At the beginning of last week, I came to the realization that my house was a disgusting mess! One of the less exciting side effects of throwing yourself fully into your work as a writer—a messy house—and it was really getting to me. It was getting to the point where my environment was effecting the edits of my current manuscript.
All the mess was making the inside of my head messy.
No, I don’t believe it was a diversion or procrastination. As I’ve said before, I’m all or nothing and I have to take these breaks sometimes to keep myself in balance and stop our family from getting nasty diseases. 🙂 So I downed tools on Wednesday and got to work. Besides, everything was beginning to ache from pouring over my keyboard every day. I desperately needed a break. So I donned my lovely cleaning outfit, pulled my hair up into a ponytail and got to work scraping the grunge from our life—a nice clean slate as it were…
…Did it work?
I decluttered 15 years ago for the very first time. It was one of the most revolutionary and refreshing things I’ve ever done. I know crazy right, how can putting your house in order make you feel so good? But it did. I laughed manically as I dropped trash bags full of the past from an upper window. My first born, then aged one, giggled and laughed as mommy was having some kind of weird mental, but liberating, breakdown.
You see, I was freeing myself from the past—from the grunge of my life. That stuff that had clung to me for decades. I was carrying the past with me and into the future and even allowing it to define who I was as a person. At first I was terrified to part with some of it. Feeling that the stuff I had surrounded myself with was somehow part of me and that if I let it go, I wouldn’t know who I was anymore. So I clung to it for years, creating some kind of pack-rat mentality. It made me think of those little decorator crabs that carry camouflage around on their backs that they pick up from their environment. I felt camouflaged, and I didn’t know who I was anymore.
Then one day I snapped. I had had enough. My environment felt oppressive and I felt constricted, imprisoned in a cell of my own making. The weight of all my unfinished projects and college classes that I had tanked at pressed against me reminding me, that I sucked. And that I would probably fail at the next thing I tried. I needed a revolution and a really large dumpster to get a new life.
I needed a really big dumpster
In the space of a couple of days, I had eleven trash bags ready to go to the dump. Yes, I only had one child then, if I were to do the same exercise now with five kids I’d probably have one hundred and eleven bags. But for me at that time, it was a huge deal. I found out I was hanging onto stuff from when I was ten and it was time to let it go. I started to open up the windows of my house, one by one, as I gave each room a good clean. I admired all the new open spaces. I walked down to the front door and opened it. A wind swept past me and through my house—it felt like the winds of change were sweeping through my life. It was awesome and amazing, and the beginning of a revolutionary journey that turned my life around. It marked a brand new period in my life. Where I redefined myself as a person and decided who I wanted to be without the past clinging to me, trying to remind me of who I thought I was. It opened up the space for me to become something new. I highly recommend it.
This time around
Now I’m not where I was then. I’m no longer buried under the past. Every couple of years I have a good purge, I think it’s good for the soul. I’m not even in a place where I need to do a good purge, because I did a decent one last year. But it was just time for a tuneup, some tweaking, and some cleaning. Sometimes I just have to get my house in order to feel those free spaces opening up on the inside again so that I can fill them with something new.
“But when we really delve into the reasons for why we can’t let something go, there are only two: an attachment to the past or a fear for the future.” ~ Marie Kondō
So for three days this week I did nothing but tidy, scrub, and mop. It was very liberating. I know kind of weird, but I feel refreshed and renewed and ready to take on the world again.
Sometimes you just need to get your house in order.
This week I needed to take the time to clean out the crud so that it would stop creeping in the cracks of my writing and distracting me. But I had to do it fast, like ripping off a band aid. After all, I have a book to finish, and I’m determined to complete it this week.
A side note on items you cherish:
I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondō last year; she suggests when decluttering that you hold each item in your hands and ask, does it bring me joy? If your body responds with a yes, you keep it! I’m a sentimental person, so I’m surrounded by the things I love. I also love collecting knickknacks. This is not about living in a clinical bubble, but about surrounding yourself with the things that bring you pleasure. I thought her method was a great take on this age old method of decluttering so that you don’t throw away any of your beloved treasures.
What are your thoughts?
I’d love to know what you think! Have you ever had a major declutter and what were the effects? Did you feel a newness in your life, or were there regrets about treasured possessions being lost? What has been your experience when distractions start taking over your brain?
Please share your comments in the comment box below, along with any other ideas you would like to share, I’d love to hear from you!
Are distractions driving you crazy?
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