And that's ALL she wrote, folks!

Fin: October 31, 2015

And just like that…we’re done.  We are lighter by 1825 things and official tired of plugging away at our clutter.  I thought I’d finish by answering some questions I’ve been asked throughout this process, and some that I would have asked if I knew someone else who was doing this:

Q: What was the hardest part?

A: Well, that was the daily aspect of it.  It’s not hard to purge in a big rush.  It’s also not hard to purge every so often.  But to keep grinding out a particular goal every day, that’s hard.

Q: What surprised you?

A: How many people who unofficially joined in and followed along.  Vicki, for example, was a dedicated fan from day 1, and she and her husband joined in on purging.  How cool is that?  On a smaller note, I was frequently surprised that I could visit the same spot several days in a row and suddenly notice something I could get rid of.  Other places I would not even think to look: I hadn’t looked in Max’s closet until 2 days ago.

Q: Are you going to miss doing this?

A: Yes and no.  I’m going to miss the pressure and I’m not going to miss the pressure.  Several times this week I’ve caught myself thinking about how item “x” my eyes landed on might be a good starting point for a re-arrangement style purge (like how we got rid of our bedroom furniture and pared down to a more manageable arrangement).  It’s weird to think we’re “off the hook.”  I am not going to miss purging, though, because I plan to keep the same attitude, as much as possible.

Q: So is your house perfect and echo-y empty now?

A: Not at all.  In fact, it’s still messy and disorganized.  It could use a good scouring.  But that’s been the thing about the dailiness of it: I’ve taken stuff off shelves and out of boxes, but I’ve never gone back in to reorganize in any meaningful way.  Throughout our house there are 3/4 empty shelves. Once I do get off my duff, it’ll be lovely.  I have no plans for writing a daily clean-up blog, though, that stuff is dead boring.

Q: But what about ME (ie: reader), what am I supposed to read?

A: Well, wait a month and I’m going to start another project, but there are lots of other great blogs out there, like Mr. Money Mustache (who was the original inspiration for this project).  Also, please check back here (or on Facebook) in the coming days and weeks and eventually I’ll get a survey together.  Not that that will provide much in the way of reading material, but it’s all I’ve got for now.

So thank you, fellow fivers, for joining in the five fun.  It’s been a slice and it’s been a wonderful journey to think about the stuff that clogs up our homes, our minds, and our lives.  Here’s to 5Downing!

Day 365 scorecard: 1825 down, 0 to go

Here is the final list (with one line written by each member of the 5Down household:

October 31, 2015 THE END

October 30, 2015

The Penultimate Day: October 30, 2015

So here we are: the night before last, the eve of the end, the next-to-last hurrah, the penultimate day.  For many a year, I have savoured opportunities to use this word correctly.  It means next to last, but many folk like to use it to try to make ultimate higher and better.  It’s like being extra unique, or giving 110%, or more pregnant.  Penultimate: a great word with extremely limited usage.

Other of my favourite words in this category include postprandial, spelunking, and haberdash. There are words that should be allowed to shine in our world of lowest common denominator nomenclature.  Decent vocabulary should not be considered a shibboleth for superciliousness. Alas.  All pettifoggery aside, it remains the penultimate day of 5Down.

And we’re all sick and bloody tired of finding stuff to turf.  We are done.

I had lined myself up a secret writing project for the month of November, but then I remembered that my life usually feels like this.

So I think I am actually going to relax at the end of each day.  For one month.  Just to see if it’s a thing I can do.

But not until we get those last 5 things.  I wish I could tell you we had gotten rid of the piano, our reliance on two vehicles, and our house.  This is a blog based on my real life, however, and real life does not always pan out as planned.  I know this is a shock to you, dear reader, it was a shock to me, too.  The Secret is a lie.

I am hopeful, however, to end this thing with a bang, rather than a whimper*, but I would not count on it, if I were you.

Day 364 scorecard: 1820 down, 5 to go

* Don’t read anything into the poem choice, friends, I just thought it behooved me to give credit for the line rather than to act as thought I’d come up with it on my own.  It’s not like this is the Internet or something.




October 29, 2015

Two Hands Total: October 29, 2015

I promise, with the next blog, there will be no math involved.  I noticed that I’m telling you it’s day 361 today…except that would indicate that there are only 363 days in a year [please note that I edited this and went back to clean up some math].  Clearly, I am somewhat impaired in the math department.  I guess that’s why I chose the number 5 in the first place: it’s all on one hand.

The weather was rather dramatic today (hurricane dregs and storm swells) and I got to drive in it for about 4 hours.  I also got to wait around at an unfamiliar court room with almost nothing to do for a brief appearance that was over 2 hours late getting going.

