Welcome to the Misadventures of Widowhood blog!

In January of 2012 my soul mate of 42 years passed away after nearly 12 years of living with severe disabilities due to a stroke. I survived the first year after Don’s death doing what most widows do---trying to make sense of my world turned upside down. The pain and heartache of loss, my dark humor, my sweetest memories and, yes, even my pity parties are well documented in this blog.

Now that I’m a "seasoned widow" the focus of my writing has changed. I’m still a widow looking through that lens but I’m also a woman searching for contentment, friends and a voice in my restless world. Some people say I have a quirky sense of humor that shows up from time to time in this blog. Others say I make some keen observations about life and growing older. I say I just write about whatever passes through my days---the good, bad and the ugly. Comments welcome and encouraged. Let's get a dialogue going! Jean

Saturday, February 1, 2020

The Craft Room Purging Project


I finally quit sucking my thumb, put down my security blanket and tackled the job of downsizing my craft room and its closet full of handcrafts. And by the time I was finished the trunk of my car was stuffed with an assortment of goodies to take to Goodwill plus I had two bags of junk that went in my trash cart and some other things set aside for the auction house. Last summer when I downsizing my painting supplies in that room it was easy to decide what goes and what stays. I figured I’d only have room to work in one medium and everything else had to go. I picked acrylics to keep even though I prefer working in oils because I won’t have a garage for clean ups after I move. I never liked water colors and pastels are too messy for living smaller so those were both easy to give away. I live for logical choices like that. The crafts closet, however, was a different can of worms.

Apparently, that metaphorical thumbing sucking had sucked all the wisdom in my head out in the open and gave me the clarity I needed to get the dreaded contents of the handcrafts closet downsized. I decided I can live without making full-sized quilts and clothing or dolls anymore. But I do want to keep quilting and sewing so I'll be switching to smaller projects. After that decision was made my purging plan fell into place. I trashed an entire garbage bag full of patterns and only keep two---one for tote bags and hats, another for toaster covers and placemats. I went through two dozen quilting books and whittled those in half, saving the ones with small gift-giving projects. The place I’m moving to does an annual arts and crafts show where residents exhibit and sell for charity. I’m going to jump on that bandwagon. So I kept my quilting quarters, and split the yarn I had stockpiled in half with Goodwill getting all the dark colors. I’m going to be the light-and-airy-colors knitter from now on because the dark colors are too hard on my eyes. Yes, logic always works for me if I give it enough time to present its case.

In the closet I found two, full sized quilt tops nearly finished---an hour of sewing would probably complete them both, but then what? The colors were all wrong for my future home so I packed them up in large, clear zip lock bags along with the remaining material and patterns effectively making kits out of them to donate to Goodwill. I did the same with four Raggedy Ann and Andy dolls that were nearly done. Then I tackled yard goods. I had enough flannel to make the von Trapp family all night gowns. I also had yards of Pendleton wools, cottons and silk. I used to be a good seamstress and I also found my tailoring book from the classes I took back in college. I put all the yard goods in a Goodwill box and kept the book. Not that I plan to make suits, blouses and lingerie again---I even sold my sewing machine with all the bells and whistles because it was too heavy for me to lift, with plans to buy a small, no frills machine around Mother's Day. I kept the book because I don’t want to forget who I was back when I could do tailoring with the best of them. Yes, me the lady who now dresses one notch above a bag lady.

I had the hardest time deciding to let go of my teddy bear making supplies. Last summer I put all my fancy furs and stuffing that took up a lot of space in an auction and I kept the patterns, joints, tools, threads and eyes. And as I was sitting and staring into my craft closet I had a stern talk with myself, finally admitted that I’ll probably never make another artisan bear so why was I keeping the last two boxes of supplies? No answers came but I wasn't ready to let go. The bear supplies boxes got marked with an orange dot labels and put back in the closet. I use green dots on things that are getting moved with me. Orange dots mean I will revisit the choices closer to my move. Then on the last day of my closet project I took those bear boxes back out off the shelf, repacked the stuff in one large cardboard box to send off the auction house minus a shoe box full of bear supplies and patterns for making three/four inches mini bears like the ones photographed above. (My favorites.) Yes, I know, that's a totally illogical choice to make because I don’t have the finger dexterity or eyesight to make those tiny guys anymore. But that plastic shoe box now proudly sports a green dot. It’s like the tailoring book, the bear box is a memory place card of sorts.

