Thoughts on Thinning all the Things

I’ve been on a decluttering, purging, and organizing kick the past few weeks. It started one night with our his and hers bedroom closets when I spent 5 hours going piece by piece through our things. I was so happy about doing that little project that I’ve, mostly in order, been following the #konmari process ever since.  

By the way, if you want a little konmari motivation, go search the hashtag on Instagram and feast on photos of beautifully clean and sometimes also colorful arrangements of tidy closets, drawers, and shelves that can once again breathe happy. 

I thought since the twins are actually taking a nap today (seriously feels like manna from heaven) I would share some thoughts, small and big, that I’ve bumped into while thinning the things in our home.  

I did something similar when I had just gone through our clothes. You can read that here.  

Onward.

 

1.  I am not my things.  Here’s where I really ran right smack into this truth: the day we pulled out all of our books.  I have tons of books about Catholicism. Those haven’t magically, just by merit of being in my house, made me a better Catholic.  The same is true for anything here from craft supplies to garage tools, fresh vegetables to baby clothes. We have cookbooks with grease splotches and worn edges. These are truly representative of such a piece of who we are. However, you can take them away and I’m still a home cook. In fact, you can take away all my books and I’m still an avid reader.  I see that in going through this process of pulling everything out I'm waking up to a healthier understanding of person first, things second-- rather than the other way around.  

2.  I’m keeping a closet for “homeless” items as I go.  As I’m going through each space (bedroom, office closet, bookshelves, garage, etc.), I’m finding odd things that don’t quite have the right place.  Humidifiers we stopped using at some point. Do we need them? Decorations we need to hang back up. A couple items we might want to sell or give away. Things that need to be in a space that I haven’t organized yet.  This works for me. When I go through a space, let’s say my office closet, I don’t want to get distracted by walking out to the garage and seeing things there that I need to deal with.  This might be indicative of life with three young children. There are already distractions aplenty.  I plan to tackle the “homeless” closet after every other space has been righted. 

Here's a very unglamorous photo of said closet.  Notice both Halloween and Easter baskets...becauuuuuuuse #organized. 

 

3. I am overwhelmed by things.  I don’t know where I’m at on the spectrum. Maybe just normal. Maybe I’m a bit sensitive. It really doesn’t matter. All I know is that I truly love simple, light, and less.  I’m officially an aspiring minimalist.  I have always hated gadgets and unnecessary kitchen appliances that only serve one purpose. I hate cluttered kitchens and stuffed closets.  I even panic a little at busy wallpaper and rooms busting at the seems with decorations.  Right before I started this decluttering binge, I was painting parts of our home. We live in a ranch style house and I was essentially simplifying our space by painting all of one half of the house a light greige—all of the gathering spaces. My goal is for our home to feel like a drink of cool water for us.  I haven’t aired out difficulties here as much as maybe I should or could have over what I’m been dealing with this past year, but suffice it to say that I’m coming up for air right now.  Having active twin toddler boys who really don’t talk (beyond twinese), then starting homeschooling, and then acclimating to a life with hemophilia (namely, just an eternity of stress over the boys hurting themselves—-because have you SEEN twin toddler boys??). Anyway, this is just to say that I can look outside of myself and understand 1000% where I’m at with all of this. Everything in my mind, body, and soul is stretching forward for simple, light, and less. I’m yearning for more calm and order and progress. And decluttering and purging (dozens of trash bags by this point) is the way I know how to do that. 

4.  Think twice before thinking “I’ve gotta have that”.  This one makes me laugh and cringe. Let me tell you things I just HAD to have: a sewing kit (I never used), an embroidery kit (I never used), a roll of tickets (of which I tore off one), and $20 of Expo markers (I barely, barely used). Are you seeing the trend here? I put on my 1st ever garage sale last weekend if only to make the process of purging that more awkward and uncomfortable.  There was one family I was able, I think, to help tremendously. But besides that, let’s just call a spade a spade. A lot of us keep a lot of junk nobody else even wants to pay next to nothing for.  I bagged that stuff up today and I just wonder what kind of scarcity mentality I was working with when I thought we should house enough clothes in our attic to clothe a baker’s dozen string of children. I hope and pray that by letting go of our things we never really needed in the way that we thought we did before, we can somehow grow in generosity. I feel like that’s a thing.  

5. There are seasons for everything. There are seasons of joy and seasons of painful stretching growth. There are seasons for busy and seasons of quiet.  I’m in a thinning season.  If you can pick a word for the year 4 months into said year, well I would declare my word T H I N.  I’m thinning my things.  Before that I thinned my time on social media (Facebook fast still going…just because I’m on that train…who knows…view is lovely…).  Now, if I could just seriously thin myself by about 15 pounds, I would round out this year in the most spectacular way.  But first.  All this stuff.  

Speaking of seasons, that photo below is a stack of the "teacher papers/documents" I was able to pitch.  Teaching (in the sense of traditional in-the-classroom teaching) made me so happy, but I don't need all these pieces of paper to remember that or even to return to it should I do that at some point. Seasons.  I want to transition faster so that I can truly enjoy and be present in the one that I'm in. 

