August 29, 2012
I was reading an article in a popular women’s magazine while travelling last week, and I noticed that many of the articles in this particular issue were about organizing. “Organize Your Office in Ten Short Minutes.” “Streamline Your Cleaning by Having Less to Clean.” “Easy (and Organized) Does It.”
I was getting nervous just reading the titles. You see, I am a horribly unorganized person and have been my entire life. I just can’t get the hang of “a place for everything, and everything in its place.” I know I should. I know my life would be easier in the long run if I’d quit creating chaos by losing things. For some reason though, I just can’t seem to get over that hurdle. At my age, it may be too late. It’s been said that old habits die hard, and my habits are pretty old.
But back to the magazine; one article did get my attention, and I actually read it. It was entitled, “De-clutter and de-stress,” or something like that. Now even I am aware that I have too much clutter in our house, in my life, because I collect stuff. I don’t collect anything valuable, mind you. Most of it’s sentimental. For instance, I have every art project that every one of our children made, all the way back to preschool. Weird, huh? That’s a lot of stuff, a lot of clutter.
I have bags and bags of clothes that none of us wears any more, either because the children outgrew them (or because my husband and I did), or because they’re just not in style any more. But the clothes are perfectly good, so I can’t throw them away. I just can’t. There’s a long story as to why I will not donate to Goodwill any longer, but that’s for another day. The Kidney Foundation will get them at some point this Fall, something I can promise after having read that article.
What the writer said in this piece about de-cluttering is that it’s very easy to fall into the trap of handling and examining every piece of clutter we’re trying to get rid of, turning a one-hour task into one that can take several weeks. I’m guilty as charged, so I have decided that I will simply remove the bags of clothes from the attic and take them straight to the curb for pickup day. It will be difficult, but I am going to do it.
Now, with respect to the children’s art … So far, I have come across a cookbook my son was to assemble in first grade, using all the recipes he remembers that his mom cooks. Every recipe he wrote begins with, “She opens a can…” I can’t throw that away. I found a letter my youngest daughter wrote to me when she was in sixth grade. In that letter, she expressed her frustration with the fact that I was apparently “breathing down her neck” with respect to her choices of friends and such, and she was perfectly capable of making those choices at the ripe old age of 11.
I’m not throwing that one away; in fact, I’m laminating it. She’ll need it when she has a daughter of her own, and I’ll get a good laugh out of it.
I have a system when it comes to dealing with business papers – the truckloads of paperwork that go hand in hand with just existing – insurance, taxes, bills and such. I keep them in a stack, and if I let them sit there long enough, they become meaningless and can be thrown away after a time. This method drives my husband insane, and that’s why he handles the business of paying bills and such around here.
At any rate, I predict that I will have moderate success with de-cluttering my life. As long as I don’t take the time to go through the clothes piece by piece, Ill be fine with just giving them away to an organization that will put them to good use. My husband will continue to handle business papers, because that seems to work just fine.
As far as the children’s artwork and mementos are concerned? I’m keeping every last one of them. In fact, I’ll box them all back up as soon as I’ve looked at, read and touched them all, one more time.
Carole Townsend is also a Gwinnett Daily Post staff correspondent and author of “Southern Fried White Trash.” The book takes a humorous look at families and how we behave when thrown together for weddings, funerals and holidays. She has been quoted on msnbc.com, in the LA Times, USA Today and the Christian Science Monitor, been featured on FOX 5 News and CNN, and is often a guest on television and radio shows nationwide. She currently travels throughout the southeast, meeting readers at book signings and speaking publicly at various events. Her next book, “Red Lipstick and Clean Underwear,” is expected on book shelves in Fall 2012.