I was late picking up my kid, and I left my cell phone at home.

At least I can feel fairly confident in guessing that tomorrow can’t be worse.  Right?

For those of you who enjoy my daily moaning and complaining (plus the times I write about stuff less whiny than this) I want to assure you that I will be back blogging on December 1st.   I plan to concoct a survey which I will post this weekend (perhaps as 5Down’s last entry) so I can glean some insight into what my faithful readers liked/didn’t like and the direction I should head next.  My plan is to stick with the same name, but change course. This may involve a new look, too, so you’ll have to stay tuned (and patient).

I find myself really looking forward to 5Downing the hassle of 5Downing every day.  Days like today really are hard to push past to perform my purging magic.  I think we’ll all enjoy the break, but I honestly think we’ve all adapted our viewpoint on the accumulation of clutter.  We’ve all mostly given up on gathering up crap.*  Now it’s almost time to enjoy the rewards without the pressure.  Non-material rewards, that is.

Day 363 scorecard: 1815 down, 10 to go

* with the exception of Clara.

October 28, 2015

Pumpkin Walk Edition: October 28, 2015

My job occasionally lets me witness tears of joy.  Today I saw a lot of those and it was all kinds of awesome.  That’s all I can tell you, but suffice it to say that, in conjunction with another lawyer, we had fantastic success and an awesome result for our clients.

After supper tonight, we went on a pumpkin walk.  It was insanely popular, but it was also a food bank drive, and I have to think they had an outstanding amount of success.  That is also wonderful.  It’s also a great family activity that is accessible (financially) to everyone and it doesn’t accumulate anything other than food and cash for people who need it!  Hooray (5Down approved).

What wasn’t so wonderful was one kid whining and moaning at the start (“why do we have to stand in line?” “why did all these people have to come?” “where are there just pumpkins?” uh, because it’s a pumpkin walk, kid, “why did they bring their dogs, dogs cannot appreciate pumpkins!”*) and another kid whining at the end about having a sore roof of her mouth (yes, her, Clara actually whined and then cried.)**

I also whined about people shining flashlights directly into my face, over and over again.

BUT, the parts where we got to walk along the path and no one was obnoxiously taking sure-to-be-horrible photos or shining their flashlights on the LIT pumpkins…those parts were really, really awesome.  There is something so cool about a path lined with glowing pumpkins that have been carefully, creatively, and (in some cases) spectacularly carved that can just about take your breath away.

I confess I have always hated carving pumpkins.  I hate the smell, I hate the goo, I hate how itchy it makes my arms, it never looks like I want it to (blah, blah) so I am extremely appreciative of pumpkins carved by other people!  It’s the best.  I think they are the best use of pumpkins and a great way to celebrate Halloween.

I recommend going – with patience, a warm coat, and no kids…with kids whose expectations have been carefully managed in advance.

Day 361 scorecard: 1805 down, 15 to go

* To be fair, I 100% agree with that.  If your dog needs a walk, go for a walk with your dog.  If a zillion children are expected and you’re going to be moving at a crawl, leave your dog at home.  Seriously, people, dogs are not people. They’re really, truly NOT people.

** Grandmothers, stand down: she was perfectly fine, she is perfectly fine, it’s fine.

October 27, 2015

Give Me Your Blood, Mahahaha: October 27, 2015

I’ve got to say that reaching day 360 is such an odd little thrill.  Down to the last 20 items, finished all the degrees (not that I’m back where I started, but work with me), homing in on 1800.  Wow.

But that might just be the light-headedness talking.  Today I gave blood, again, and I want to talk it up one last time.  See, it’s such a valuable commodity and it IS literally “in” us “to give.”  You should go.

So here are the top 5 reasons to donate blood:

