A Million Little Choices

31 12 2009


Originally uploaded by Marc Pinter

I would not be the first person to point out that decluttering/organizing is very much like losing weight/getting healthy and fit. But oh it is so true. And it’s interesting to be aware of this right now, since the healthy part of me is pretty much on track, and the decluttery part of me is just learning the alphabet and veering around wildly. It’s just interesting to observe myself.

I can pretty much rely on a year of good habits to carry me through for the most part, even though there are certainly moments/days of veering off. But I have NO good habits to go on as far as organization goes. It is incredible to watch “what I would normally do” and to try and replace some of these habits with better ones. Sometimes it is almost physically painful and I can feel some wild beast inside me trying to resist, resist, resist.

I read recently that habits are “first cobwebs, then cables.” Which I think is such a great analogy. And it goes for both bad habits and good ones. Sometimes those bad habits feel as strong as steel cables, impossible to break. And the good ones are as fragile as cobwebs. But the more we do something (good or bad) the more it builds on itself.

I’m really trying to pay attention to myself these days. Carving a new way of doing things is, wow, just exhausting. But I do have some patience, and some confidence that I can eventually do this and eventually I will have some good cable-strong organizing habits. Just not yet. SO not yet.

I notice that when I come home, my tendency is to:

1. leave all the crap in the car. I have to nearly twist my own arm out of its socket to get myself to bring even 50% of it inside, unless it is something perishable, like vegetables. Otherwise, I’m likely to just think “I’ll bring it in later.” It’s not like I have to haul it up Mt. Kilamanjaro or something, I only have to walk it through the garage and into the house. But the idea often exhausts me. Why? I spend hours at the gym exhausting myself way more. Not sure I understand this, but there it is.
2. Arrive in house, and disrobe (jacket, shoes) wherever is most convenient. Thus, you will find my shoes (and I will later be UNABLE to find them) next to the couch, under the dining room table, against the wall, in the middle of the kitchen (I am not kidding). Same with coats and jackets. Tonight I just gathered up all the jackets and coats from various pieces of furniture, and HUNG THEM UP in my closet. Which actually shocked me, how weird and foreign that felt.
3. Bring mail in from mailbox. Open and read in the most convenient/comfortable spot. Like my bed. Toss a few magazines into recycling basket nearby (that’s good, right?). But inevitably, bills or Important Communications will end up under the bed, behind the bedside table, or buried under a mountain of books and socks and stuff.
4. Get ready to go to bed. Disrobe. Toss the socks and underwear in hamper basket (that’s good, right?). But if any clothing stands the remotest chance of being worn again before laundering, hang on bed. Do this until bedpost is completely obliterated. Tonight I took off my sweater. I HUNG IT IN THE CLOSET. I took off my skirt. I was momentarily befuddled because I currently have more skirts than I own skirt hangers. Considered tossing it on the floor. Instead, folded it in half and hung it on a regular hanger. Felt INORDINANTLY proud of myself.

So this is how it goes, right? I’m just trying to develop some mindfulness and stop myself in these moments before I add to another one of my hundreds of piles. If you were to come in my house you would not know I had made the tiniest bit of progress. But I have. Believe me.

And it’s kind of exhausting. But I will keep moving forward.




6 responses

31 12 2009

Interesting process – my desk is a masterpiece of mess. On the rare occasion that I clean it it just goes back to its previous state. I am visual so I want to see my stuff not file it and forget it. But it is an eyesore and not a place I let many people see.

I noticed that I cringed at the “good” and “bad” habits in your piece. I do have a lingering belief that I am somehow bad for having messy spaces. But If I take the good and bad out of my habits, they just are and I just am – I think it would be much more satisfying to let go of that one then to “clean up my act”.

31 12 2009

Mary – I agree, the “good” and “bad” thoughts will have to go. It’s one of those mind-changes that I need to make for this process. It just is. But yes, I’ve often believed that I am Bad (very very bad) for not being neater.
On the other hand, I know that there’s a part of me that believes that “neat” people are controlling and “anal.” And even though I have longed to be neater, I know a part of me has rebelled against the idea of being a “control freak.” That’s another kind of thinking that doesn’t do much for me. In fact, I think I need to write a blog post about this!

31 12 2009

Susan –
so are us “slobs” still rebelling against (imagined) “authority”? (control freaks). My ADD does not help…
teeter tottering between Dr Jekyll and Ms Hyde?

oh – in your blog re: stopping yourself before adding to the piles – ..i see myself with Dr Strangelove’s mechanical arm….keeps piling up stuff regardless of my intentions…..

31 12 2009

oops would like to be notified of follow-up comments via email on previous post.

31 12 2009

oh susan, just wanted to let you know how inspired I’ve been by both your blogs. This clutter post hits really close to home for me! Thanks for your honesty in 2009 and know that though I seldom comment, I read consistently and am learning from your journeys!


31 12 2009

So interesting when you self observe like that. Which would be good for me, because I am completely oblivious when it comes to removing my shoes. I find them in every room of the house. I too prefer to leave crap in the car. Mail I’m a little better with. I put bills immediately in the bill place so that my husband does not have cause to be pained by me. I put my husband’s stuff on his desk, try to throw out the junk, but a lot of stuff does get loaded in a dread-inducing pile in my In box.

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