It took me four days to sort and reorganize my crafts but I was thumb sucking longer than I was actually working. I’m pretty sure I kept more than I’ll ever use but then again I’ll have a lot more free time after I’ve moved and hopefully ten years left to use it all. Other than walking the dog I won’t have any responsibilities or work inside or outside of the house to do, and no cooking unless I want to. I worry that I'll feel like a large piece of me is missing. So much of how I define who I am is based on what I've done in the past and what I dream about doing in the future. How much can I let go of and still be me? And I'm not just talking about letting go of stuff but also in terms of letting go responsibilities... ©

45 comments:

  1. That is the question, isn't it? Who do you become when you aren't who you used to be? I want to say you become a better version of yourself, but maybe you just walk away from who you were entirely. I suspect there aren't any right or wrong answers, just ones that make sense to you.

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    1. I like that...maybe I'll be a better version of myself. Change is always scary and exciting both at the same time.

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  2. When you had mentioned how panicked you were when you thought they meant the moving date was 2020 and how relieved you were that it was later, I thought you had a ton of time either way. Wow, do you have stuff to get through and understand why you need TIME. Goodwill must love seeing you come.

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    1. I have a big house and way too many things to sell or give away. One of the appeals of the place I bought into was the long time I'd have to downsize yet still be commented so I don't quit along the way. That evil Marie Kondo is even ruining Goodwill. They have so many people lined up to donate now that one day they actually turned them down!

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  3. Sounds like you made great decisions! I hope the place you are moving to has lots of interesting activities/classes or there are many nearby. Keeping active even as what we do changes is so important. My FIL sat in front of the TV mostly but then he did that before he moved into assisted living. There were other residents who had each day full of activities though.

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    1. This is independent living, not assisted living and since it will be brand new we get to help pick out the activities. They've already had one meeting where we got to help pick out the equipment for the gym. And the community building will be ours to form book clubs, quilting clubs or whatever. A world famous sculpture park is only a mile away and they have a lot of classes there, too.

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  4. I can't even imagine that much stuff. Of course, I've never been one to sew, quilt, paint, or craft. Whatever else you can say about photography and writing as avocations, they don't take much space. Now, time? That's a different issue!

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    1. LOL I have several book shelves full of books on writing and several others full of reference books that would say otherwise about writing not taking up much space. Not to mention I have a big computer desk that I'm trying to talk myself out of needing. You reminded me, though, I need to move my camera supplies box to the crafts room closet so I don't accidentally sell it.

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  5. Downsizing anything handmade and anything "crafty" that you have made is so hard. Knowing the size of your new place makes it a bit easier. It's hard - I know.

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    1. It sure does make it easier knowing I'll have an two by eight foot long closet. I've got the contents figured out so I'll have room for a three foot table inside to leave a up for crafts. I've already got one saved on my Amazon wish list that folds, if need be.

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    2. P.S. And I've already talked to my contact at the CCC and I'll be able to get an outlet put in that closet...or anywhere else I want.

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  6. Good luck with your continuing down-sizing. Although I have far too much "stuff", little of it is crafts related as I have five thumbs on each hand!

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    1. I'm getting that way. Things I used to be able to do easily I struggle with and one of those things is dealing with my next downsizing project that I'm writing about for next week.

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  7. You are thinking of everything! An outlet in the closet for your craft room! Smart thinking!

    This era of Goodwill is perfect for shoppers and buyers. There is always a little line at our Goodwill donation site. It used to be a gas station and is on a corner so easy to get in and out. I feel like I'm there so often, I brought a dozen donuts for them a few weeks ago!

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    1. Aren't you sweet to bring donuts to the workers.

      I've always had outlets put in large closets from the time I was in my 30's. They come in very handy.

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  8. I recently purged a lot of my craft projects (many in the never-started phase) and have more to go. I don't know if you have a Buy Nothing group (on Facebook) in your area, but I found it to be a great way to give away many of my items. As I get older, I am realizing that much of what I used to like doing (beading, quilting, etc.), just doesn't appeal to me anymore. It's kind of sad, but I love knowing that someone else will enjoy what I no longer do.

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    1. Interesting concept, the Buy Nothing Groups. I just checked and found two in my area. One of my blogger friends has a store in her area that is like a Goodwill only for arts and crafts only. I would LOVE that.

