Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Purging Caveat :/

For those of you who, like me, are great at starting a project and not so good at finishing, some advice: make sure the proper conditions are met before beginning a Purge Project! This morning, despite the weather prediction of 100 degrees in my town, I completely unloaded my daughter's dresser and began to sort all undies, pj's, ballet clothes, mattress covers, etc. Four large drawers of stuff. I had said stuff in little piles all over the room and was doing pretty well, if I do say so myself ;) when wham!!! The temperature suddenly hit "Way Too High To Work" on the thermometer. So now the stuff must sit there till tomorrow, when the thermometer is predicted to read, "Much More Conducive To Getting Things Done". When something is sorted into neat little piles and is easily stepped around, there is the risk that the Purge Project will remain unfinished, at least for a while. Not good! The longer stuff sits, the longer you are tempted to keep it, or justify it's being there when you know it shouldn't be!
Let's face it: If this were easy for all of us, there wouldn't be so much stuff to purge in the first place. Let's set ourselves up to succeed in this. Keep a few simple rules, rules you know you personally need: Finish what you start. Set a time limit and don't quit to check Facebook, or answer the phone or watch TV. Have bags at the ready. Have a destination for your excess stuff and take it to that destination. Failing to follow through means your neatly bagged excess is just sitting around your garage, not blessing anyone. If it's still on your property, it's still something that needs attending to. Do you really need one more thing to attend to?
I thought not!

Purging -- HOT style

It's 100 degrees outside my house right now. I say outside not because we have air-conditioning; we don't. I say outside because inside, it's a nippy 89 degrees. Brrrrr! Although we don't have a/c, we do have weather predictions. So when I read that today was going to be miserable (according to me), I got up early to get some work done. I love getting up early. I really do. I set my alarm for 5:50 a.m. and boinged out of bed to finish the family room project. My daughters and I went through all the bagged clothing yesterday (we rested on Sunday, in accordance with the Sabbath), and I re-Space Sac'd everything up. Love those Space Sacs. This morning, I moved them all back into the under-the-stairs closet. Now you might be thinking, "Hey, that was supposed to be a hidey-hole for your 5-year old!", and yes, you'd be correct. And it will be. Someday. Not this week. Until the weather cools down to a temperature in which I can function, the closet is staying a closet. Since my little one is having a birthday this Saturday (and a birthday party), this will be put on the back burner until after that. It will not be forgotten, since I'm on a mission.
Today, though, I've set my standards fairly low. No school till the organization is complete. THAT is a good motivator, as I don't want to fall too far behind. My husband is very good at doing things in small chunks until complete. He would do a little bit of school, a little bit of decluttering. Not me. I really need to tackle a large project without stopping or it tends to just undo itself. So I'm very, very glad that the weather forecast for tomorrow is a good 15 degrees lower than today.
I'll try to post photos again when I get something interesting enough to photograph ;-)