  1. You can find out how your iron is doing!  The “prick” thing they use now is hardly noticeable.  I remember, back in the dark ages when I was a teenager those testers were like a big, fat thumbtack that hurt more than the needle.  And they used to roll a drop of blood into a test tube.  I’ll admit it, that was more fun, watching to see if it sank or floated.  In the dark ages, I never had iron trouble and it was great fun to watch my blood drop sink like a stone.  Now that I’m an old lady, I am anemic.  There are no sink or swim tests, just a fancy electronic device.  I learned this about a year ago when I tried to give blood.  It vastly improved my life, once I started taking iron supplements.  It’s not just entertainment, it’s also able to transform your life!
  2. People thank you.  Seriously – when you have to donate blood to the hospital for them to test (I think this is also called “bloodwork”) no one expressed gratitude.  They take your blood because a doctor asked them to.  You’re not doing them any favours.
  3. Also you can find out your blood type, if you don’t already know!  Maybe you can be lauded and exclaimed over like me.  I am the Universal Blood Donor.  This entitles me to my own dusting with sprinkles when I go to donate blood.  Sometimes, a crown.  For your edification, all you O positives out there, the Universal Donor is O Negative.  My blood is just smooth orbs that can slide into anyone’s body.  You guys with your A’s, B’s, and Pluses, (or AB’s, if you’re like Mike) you’ve got prickly blood with grabby bits that interfere with other people’s blood.  That’s the scientific explanation.   You might also learn that you’re special because you’re rare.  I’m only 8% of the population!  Mike is 3%, our sons are 9% and Clara is 7%.  We’re a whole special family.*
  4. You can have a competition with yourself.  This is a really fun game I like to play called “how fast can I squeeze out my blood.”**  The Phlebotomists might think you’re a little odd, but go ahead and ask them your time when your little electronic bell rings.***  See, there is a time limit to how long they’ll let you go (something to do with clotting or something).  When I was a teen, I once took the entire 14 or so minutes and the bag was only half full.  Now I know that I need to drink lots of alcohol and smoke lots of cigarettes drink lots of water to raise my blood pressure.  Today I set a new Personal Best of 6 minutes and 30 seconds.  I think I should get some kind of award.  Maybe a flower that squirts blood?  No?****
  5. It really is kind of the greatest thing you can do for your fellow humans.  How often do you actually have a chance to actually save someone’s life?  Like for real save. You can be a hero.  I have to say, when I saw a police officer there tonight I kind of felt like he was overdoing it a little – he gets to save people’s life on a regular basis.  It feels good, though, so I can see how it could get addictive.

5Downing your blood is a great way to spend an hour or so.  Trust me.  Plus, it never hurts as much as you think it is going to hurt – just a pinch and then nothing except relaxing and squeezing a stress ball.  Sigh.

One thing does hurt, though: you should not go running within at least 6-7 hours of donating.  That really hurts

Day 360 scorecard: 1800 down, 20 to go

* Mike is also the Universal Receiver which means he can drink receive anyone’s blood!  He is a very lucky guy.

** Tricks I have learned: staying very, very calm.  Visualizing good blood flow (sounds totally lalaloopsy but it works).  Being well hydrated.  Squeezing that stress ball like you mean it.

*** Fun fact: Phlebotomist is the most fun word to say.  Phlebotomists love to talk about blood, which is also really fun.

**** Christmas is coming, Mike, hint hint.

October 26, 2015

History (etc): October 26, 2015

You guys, book club went extra-long tonight.  It was great, because we were talking about the French Revolution and our fearless leader’s history professor husband provided an informal lecture.  It was also great because it was well-attended and the book was good.  There was a lively discussion about the time period and the place of women then (and there).

I still prefer our time and place and the relative scarcity of guillotines.

Here we just remove stuff, not heads.

I’ve been pondering ideas for the next bloggy-venture and I’m building up to sharing it with my faithful readership.  Mike and I each, independently, came up with the idea of working on 30-Day/Monthly Challenges.  I’m not going to get into the difference in how we conceived of it, but I sense it is the likely form a next blog will take.  I will let you know as this blog winds down.

I also wanted to let you know that my year of non-clothes-buying let me realize that I have an appropriate NUMBER of suits, just not all suits I love. This is why I’m getting rid of one of them today: I bought one I vastly prefer.  This is a 5Down lesson I plan to continue henceforth – once the optimal number of something (suits, say) is achieved, then replacement is the goal rather than acquiring or enlarging the stash.

And that’s all I’ve got for tonight except to tell you the book was this, this is our fearless book club leader (and tonight’s hostess), and here is her husband.

Day 359 scorecard: 1795 down, 25 to go

October 25, 2015

Imaginary Multiplication: October 25, 2015

In a feat I considered amazing, Clara informed me that we have 30 more things to go.  I was amazed until she demonstrated that, really, she was just counting by 5s.  I did take the opportunity to show her how she was really actually learning how to multiply, but I wasn’t nearly as impressed as I’d been at first.  Of course, counting by 5s is pretty cool, too.  As is having 30 things to go…and being less than a week from the finish line.  I think the kids are more excited about the end of 5Down than the other thing happening on the last day of 5Down.*

Solomon has suggested we go on a shopping spree for 1825 things.

This is not funny.**

But he was totally joking, because the kids have totally understood the purpose of 5Down.  And that is awesome.

Day 358 scorecard: 1790 down, 30 to go

* Halloween…

** Well, it is kind of funny, but not funny in the “we should totally do that” kind of way.