Focused Living, One Month at a Time

Monday, April 30, 2012

Challenge #10, April 2012: TIDYING UP








I will focus on organizing, de-cluttering, and fixing up our household.


"Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful."  -William Morris
“It’s time to finally get this household in order!”  How many times have you said that to yourself?  I certainly have, a boatload of times over the almost 15 (wow) years I have lived in this apartment.  The longer you, me, or most people live in one place the more stuff we acquire and squirrel away into whatever space is still available, until it turns into stuff and eventually STUFF!  Ahhhhh - this buildup problem was the main motivation this month - and that gradually building feeling that I just don’t need it, and I REALLY want to get rid of it.  Fortunately the size of our apartment automatically restricts accumulation somewhat, but our garage has become overflowing with stuff, and the clutter inside the house was creeping up too.  So I broke down this overall household improvement goal into a list of specific projects that I wanted to accomplish by the end of the to make it less daunting and easier to get started on.
The Projects, and how they went
·      Tackled an easy one first – the refrigerator magnets!  Over more than 25 (wow again) years, I have became quite a collector.  Any place I traveled, I got one with the name of the place on it, or some kind of artsy representation.  This collection grew to probably over 200 or so, and filled the entire front and top of one side of the fridge.  Friends would give me magnets once they knew I collected them – even after some years ago when I personally stopped buying any more.  Many were dusty, faded and simply not very meaningful to me anymore.  I dumped the vast majority of them, and it felt really good.   There are still several on the freezer that I curated from the collection, and also a peaceful artful compilation of ocean related pictures and real shells on the side, visible from the living room. This project has made me actually feel calmer and happier in the kitchen by not having the clutter display staring me in the face, yippee!
·      The corkboard.   Another fairly easy one – just glue gun, corks, and an old but nice wooden frame.  A somewhat creative project to carefully fit all those corks I have been saving for the past few years together into the frame - and realize that it is going to take about 10+ more bottles to finish it.  This is something I have wanted to put up above my desk to pin (a limited amount, it’s only 11”x14”) important to do items and inspirations.  Will be continued, with a definite completion target – anyone want to share a bottle of pinot noir? J
·      The d├ęcor.  Our walls all over the house have ocean related art and photos on them.  We didn’t want the theme to change, but it was time for some new stuff to look at.  So I went to Aaron Brothers, spent less than $50 for some mattes and we framed some of the wonderful underwater photos by Paul Humann that I have had for a while.  They reinforce and remind me of my passion for the ocean and scuba diving and are a great addition to our home.
·      The garden. My other half took the lead on this, and created a space for our new sun splashed mini-garden, all I did was move a plant out of the way and buy some soil.  He planted radishes, tomatoes, peas, zucchini and poppies - and I can’t wait to see how they all come up.  He was also sooooooooo helpful with cleaning out the garage, and his papers in the bedroom closet, so we shared this month, thank you!
·      And climactically, THE GARAGE.  We made a date and just started digging into to all the boxes. Why was I hanging on to files from previous jobs and magazines and “future craft projects” that I was 99% not likely to ever look at again - why do we do this?  It was so liberating to attack and separate it into three piles:  Trash/Recycling (Papers, things that didn’t work anymore, packaging), Give Away (old beach chairs, tennis rackets, books), and Keep (Most photos, yearbooks, travel gear we use).  A simple system that served us well and took only a few hours total.  The STUFF was reduced by at two-thirds, and it looked a lot tidier indeed – yay for a big step further toward minimalism.
·      And finally the project I didn’t actually get to – a Complete Emergency Kit. I know we should have this, we live in earthquake country and anything could happen anytime.  I have some items that have been collected for a start on this, but didn’t get around to organizing and completing it into a Home-Away-From-Home-For-Few-Days-If-Home-Is-Destroyed package.  I postponed this project – gotta schedule it.
Overall Reflections
·      Going through a lot of papers in dusty boxes made me truly realize I don’t need to save (except for taxes) so many of them – if it’s important I likely have a already digital copy, or can easily get one, and that’s all I really need and would ever realistically look at again.  Get that stuff recycled and turned into newspapers – better yet don’t print it in the first place!
·      The give away pile reminded me not to collect or save things we aren’t going to use in the first place, but maybe someone else will – our neighbors upstairs were grateful for the pair of tennis rackets we were never going to use.  Let the stuff be useful for someone else if it can be.
·      Finally, I didn’t travel (which I missed) anywhere this month, so I had more time to do these projects on the weekends and otherwise.  Plan accordingly if you take on a lot of projects like this…now what’s waiting for you to tackle around the house?