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Purge Update

Purge (v): rid of, clean out, abolish, cleanse, clear, dismiss, dispose of, do away with, eject, eradicate, oust, remove, unload. Thank you, Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus. I like you very much. Webster's Thesaurus and Devlin's Dictionary of Synonyms and Antonyms? Very disappointing. When I needed extra verbage to help me expand my definition of purge, they let me down by not even listing the word. Not. Impressive. Perhaps I should purge them.
Purge is my favorite word this week. Although parts of my body are rebelling (hello, knees, yes I know you're there ~ you are screaming at me nonstop), I am having a good time getting rid of excess. I have an end in sight, a goal. I rarely set and work toward goals. I'm more of a "oh, look--this needs doing, let's do it" type of person. Which isn't necessarily the optimal way to live, as I'm finding out. At least not for me. It's led me to too much excess, and the resultant purge-fest may go on for weeks.
Right now my family room looks ... better. I've worked for over 2 hours today. The closet is completely empty (wheeee!), and the clothes are bagged nicely. I have organized the clothes my 5-year old can wear in the future into Space Bags (I love those things), and I have the baby and toddler clothes in other Space Bags to be gone through one last time. If there is anything "special" in the lot, something either of my girls finds worthy of keeping for their own kids or for memory's sake, it will stay. I can't let my little one do this, since she has shown a distinct attachment to inatimate objects. I don't know where she gets this from ;-) My eldest is very discerning, so she'll be OK doing this. After the bags have had their final look-through, off they go to our local Crisis Pregnancy Center (RealOptions). I don't even know if I will wash them. I want to, but will it hold up the purge? I'm afraid it will. I should take a couple bags from the pregnancy center's stash home and wash them up since there will be no memories attached to someone else's baby clothes. I know, I'm ridiculous. Call me silly. I realize how insane this sounds. But I also thought, as I said before, that I'd have a lot more kids. I think the clothes are somehow a comfort in a strange way--since I didn't have more kids, are they taking up some kid-shaped place in my heart? Who knows. At this point, I just know it's time to lighten up. Blessing someone else with these baby clothes is the right thing to do. It's biblical, it's what everyone around here knows needs to happen, and it's going to make my husband happy. And I know it will make me happy too. Why is it so difficult to give up something like this? I feel like once these baby clothes are out of the house--boom. All chance of another child will go with them. Which is very, very silly--I'm too old to have another baby, so why not bless someone with a real need for them? This argument has gone round and round in my head for some time now. I think it's going to hurt just a bit no matter when they go, no matter how sensible it is, no matter how old I am. Some things in life just sting. The fact that someone in need will be accepting them for their own precious baby is the balm for this kind of boo-boo. My head knows this. Now it's time for my heart to learn as well.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Urge to Purge--with photos!

What. A. Mess.

This is one angle of our family room, the latest "victim" of my purging spree. It wasn't actually the family room that I was cleaning, as that is usually quite tidy. See the lovely shelves that store my 5-year old's art supplies and games? No? Well, they're there. Behind all that ... stuff. Believe it or not, it was the under-the-stairs closet, intended for my little one to use as a fun hidey-hole, that was cleaned out. Sort of. Thanks to Bethany at http.//bethany.preciousinfants.com and her Minimalism Challenge, I've been inspired to minimalize as well. Actually, I just needed a kick. When you're drowning in toomuchstuff, you know you can't breathe. Sometimes you just need someone to toss you a lifesaver and tell you to grab it. Seems obvious, but I can be very dense at times.

What you see in this shot is many Space Bag sacks chock full of children's clothing. You'd assume I had 6 or more kids, from the looks of it, wouldn't you? I have two. Just two. Wanted more, but had only two. After my first daughter was born, in anticipation of the 4 more babies I was certain would follow, I saved just about everything she ever had. Seriously. I found things in these bags that she never even used. I suppose I was saving them for baby number 2, but I honestly don't remember doing so. This kind of amnesia is what lead to the disaster-in-a-bag you see above. Yikes.
In the top photo you see the under-the-stairs closet. Doesn't it look like a great place to make a little kid's hideaway? A carpet runner, a little table, some books and a lamp would make it such a cute little place for a nearly-6-year-old. I am so ashamed that we've lived in this house nearly 3 years and I am just getting to this! My little girl could have been enjoying this for THREE YEARS if I'd done this sooner. Now imagine all the stuff you see in the family room inside that little under-the-stairs closet (along with the stuff still in there), and you have an idea of what my poor husband has endured for the last 3 years. Aaaack! Well, enough with the shame, time for a change. I hope to post photos after the job is done. Stick with me and let me know how you are doing in your purging adventure as well!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

