Week Two: I was pretty aware of my avoidance skills and so had decided to actually not book myself silly for week two. I left my schedule open for cleaning house. And cleaning house is what I did.
The Dining Room: It took forever, but I actually found places for the various papers, receipts, college diplomas (mine, still packaged up) that we had placed around our dining room. For a moment, it was empty of things we were putting off until later. What I did not do was sit down and make a plan with Dave about how to keep it that way so...right now the little table under the shelf is filled with things we need to do -- Socks we need to send back to Dave’s dad; containers I want to send to my sister in law so she can refill them with her amazing homemade body creme; bills that need to be filed.
When Keri sent me my plan of action, she had suggestions for us getting to a place where history would not repeat itself. Mainly creating some kind of organization spaces for these things. But that would take even more time, and through, and let's just say I didn’t quite get around to doing that...so the room is cleaner, but getting filled up again.
As a Christmas gift to myself I shall make some kind of in/out box situation in that room! So let it be written, so let it be done.
The Girls Room: Next I moved to our kids room, which was just filled to brimming with toys that they kids don’t play with. The main offenders? Stuffed animals. They take up a lot of space and get played with never. At least that’s the story for half of them. I didn’t want to traumatize my kids b disappearing their toys, though, so I was at a loss as to what to do.
Keri had a suggestion: Why now take those stuffed critters that I thought were the least played with and put them in a bag in out storage area? If a wee one missed a purple bear and asked for it, I could always go grab it and introduce it back into the room. If, after a reasonable period, no toys had been missed, then I could feel safe in passing them along. Or, as Lisel and I are fond of saying, "move 'em on down the line."
My kids have not once asked for one animal in that bag. Sweet.
I also, with Keri’s encouragement, developed a zero tolerance policy for small pieces of plastic crap. Tiny brushes, broken birthday party gift bag treats, bouncy balls, beads n things...all the things that somehow end up scattered all over my house all the time. Gone. Thrown in a bag and thrown away. No mercy for small peices of plastic crap.
I also used this time to trade out clothes, which I surprising have an actual system for that includes bins and stuff. But no matter what kind of system you have, you still have to do the actual work of seeing what no longer fits, putting it away, putting the clothes that do fit in...what a drag. But I did it and then, the girls room felt much, much lighter on my soul.
This was not so bad, as I’ve been culling my clothes and stuff for a while now. The whole pregnancy, post-pregnancy, pregnancy, post-pregnancy again, hey, I’m a different person thing helped with that (link).
But I still had some stuff that I was hanging onto, but that I would never wear. And most of it was from my grandmother.
My Grandbetty was a very stylish lady, and after she passed I got some of her clothes and jewelry. It seemed like the best way to stay connected with her. After all, she always looked rad, always dressed up, always put makeup on, always wore her jewelry. And even though that is the opposite of how I roll (for every “always” in that last sentence replace “almost never” for me), I still wanted some of her style in my closet.
But there were some shoes I was keeping that didn’t fit. And some dressed and jackets I was never going to wear. And I felt like maybe I needed to move them along down the line. At least out of the closet.
But I had a really hard time. I realized I had turned these items into talismans. For me, they bridged the divide between life and death. Touching them was my way of saying to my grandmother, "I remember you, I think of you, I love you. And I know am I loved by you."
I had to call Keri on this one.
She was amazing. and she reminded me that despite my desire to get rid of everything, it’s good ti have talismans. She gave me permission to keep some stuff. And so, though I did pass a couple of items along -- some shoes that didn’t and would never fit me, a house dress that I was pretty sure she didn't love -- the rest I kept. I moved some to our storage area. Others I’ll keep in my closet, even if I never wear them.
And now that both my kids are grown enough, I’ll start wearing her jewelry. She left me some amazing pieces, and everytime I put them on I’ll be stronger for it.
The Living Room
This never happened. Our living room is stuffed with CD’s we don’t listen to and books we don’t read and records we never play and VHS’s we never take out of the dusty Ikea Storage basket in our bookcase. We need to get rid of some stuff. I need to archive my collection of recording and videos. But this is a job I cannot do by myself. I need Dave’s help, and Dave, well, he hasn’t been available for this kind of work.
And I understand why. Who knew that culling would be such an emotional process. I thought the core of our over-stuffed life was laziness, but it’s not. It’s emotional procrastination. So much of what we have hanging around our house are memories we don’t want to lose -- we hang onto that receipt because if we throw it away we may lose the memory of that awesome dinner we had together in Boise. They’re decisions we don’t have the heart to face. They’re weaknesses we’d rather ignore -- neither Dave nor I have particularly organized minds, so creating systems for organization is hard so, um, we dont do it.
This is deep, man.
The culling will continue. The holidays are almost upon us, which means a whole new influx of thing to crowd our tiny house. But now I’m prepared.
This post is sponsored by Organize those Papers.