Clearing out the clutter


As you may or may not be aware, I am participating, for a third time in The Ultimate Blog Challenge. Why do this crazy thing for a third time? To be perfectly honest, it is the best opportunity for me to mix, mingle, and meet people I may not ever have had the opportunity to do otherwise. It is a way of expanding my horizons and discovering topics and countries I never imagined would touch my life.

It’s a bit like speed dating for bloggers and entrepreneurs. The strongly encouraged participation guidelines are to read, comment, tweet, and share two other blog posts each day. There’s a structured “thread” posted daily, this time around, that has each participant who posts in that day’s comments section specifically comment on the two preceding posts submitted by other participants.

The goal of this practice is to create reciprocity and camaraderie between the participants and increase comments, interactions and traffic to each participants blog. For many participants it is practical networking experience for business building purposes. For others of us, like myself, who aren’t trying to market anything the motivations may be less apparent and obscure.

Each time I participate I get something different. The first time I participated, I knew I needed to create a regular practice of writing, regardless of whatever reasons I could skip doing it. It was new, bright, and shiny. I interacted with a lot if people, learned new features and options to design and set up my blog and format posts to include media. Then there were the awards that started making the rounds. The second time I met and connected with knew people and learned to tighten my writing some and stay a little more focused and on topic. This time, I’m learning how to plan and prepare better. Be a bit more intentional and purposeful. Doing more to engage my readers and grow in community with them, you.

Which brings me to today’s topic, clutter. Yesterday, I joined in one of the participants’ challenge to go above and beyond the stated guidelines and to read, then comment, on five posts. I chose the first entry for the day as one of my extras. It was short, sweet, and to the point about dealing with clutter. The title was a single word question:


Catherine Doucette, the motivating force behind Creativity That Inspires Learning Systems, had some simple, straightforward tips and suggestions for dealing with clutter. It was a quick hit summary and to-do list of tried and true methods advocated by many.It was a good reminder for me about how to face and work through my overwhelm instead of allowing myself to stay immobilized by it. Which, if you have been with me for any length of time you may realize is an almost daily occurrence.

In my case, the material clutter in my home is reflective and representative of the mental and emotional clutter; the collection if things lying around my brain and psyche in an untidy mass. This blog is my attempt to declutter and manage the mess, organizing it into some semblance of order.

It may seem like the most minuscule of things, but I have decided that I am going to choose one task to focus on each day, until I do it automatically, without having to think about it. The thing I have chosen to focus on is actually an emotional hot button and a trigger for the things that tell me I still very much need to stay focused on my healing and recovery process, utilizing the Twelve Steps.

What is this thing? Taking care if the litter boxes. That’s right, policing and sanitizing the kitty latrine. There is all kinds of resentment, anger, anxiety, and good, old-fashioned poor pitiful me martyrdom associated with these cats.

None of these animals is actually mine, per se. All three, that’s right, three!, are here illegally, meaning we are jeopardizing our housing situation by having them here. They require me to remember to keep food and water in their dishes, prevent any if them from slipping out the door, and keep all evidence of their existence hidden from neighbors, maintenance, and management.

The two ladies are very adept at keeping themselves hidden and out of Luna’s reach. They also do well at using the litter boxes. The mister, however is a completely different story. On all counts. He was a scrawny, tiny, stray kitten who was found and rescued by us 13 years ago, almost 14, now, I think. Now he’s a gentle giant. He has no qualms about being seen or touched. He allows himself to be mauled, prodded, pushed, and hauled around by Luna with the weakest of protests. He doesn’t have claws, he has talons and could easily shred her to pieces or take an eye out. She has pushed him to the point where he has lashed out and caught her upside the head, near the temple a couple of times. Scary & painful but relatively little damage. Additionally, he’s always had a habit of using the floor rather than the litter box when he isn’t allowed to roam outdoors.

Sometimes, I think he poops when and where he does in reaction to the stress of being Luna’s cat. I’m afraid she’s going to really hurt him because no matter what I do or say and regardless if his scratches, she will not leave him alone.

