Finding Time to Read

I love books. The best job I have ever had, hands down, was when I worked at Borders. If you’ve ever seen the movie Empire Records, Borders was my Empire Records. It’s an experience that I will never recover from in the best of ways. My bookshelves will also never recover. Even today, several years later, they are overly full with boxes and boxes still in the basement. I have so many books.

I don’t expect the quantity of books in my life to change much. I tried having a Kindle and I loved my Kindle Keyboard. I read so much on it, but when it spontaneously stopped working it could not be replaced with the same item. Kindle had moved beyond Keyboard. I tried reading on my iPad, and I do sometimes (particularly at night or on planes) but nothing has ever replaced the feel of a book for me. It’s something special to sit down with a book in my hand and just disappear into the words.

Lately, though, I don’t have the time to read. I know that comes from being a new mom, but I also feel like I’ve simply gotten out of the habit of reading. The piles of books stuck in corners and on shelves with no real plan or reason almost intimidate me. It’s hard to want to read when you look at your shelves and see a mess. I realized today, though, that I want to make the time to read again. I also realized that in order to make the time to read I was going to have to make the time to get my books in order. Tonight I took one book from the shelves and carried into my bedroom. The bedroom is more quiet and less cluttered than the shelves so until I can get to the books (one project at a time, after all) I will bring the books to me.

What are you reading?


Organize like you’re moving

Honestly? This whole journey is overwhelming and I’m just at the beginning. Other than the basement (a space that will have its own dedicated post in the future) the area of my home that makes me the most uncomfortable is my master bedroom. My bedroom is the first true master bedroom I have ever had. It’s a good-sized, but not too large space that gets beautiful afternoon light and has a full bathroom and roomy closet. It fits my king-sized bed, a dresser, and a chest of drawers comfortably. It is also constantly cluttered and messy, creating anxiety for me when it should be creating comfortable retreat.

A portion of the chaos that is my bedroom is that it’s shared space and my fiance, love him as I do, has a different idea of tidy than I do. The majority of the issue, though, is the mass quantity of clothing that I have. Right now the left-hand side of the closet designated as mine is packed solid and even overflows into the not-mine side. The chest of drawers is full to the point closing drawers is complicated. A third of the dresser is crammed with my things and I even filled a plastic storage cart with clothes only to still have too many.

I could probably go an entire year without wearing the same outfit twice. This has to stop.

My anxiety about the space is something that’s lead me to tackle organization strategies in the past. I’ve tried the “if you haven’t worn it in a season get rid of it” method where I tied ribbons on a hanger and removed the ribbon if I wore the item. Whatever hangers had ribbons left at the end of a prescribed time frame got donated. I’ve tried the “swap with your friends closet yard sale” approach where I have a miniature swap meet in my home so we could all get rid of things. I even KonMari’d the hell out of my room. None of the methods really worked. KonMari lasted all of two weeks before my cat peed in the place I designated for my purse. So much for that.

There is one thing that has always worked for me, though. Every time I’ve moved I’ve successfully been able to get rid of things. Usually Catholic Charities gets bags upon bags of things from me when I move, but I’ve also had some lucrative yard sales associated with moves. So if something’s not broke, why fix it? The plan I’m going to implement for this first purging and organizing, this simplification of my space is the “Organize Like You’re Moving” plan.

Here is how it’s going to work.
-I’m sticking with one room at a time and one room only. In this case, it’s the master bedroom and I’m narrowing things down further to a category of things, clothing.
-I’m setting myself a “get rid of” goal. Right now that goal is that I want to reduce my clothing amount by 75%. It may change.
-I have predetermined purge catergories: Donate, Sell, Upcycle, and Capsule. Items I think other people could get good use from (such as many of my larger-sized shoes) will get donated to the domestic violence shelter where I work. Items that I think have some value to them will be sold to thredUP, a local resale shop, or at a planned yard sale. I like the idea of the things I put on my credit card contributing to paying it off. Items that I can’t donate or sell go to my upcycle pile to become fabric and tools for my side sewing business. And finally, I’m working towards a capsule wardrobe for everything else.
-I’m giving myself two weeks to get through these things. I’d like to enter March with an orderly closet space.

I’m excited to try this, though I’m not certain how it’s going to play out. I’m working on trying to decide how many pieces to have in my capsule wardrobe, but I keep running into the roadblock of my LuLaRoe pieces. I have a lot of leggings, friends. A lot of them and they all serve a purpose. But, let’s be real here, do I really need four pair of patriotic leggings? Maybe?

Spare rooms and starting points

It started with my son’s nursery. I was eight months pregnant, almost nine. We had just switched into weekly appointments with the OB so we knew it was time to start putting things together. I had procrastinated working on the baby’s room for months and for good reason. The room was so full that I could barely move around in it. It was overstuffed with furniture, supplies, and general junk. In the two years we’d lived in the space that second bedroom had started out as an office and guest room only to turn into a pit of despair.

I’d been doing a little work in the room, taking a few hours here and there to try to sort it all. There were some big plans for the room. I was going to make the closet a functioning storage area while also having all the baby’s things set up. My dream was a dual use space where I could work on projects while the baby napped and played. Unfortunately as I began to round my way into that ninth month of pregnancy I had more big ideas than I had energy. When my work amounted to no progress a close friend decided to get involved. Cleaning and organizing the nursery, she said, would be her gift to us.

What was supposed to be a couple of hours on a Friday night turned into more than eight hours, dozens of trips to the trash, a lot of crying, and a mountain of things that she simply drove away with because she knew there was no possible way I’d ever get them to Goodwill. I went to bed (finally) in the early hours of Saturday exhausted, a little angry, and completely embarrassed. How had I let things get in the way of getting ready for my son?

Stuff, or the large quantities of things, has always had a place in my life. My mother had a lot of stuff. My father’s basement is still largely full of all her stuff. I’ve seen people I love torn apart over other people’s stuff. I’ve gotten into fights with my fiancĂ© over stuff. When my son was born a week after the great purging of his nursery and then spent two weeks in the NICU I had a lot of quiet time to think about my life. There was the natural thinking about my baby boy and how he was doing, but there was also a lot of thinking about how I didn’t want his life to be choked out by things. I wanted him to be able to appreciate and value what he had and, perhaps most of all, look back someday at a childhood full of experiences and memories that outlast and outshine being surrounded by stuff.

That’s where this blog begins. This year I’m making the conscious choice to live with what matters and not just what’s there. That means going through what I have and keeping only what is useful and meaningful. It’s a huge undertaking, but one I hope will help me and my whole family not only overcome our possessions but create a happier, fuller life, one that is intentionally simple but endlessly rich.