If you have been following this blog you already know I have spend the past year working my way, month-by-month through the book “One Year to and Organized Life” by Regina Leeds. Today is the final post in this series, but I know it is not the end or my organizational journey. Seeing as my house has 2 children and 2 dogs there is a large chance I will refer back to this book for organizing refreshers.
It is more the just cleaning up
What made me start on this journey was the fact I live in what is considered a small home by today’s, but it was filled to the brim with stuff. Did I want this stuff? At first I didn’t even know. What I came to find out was this stuff was more like insulation. A physical barrier preventing me from tackling the emotional “stuff “that lie beneath it all. What started as an organizing project became so much more emotional and introspective then I even imagined.
I know there had been a lot of talk about Maria Kondos “Life changing magic of tidying up,” as being the new organizing book this year, but I don’t think it would have accomplished the emotional or physical changes this book brought me to. What first drew me to this book was the pace. Each chapter was divided into a single month and each month divided into four weeks. The chapters are summarized with clearly outlined goals to work towards. It felt clear, consist and, most of all, doable. I could take it one step at a time.
Starting in the kitchen
The first month started with the kitchen. It seemed a totally daunting task. Each cupboard was filled to the brim with cups, utensils, extra plates, cake decorating items, and miscellaneous kitchen items. Add to that a pantry packed full with couponed discount items I had not found a use for. It drove me crazy! To reach anything, 6 or 7 other panty items had to be removed or moved out of the way to get to the one thing I needed. Uggg!
Nothing was grab and go or readily available. It was a hassle to take out any ingredients, bowls or equipment. Making any recipe took twice as long to prepare and was a pain to clean up. The idea of cleaning and organizing all of this seemed overwhelming.
The book started off having you change one small habit. By doing this one thing, it had a cascade effect, helping me tackle other habit-changing tasks in the kitchen. These small changes grew until eventually I cleaned, organized and even painted this formerly unmanageable space.
Emotional clean up and organizational therapy
This bit by bit approach helped move me through my home. Tackling area by area, emotion by emotion, each organizational issue that had been holding me back. There were so many epiphany moments in this organizational transformation for me and my family. The two that stand out the most are the closet clean out and garage organization.
During the second month of the process I tacked the garage. It was a huge job but what I found harder was coming to terms with letting go of my children’s baby stuff. If was so emotional to let go of the items that represented my children’s baby years. Once I did I found acceptance and enthusiasm for the people they were growing into. It was a full on emotional transformation.
Crazy huh? Who would have thought cleaning out the garage would have brought all this on but it totally did and this book helped me put these feelings into perspective. Part of the journey was keeping an organizational journal. At first I thought was a bit much, but soon found out it was an indispensable part of processing your feelings, your space and letting go of stuff. This was transformational.
Another area where I had surprisingly strong emotions was cleaning out my closet. Due to our limited storage I found many of my husbands work awards and achievements shoved into the back of the closet, hidden. I thought about how this might have been a reflection on the space we shared together. Were my things, and my style taking over our shared space? If someone looked would they know he lived here? This process helped me to recognize our space should represent “us” not just “me.”
After cleaning and rearranging the items in the closest I created a special wall to displayed his awards and accomplishments. I wanted him to know how proud of him we are and how important he is to our family. My husband, who is as emotional as a brown paper bag, was really touched by the effort. Honestly, I would have never recognized this concept on my own. This book not only helped me organize my closet, but made my marriage stronger.
The use of this book has been like going through my own personal therapy. While sorting through stuff, I sorted through a lot more emotion then ever anticipated when I picked up this book. It was as if the author, guided me through a personal transformation. There is a kind of sadness in having this journey come to an end. The need to reorganize and sort my home from time to time. It is more that I will no longer have the same type of discovery of myself, this space and these things the way I did as I progressed through this book.
It is only stuff
At the end of the book, the author shares the biggest discovery a reader can make. What she states and what I have come to understand is, “it is only stuff.” It is not your memories. It is not your relationships. It is not the people that have come and gone in our life. That crib, the “special” chair, the collection of teddy bears you have, they are only things.
The emotion your feel towards them.
The memories you put in them.
The people you associate them with.
They are all in you. You are your space. You are your home. You are your family. Your life isn’t the things you collect, clean or organize. It is experiences, people and moments you live. Things don’t create these feelings. You do.
Thank you Ms. Regina Leeds for writing this and for letting me get to know you and myself through your book.
See the links below to catch up on all of the “One Year to an Organized Life,” posts.
- Month 1:Kitchen
- Month 2: Garage
- Month 3: Bedroom
- Month 4: Paper Organizing
- Month 5:Bathroom
- Month 6: Travel
- Month 7: Memorabilia
- Month 8: Kids
- Month 9: Moving: Skipped since I was not moving anytime soon
- Month 10: Dining/Living Room
- Month 11: Holidays