This year as a Christmas gift to myself I have hired a professional organizer. Although I have a shelf full of books on decluttering (ironic, I know) and am pretty good about keeping my things organized and tidy, I do believe stuff sneaks under the door and in through the windows when I am sleeping. As I get older, the task of dragging items out of closets and cabinets and deciding what stays and what goes is exhausting enough. Having someone who can help with that chore and also pack up the discards and take them to either a charity shop or the garbage bin is pure luxury.
Seeking inspiration for this undertaking, I have been revisiting Marie Kondo's The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (that I wrote about in 2015 here). I also dipped into her recent book Spark Joy in which she tells more about discerning 'joy' and offers illustrations of her concepts. If you have read either of her books, you know that her theory is to only keep those items that spark joy or at least are practical and make your life run smoothly. So instead of deciding what to discard, the focus is on choosing what to keep.
Ms. Kondo suggests approaching this task by category and lays out a specific order: clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous, and finally, sentimental items. I decided to follow this plan.
My first two-hour session with Lori the Organizer meant that we dug into my clothes closet. Granted, I don't have a huge wardrobe but still Lori ended up taking away two large bins full of tops, pants, shoes, coats, purses, and scarves. Plus, one trash bag full of throwaways.
So far, so good.
Before she left, we set up a second appointment and talked about the next category: books.
At the time — this was just a few days ago — I felt I was ready to tackle this part of the plan. But I have since had a change of heart (as you might imagine). I realized that for me, books are sentimental items and should come last...or maybe never. Some of my books have been with me for so long I would surely miss them if they were gone. En masse, my bookshelves offer comfort and companionship.
So you know what, I am not going to worry about the books! I usually donate a stack a couple of times a year to a historic home book sale, so I am passing that category and going straight to miscellaneous. (I don't feel the need to pay her to watch me sort through papers which are pretty much under control anyway.)
I told her I thought it was more important to my well-being and sense of accomplishment if we went through the places that I knew held items I could easily part with. There are a couple of small storage closets, pantry shelves, under the bed bins, and kitchen cabinets that can be dealt with.
Besides the books, the biggest collection of stuff I have acquired in the past five or six years are art and craft supplies. I do love buying art supplies and taking classes and somehow a ton of watercolor paints, brushes, decorative papers, sketchbooks, stickers and stamps, tools, and pretty much any shiny thing that has caught my eye at the Dollar Tree has settled quite comfortably into my life.
Only now, not so comfortable.
But I get ahead of myself. Lori will be here Monday and we will tackle together the pantry and kitchen cabinets and drawers and perhaps move on to discovering what is under the bed. Who knows what evil lurks there!
Everyone needs a little help now and then clearing out, and Lori and I will tackle this project together. I am not looking for minimalism. All I want for Christmas is just a little breathing room.