Greetings to all who haven’t had enough of me since the dawn of my Blogging Renaissance earlier this month.

A few weeks ago — as summer wound down and it seemed my time running a beach share to 20-somethings looking for a place to escape the city’s heat and eat all my food, was just about up — I started dreaming about giving my house a good scrub. After Labor Day had come and gone, I stripped all the white slipcovers off my Ektorp chair and sofa and let them dry out in the sun on my patio, and pulled everything out of our refrigerator and scoured the inside. We’re talking shelves AND drawers getting worked over with soap and hot water in the sink. It felt good rinsing away a summer’s worth of detritus stuck to the bottom of my deli drawer.

My neighbor, Liz, told me she’d just rented one of those carpet shampoo machines for, like, $25 at a nearby supermarket and was raving about all the dirt she pulled out of her rugs. I took a long look at the wall-to-wall carpet I had installed in our TV room before we moved in three years ago, and was horrified to see how stained it had gotten in that short of time. It didn’t help that our Crown Prince — Finn, the 18-month-old goldendoodle — had just enjoyed some kind of rawhide bone that left sticky white crumbs embedded in the carpet’s fibers all over the room.

So I decided that’s what I’d do with my upcoming weekend, rent the shampooer and go to town on the three carpeted rooms in my house. I told my pal, Dan, the exciting news, and he was like, “Do yourself a favor, just hire a professional who knows what they’re doing. It won’t cost that much more.” And because he gave me permission to do that, I found a guy who could come a few days later.

AND IT CHANGED MY LIFE. For $140 (plus tax), this guy cleaned three rooms (total!) and it was like I was living in a new house. I’d cleared a bunch of things out-of-the-way for them to get to as much carpet as possible, piling it all up in my living room, and after they left I decided I loved how everything looked a little less cluttered and spent hours moving things around. I think that day I walked about 18,000 steps, according to my Fitbit.

That, and my recent break from drinking wine every day, has ushered in a period of organization and productivity. As such, I’ve found a few items to be super-valuable in the effort to keep me on track, which is really like trying to herd a cat or, better, that dog from “Up.”

I get distracted a million times a day by stupid squirrels.

Here’s how I am trying to stay focused:

Best Self Co: This wonderful 13-week journal has kinda become the boss of my life. It not only helps me set goals but then has space  to break down the steps needed to achieve those goals. There are monthly, weekly and daily sections with areas provided for assessment, like “What was the biggest lesson you learned this week?” and “What were your 3 big wins for the week?”. My favorite feature though is on the daily pages, where there is a section to list 3 things your grateful for both in the morning and at the end of the day. It’s been particularly nice (and validating) to feel gratitude for not drinking. Finally, for clarification and further motivation, the BestSelfCo website has lots of helpful videos. My only complaint is that after I ordered it — and had a bee in my bonnet to start living my new, more productive life — it took forever for it to arrive. Do yourself a favor and order it on Amazon.

 

Pens: Obviously, if I’ve got this sweet, new planner, I need the proper writing utensils with which life changing entries are to be made. I’m the kind of person who likes other people to do the dirty work of figuring out what’s the best of anything, so am obsessed with The New York Times’ Wirecutter site. From dehumidifiers to cat beds, they’ve vetted all the options and come up with what they think is the best. Good enough for me. It helps me with the overwhelming FOBO I struggle with. My winners? This one, which is really fine, and this option that makes a little thicker line. I take my writing implements very seriously and think it’s a highly individualized preference, so here’s the complete list of Wirecutter’s favorite pens for you to waste time looking at. 

Command hooks: The night after my rug cleaning, herein known as THE BEST DAY OF MY LIFE, I went into a frenzy clearing out piles that took up corners in my office and finally hanging a picture that had been propped against a wall since a friend gave it to me for Christmas. Nine months ago. I couldn’t figure out where I wanted to hang it and in my fugue state, it occurred to me it would look cool hanging from the bookcase in my office. I inspected the IKEA particle board piece and considered the damage a small nail would do and then I was like, “Duh, use a Command Hook!” Pretty much, everything else in my house is adhered to something with one of those magical doohickeys. I use them to hold garland I drape all over the place at Christmas, and to hang all the doodads I have hanging in the wall gallery in my office. If I could, I would use a tiny one to hoist the lovehandle on my back up to join the rest of my body that it has slowly drooped away from.

#amwriting podcast: If you fancy yourself a writer of just about anything — fiction, memoir, poetry, romance, parenting features, maybe even cookbooks — the writer/author/journalists who host this motivating podcast have something to make you want to “get your butt in your chair and your head in the game” (their tagline). I listen while I walk the dog around town and when I’m driving to Costco, or some other glamorous destination. As is the case when you spend an inordinate amount of time listening, or watching, folks, you start to feel like you know them. It’s the same way I feel about Joe and Mika and the lamentably absent Sue Simmons, a News 4 staple in New York for years. God, I miss her sassy self. Anyway, Jess and KJ — my podcast friends — REALLY motivate me and make me want to be a better, and more productive, writer.

La Croix Cerise Limon (aka Cherry/lime): This has absolutely nothing to do with getting organized, but it has been quite nice during this dry period I’m in. It’s in a fancy, skinny can, reminiscent of all those skinny seltzers I drank on the beach this summer, minus the self remorse.

 

 

 

 

Blue Diamond Dark Chocolate Almonds: Also, a girl needs chocolate, and since one of my goals in my planner is to lose weight, this is a pretty low-sugar indulgence that keeps me sane while also not getting in the way of me shedding some of this menopausal layer I’ve acquired of late.

 

 

 

 

 

Blinc Micro Trimmer: Do you have a teenage boy who’s got a facial hair situation? Not whiskers, per se, but more of a fuzz covering his morphing face? Do I have a fun tool for you, provided that teen will sit on a stool in your bathroom and let you have it, which my guy inexplicably does. I’ve mowed the equivalent of a small kitten off his cheek and I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to hack through that long, legit Shaggy stubble protruding from the bottom of his chin. I’ve also mowed my own cheeks, upper lip and nostrils and have tidied up some unsightly hair on an older child’s back. Honestly, it’s as satisfying as clean carpets, and a lot cheaper. You can get it at Amazon or run over Arch Brow Bar in Shrewsbury, NJ and you’ll be defuzzing everyone in your family by tonight.

 

 

 

 

 

Any must-haves i need to get and stay organized? Or good treats to make my dry spell even better? Please, share share share below!

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