I’ve been feeling pretty low most mornings if I’m to be completely honest. Sometimes I combat this by stopping by the new Yoga Studio my boss just opened in Charleston, (Yoga Power if you’re interested). This morning I decided I’d try to throw away loose papers, maybe gather up all the stray hair ties and bobby pins that seem to multiply themselves around the house. I did this for about an hour or so. I was really quite surprised how good that felt. Somehow this materialistic based action felt as if it was clearing away existential dread.
Secretly, this photo of flowers in Baden Baden, Germany has absolutely nothing to do with what I’m talking about right now. (Shhh don’t tell anyone!)
I suppose it makes sense that pairing down my belongings would give me a sense of security. I’m hoping within the next year or so to move back to Europe. There’s a lot I’d have to figure out to make that a reality. Most of the journey will just be figuring out more about my career goals for the future. Some of the journey will just be getting the courage to believe I can make such a drastic change again after years of moving back and forth between school and home and foreign destinations. I want to be settled somewhere. I want to grow roots, but I loved the life I lived abroad. I love the confident person I became there and though my path doesn’t appear clear to me right now I hope to carve out my own destiny slowly: one form submitted, one epiphany made, one leap of faith.
While I was cleaning I found a list I made in January of New Years Resolutions. I was surprised to remember that a lot of goals I’d set for myself back in January I had already accomplished now. I don’t have it all figured out yet, but at least I’m further than where I’ve started. For now I’ll focus on being my best self, including on days where I don’t really feel my best, or don’t really know where to begin to grow.
What do you do when you need some new energy in your life? Write about it in the comments below 🙂
I admit to not actually reading Kon Marie’s popular book Spark Joy. I did however watch a few YouTube videos of the woman cleaning other people’s homes. If you have a computer or watch television with any frequency, it’s likely you’ve at least heard a mention of the Japanese organizational sensation.
Kon Marie basically advises that when cleaning the home, to reevaluate all the items one owns, actually hold them in one’s hands and determine whether the item makes us happy or not. Then of course we have to think about function, and then sentimental value in evaluating our stuff. (She also has very interesting ways of optimizing space once we’ve evalated our items. Most of these tips involve either rolling our items, standing them vertically, or a combination of the two).
Kon Marie also advises to clean your home not room by room, but item by item in five larger categories of items: clothes, books, paper, kitchen, and then miscellaneous items (referred to as komono in Japanese).
Using Kon Marie’s tips has helped me a lot to get rid of even more items that just aren’t adding to my life anymore.
Today I realized that something I was doing in my mad attempt to make our house a clean and happy house turned out in actuality to be a horrible idea. What could I have possibly done that was so bad you ask?
Well, I simply took everything I could out of all of the cabinets and thought I could tackle all of our household items all at once….
…not so smart.
At first it worked, but over time everything just kept getting messier and messier, and I couldn’t even tell that I had gotten rid of a lot of stuff because the floors were just piled in junk. So I suppose the real error was a false expectation that I could downsize the house instantly. It’s a process that’s going to take some time.
My advice? Just clean out your drawers and shelves one at a time. You’ll be glad when your home does not look like a tornado ran through it like mine.
At the moment I am living at home, full of its comforts, familiarities, and also full of clutter. I mean, I really don’t know how we managed as a family to accumulate so many possessions. Well, I do know. We went shopping and found a sale. We mastered the art of the garage sale deal.
For the past few weeks I’ve been doing my best to pare down my possessions, and I’ve done well so far. I plan to purge more items, figure out what can be sold on sites like craigslist, and donate some clothes, but a strange thing happens when you try to clean out your suburban home. The more items you throw out, the more items magically reappear in their place.
But no matter! I know that with dedication and a little daily work, I can help get this house back into some state of order. In the meantime I will share with you strategies I have been using to clean house so that you can join in on the fun.
- Birds of a feather stick together: In other words, take all of the items that belong together and put them in a box somewhere. For example, if you, like I, have an absurd amount of half empty notebooks lying around, put them all in one place. If you notice that you are leaving a trail bobby pins and hair ties around the house, put those all in one place. Once you’ve done this with some items, you will be ready to take on tip number 2.
- You do not need 5 identical dull nail clippers: Once you’ve paired similar items together reevaluate whether or not you really need 10 rulers with faded lettering, or that collection of hotel pens that don’t actually have ink in them anymore. The answer is probably that you don’t need all these things. I promise.
- Why are you so strongly attached to that refrigerator magnet from the 2nd grade? Sometimes we hold onto things because we are attached to them emotionally. I totally think that’s okay…to an extent. I also find that sometimes I hold onto an item I’m not even that attached to anymore, but I remember that I used to be emotionally attached to the item and refuse to throw it out in case I decide I want it back. Don’t fall for this one. Just get rid of the stuff. If you didn’t even remember you still owned it, you won’t remember when it’s gone.
- If you want a clean house, don’t become an artist! Just kidding. But seriously though, the hardest part about cleaning has been deciding how to keep my insanely large collection of art supplies and paintings under control. Especially difficult is keeping paintings organized and getting rid of old art. I used to hold onto every painting just in case, but I’ve been painting for about 10 years now and have made hundreds if not thousands of paintings. For about 3 years or so, I’ve been reusing canvases and painting over old pictures I don’t like. This helps, but not every painting surface is reusable. Also, I can basically only paint over art done in Acrylic and not Oil or Watercolor. I’ve created around 4 categories to keep my art organized: Paintings I can’t bear to part with, Paintings that I like but would like to sell in the future, Paintings I plan on painting over to reuse the canvas, and Paintings I hate so much that no human eyes should ever see them again.
- Fun fact: We used to have a room in our house devoted almost entirely to holding boxes of biscotti cookies that we found on sale at the grocery store. It all started when my mom noticed biscotti cookies were highly marked down at Kroger. It ended with our utility room housing 70 boxes of biscotti cookies. When we realized how ridiculous that was we stopped buying the cookies and ate them all till we no longer had this issue. Find your version of the biscotti cookie room in your own house and act accordingly.
- Do I have time to clean out my house? Good question. Maybe you don’t right now. Life is busy. We all have things to do. However, ask yourself, do I have time not to clean out my house? Is clutter taking over my life? If I had to sell this house tomorrow, move out of my apartment tomorrow, etc. would that be a problem? Do I know where my passport, insert other important documents here, is? Everyone is different. Some people have more stuff than other people and some are better organizers. Just because its hard or would take a long time shouldn’t stop you from cleaning house if you think it would improve your quality of life. Just take it slow, one box at a time.
❤ Color Me Adri