Friday Free-For-All – Clutter/DeClutter

Welcome to another Friday post!

I walked into my office the other day and stopped dead in my tracks. It was a MESS!!!

Photos by Jan Sikes

That’s ridiculous! It was time to do something about it. I stay so busy and go in such a fast run all the time, cleaning and organizing get pushed to the bottom of my list, as is obvious by these photos.

According to Psychology Today, clutter causes stress in part because of its excessive visual stimuli. It also signals to our brains that our work is never done and creates guilt, anxiety, and the feeling of being overwhelmed.

Wow! Can I ever relate to the part about my work never being done. It is overwhelming to constantly feel as if you are on a hamster wheel, running but never getting anywhere. And yes, then there’s the guilt about never making enough progress.

So, what exactly constitutes clutter? According to The Very Well Mind, The word clutter refers to items that are strewn about in a disorganized fashion. Well, that fits my situation. Things were strewn about and totally disorganized. They go on to say, In general, clutter is a collection of items that people accumulate in their homes and don’t necessarily use, but hold on to anyway. They also state, someone with perfectionist tendencies is likely to be more stressed out by clutter.

I don’t consider myself a perfectionist. If I ever did, I gave up on it long ago, as nothing is ever perfect. But I do have a touch of OCD. Okay. Maybe more than a touch. I obsess over things until they are finished. That’s a good quality for an author to have, right?

Back to the clutter. I decided it was high time I shut everything down and cleaned up. Heck, I had receipts from four months ago that needed to be processed, and that’s just one tiny part of it.

So, I put on music, which is my favorite thing to do when I clean, and got busy. A couple of hours later things looked totally different.

Ahhhh, much better.

Now I could go to work and be productive!

What about you? Does clutter bother you or are you one of those people who keep everything organized and never let it get cluttered? Let’s talk. Maybe you have some wisdom to share.

Friday Free-For-All #3

Happy Friday, everyone! It’s the first Friday in September!

Created in Canva

Have you thought about Christmas yet? No? Me either. But I was recently at Costco and was shocked to see Christmas displays already up. It’s not even Halloween yet!

Photo by Jan Sikes 8-18-22

My first response was in my head, but it was a loud, “NO!” Have we let all of our holidays become so commercialized that they are all about money?

We’ve been living the American dream for at least a couple of generations now, and I see the results in the youngsters coming up (my grandchildren in particular). They start making their Christmas lists in July. And it’s not like they don’t have plenty of stuff. Every nook and cranny of their playroom is filled. Something will have to go to make room for new things that will temporarily distract them.

Then there’s the pressure of picking the gift that will wow them. How do you even do that when they aren’t wowed by much? Over-stimulation abounds through media, school, TV, and videos. So, it takes a lot just to get their attention.

I’m always trying to think of something different for each of the five that they might enjoy. One year, I gave them gifts like a trip to the zoo, just one child at a time with me. That was fun, and they looked forward to their special day. But it was also a gift that had to wait for springtime before we could go, so maybe that part was sort of a letdown.

I have no solution to the dilemma. I’d love to hear your suggestions about how you approach gift-giving, especially with young children.

I’ve voted for several years to stop adult gift-giving, but I have one daughter who refuses to go along with that, which forces the rest of us to suck it up and search for something that might be special. I’m sure every family is different. As the children get older, I’d like for us to take the money we’d spend on ‘stuff’ and do a trip together instead. But I don’t know if I’ll ever get them to go along with that idea.

I suppose I should be thankful that some traditions are ingrained in my children. After all, that is also something that appears to be disappearing.

Remember when families sat down every night for dinner together? That seems to be something that is dying out. At one daughter’s house, the children eat their dinner by themselves. Both Mama and Daddy are still working when the children have their dinner. However, my daughter told me they are trying to have family dinners on the weekends, so that’s at least an attempt.

Again, I’d like your thoughts. Are traditions only created to be changed? Or should they be strictly adhered to? Are we losing an entire way of life in the next generations? Or do they have a better idea?

So many questions. So little time. 🙂

Let’s chat!

On a VERY different side note, how many of you reach for one of the reference books from Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi when you are writing? Well, there’s a new one coming!!

There is no purchase link yet, but I definitely will be adding this book to my reference section!

The Conflict Thesaurus, Volume 2:
A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles (Releases September 6th, 2022)

Friday Free-For-All! #2

Hi, everyone. I hope you’ve had a good week and looking forward to the weekend. It’s time for another Free-For-All!

