Thursday, May 17, 2007
Discipline and De-accumulating
The Rec Room, full of unused stuff, esp the stuffed fish!

If you come here now and then, you likely already know I'm pretty much redoing my life. In all areas. You might also know I buy a lot of books, and am on a book-fast til September 1, at least. I'm wading through some on my shelves; they have a lot of different titles, but basically they all speak to getting your act together, something I've realized I desperately need.

I started with Restoring Order to Your Home, by Vicki Norris. She's cute as can be, but the book was rather dull, much like what I've read in the past that didn't fix the problem. Her goal was to help me "organize my life". Been there, done that.

Unfortunately it goes deeper than that. It's a matter of the heart, and like most sins that plague us, it's a matter of discipline. I've realized I have a tendency to be lazy, and/or undisciplined at times. I've been living life out of balance. Too much time spent here, while neglecting the basics over there. While I might look busy to the casual observer, I'm busy doing what I want to do, not necessarily what needs to be done, or should be done, or should have been done a month ago, or last summer. At night, after fussing with something that wasn't the best use of my time, at 5:30 p.m. I tell my husband I've "been busy all day so can we go out to eat?" I can take a quick look around and see excess and/or lack of discipline in most corners of our home. Simply put, my life is not simple, serene or balanced. Do I dare say ungodly? Poor stewardship? Ouch.

Richard Foster, in his book, Celebration of Discipline, tells us Simplicity is something that happens inside, to the heart, and the results will show on the outside, in lifestyle. I'm beginning to think all the organizing books I've read in the past were trying to fix the outside, when that wasn't the problem. I was the problem. My heart was is the problem.

He says, "our need for security has led us to an insane attachment to things. We crave things we neither need nor enjoy. We buy things we do not want to impress people we do not like. Conforming to a sick society is to be sick. God intends that we should have adequate material provision. Scripture declares consistently and forcefully that the creation is good and to be enjoyed. We're not to denounce possessions, but have a right perspective of them." It's only by cultivating simplicity at the heart of all that is me, that I'm free to receive God's gifts, knowing they're not mine to keep, but rather to be freely shared with others. Not hoarded in my storage room or closets.

Foster gives ten principles for an outward expression of simplicity.

#1 Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.
#2 Reject anything that produces an addiction in you.
#3 Develop a habit of giving things away. He calls this "de-accumulate".
#4 Remember - timesaving devices almost never save time (appliances come to mind).
#5 Learn to enjoy things without owning them. (public parks, libraries, etc.)
#6 Develop a deeper appreciation for creation.
#7 Watch out for "buy now, pay later." Why make payments on stained carpet?
#8 Make honesty and integrity the distinguishing characteristics of your speech. Say it. Mean it.
#9 Reject anything that breeeds the oppression of others.
#10 Shun anything that distracts you from your main goal.

Foster's book was such a great place to start (thank you Sarah for the suggestion). I've had it sitting on my shelf for years, and never picked it up. I'll spend more time in it's pages. It's not a fast read.

I'm now reading Simplify Your Life, by Marcia Ramsland. She's a Christian Professional Organizer, and her focus is right on. She begins by sharing, "He's a God of order, the One who gave creative order to the universe, and He desires order in our lives." She points out that "organizing is ONE of the things you do to simplify." It's not the end-all. I can organize all the luggage in the basement, stack it up according to color and size, or I can go through the luggage and give away or throw out what we don't really use, then store the rest. That's simplifying, then organizing. The next time we travel I won't have to move all the luggage we never use to get to the three pieces we consistently take with us.

I'm learning what I long for is not organization, it's not even simplicity. It's the serenity that lives within when priorities are right, and days flows out of them. I've worked through most of Marcia's book, and here's what I've accomplished. I set up a POC by the kitchen phone - Personal Organizing Center, which is a fancy name for where the mail, bills, doctor appt. reminders, etc. go; I've come up with 31 days of menus, enough to last through summer, and make meal-planning quick and easy (I can't tell you what a time-saver this will be); I made a schedule for housecleaning to keep this place clean, but not take too much time, and chose days for errands, shopping, girlfriend time, yardwork, and projects.

The far end of the storage room, full of keepsakes, papers, paint, etc. etc. etc. I re-dragged out all the Christmas stuff so I can go through it and give away at least half of it. Too much!

Where the Christmas stuff goes, our pantry, and a gift wrap center. A mess!

Today is Thursday - Project Day! I've been waiting several weeks to get to this point. I used to think if you took a stroll through our home, you'd call it clean, relatively neat and pretty organized. That was before I took these photos. The top two floors look good, the basement? Goodness gracious! Organized stuff is still clutter, even if it's all neatly labeled and filed., and ours is not even that right now. Saving every box you receive, even if they're all stacked inside each other, and nicely shelved, is still not necessary, or maybe even normal. I've written out a project list so many times, and never gotten very far. I think with this game plan there's hope. Today's project is actually a Large One, according to Marcia. The entire basement. The storage room, the exercise room and the rec room. I'm dragging out all the exercise equipment, none of which we use, and putting it by the curb with a free sign on it (everyone knows you can't sell exercise equipment!), and that will become my craft/scrapbook area. Those items are currently scattered all over the house. Then I'm taking down all the sports memorbilia from our son's high school years, storing what I think he'd like to keep, and tossing the rest. The storage room alone is huge - probably 15 x 20, lined with shelves that are full to the brim, and they have to be gone through, one by one. I'm giving myself the entire summer to accomplish all this, but when I'm done it should be not only organized, but simple to find anything, and I'll feel alot more serene when I'm down there.

My basic plan - cover the pool table with everything we don't need, use, want. Take a pile to the Ebay place here in town, and use that money to buy whatever I need for the craftroom. Make a pile for the trash every week til I'm finished down there. Then the rest will go to my "Second Annual Free Garage Sale", an event where all my girlfriends bring their unwanted items and a salad to share, we have lunch, then head down to the basement with shopping bags and boxes. Take home whatever you want, leave the rest and I'll call the truck for the local homeless shelter to pick up the rest. The last one was a blast, and it's a great way to trade trash and treasure.

The unused exercise room - all the equipment is out the door, and I'm hoping to turn this into a dandy craft room, where my sewing and scrapbook stuff will live.

Where my scrapbook stuff is living right now, at the end of the laundry room. I truly have an entire standing 5-shelf unit in the basement full of photos. I can't wait to sort those! There's also sewing stuff here.

For Sarah, peek-preview of Miss Addison's quilt. Pieced, ready to be sandwiched and quilted, a nametag added, then shipped to her. Lots of pink for the little lady.

Sewing here is great til it's time to have someone over for dinner. This won't do!

Progress report to follow in a week or so. Til then, if you can't find me, it's likely I'm down in the basement, up to my eyebrows in keepsakes, junk, etc. Serenity is bound to be at the bottom of the pile, and I plan to dig til I find it.


  posted at 8:19 AM

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    Girl Raised in the South

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