September 16, 2010

Clear Out the Clutter

If you were to visit my house, it’s almost always neat and clean. But I secretly long to have everything in my home organized to the nth degree – photos are finally (artfully) arranged in albums, the kitchen closet and pantry are filled with labeled containers, and all I have to do is reach into a file cabinet to find exactly what I’m looking for in less than a minute. All it takes is just one item to be out of place before I consider a room to be messy; I can’t even sit in a room without first making sure it’s neat and tidy. And if I have the house to myself for any length of time, I’ve been known to go on a huge cleaning tear and pull things of closets, drawers, the refrigerator… you get the idea.

I realized years ago that I simply had too much stuff. So the process of elimination began. We donated, boxed, and tossed. Then we took a hard look at our spending. I stopped feeling guilty about having an abundance of Christmas presents under the tree just so my family would have more to open. I promised myself that I would stop buying anything unless I truly needed it. And if I was going to open my wallet, then whatever I bought would be the best quality I could afford so it would last. I had been guilty of over-consuming long enough.

But I still have stuff, and all that stuff needs a place to go. As I was in the market the other day, I picked up the latest issue of Good Housekeeping. This is not a magazine I purchase on a regular basis, but on the cover was a smiling Jamie Lee Curtis holding a feather duster, and I was hooked. Ms. Curtis happens to be one of my favorite people. We share a birthday (although she is seven years older than me), she writes adorable children’s books, she is very funny, and she cleans like a pro to boot! (Not to mention overcoming alcoholism with a great deal of grace.)

In the article, she shares great tips on how to get organized. Like her, and I’m sure many of you, I feel more balanced when things are put in their place. I’m not obsessive, but there must be some semblance of order in the one place I can control that order – home. And although I know that I can’t implement everything I’d like to do (Two of us are proud neat freaks and the other two – aren’t!) she and GH have inspired me to finally reach my organizational goals.

I have already thinned out my collection of books and purchased additional plastic totes for the basement. Several loads of unwanted items have been donated or given away to people who need them. It feels good to let go of the clutter – I think it frees the mind as well as your space.

I still have lots to do, and in the process of living a full life, there will always be something to put away, something that needs my attention. But I don’t plan to let it take over my life either. I will do what works for me and you should do what works for you. And we all should take Jamie’s approach… "I’ve developed an internal Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, but the seal of approval is my own approval."

Image scanned from Good Housekeeping magazine


Anonymous said...

I loved this article too. I always think of cleaning up around September when school starts.

Kimberly Merritt said...

Me too! New pencils, notebooks... and a clean house. :o)