      I think all crafters like to try whatever is new at the time but then we move on to something else. We might have our core crafts. I recently tried felting and I hated doing that and was glad I only bought one kit and I've done beading too, and leather crafts. My husband loved it when I was making leather goods.

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  9. Your last paragraph was profound but I think you might be conflating two separate parts of your life. You will continue to be you but you probably don’t need the ‘stuff’ to remind yourself of who you are.
    The person I am now is the same person I was when I was raising children, or working even though I no longer do either of those things. I don’t need those identifiers to remind myself of who I am. The person is much more essential than the layers that we gather as we age. Am I making sense? It seems hard to explain!
    Regards,
    Leze

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    1. It is hard to explain and I'm probably not doing a good job of explaining how I feel either. I am going to be a different person after I move. Everything will be different...my daily routine, my surroundings, my hobbies, even the foods I eat.

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  10. Congradulations on tackling the craft closet! You are such a talented lady that I feel sure new activities and art will find you. I have made so many things and created a lot of art but I don't want to repeat myself. I am currently working on a book nook diorama. I just discovered these and think it would be fun to do.
    I hope you treated yourself to one of your favorite lemon bismarks to reward yourself.

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    1. Back in my dollhouse and miniatures making era the book nook diorama would have been right up my alley. I still like tiny things.

      You are wicked, planting that lemon bismark in my head the day before I'll be in the bakery neighborhood.

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  11. Ooooh boy! After reading this post I kinda dread going through my studio - I know I will run across the very expensive piece of mohair "bear fur" I have been hanging onto all these years, along with my teddy bear patterns...you know, for the wonderful bear I was going to make for myself one of these fine days after making so many for others. HAH! Probably time to let that shit go, as the kids say.
    Good for you Jean!

    Deb

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    1. Yesterday I was trying to find a value for a wind up walking mohair bear to list on eBay and kind of shocked at how much bear prices have gone up. SO many collectables that I didn't expect that mohair bears are holding. I hope you have an easier time little go than I am. The bear parts are still in the garage waiting to go to auction and I'm still not solidly behind my very practical decision.

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  12. The best of luck to you! We live in an apartment, but I still have trouble letting go of things I'll never use again.

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    1. I would be suspicious of anyone who didn't have sentimental attachments to a few things.

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  13. You're smart to decide on the keepers based on what you want to do in your new place. It is so hard for me to part with unfinished projects and leftover yardage. I have no yarn and haven't knit anything in years, but I have a bag of needles in every size you can imagine. And I have a baby quilt I made for my now 38 yo daughter. No one really wants it but it's still in a storage cube under the guest bed, as is the fancy white baby blanket we wrapped our kids in for their baptisms. I know...I need to send them on their way, and I suppose I will with this move. I also took a quilting class long, long ago and made a queen sized sample quilt (every square is different). It's quilted and only needs the edges finished off and quilted. But I've been hauling it around in a bag with me for 30+ years and never finished it. I'm thinking that will move with me. Sadly, the colors are no longer ones I would choose for my home, but I just can't bring myself to part with it. Some day...

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    1. Your quilt top that is finished except for the backing and binding---there are services that will do that for you. But if the colors are wrong I can understand why you wouldn't sent if off. What an accomplishment to make a quilt top with all different blocks!

      I don't understand kids today who don't have an interest in their baptism or baby quilts. But I don't think your daughter's lack of interest is uncommon at all. As long as you have room in your new place, I'd keep it and the quilt top. I just don't have that luxury where I'm going.

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    1. I don't have a lot of hard purge/sort projects left. Just my clothes closet and I'm not doing that until next winter and that might be fun because I'm doing a hard purge and upgrading of my wardrobe afterward.

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  15. Wow! Good for you! You're an inspiration to those of us who are still procrastinating.

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  16. Those tiny Creations are Precious and don't take up much Room so I'm Glad you kept them for Nostalgia's Sake! As for the rest, I applaud your tenacity to plow thru it and be more Editorial/Logical in how you tackled the Project of disposing of so much of it! High Five! I too am being way more Editorial and Logical about what I want Life to Look and Feel like now that we've accomplished that impossible Move and pulled it off. *Winks* It is Liberating really, isn't it?

