Monday, June 25, 2012

Start SOMEwhere

For the last year or so I have been toying around with the idea of reducing the clutter in my life, but have been putting it off because the task seemed (seems) so daunting.  

I'm a packrat.  There.  I've said it.  

I'm the sentimental kind of packrat.  Letters, cards people wrote to me, notebooks I wrote in years ago, articles of clothing I liked when I was um, a few sizes smaller and then couldn't bear to part with after I "grew out of" them, even some of my kids' baby clothes - outfits I remember them wearing ... these accumulate over time.  The result was that the stuff I could use in the now, I couldn't find because it was buried in other stuff I couldn't use.  

I'm also a bit of a slob.  That's no secret to those who know me well.  But combine packrat with slob and you get a borderline hoarder!  And one of the side-effects of that ... is how unhealthy it is - the dust accumulates, and we're all allergic to dust here - and the frustration level at not being able to find something when we want it mounts to colossal proportions.  For everyone.  After a while it all gets to be just too much. 

If the last 3 years has taught me anything, it's that baggage from the past can weigh you down in the present.  The baggage can't be thrown out in one fell swoop.  That would be kind of like throwing out the baby with the bathwater! No, it has to be unpacked, processed, and put where it belongs.  Whether that's in the "keep" pile or in the "trash" pile, the concept is the same in the emotional or spiritual as in the physical realm. It's a LOT of work, and the process can be overwhelming.  

Anyway, this morning, to start off a few days of vacation, I decided to join my husband in a little project he's doing - preparing our bedroom to be re-floored.  (That would involve FINDING the floor...) So the de-cluttering project I've been putting off for "another time" got moved forward.  The whole house needs it - but any time I thought about doing the whole house, I was so discouraged that I didn't do anything at all.  Yet this morning, a new thought came to me.

"Start SOMEwhere."  And the bedroom was just as good a spot as any.  

Here's a before and after photo I got HERE

In the short space of 90 minutes or so, working alongside my husband (who was doing the larger projects involving brute strength), I was able to sort through eight years' worth of papers on a desk we were getting rid of (and which had to be demolished to get it out of the room, hence the presence of "my hero"), and turn my attention to the clothing monster. It was amazing how quickly I was able to see more and more of the floor AND the tops of the dressers. I had thought it would take all day!  It was also pretty impressive to see just how much dust had accumulated on some of the areas we'd not been able to reach because of the desk.  Downright scary in some spots. It reminded me of the little joke I heard where the kid asks the mom if it was true that God made Adam out of the dust of the earth, (yes He did, dear) and that when we die our bodies return to the dust (yes, that's true dear) ... so the kid says, "Well you better come quick Mom, 'cause there's someone either coming or going under the bed!"  ;)  

Doing the de-cluttering project WITH someone really helped me too.  One of the things I have always hated about cleaning is that it's lonely work.  Having someone to share it with makes it not seem like such a drudgery.  And there's the satisfaction of the work going faster, and the back-and-forth banter of shared experience and pooled ideas.  

It was almost fun.  

Mind you, it's a long way from being done.  And there will be a lot more dust before it's over.  But before too long, the room will be a refuge, and not a repository of junk - and it won't take THAT much work to keep it that way.  

It's kind of a metaphor for how my emotional life is being transformed over the last few years.

That's the thing about works in progress.  They're never completely done, and they're a lot of work - but you can tell when you're making progress.

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