So, ever since he came back to live with us a few weeks ago, I’ve been dealing with cleaning his poop and sometimes his urine, off the floors. On my hands and knees with Clorox or Lysol wipes, scrubbing the spots on the carpet. Stressed and worried about them being here, anxious and angry because Luns can’t seem to understand that she’s hurting him and endangering herself. All while coping with the depression, fibromyalgia and the high emotions and relational family conflicts and crises that seem to be an ever present fixture in my world.

There is no other home for these cats, no place else for them to go. They had been being fostered by Keith’s parents after our housing destabilized four years ago. Now that his mom is losing her house after his dad’s death last year, she can’t continue to be responsible for them. They are furry family members as far as Keith, Luna, and even LaLa are concerned.

So while Keith’s mom is on the verge of homelessness and trusting in The Lord to provide, Lala is relatively homeless and couch surfing, and Keith is living in the cab if a big rig, I’m the one dealing with trying to maintain hygiene, food and water for the felines when I often am too buried in the symptoms of the fibromyalgia and depression to ensure my own basic needs are met.

Keeping the floors cleaned from the rebellious kitty means they are actually cleaner than they have been, at least in some spots. I figured out that if I stay on top of scooping the boxes, multiple times a day and sweeping up the inevitable grains of litter, and wiping up the drips of water they splash out from their water dish, I have fewer messes to clean from other parts of the apartment.

Now that I’m starting to just take care of it, letting go of the resentments, fears, and frustrations, doing some of the other little swish, swipe, toss, and it away tasks that seemed to accumulate into undone piles somehow get done in passing as I’m dealing with those litter boxes.

I’m tired of being an anxious, angry, harping shrew toward my precious little girl because her boundless energy is being focused on the cat while I’m too fatigued, stiff, hurting and depressed to move and leave the apartment. So, we’ve gotten out and spent time away from the apartment a couple of days this week. Which meant I took care if my hygiene needs and dressed to at least have the passing appearance that I wasn’t a complete malfunctioning mess.

I also managed to have a pleasant time when Keith had an in scheduled, unplanned visit and get my magazine article written and submitted, as well as keep up with the blog challenge and staying on top of my own blog.

As I am learning to clear the emotional clutter and relearning to do things one Step one day at a time, I’m slowly making my way out of my own personal pit of darkness. Thanks to cat poop and committing to the process of The Ultimate Blog Challenge.



  1. Clutter has a way of growing. Left unattended it will spread from room to room faster than the common cold. I admit it. I have clutter in my home. I’ve seen worse, but I could do better. Everywhere I look there are piles of papers, stacks of books, and cluttered messes that I can never seem to get on top of.


    1. RCL,
      Clutter, clutter, everywhere there’s clutter, especially paper clutter! It multiplies like bunnies and pennies.

      A gal from a church I used to attend is coming to spend a few hours with me today to get rid of some of the clutter. We’ll see how it goes.



  2. I’ll bet the boy kitty is just a stuffed animal that moves to Luna, which probably makes him the coolest thing ever to her. I sympathize with having to clean up after the kitties. Litterboxes are no fun, and it’s a hundred times worse when they refuse to use them. I’m in the process of changing the kind of litter I use, and one of my girls doesn’t love it, so she’s been piddling outside the box sometimes. They do sell stuff that discourages using other areas as a potty, so the next time you have a few extra bucks and time (I know how hard both are to come by), try to find some at the local pet store or Target.


    1. Mary,
      I really did get behind the ball on keeping up with my comments. You are one of my favorite people in the blogosphere and I feel bad that I missed replying to your comments. Aaargh! Fibrobrain.

      You are absolutely correct in that Luna can’t see him as a living, breathing, feeling being. He is solely there for her entertainment. She’s so adorable and cute when I realize she’s tugging on him because he mewls in protest and I wind up glaring at her and snarling. Her hands go behind her back, and she offers up the most endearing grin, saying, “Ooops, sorry.” It doesn’t seem possible for a four year old to be that manipulative, but, yeah.