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    1. Following your journey has been keeping me going on mine even though our approach and time schedules were/are totally different. You couldn't have found a better house and outbuilding for your lifestyle and family. I have a feeling now that you're in your forever home you won't need half the stuff you moved with you. Our stuff sometimes becomes like a security blanket when we're stressed out caregivers. Much of your stress got left behind with HOA.

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  17. Ugh. I think Blogger ate my comment. What I basically said was thanks for the motivation -- I've been in a similar thumb sucking mode on exactly the same project -- purging the craft room. While it's not imminent, I sometimes feel it is falling in on me. My plan is first an art sale on the yard to friends who actually do stuff and are still looking for more things to do; then donating much to organizations like the youth art center and the children's grief center who use art supplies in their various programs. Then Goodwill. I'd make a trip to your Goodwill store if I could be sure that quilt top was there. I love those more than I can say and always look for them. Well done, you. I'm impressed.

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    1. The organizations you named would be great to donate to, I do Goodwill because I have to go past the place every week on my way to the grocery store.

      You are not alone in buying unfinished quilt tops. Some people use them to make other crafts or table runners. It's not the first time I've let go of a couple. I sold some in an auction back 17-18 years ago.

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  18. I haven't even begun to think about downsizing, but I imagine it is a stressful time. My wife has more fabric than the average fabric store so how that will go if ever the time comes I have no idea!

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    1. I have often compared downsizing with living your life in reverse. It's definitely a walk down Memory Lane. Your wife is not alone. I don't know a home sewer who doesn't stock pile fabrics. Sales are hard to resist.

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  19. Just over 3yrs ago, I moved house - downsized. I kept what I thought I would use, and were using - I was doing a major art program. The year before last, I started but didn't finish sorting up stuff...'cause I thought I might use "it"... Part way last year, I had another sort up - this time... I have a friend who changed the way she crafted, and she took a lot of things away to reuse. Then I stopped...I'm back on sorting up - this time, not really craft/art things...more some of the things "that somehow didn't go the last time around"...

    BUT with all this sorting up - I'm never going to be an "art supplies minimalist"

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    1. Me neither on the art supplies minimalist. But I'm already thinking about going through my books and music again to get rid of even more to make room for some other stuff I like better.

      I just checked out your blog. Wow, do some interesting work!

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  20. I'm not a big crafter but I did do a closet purge a few weeks ago. Some of what was purged has been hanging in that closet for 18 yrs when I moved into this house; some has been hanging there for 7 yrs when I retired. Time to purge. When I started scrapbooking, I was showing off my work to an old aunt and she said - no one will care about that stuff when you're gone. Whoa! But after further thought, I came to see the truth in that statement. I expect it will be my son who deals with what's left upon my death. He won't know 80% of the people in those pictures. So what would they mean to him? Now, before bringing anything new into the house I ask myself - do I really want or need this or is it just something else for KL to throw out? Harsh? Probably. But true. If we don't deal with out "stuff" now, someone else will when we're gone.

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    1. That's what drives me too. I don't want my family to have to deal with all the stuff I've accumulated. I'm leaving all the photo albums until next winter, though. I have boxes of photos of all relatives and I hope to take them to a family reunion next summer to let people take what they want.

      I haven't been buying new stuff for the house in a very long time but I do plan to buy a few new things after I move...La-z-Boy, smaller computer desk, nothing major.

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  21. Last time I cleaned the craft closet I wore myself out mentally and physically. I understand how your logical mind tells you that you will probably not take up a certain craft again but your soul says but this is what I do, this is who I am. It is hard letting go. I still have way too much in the closet after the clean out but I know I need to do better if I get in there again.

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    1. That's the perfect way to describe it! "...but you soul says this is what I do, this is who I am." I've excelled at crafts since grade school and I don't want to give up that image of myself by letting everything go.

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  22. Impressive accomplishment! I have started various clutter-clearing projects and have been stymied and quit before I was finished with each one. I'm back at it since I bought new pots/pans, every day dishes and have to clear space for them. My husband installed some new cabinet drawers to expand our space, so moving one thing leads to moving another...on and on. Big job! But feels so good when it's done, huh?

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    1. It does feel good to finally get something done that I've been putting off for so long. The only big sorts I have left now is my kitchen cabinets and my clothing. I know what sets of dishes I need downsize I just don't know what to do with them. Clothing is easy but I won't be doing it until next winter when I plan to replace a lot of what I own.

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