share a table at a Small Press Expo in Buffalo, NY in April, so I now have a hard deadline to aim for.  And I will reach it.
  • I have been making not-so-good progress on my illustrations for my poetry collection.  My holiday gifts are actually STILL not completed (our final celebration is this Sunday with family & I need to ship out a few things still), so I will be picking up where I left off in early December this coming week and will hopefully finish by the end of the following week (I’m aiming to be done 1/24 but may need one more week depending on how detailed I get).  Again, I have a hard deadline to have this finished by April.  Two books sitting on the table will be much more interesting than one.  And I may also then be able to sell some prints of the illustrations from the book.  Money is good, as is getting my name out there as much as possible.
  • Music… oh my music.  With my husband and I working split shifts, and us living in an apartment complex, I don’t get nearly as much time to play as I’d like.  But this week, I’ve begun practicing piano scales as often as my son gives me time to.  I am self-taught on the piano (I picked it up when my older brother started having lessons, and then I learned flute which reinforced music theory, etc), and I play well enough to accompany myself as I sing, but writing my own music is a slow and laborious process, so I figure I would take the time to learn proper fingering on scales and chords, which is something I’ve never done.  So baby steps forward on the music front! 
  • Morning pages – I’ve been doing them at least four times a week lately.  An improvement, but I really want to make it a daily practice.  Also, I cheat sometimes and don’t do them in the morning because I’m running so late for work.  It doesn’t have quite the same effect if I do them at lunch time because by then my brain is already too wired.  But I’ll take what I can get.
  • Things I need to work on – meditating, sketching, and exercising at least a little bit every day.  It seems like right now I can manage to do one a day, but not all three.  I plan on changing that tonight, but they say it takes 21 days to make something a habit, so this is going to be tough.

Outside of the creative work, I am going to be getting back into my no-processed food eating (at least at home) this coming week.  This, unfortunately, is another time-taker, but for my health and the health of my family, I need to plan out healthy snacks.  For example, I’ve recently tried two homemade cracker recipes that came out really good, so I will try to make those as frequently as I can as an alternative to the soy or canola oil laden store bought variety.  I’m certain that the reason we all got so sick with colds over the holidays is due to the plethora of processed and sugary foods.  Garbage in equals garbage out, after all. 

Also, we made great strides in getting organized, but we still have a ways to go, so I am continuing on that front wherever I can.  We’re using some Christmas money to buy some toy organizers for the boy, and I need about two hours to finish organizing our art supplies.

And finally, my husband and I are going to have a long discussion this weekend about our business goals for the coming years.  We know what we want to achieve, but we need to create an actionable list of how to achieve those goals, and we need to decide if we realistically can do it with our time and money constraints.  This could be a tearful, emotional conversation or maybe not.  That will probably depend on how much sleep our son lets us gets these next couple of nights. 

Things I Need to do ASAP

  1. Clean up my sites: list all my social networking icons on each site, tweak my bio on the other sites, etc.  And lo and behold Cristian Mihai recently posted this blog on Social Media http://cristianmihai.net/2012/10/26/blogging-and-social-media/#comment-12410 which is a great way for me to get started.
  2. Along with the social networking, I need to talk with the husband about Facebook for all of our various projects.  We have a few fan pages, but since Facebook now charges exorbitant highway robbery prices to reach your entire fan base, that seems a less-than-ideal way to go.  The obvious solution for my Kat Micari stuff would be to just friend everyone who is a fan, but that won’t work for our other page.  And do we then add Google+ or other various social media?  I don’t know, but it’ll be decided by the end of the weekend.
  3. I will start sketching, doing my Morning Pages, writing, playing music, meditating, and exercising every day, starting this Sunday, even if it’s just five minutes of each and even if my Morning Pages don’t happen until 8:30PM, unless my son has made me so exhausted that I need to go straight to bed, in which case I will pick up immediately the following day.  The important thing is to make each of these a habit  (according to research, this will take 21 days).
  4. I need to make serious progress on organizing myself.  The goal is still to finish this by the end of November, and some work has been accomplished, but there is still so much more to go.

I just wanted to get these things down so I can remember them.