Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tidying Up

Mixed media play from my current sketchbook

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same. Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”   Don Williams, Jr.

Spring is here with its promise of new beginnings.  Changes brought on by a new job have turned my routine upside down, and I've been having a difficult time finding a new rhythm.  My discombobulated schedule has really thrown me for a loop with not enough time to write blog posts, experiment as much in the kitchen or dabble in other creative endeavors.  However, it has been good for me to take a step back and take a good look at my lifestyle and do a bit of an overhaul. 

While growing up, we moved nearly every two years with my father's work  in the military.  To ensure that we wouldn't go over our allotted shipping allowance for household goods, pre-move, my mother made sure we went through drawers, closets and shelves to evaluate if each of our possessions would come with us to our new home.  Was it still useful to us, had we outgrown it, was it in good working order or a prized possession with deep sentimental attachment?    I was always happy to put things in the donate pile because I hoped that someone new would be getting as much joy out of each item as I had in the past.  In the same way, our move would necessitate having to evaluate if an activity that I had been engaged in at our previous residence still held enough interest to get me to seek out a group or teacher in the new location.    

This cycle of moves and purges continued even into my adulthood until it stopped 15 years ago when my husband and I bought a Victorian house that needed lots of love and care in a suburb of Washington, DC.  Although I still do a spring and fall house cleaning and am considered to be fairly neat and organized, it's not quite the same.  I've held onto some things in case I might need it for some project that I often never seem to get to or continued on in an activity out of habit whereas if I were doing a physical move, I undoubtedly wouldn't have held on to either. 

As our renovation work continues in our old house, my husband informed me that our guest bedroom a.k.a. my craft supply/dance costume storage/off-season clothes space had to be emptied so he can began work on it this summer.  It took me a few minutes (okay, days…oh, alright, a couple of weeks) to wrap my head around how I was going to make my nicely organized things fit into other areas of the house without making everything look a cluttered mess.   To help with my dilemma, to  my rescue came a book club pick from my favorite creative lifestyle blog:  Tranquility du Jour:

The concept is simple - pull out everything you own, one category at a time and reflect on each item.  If it brings you joy, it still has a place in your life, if not, then let it go.  Taken as a whole, it seems a dauntingly overwhelming task, but done as prescribed in the book, it is manageable and enjoyable once you start to see the outcome.  Over several weeks, I have spent an hour or so on weeknight evenings:  one night it was socks, another it was workout wear, etc.  I have whittled down my wardrobe and folded it as prescribe to all fit in my closet and drawers with room to spare for my displaced items from the soon to be under construction room.  So far, I've donated  about 10 large bags of clothes, craft supplies, kitchen and household items, 9 boxes of books and magazines and shredded a stack of old paperwork that was 3 feet high.  I still have to complete going through a few more categories including the more sentimental items like photos and my dance costumes, but I can feel the effects of what I've accomplished so far.  Things are easily visible and accessible so I can enjoy them plus there is space when I decide to add something new. 

With the physical clutter much reduced, I surprisingly feel less mental clutter and the creativity block that had settled over me starting to loosen.  Now I am ready to tackle crafting a new routine that allows me time to pursue the creative endeavors that still bring me joy plus enough room to cultivate new passions.    

Thanks for reading!

Rhubarb leaf buds