Last year my excuse was the book and the fact that I'd started homeschooling my children. I was legitimately super busy and cut myself some much needed slack in order to accomplish two very significant undertakings, reminding myself all the while that the resulting chaos would only be temporary. It dawned on me, however, while in Indianapolis (see previous post) that although Close to Home was published in March and the school year was basically over, I was still living by the seat of my pants and not in an endearing, "wow, she's so laid back," kind of way.
The truth is, I'd developed some pretty debilitating habits involving procrastination and impulse shopping (at thrift stores and garage sales) as a way to relieve stress. I was forgetting important dates, scrambling to find things (keys, cell phone, swim goggles, etc.) on a regular basis and filling our house with s-t-u-f-f. I felt like the walls were closing in on me and that for Troy's sake (who wants to come home every night to a distracted and frazzled spouse?), for the children's sake (what kind of an example was I setting?) and for my sake (clutter heightens my anxiety, keeps me gazing over yonder where the grass is always greener, makes me grumpy) it was time I let go of what was holding me back from becoming a deliberate manager of my home instead of a helpless and unwitting victim of circumstance, blown here and there and everywhere by my whims and feelings of guilt, even shame and dissatisfaction.
So I started with the kitchen. For eight whole hours I went through drawers and cabinets and each and every shelf, tossing expired spices and throwing all kinds of duplicate gadgets, plastic cereal bowls, never used linens, etc., etc., etc,. in big "donate" boxes. I thinned out my possessions, keeping only what was necessary until some semblance of order began to emerge - until everything had a place. I scrubbed the baseboards, dusted the ceiling fan, wiped down the appliances until I could barely move due to so much sweat and grime and soreness. For nearly a week, I did this daily from early in the morning till often past midnight. Not one cranny of this old house escaped my scrutiny.
My parents, bless their hearts, came to help out with the basement. It was a monumental job as for years it had been our dumping ground. Every time I went down with the laundry the sheer volume of junk overwhelmed me. When it too was finally emptied, and cleaned and sorted through, I teared up in relief. As each room was scoured and gutted of excess, I began to fall in love all over again with our sweet home. Our garage is full now, and I mean FULL of bags and toys and even furniture. I keep taking loads to our local resale shop whenever I'm out running errands.
Although it was grueling (I won't lie), simplifying our lives by getting rid of all the "extras" has been extraordinarily satisfying. Troy is happy. I am elated. The kids, who initially mourned the loss of their 5,000 stuffed animals, board games with missing pieces, mildewed train tracks, and torn dress-up clothes have come around, thanks to their easy to keep clean bedrooms, the rediscovery of treasured items they'd totally forgotten about (having been long ago buried at the bottom of their toy chest), and our decision to encourage our kids to get outside and play by going in with our neighbor on THIS!
This Saturday, we leave for vacation and I will, for once, be able to drive away without carrying the mental burden of knowing I've left a mess behind. Less is more, so so much more. May God give me the strength and discipline to think twice before hitting clearance sales or letting the clutter breed and multiply. For me, it is a quality of life issue and am I tired of being inhibited by my lust for things and negligence.