Yesterday, I was brave.
And today, I’m going to admit something to you that I’m totally ashamed to admit publicly: I’m a pretty disorganized person. I am not a natural neat freak. For a long time I’ve really, really wished I could be! But it takes a lot of time and energy from me to be orderly–I can do it, but it’s not easy. My brain is creative and artistic and working, working, working all the time on how all of the incredibly magical puzzle pieces of my dreams and realities fit together. It doesn’t naturally default to tidiness, because internally I’m a big swirl of messy, beautiful colors in constant motion.
Because of this, when things get busy (or in the case of the last few months, REALLY busy), things can get cluttered around my house. I’m constantly annoyed by the clutter–because even though I’m disorganized, I crave order. So I’ll wait for a break in the storm of activity and devote an entire day or two to do a complete cleaning overhaul. And I feel better for 5 minutes. Then one of my children will wake up from a nap and the calm at the eye of the storm will have passed. Back to status quo until the next time.
I’ve tried to put systems in place to help–believe me, I have tried. Some of them do help a little bit. I’ve tried books on organization and the FlyLady and certain scheduled systems and routines…but the truth is, it is still a constant struggle for me.
Because even with all of the routines in place, there’s still a ton of stuff to keep in place. And systems and routines fall through the cracks when life gets hectic (and you try to do 8 shows in 10 weeks in several states as well as a pitching event in New York to some of the country’s biggest retailers). The Stuff seems to multiply like tiny little gremlins in the night.
We have this one room in our house where it had gotten really cluttered and dusty. You might even know the kind of room I’m talking about. It’s one of those rooms that if a guest was visiting and walked toward the door to that room, saying curiously, “What’s behind this door?” I would feel the need to yell “FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS GOOD KEEP YOUR HAND OFF THAT DOORKNOB!!!”
You know….that kind of room.
I’ve been ashamed of that room for a long time. I feel like it’s some of the worst of my clutter-proneness manifested in one place. And it had gotten really dusty. And I was seeing some gnarly spiderwebs. It was a disaster. (And yes, today is the second day I am being brave, because I am admitting all of this to you.)
You see, physical clutter can be as crippling as internal clutter.
I’d reached a breaking point. And I’d recently read a blog post by fellow maker Lisa of Cloud Nine Soap Company that talked about a certain method for bringing order to one’s household. The post had stuck with me, particularly the book she mentions that describes a mindset of discarding anything that doesn’t bring you joy. Remember my post on bringing light to dark corners? It was time to walk my talk in one of my hardest dark corners. I needed to bring order and light and joy to that room.
It took a long time. I had to go through boxes of memories from my childhood. Of remnants of a business that didn’t work out. Of baby toys that I put in that room after we lost our last baby. Of beekeeping equipment that we needed to sell.
There was a lot of dust. And in one of the corners, just as I had suspected, I found a black widow that needed to be smushed. When you block out too much light, it cultivates a space for darkness (and dark creatures) to thrive. I will no longer nourish a space like that.
The room is now clean, dust-free and full of light. And it has inspired me to move through the rest of my house in the same manner. All of this Stuff will have to meet one of two criteria: it is being used or it brings us joy. Otherwise, it will be donated, sold, or thrown away.
I don’t think I have to be totally neat and orderly to be a worthy person. I don’t feel like my household has to be perfect–in fact, I’ve talked about that on this blog. But I do feel like I need to cultivate a space that nourishes joy. And the hard truth is, external clutter hinders joy. It overwhelms you and stresses you out and makes you feel out of control.
And with less stuff, there’s less opportunity for clutter. I don’t have to change my natural default mode. Nor do I need to be ashamed of it–but I can keep that struggle in the light by finding what works for me. And I have a feeling that I need to lessen the opportunity for clutter in the first place by eliminating the clutter at its source. Less “Stuff.” More intentional ownership of and appreciation for my belongings.
So there you have it…one of the many ways I’m not perfect. I’m going to continue to work through the clutter, one object at a time. Joy over “Stuff”–that’s going to be my motto.
After all…joy is way more fun than stuff. And much easier to keep clean. :)