Jan 10, 201708:00 AM
The Lighter Side
Exploring the humor and peculiarities of the Big Easy
Clearing out space for 2017
Have you ever gone through your entire house, looking at every single object that you own, and deciding if it made you happy?
It took me a week, but I just finished doing it. And I'm sitting here in amazement at how great it feels.
It all started with reading a book while traveling over the holidays. I downloaded "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up," because a friend recommended it to me and it was short and to the point. I could read it during flights and lay-overs, nothing too heavy. See, I'd been feeling pretty stagnant and uncreative lately, like things just were not flowing very well and I was unable to concentrate. There was always this nagging feeling in the back of my mind saying, "if only I were more organized, I'd be more productive." After awhile, it just became an excuse. I'd tell myself, "I'll be more productive when I'm organized, but I'm too tired during the week to go through everything. I'll do it over the weekend," but of course, that never came. There was always something going on and some reason why I couldn't get to it.
The method from the book is very simple. Everything in your house should have a purpose and a place. Everything in your house should bring you joy. If you don't need or use a thing, or if it doesn't bring you joy, then what is it doing in your house? Your house is your sanctuary. When you get rid of clutter, the things that you actually use, love and cherish are out in the open, they're allowed to do their job. It might all sound pretty silly in the beginning, but stay with me here.
At first, while reading the book, I rolled my eyes when it said that "it would change your life." That tidying up would remind you of who you are and what you wanted out of life. The cynic in me was thought "sure, whatever, I just want to clean, not uncover the mysteries of the universe." But, oh my god, you guys, it's true. In the span of a week I laughed at memories I'd uncovered, cried over photographs I hadn't seen in years and had an existential crisis over a list I found of things I'd wanted to do ... but were not done and totally forgotten about. So much for cynicism.
I discovered that I had a whole jewelry box-worth of earrings with no match. Just one lone earring. I have no idea why I was keeping them, but perhaps I'd been hoping I'd find their other half somehow. I had a closet of clothes I never wore and shoes I didn't particularly like. This meant that the clothes and shoes I actually use, tended to just be haphazardly lying around and not where they should have been, being properly taken care of.
I took stock of my kitchen, noting a layer of dust on my once-loved pots and pans, criminally unused. I realized how much I used to love to cook in my home, how much joy it used to bring me and how I've pretty much abandoned it. Since making the leap from a home cook to a professional one, the happiness I once felt in my kitchen just isn't there anymore – and I wish I could bring it back. I uncovered all of my old drawings. At the time I made them, I'd thought they were not all that great, but seeing them again made me realize they were actually pretty damn good.
I went through boxes that had gone unpacked from our move last spring. They were full of books that would never be read. It was easy to put them in the pile of things I needed to get rid of, the boxes no longer taking up space and allowing the room they were in to flow better, to feel much more comfortable.
I left my husband's things alone – though he has a whole bookshelf full of DVDs that he will never ever watch again, along with a closet-full of old baseball cards. It hurts, but they remain as they are. For me, my problem was with books. For a while I was a book-a-colic, but now I only keep the ones that have been loved, read over and over. I kept my copy of "Pride and Prejudice," but got rid of "Pride and Prejudice and Zombies." The thing about DVDs and CDs is that now, with Spotify and Netflix, it's entirely possible to never use a disc again. And if you do, it's a rarity. On one hand, I appreciate the convenience and the space it clears, but on the other ... damn, I spent so much money on my CD collection that is no more. It would be one thing if I had collected vinyl, as records can be works of art themselves, but CDs? Those are just hunks of plastic.
I also found and got rid of old and obsolete electrical chords that I had no idea what they went to, as well as a first generation Kindle that would never be fired up again. I also tossed countless Mardi Gras beads and a whole cabinets worth of "fine china" that no one uses. I came to find that in the end, we all only actually use a few things. Everything else pretty much sits and collects dust. So much is tucked away for "special occasions" and forgotten about. I did, of course, keep things like the serving utensils from my wedding – even though I'm sure they will never be used again. Some things you just can't part with and that's OK.
I also threw away so many things in my kitchen that had been expired, like several yogurts that had been forgotten in the back of my fridge, along with so many makeup samples that I'd never have the time to wear before they went bad. It all made me realize that so much of the stuff I buy, I don't really need. And I also waste too much food. I made the decision not to do these things anymore. Do I need another red/orange makeup pallet? Or any color of pallet for that matter? Nope. And I'm not going to buy one. Am I really going to eat all this yogurt? Probably not. Just get one, if it calls out to you, and see what happens.
At the end of that week of decluttering, my closet is full of clothes and shoes I actually wear. There are no unopened boxes in my house, piles of books or stacks of anything really. Everything has a place and a purpose, and it feels amazing. So for 2017, if you find yourself stagnant and perhaps wanting things to flow a little better, I say think about getting organized and actually follow through with it. The whole way. I promise, it's awesome. You'll never miss that pair of shoes you forgot you had anyway, and you might uncover a missing dream or two. And all the clutter that is no longer there will free up so much space – not just in your home, but in your mind.
Happy New Year, you guys.