Saturday, April 02, 2011

Spring Cleaning - What I Learned from Letting Go...

I'm Not June Cleaver, But I Play Her in Real Life

I hate spending my time doing housework-- like the quote, "That's right sweetheart, dreams and goals are satan's way of distracting you from cleaning the house"--because I feel as if I'm wasting my writing time.

However, there is a part of me that *loves* organization.  I am a list maker.  I am detailed-oriented.  I choose quality over quantity and appreciate beauty.

Walking into my house over the last six months, you may not have noticed that. What you may have noticed were the shelves in the guest room (which is also our art room) overflowing.  You may have not been able to find a pair of scissors.  You may have wondered if there had been a huge tornado in my daughter's room and if that tornado had also snuck into all the closets as well.  And maybe you wondered why there was a box of wrapping paper halfway under the bed and why the room was decorated in colored tissue paper.

Well, I will tell you-- I have had no time in the last six months for being a domestic goddess and my family can stand a lot of clutter and disorganization than I can.

But after my last reading on Friday night, my writing self told my domestic self, she needs to get her act together because all this clutter and mess is causing havoc in my writer's ability to write.  I was finding my mind was feeling as cluttered as my home and I realized I have had enough of living this way and have reclaimed my house.  I have done a mega-spring cleaning tossing out everything that is broken and donated all my extra stuff to Goodwill and our used bookstore.

And how do I feel?

Lighter.  Relieved.  Ready to write again.  Open for more good things to enter myself because they can find me now.  They will not trip over the bag of books on my office floor or turn around because how can such a small family of three have so many boots?  Yes, my family loves two things-- books and boots-- and now they are all back in their places.

June Cleaver, I will wear your apron for a few more days, then back to my writing life already in progress.

Nothing is Free

So part of my organization is because I'm trying to return to my life of living simply and creatively.  For me, that means I need time.  Some people thrive on busy days, I do not.

As I decluttered my house, I felt I was decluttering my life.

I listened to an audio book about organizing - there is nothing better than to motivate me when cleaning than someone talking in my ear about ways to be more organized (Capricorns love this stuff).  Anyway, she said, "Nothing is free."  Then went on to say that whenever someone gives you something free (I'm thinking off all the papers, flyers, swag I picked up at AWP this year), you pay for it in time.  Basically, you are now responsible for that item.

It's the idea that once something comes into your life you must 1) care for it  2) find a place to keep it  3) do something about it  4) throw it away  5) recycle it  6) give it to someone else  7) donate it.

I realized this year, I've become a middle manager for my stuff.  I'm responsible for it and honestly, that's not a job I don't want.

So I went through my house and kept only my favorite things.  I gave away the Hello Kitty sushi keychain (seriously, how did this end up in my life?), I took pictures out of old frames to keep and donated the frames they were in that had been living in a box, my daughter donated a box of old toys and books (though she also couldn't part with a good number of them--her books are her memories, she says and I understand this--so we put them in a bin and moved them to a safe spot for her to sort through at a later date), I donated bags of everything from ugly cups I never used to extra prayer flags (extra?!) and we loaded up our van.

By giving these things away, what I'm giving myself is time.

With things thing out of my life I have time to write and not worry about "the things"- not worry if they break, if they need dusting, if they need to be put back--none of it because they are gone and off to someone who will love and appreciate them.

What I Learned?

1.  I am happier with less stuff and more experiences.

It's a good reminder on how I should spend my money.  I'd much rather have a fun time with friends, then bring home a new throw pillow.

2.  If I don't know where something is, then it's just like not having it.  Like the scissors, in cleaning up I found no less that 7 pairs, these would have been useful over the last 6 months had I known where any of them were.

3.  I need to be aware of everything I bring into this house--what I bring in costs me time in upkeep & care at a later time.

4.  I do not need anymore envelopes.  I seem to have a dysfunctional relationship with envelopes and paper.

5.  Be mindful and don't accidentally throw away your dustpan (um, I did this on day 2).

6.  There is way too much packaging in the world.  Really, do all DVDs need to come in a *plastic* box?  DVDs manufacturers: put them in recyclable paper box or something smaller.  I don't even use these boxes, I just put the DVD in a DVD holder.

7.  The DeClutterer's Good advice--If you don't love it, have a use for it, or need it-- get rid of it.


So here we are, with space to write and receive.

Do others do a big spring cleaning?  A purge of all the stuff you've accumulated over the years?

Do you have a good advice tip for me on organizing, decluttering, and/or living simple? Please feel free to leave me a comment if you do.  I'd love to hear it.
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