      I definitely need to discourage the use of the carpets, arrgh! We’ll see how it goes. I just emptied a Costco sized box of kitty litter after two and a half weeks. I’ve gone through four canisters of antibacterial/sanitizing wipes. My hands are starting to itch permanently from using them. I may have to invest in gloves.

      Thanks for the feedback. Definitely taking it under consideration.

      Be well,


  3. I am learning that our emotional clutter is just as essential to deal with as our physical clutter. Unblocking the clutter helps to release the energy we need to move forward more easily in our lives.


    1. Nancy,
      You are very correct in that. I’m currently in the stage where each new piece that gets released acts like a domino and a whole bunch of other things start flowing as well. It’s one of those times where it looks worse until it gets better. However, progress is being made and I’m grateful for it.

      Be well,


  4. This actually made me nostalgic for my late cat, not the litter box per se, but it was part and parcel of having a cat. Perhaps all of your foster felines aren’t there to add to your load, but to help you carry it. I wish you and your family the warmest of blessings.


    1. Cairnr,
      So sorry for the delayed response. Life has been a bit challenging for me lately and I lost track of who I had replied to.

      Having them here has it’s good points in some ways and I know I just really need to find the constructive perspective in this all. It’s just a perspective that can be difficult for me to achieve, a lot of the time. It’s a process and I’m working on it.

      Thank you for visiting and commenting. I really appreciate it.



  5. So funny to hear others suffer from this situation. I have two kitties. The first one I found seven years ago when she was only weeks old, someone had just dumped her it appeared. Great kitty, got a long with our other cat who we rescued from the animal shelter twelve years earlier. Well, needless to say, the older died last year, so my youngest son insisted kitty (yep, that’s her name) was lonely. I wasn’t! Litter box was easy…I could go almost two weeks; she was the easiest pet I’ve ever owned.

    Well…son said friend had to get rid of one of her cats, because they had three, and if we didn’t take her she was going to the pound. “She’s an adult, Mom. Do you know what they do to the adult cats?”

    Fine! WELL! Did you ever hear of ‘Smelly Cat’ from “Friends”? I own her now. I found out later that is why they wanted rid of her. She’s a beast and she smells! Ungodly! My boxer didn’t smell as much as this poor cat. But…she is the sweetest cat in the world, so I will never get rid of her. I found out that she’d already been through three homes. How sad that people are willing to just dump their pet because they smell.

    We’ve tried everything… Rolling boxes, automatic boxes, nothing works. So, as you, I’ve had to make it part of my routine… Three times a day, I scoop in the litter box. 😦 BUT…there are people who keep little sandboxes on their desk to relax by raking their rock garden. I tell them…Come on over, play all you want. I don’t even use a litter box. I use a huge bin, so she can fit her big butt inside. LOL!

    I enjoyed your post…sorry for taking up so much room, but I figured you could appreciate that someone else suffers with you.

    Once question, though: How do you keep them out of the windows? My cats live on the windowsills.


    1. Carmen,
      Wow! I seriously thought I had replied to this. I’m glad I’m not the only one who experiences this. Honestly, I’m so inundated it feels like I’m always smelling feline offal. It’s kind of nauseating at times. 😦 I think the old guy is sick and the stress of having a 4 year old constantly chase and torture with love isn’t helping the issue.

      Thanks for sharing your story. It means something to know that others are also willing to deal with the more difficult and less pleasant aspects of being ruled by felines.

      As for keeping them off of windowsills, well I have to block their access.



  6. We have two little kittens too but they are going to be yard cats. They don,t go out yet as they are too small but they are mischevious little things but so loving and affection. Hope you are feeling better soon.


    1. Athena,
      Thank you. I appreciate your encouragement. Kittens are cute and fun. I can really appreciate the positive things that furry family members add to our lives. I would be less stressed about the whole situation if it was okay for us to have the cats. That and if I didn’t have to plan on cleaning up messes on the floor a couple of times a day in addition to the litter boxes. Like so many other things going on in my life it’s difficult, at times to be grateful and have a good attitude in the face of the concrete negatives. Part of my healing and recovery process is having to actively work to reframe my attitude and emotional responses and reactions.



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