An update from my 3600+ sq. ft. home and that nasty little task list I gave myself to get my house, mind, and heart in order in 40 days.
20 Days and Counting
I most certainly feel challenged! I managed to cross off at least one item each day in the first two weeks. Some days, it was no big deal, like when I cleaned off the top of the fridge. Some days, I really should’ve thought more on what it would take out of me physically to complete the task, like cleaning out and washing the exterior of my mid-sized SUV.
I stopped being able to cross off one item each day as the project I put on the list most definitely would take more than one day and I was out of my mind to not break it down better. I’m talking to YOU, guest room closet; you BEAST!
On a Positive Note
I feel lighter in a sense. I feel like I have thrown stuff away that I shouldn’t have ever held onto. Like, why did I have TWO BOXES of notes passed between myself and various friends in junior high and high school? That’s right: nonsense writings from my early teen years had been taking up precious space. There was nothing profound in these notes… yet I kept them boxed up and moved them with me each and every time I moved to a new residence, of which there were at least a dozen between junior high and now. *shudder*
I also feel lighter because there was a lot of detritus that had collected, like old receipts and ticket stubs, coasters from that one place, a dried rose from whichever holiday or whatever (see? I don’t know SO WHY DID I KEEP IT?!), and partially burnt candles. You know, I actually have kept almost every gift bag I’ve ever received. I have this amazing collection of gift bags… with holes chewed in them and mouse turds left behind. Yeah, that was a fun one. Trash Trash TRASH! Gone!
*sigh* I have plenty more to go through but that does feel like a burden off my back.
The Negative Aspects
The opposite side effect: I feel pressured to go through EVERYTHING. I feel like that list is a living thing telling me I’ve got more to work on. I can hear its breathing in my down time (ha! Like that exists): it’s this whisper from my notebook when I’m drinking the last of my coffee while watching Angel Baby play with her puzzles.
Also, when I feel pressured, I want everyone around me to experience the same sense of urgency. It is ridiculous. [However, I have met PLENTY of people in my life who do the exact. Same. Thing. Is that part of human nature?] Any emergency I’ve created must be an emergency in the lives of everyone around me. So I was getting frustrated with the BHE for not helping me (as soon as I said so) on projects that he really could not care less about. What did he care that the drawers of the buffet in the dining room were full of playing cards, random screws and batteries, receipts, photos, a Christmas ornament he made in the 3rd grade…? To him, it wasn’t a priority to clean out those drawers. I put it on my list then got all manic about doing it AND getting his help deciding the final fate of some of the crap.
This resulted in two things. One, I found glee (a bit too much, perhaps?) in throwing things in the trash can. Two, I built within myself a fire called Resentment.
So. Not. Healthy.
A Better Approach
You wouldn’t believe what an emotional ride it is to finally clean out your house, those boxes you’ve moved from room to room as they get in the way, those pieces of clutter you’ve tucked in the ubiquitous Junk Drawer, those pesky unwanted reactions to others attempts to help (or the lack thereof). The whole point of this exercise, if you read the blogs I read to start down this path, was to open my home physically so I could open myself spiritually to better things. I asked myself, “How am I supposed to make time for my spouse, my children, my friends and family; how am I supposed to make room for God and love and peace… if my mind perceives my house to be a wreck?”
Well, for starters, I had to not only put out Resentment but recognize that I was fueling it all on my own. Since reaching that point in my mind and in my heart (it took a couple days, I’ll admit), I’ve gone forward with a much more positive attitude–and even better outcomes. I found glee not in tossing things in the trash but in the actual work of figuring out what to do with each piece of detritus, joy in the discovery of what surfaces look like under dust and dirt, and peace in seeing a job well done.
Time Is On My Side—I think
Like I said, some of the tasks are taking me longer than I thought they would. Adding to that problem is my tendency to put the I-don’t-know-what-to-do-with-this things onto my desk. Like somehow in my mind that poor piece of furniture got relegated to the end of the list, to be the last thing attacked. Well, when that day comes, I guess it’ll take me all day and I’ll *have* to make final decisions about that crap.
Another reason some of the tasks are taking me longer is that our house is in the middle of a couple projects, constantly under renovation. Anyone who has an old home can tell you the projects are never complete, the house is never “done”. Right now, we’re working on putting up shelving in the kitchen on this shallow wall that would otherwise be wasted (ok, not wasted, but just decorated; it isn’t deep enough for real cabinets or a countertop). The preparing of the wall, the cutting and staining of the shelves, the procurement of the desired brackets and screws, etc. has taken much longer than either I or the BHE could have fathomed. However, THAT is where I want to put a lot of the stuff that’s in the pantry. And I want to move my cookbooks from the library (three rooms away from the kitchen… where one would use cookbooks) onto one of the soon-to-be-empty shelves in the pantry. Right there, I’ve delayed not one but TWO of the tasks on my list because of the delayed project in the kitchen; the library bookshelves AND the pantry shelves are only partially complete.
But all in due time.