The Urge to Purge

Every now and then I get an urge. For chocolate, for salt, for hunkering down with a good book and a cozy fire. Then there are the times I get the serious Urge. The Urge with a capital "U". The Urge to Purge.
No, this is not a post about my bulimia. I'll pause here for those of you who know me to stop laughing. This urge to purge is all about ... STUFF. Too much stuff, precisely. Way, way too much stuff.
Most of us in America are blessed with the ability to go to a store and buy what we need. Food, clothing, household items--these are things I rarely have to think about. They're just there. Walk in the house, see the furniture. Open the fridge, see the food. Open the closet -- get knocked over. By STUFF. Way too much, as I mentioned earlier.
A couple times a year, I change from a mild-mannered, Christian homeschooling mama (pause again for my friends to stop laughing at the "mild-mannered" part), to a drill-sargeant hellbent on "cleaning this place UP!". I'm sure my family wonders what on earth they did to bring on the transformation from Dr. Jekyll to Mrs. Hyde. Clutter didn't bother me much when I was younger. But it certainly does now. I blame my husband, a man who could live like a monk if he had to. In fact, he was living like a monk when I met him. Turns out my eldest daughter is the same way. And you know what? They're onto something. Who doesn't feel better in uncluttered surroundings? Who actually enjoys being drowned in stuff that no one cares about? No one. Don't tell me you don't mind it. Don't tell me you can find your things just fine in your mess. Don't tell me because I've used all those arguments myself in the past, and I know them for the lies they are. Take a moment and be really honest with yourself. There is no--absolutely no--pleasure in crowded, cluttered, uninviting surroundings.
And you can't clean clutter.
So every few months, I morph into another person and declare war on excess. Somehow, even though I might purge several sackfuls of stuff and re-home it to worthy causes, the clutter comes back. Time for a reality check, complete with transparency: I'm the one bringing it back.
There. I've said it. That wasn't so hard.
Actually, yes, it was.
You see, I wasn't raised right. The sun was in my eyes. My feet hurt and I'm hungry. And I had to walk 5 miles uphill all the way to school while holding 20 pounds of books. In the snow.
You don't believe me? You shouldn't. I'm lying, of course, and I have lied all along when I said the clutter doesn't bother me. What I really meant was, "I don't think I can give this stuff up." And I think most of you packrats out there can relate.
Well, I have good news for you: You can give it up. If I can do it, you can, too. Yes, I'm looking at you.
Yesterday, I turned militant again. Didn't really tell anyone what I was going to do, but made a silent declaration just to myself. First thing to get de-cluttered was my scrapbooking table. What. A. Disaster. It's downright obscene how much there was to clean up. Of course, no actual scrapbooking was able to be done there, since there was no room. Next on the agenda: My 5-year old's wardrobe. There is no better shame-inducer than a child who starts to cry because she can't get to her clothes to dress herself without being injured by falling debris. Got right on that one. It's now organized and fabulous, with just the clothes that actually fit her in it. What a concept. Next on the list was my glasses / plates cupboard. My youngest child is nearly 6 and I still had sippee cups. Lots of them. Way too many to be excused by saying, "If a friend with a toddler comes over, I want to have something in case she forgets to bring a cup with her." Seriously? Is it really my responsibility to plan for every possible scenario that might happen, to the detriment of my family's mental and physical health? I think not. I know not. I got rid of a huge bagful of baby-toddler items and several items that simply were not serving us any longer, like the well-intentioned metal water bottles that make water taste like ... metal ... that no one will use.
Next up in my whirlwind tour-de-declutter: The under-the-stairs closet. This was originally supposed to be a fun hidey-hole for my wee one to play in. It quickly became a place to stash stuff that I didn't want to deal with. Like baby clothes that I might need. Sometime. You get the picture. They're all going to my local shelter for pregnant teenagers.
The funny thing here is that I'm not so different from many of you. I shower every day. I floss. I wash my car often, and have a clean-LOOKING home. But like a clean vessel filled with poison, unnecessary clutter--stuff, excess, junk--taints the recipients, in this case, the people who live in a cluttered home. It's one more thing that weighs on a person's shoulders and soul. It's one more thing to attend to, and I have enough already. I want to have more time with my family. My kids are growing fast, so fast. It's time for me to grow up also and take responsibility for what I've been: a packrat. Perhaps not as bad as you, or her, or him. Definitely not as bad as some. But too much for me and my family.
It doesn't matter that I like this item, or that I might need it sometime. It will not faze me that I paid a lot of money for something. If we're not using it and loving it, it will go. And we will all be happier for it.
For more inspiration about decluttering, see Minimalism Challenge on my buddy Bethany's blog: http://bethany.preciousinfants.com
Now go clean out a drawer. You'll feel a whole lot better.