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ANOTHER DAY IN THE COUNTRY: Things and stuff

© Another Day in the Country

Organizing the things and stuff of life is an ongoing, never-ending task. Every year, about this time, I find myself attempting to learn some new skill to keep it all in check.

Perhaps, this yearly occurrence happens in January, or February if I’m procrastinating because we usually end our personal financial year the end of December and begin thinking about paying taxes in April, so we need to “get our ducks in a row,” so to speak.

It’s in January that I set up a series of new files for budgets and receipts, and draw a bright line in my check register to indicate that a new year has begun — fresh with resolutions to adhere to my budget projections more closely.

This year I didn’t really make a list of New Year’s resolutions because they have become redundant. On New Year ’s Day this year I found myself sitting around a huge table with family and friends, discussing whether we’d made resolutions.

“Every year, I put on my list to ‘drink more water’. Can you believe it?” said one.

“Me, too,” said several others.

I smiled as I listened to the girls talking because “drink at least 8 glasses of water every day” had appeared on my New Year’s list for years and then I just stopped making lists. I know what I need to do. I’m aware of the areas in my life where improvements need to be made. Organizing is one of those constant improvements.

Through the years, I’ve had help from many a book. Then there’s my sister who surely must have her doctorate in organizational skills. She’s in a master class for getting clutter controlled. Notebooks are her specialty for all that paper stuff. See-thru boxes are her penchant and extra shelving is considered “a necessity of life.”

My personal favorite is drawers. I love a good set of drawers in a bathroom, for instance, in a variety of sizes. Boxes come next. I love wooden boxes, stacking boxes, even hatboxes.

There is always help at hand to guide you on your way with tips and suggestions for organizing your life. Last year, I read about a Scandinavian method called “death cleaning.” I read the book and practiced the techniques. Within a few weeks I stopped renewing the book at the library and took it back. It was good while it lasted.

Every year there seems to be another “self help” technique that becomes the rage. One year I learned to roll my underwear and socks instead of folding them like my mother had taught me. That worked especially nice in drawers. My sock drawer never ceases to amaze and impress my sister. “Good for you,” she says. In that drawer I counted 32 pairs of socks, from footies to knee socks. Who needs that many socks?

I discovered this year’s organizational goddess on Netflix, of all places. She’s imported her technique for living an orderly life from Japan to Southern California. She doesn’t even speak English, going to her clients with a translator, teaching her devotees — which now includes me — to “spark-a joy,” as she says it.

She hooked me the minute she entered a messy cluttered house and asked her clients for a moment of silence while she knelt on the floor and ‘thanked the house’ for sheltering these people. What a lovely concept. In one fell swoop she began to teach gratefulness for what we have. We have so much in this country, and sometimes in our rush to succeed and acquire, we forget to give thanks for what we already own — like 32 pairs of socks!

Then it was onto the next lesson: going through our belongings, starting with clothes. I am learning to test whether or not something sparks joy. In the past, the criterion was “does it still fit?” or “have you worn it recently?” All good concepts but this is a new wrinkle. If the item doesn’t spark joy, you don’t keep it. You thank whatever thing you are holding for serving you and you give it away. It’s just that simple.

I discovered that sensing that joyful feeling is like exercising a muscle. The more you do it, the stronger the sensation. The more joy you feel, the more thankfulness bubbles up. The more thankfulness surfacing, the less things and stuff you need. The less things and stuff, the less work to keep it organized.

This latest organizational guru also has a new way of folding things. No stacking, no rolling — I’m practicing “tenting” my blue jeans on another day in the country.

Last modified Feb. 7, 2019

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