6.  It’s not the number of things but having the “right” things.  Gosh, I love this one.  I’ve actually taken pride for not having things.  I’ve heard myself boast about not having enough clothes or jewelry or only one pair of sandals or one purse or one coat for 7,000 years. It’s so dumb really.  Going through my things has really taught me a healthier perspective.  Just as it’s foolish to try to buy happiness with a spirit of bursting consumerism, it’s just as silly to brag about how little you have.  Both look really stupid honestly.  In the name of frugality, I’ve gone before without things that would have truly cut down on some stress: a couple more pairs of socks for the kids and 1 good stroller for the twins. Stuff like that.  When I cleaned out my closet, I was actually struck by how dumb (sorry, only so many ways to say dumb and stupid here) that there were several articles of clothing staples that I just don’t have.  Essentially, having less or more than anyone else says very little of the state of things, and I won’t ever think that way again.  It takes a little bit of thought and some organization to have some things we love and need for our lifestyle, to have the right things for us.  That’s going to look different for everybody.  Oh, and one thing I'm truly crazy excited to amend (in this sense of not having less or more but the "right" things) is that I've never had a desk that is right for me. And I'm going to buy a new desk, the desk I've always wanted and I'm so excited!!  

7. Let it breathe. I picked up an organizing tip from someone on YouTube last year and I always think about it and try to work it in. It's this: let your things breathe.  Not in a woo woo way like your purse is a "she" and let her get some oxygen at the end of a long day will you. No. Not really like that. It's just that people often see that they can add more of something to a space (closets, shelves, etc.) so the thinking goes, "why not?"  But our spaces shouldn't ever be stuffed and crammed and they don't even need to be full or filled just because they can be. For some of us and in particular in certain spaces, this can be difficult to pull off, (Has mid-century home. Fantasizes about walk-in pantries. <raises hand>) but I'm trying to strive toward this airy sense of belonging as much as I can in as many places where I've spotted stuffing, crowding, just-because-we-can spaces. 

 

Well,  I'm sure you haven't heard the end of all this.  What's going on in your home right now? Talk to me. 

 

 

No Baby Nesting

One of my absolute favorite things about being pregnant is the nesting. I never experienced the truly crazy stuff of being up at 2 am detailing grout at 9 months and forever days pregnant. Instead, I had just this wonderful overall urge to get everything just so.  I needed everything in its place and prettied and ready and the laundry basket showing its bare bottom at all times. And I remember with the twins thinking well now, why can’t I get this urge when I’m not pregnant?! 

I love that preparation for a baby brings the best out of us. True, some of that is because we have a healthy fear for the sleep we’ll be losing in a few months. All the same, a tidy nest at its best makes me happy. 

I did think in a very upbeat way once that any of us can put our stake in the ground (grout) whenever we want and declare “nesting time!!!” — baby or no.  And that’s what I'm sharing with you now. This is my stake. Nesting time! 

I’m in painting mode big time right now. I painted the sunroom last week. I painted the 1st coat of the living room this week. I painted a closet last night. And I have 3 more areas I will be painting very soon. But I also have a list a page long of house projects I want to get done in April, May & June—which means mostly April & May because June is deeply steeped in celebrations & parties. 

Also, I read The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up last year and I loved it…but I didn’t actually do it.  What a punch in the gut to see her 2nd book on the market and know I still haven’t done the homework she gave me the first time. Well, I did my clothes and my books and then I think I probably got caught up in some other flashy idea like homeschooling or sitting on my butt with a book. And now I’m at this place in my life where I just want to purge and purge and purge and walk in peace. Ugh. My garage. My attic. Paul’s bin of cords that I think he has collected for one hundred years. Now that it’s getting warmer, the urge to declutter is fired up, dialed up, turnt up. Autocorrect, “turnt” is a word. Get over it. 

Now. Just as you would have an adrenaline rush realizing you are running toward a pack of wolves, you would have an adrenaline rush running away from a pack of wolves. Don’t run toward wolves though. That’s stupid. What I mean to metaphor here is that I think there might be a nesting we aren’t talking about. The no-baby-nesting.  Going toward having the baby—a mix of hormones & harrying advice from relatives about little sleep helps us move our butts.  But there’s also this sweet spot after a baby is born where a mother’s sense of time is 1000000% more keen than it was before on how much she could really do with 1 hour of free time AND the baby is a bit grown up and not totally attached (let’s call that baby a toddler because that’s exactly the kind of human I’m referring to).  That’s a woman who can MOVE!

And that’s exactly why I’m nesting. There were so many months after Alistair & Emerick were born that I felt like my hands were tied (and my eyes barely open). Don’t ask me about how little sleep I got when the twins were newborns. I’m still not over it. Talking about it makes veins pop out in places they shouldn’t. Anyway, it’s not that a mom with a baby (or two) can’t get anything done, but I do think that there’s a serious problem with momentum.  As in, there ain’t any.  That’s what I experienced anyway.  Too much putting out fires and picking up toys to feel enthused about a project. 

The pendulum swings. And it sliced me right open one way when I was in the thick of being a new momma. And now it’s slicing me right open to a joy for getting things done simply because life goes on and babies don’t keep. 

A couple friends asked me how I could be getting any of this done, especially since Paul travels almost every week. And that makes me laugh. It’s such a mix. Hot determination. Good sleep. Being fresh off a refinance the left me feeling just insanely grateful we have a good house, any house at all. Boxed food. A gate I can still put up if needed. Using margin. And going crazy fast. And magical two hour baths for the boys. (I literally mean a two hour bath.) Girl, I can make a miracle happen in two hours. And if they aren’t in the bath, there’s a hundred other ways I can get them to play together in peace (mostly) for a good chunk of time. 

As I’m painting, my breath and my speed and my energy is rocket fueled by memories of months and months of feeling like I could not get anything done. I’m striking while that iron is hot. Because as things go, I’ll probably end up like those nice ladies I run into at Target speaking of how it was all good and how a young mother should enjoy every moment. 

So yeah. I’m nesting. I’m getting things just so. Just because I can. 

 

 

“Trust in the Lord and do GOOD; Dwelling the the land and cultivate FAITHFULNESS.” 

~Psalm 37:3