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I’m now 30 days into what is supposed to be a difficult period of transition. I’m supposed to feel unmoored by my job loss and craving my old routines.

Nothing could be further from the truth. It is no exaggeration to say that I have gotten more done in the last 30 days than I have in ages. To date, I am finding unemployment to be energizing, nay, make that exhilarating. In fact, were I to feel any more energized or liberated, I’d be worried I was having a manic attack. Which isn’t to say that there haven’t been humbling moments. Take a gander at my spring-summer to-do list:

  1. Edit relative’s book
  2. Finish painting guest bedroom
  3. Paint kitchen
  4. Dismantle old flower beds
  5. Fix bathroom sink
  6. Mulch shade garden and plant side yard
  7. Attend career counseling classes and sessions
  8. Maintain preschool website
  9. Get ready for Sudanese Scholars’ Celebration, including programs, invitations, and graduate biographies

10.  Clean and organize 5 years of accumulated stuff

I have finished items 5 and 6. I am working on items 1 and 9. But the biggie is number 10. My house has suffered mightily from not-so-benign neglect since I moved in. We’ve painted and built and swapped out light fixtures for the better, but we long ago lost control of the clutter.

About two years ago, I bought a book to help me with this problem. It opened with a” just-how-bad-is-it?” quiz. So how bad was it? “Hard-core hoarder” is how bad. I balked at first. After all, I look nothing like those folks on the TLC show. There was room for company to sit on my sofa (once I shoved a bunch of stuff in the closet). My clothes fit in my closet. (And the guest-room closet, and Simon’s closet, and in storage racks and bins in my attic.) I never lost important papers. (Now that everything is online, who needs paper?).

But those little parentheticals told the real story, as did my habit of apologizing whenever someone entered my home. “Oh, sorry about the mess. It’s so hard with two work-from-home jobs, you know?” Or, “I know, Mom, I know. But I’m busy! But I’ll get to it.” Or, “I know the holidays were a long time ago, but it’s so hard to throw out all those lovely cards and photos, and I haven’t found the right place for them yet.”

I was, in short, acting uncannily like a poor woman I saw on TV who broke out into a sweat over the prospect of throwing out a plastic cocktail skewer. She might need that one day, you see.

So two weeks ago, I decided that my cluttered house was a reflection of my muddled state of mind. And since my mental state has gotten so clean and shiny, it was time to make my mouse match it. I have spent two weeks filing the piles of paper that sat on my desk, on my kitchen island, on my dining room table, in kitchen drawers, and on my bar. I have thrown out half my medicine cabinet. And I have finally taken my Smithsonian-worthy collection of empty detergent containers to the recycling center.

I’m not finished yet. I still have a bunch of baby stuff to donate to Kentucky Refugee Ministries. I’ve still got old electronics to recycle. And I’ve still got too many clothes in too many places (that’s next week’s job). But my house has been clearly transformed. It’s organized. It’s peaceful. It seems more like a home and less like a giant dorm room than ever before. I’m jazzed. And when I re-took the “how-bad-is-it?” test Saturday morning, I qualified as clutter free.

Which only makes my head feel that much better.

2 Responses to “Decluttering”

  1. Amanda says:

    I know how you feel–I’ve been working on my “oh my god” room.

  2. blg says:

    Good for you, Jess!

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