Created in Canva

I’ve been thinking about things that have influenced me throughout life, and the list is long. Of course, my parents influenced me, as did school. But the one single biggest influence that goes as far back as I can remember is Music!

Growing up in a holy-roller, free-holiness church, music was a big part of every worship service. The piano, guitars, tambourines, accordions, and even a trumpet would stir my soul ten times more than whatever message the preacher brought. Because I could FEEL it.

The strict religion forbade listening to “worldly” music, but I was allowed to attend gospel music concerts. The Stamps Quartet, Blackwood Brothers, and The Happy Goodman Family are some of the most memorable. And, oh my, they could sing. Their harmonies blended like finely tuned instruments. Again, it stirred something deep and primal in me.

Then, as a teenager, I got a transistor radio one year for Christmas. It came with earbuds. Mine looked exactly like this.

Courtesy Canva Photos

The entire world opened up to me! I could get KOMA out of Oklahoma City and Wolfman Jack on XERF out of Del Rio, Texas. And I fell in love!

I fell in love with Aretha Franklin, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Odis Redding, and all the greats who were creating fabulous music in the sixties. I would imagine myself standing on the hood of a car, singing “Venus” or Helen Reddy’s “Angie Baby.” Then the kids at school would accept me, and I’d finally be a part of something. Yes, I know. It was the crazy imagination and dreaming of a lonely teenager. But some part of me saw music as my window to the world.

I begged Mom and Dad for a piano. We were poor, and I know it was selfish of me, as it would be near to impossible for them, but they managed to find one somewhere and brought it home. I loved to pound away on it. They couldn’t afford lessons, so I’d pick out songs by ear. Then, several summers in a row, The Stamps School of Music came to Hobbs and offered free classes. So, my sister and I were allowed to go. I learned to read the notes but never got it down to the point I could look at a piece of music and know instantly what the notes were. I’d have to count the lines and spaces. 🙂

So, time went on, and I turned eighteen. I could legally leave home. I was chomping at the bit to get out and experience the world, to try all of the things that had been forbidden by the church and my parents. And experiencing live music was at the top of that list.

I was too young to get into the nightclubs, but one club in Abilene (where I had moved) had lost their liquor license for serving alcohol to minors, and they had live music on the weekends. That became my second home. And it was where I met Rick Sikes.

I often question myself as to whether or not I would have been as attracted to him if he hadn’t been a regional singing star. Who knows, and it doesn’t matter. He was, and I was. I loved traveling up and down the roads of Texas with him and his band. I finally found a place where I fit, where I was a part of something that I loved.

Rick Sikes And The Rhythm Rebels 1965

As life will often do, it threw me a curve ball, and instead of catching it, I let it knock me down. Rick’s music career and our love affair came to an abrupt end when he was arrested and convicted on two counts of bank robbery.

Now what? I’d still go out and listen to bands every chance I got, but it was never the same. And yet, I never lost my love for music. I fell in love with Jethro Tull and would sit with headphones on and listen to his Aqualung album over and over. I’d do the same with Janis Joplin’s Pearl album.

Fast forward twenty-five years, and I am now married to Rick Sikes. After a long hiatus, he’s started back writing and singing. Only this time, I am along for the full ride as his music partner. I learned to play guitar and loved sitting with him and co-writing songs or playing a new one for him that I’d written. His first public appearance was at Sons of Hermann Hall in Dallas for Roxy Gordon’s wake in 2000. From that point, he never stopped until he got too sick to hold a guitar.

Rick and Jan Sikes Kerrville, Tx. 2003
Kerrville, Tx 2003

After Rick passed away and I moved to the Dallas area, I searched for a way to stay plugged into the music world I loved so much. I started volunteering at music festivals in 2010. At first, I was the outsider again. These people had a long history together. But I kept suiting up and showing up and working hard, and now the folks who still do this with me are like an extended family.

Then, when I had the opportunity to go to work for Buddy Magazine, I loved interviewing music artists and helping promote their new records. COVID took the magazine down, but a man has taken it over and trying to revive it.

In the meantime, I attend every live music event I possibly can. Music feeds and satisfies some primal need in me. It has indeed been my biggest influencer in life, and I have a feeling it will be until I am no longer on this earth. This sign hangs on my office door.

A gift from Marlena Smith Burris

Sorry for the long blog post. I normally avoid that, but this one seemed to require it. I’d love to hear from you. What has been the biggest singular influence in your life?

For the final birthday month giveaway, my short story, Brazos Wind is FREE for the next four days! I’d be honored if you’d download it!