I'm seeing and hearing about a lot of people working on their homes right now. It’s a new year, and there’s another craze inspiring this work, and I think that’s a good thing for the most part*. I hope and trust that the progress people make with letting go, making decisions, and creating comfortable spaces will serve - although you can bet it won’t be static or final. Organization waxes and wanes, even in the most efficient, mindfully purged/folded/filed homes.
I had been thinking about this flurry of national decluttering activity when I came across O’Donohue’s words. They pretty much leaped off of the page I was reading. It’s tough for me to comment on the quote (it already says everything so beautifully), but it resonated so intensely I decided I was supposed to try to make something of it. So...
I take comfort that everyone’s home is "un-neutral," biased, maybe even weird - at least in some way. Mine definitely is. Being comfortable with this “un-neutral” idea seems to take some of the pressure off.
I’m privileged to be in all sorts of homes, all the time. Are they ordinary? Are they unusual, typical, exceptional? I don’t know - it’s in the eye (and heart) of the beholder, isn’t it? It’s not for me to say. I can attest that they all have “subversive inner happenings,” because how could they not? All those swirling motivations, compulsions, conflicts, emotions, tragedies, comedies. The stuff that occupies the home space always reflects these very personal happenings in some way. We spend a lot of time talking about the things in the home, instead of the people who are the minders, users, curators, and discarders of said things.
A recent New York Times article about the heaviness of clutter is a sobering look at the effect of our belongings on our selves. The article recounts a study where people who perceived themselves as having a cluttered home tended to have increased levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) throughout the day. Notice it said, “perceived.” Again, disorganized stuff is in the eye of the beholder (or audience), not in the eye of the stuff itself. From my experience, too, it’s interdependent: stressed people often create disorganization, and disorganization generally creates stressed people.
So most of all, I appreciate the idea that a home (or even a workspace) can be a laboratory. Without meaning to sound flip, aren’t we all conducting a bit of an experiment with ourselves?
What sort of hypothesis could you test out, in your subversive, self-effacing, un-neutral home?
*No, I have not watched the show. I probably will someday, once all the fuss has blown over. I’m contrary that way.
Ok, I confess...the last holiday post might have been a bit of a downer. In the interest of riding 2018 out on a lighter note - and inspired by all of those Buzzfeed gift lists that pop up around this time of year - I got to thinking about some items I would actually put on my list for this holiday season. Necessity being the mother of invention and all, here are the things from Santa I wish were, well, actual things:
1. Robots that scan for “Bulk Mail” codes and whisk all of the junk through a pneumatic tube directly to local recycling (preferably installed directly within your mailbox). Also programmable to recognize up to two prior addressees at your location.
2. Earbud labels…or at minimum, a permanent marker with ink that would actually adhere to the surface of a pair of earbuds, instead of your ear (for those with multi-earbud households).
3. A gift card for any brick-and-mortar store that is actually a tiny drone. You could remotely assess parking situations, checkout crowds, return lines, etc. prior to arrival. It would fly back, via GPS tracking, to your location for review and decision-making support (pizza delivery optional).
4. Instead of a Roomba, why couldn’t we have a Shoemba (Shoomba??)? I think this one is self-explanatory.
5. And you know, if Apple is smart enough to figure out how to recognize faces, surely they could come up with an app that automatically deletes stuff like this:
So there you have it. What yet-to-be-conceived item makes your list this year?
p.s. All of you who have been agonizing over what to get me, this is a completely unnecessary but amazing thing that actually does exist :-): https://www.cubinote.com/.
Hellloooo…are you out there?? Yeah, you. You, with the lets-just-get-this-shopping-over-with itchy one-click finger. I think this might be for you.
Apologies for the Yuletide buzzkill, but I’m only writing this about the holidays because it’s almost December. It really could be dropped into July or March, but here we are again (and I needed a topic). Do I sound Grinchy? I just have to figure that if all of the posts about simplifying, giving experiences vs. things, organizing holiday decor, and stats on how many people return gifts every year (over 50%, in case you’re wondering) haven’t hit home by now, well…
I don’t disagree that sharing time, thoughtfulness, and/or creativity is needed way more than a scented candle or new sweater.
I don’t disagree that most (not all, but most) of us have too damn much stuff.
I don’t even disagree that there are probably sleeker alternatives than a battered up Banker’s box for storing your ornaments and angels.
I’m just not sure that anyone is listening, because even the new angles are old again, and no one seems the wiser. There are expectations and “traditions” to uphold after all. We have to get stuff for the kiddos, right? They have to have something to open!
I don’t know. Apparently Laura Ingalls Wilder managed to get by one year with a tin cup and a stick of peppermint. I think Ma managed to scare up a wild turkey (the poultry variety, not liquid) for supper, too. Clearly Mrs. Wilder never forgot any of it, because she was writing about it roughly 60 years later. How many of us can remember everything we got for Christmas or Chanukah when we were 8ish?
Consider too, about 60% of shoppers on Black Friday “self-gift.” Yeah, that’s a term. They spend roughly $150 doing it, and why not, with over half of the gifts they receive from others being things they return anyway?
I really don’t mean to come across judgy, and I can certainly plug myself into the one-clicking crowd as easily as the next person. I’m just tired. Thanks to the wonders of Gmail I now know that I’ve received no fewer than 67…no wait, (bing!) now 68 AMAZING DEAL promo codes in my personal inbox in the three days since Thanksgiving. And I’m someone who unsubscribes constantly. Despite my striving towards alternative holiday activities, this season is already feeling tired and clichéd. Even the minimalist, socially conscientious stuff is getting tedious.
So maybe y'all could do me a favor? Could you send me a little something…an idea, thought, action…about what you might be doing to shake your holiday season up a bit? Are you stepping out and going completely giftless? Hanging out at a monastery? Taking pictures of turtles (or bears, or leafless trees) all day? Drinking a cup of the gourmet cocoa you got on sale last week and calling it good?
Then again, the more you have, the more you have to organize, resell, and donate to charity in six months. I’ll be here. ;-)
Sara Skillen - Certified Professional Organizer®, coach, wife and mom, and serial list-maker. Excited to be in the process of becoming a Certified Organizer Coach. Learning to trust my intuition more every day. Shall we work together?