Friday, December 8, 2017

All I Want for Christmas...

Image result for decluttering your home

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.


  1. Good for you! Here's to a clutter-free 2018. :)

    1. Thanks, Lark. Hope your holiday wishes come true!

  2. I understand your feelings. I'm in the middle of moving house, which means either just packing up everything and moving it (the easiest and least traumatic) or sorting through things and discarding. Clothes are the easiest for me to get rid of. But, having said all that, you're a brave woman!

    1. Hi, Joan. I was thinking about you when I wrote this as I know you are packing and unpacking. Marie Kondo would tell you to discard before moving, but I can see the value of just moving it all and then making the choice about what to keep. There are so many decisions and arrangements to be made just moving, that sorting and tossing must seem overwhelming! Good luck.

  3. Great idea--sometimes it helps to have an impartial person around to work through decluttering with you. I've been thinking about Marie Kondo's organizing principles lately, as I seem to have acquired some extra clutter. (I don't consider books clutter.) My closet is becoming a mess, and I have a lot of clothes I don't wear because (ahem) they don't fit anymore.

    I also agree that books are sentimental items rather than simply "books," and I do purge my shelves from time to time, so even though I have many, many books, they are mostly organized and well-loved.

    As for art supplies, I need a better system of organization for them so I don't forget what I have. You'll have to let me know if you come up with something!

    If you're interested, Laure Ferlita has a free tutorial on how to draw the Eiffel Tower on her website, Just in case you want to use up some of those supplies!

    1. Kathy, thanks for your comments. I know what you mean about clothes not fitting and I agree, books are not clutter. Actually, once I stopped thinking that I had to purge the bookshelves it made it easier to concentrate on the stuff that I know can go.

      Now about those art supplies...I forget what I have all the time. Things are stored neatly in containers...well, mostly...but the containers have taken up residence in my studio (which is actually my front room, I just like to call it my studio) and they don't seem to want to go anywhere else. I like to keep supplies handy because if I am in the middle of a project I don't want to have to go into another room to retrieve something that I need.

      My organizer suggested I buy a cabinet to store them all in which is a great idea but I don't want another piece of furniture in the house. So I can either cut down the supplies to fit what behind-the-door storage I already have or live with a little mess. I have made an concerted effort to start using up what I have. So I feel a little better about that. And I guess if I did deign to get rid of a book or two I could use that shelf space for my sketchbooks.

      Or I could just buy a bigger house :)

    2. P.S. Thanks for the tip on Laure's tutorial.

  4. I gave away a couple of thousand of my books two years ago. I miss them so. Especially my Virago collection. And my Oxford classics. I was too radical. Be careful.

    1. Yes, thanks for the warning. It eases my mind to acknowledge that I don't have to get rid of a single volume! That said, I am hoping that perhaps some of the simplifying momentum will carry over to my bookshelves and I will be able to make clear decisions. But I am not going to think about that right now. I have plenty easy-to-decide-to-get-rid- of items to deal with. Not putting too much pressure on myself!

      And, Wow! Thousands of books! I am sure you do miss them. And they miss you as well...