January 2012 — Great Release Challenge
17 January — What Doesn’t Belong In This Room?
by Silver RavenWolf
We’re into the third week since the closure of the 2011 Great Release Program and I’m still chugging along. This week-end my husband finished cleaning out our oldest son’s old room and our youngest son’s old room. Boy, that’s a mouthful! I have no idea what motivated him to do it — but, garbage bag in one hand and vacuum cleaner in the other, he marched up the stairs and disappeared for a few hours. After he finished, I toddled up after him and bagged those herbs that have been drying since our September harvest.
Done. Done. Done!
While he was upstairs, I went back down to the basement and plowed through three more plastic tubs of super old junk. The only thing that survived? The cake topper from our wedding over thirty-one years ago. I gave away some books and tossed the rest. I also managed to finish that knitted stuffed snake toy (three feet long) that I started two weeks ago for my granddaughter.
Oh yeah! Done. Done. Done!
Why are we still motoring along? Like the sign says: Memories Made Here — both my husband and I are trying to make an environment that our grandchildren will remember with happiness.
What Doesn’t Belong In This Room Challenge
This past week I decided to make a game out of what I have left to do. I call it the What Doesn’t Belong In This Room Challenge. I picked the easiest rooms first — the bathroom and our bedroom. By easiest, I mean that the room has a basic function that I haven’t really changed. This won’t be the same for everyone. I realize that our lifestyle’s are different and that a single room can serve as an environment for several activities, particularly if you live in a small space, or share a house or apartment with someone (or many someones). For years my desk area squatted in my bedroom because it was the only place to put it where my work wouldn’t be touched by errant fingers and where I could shut the door for peace and quiet. In those days, my husband sat outside the door on many occasions to keep family members from constantly interrupting me while I was writing. (No kidding.) As time moves forward, room functions change. Eventually, I was able to move my writing area out of the bedroom and into its own room, although this room revolved around the house to meet the needs of the growing children. Now, the bedroom is just that — a bedroom, and my packed craft room is where I write. Yeah, I know…I’m working on that. Sigh. Which is why I decided to do the minimal function rooms first. That way I can feel like I accomplished something quickly and have more energy for the craft room (when I get to it).
The What Doesn’t Belong Challenge is easy. You just stand in the center of the room and visually look at the room with your mind on its function for you. Ask yourself this question: What doesn’t belong here? Take your time with the answer. There is no right or wrong — there is just an issue of do you want to change the environment to make life easier for yourself? That’s all.
At this point, you may wish to change a function of the room. For example, if your bedroom is serving as a hobby room as well, you might want to go through all of your hobby things, clean out the clutter, sell what you won’t be using any time soon, and toss stuff no one will want. After you’ve cut down the amount of stuff, you may decide that you can actually utilize another area of your living space that might be easier to access, or more private, or whatever…and remove the hobby items altogether from their current area. That’s entirely up to you.
The sticking point I’ve noticed here is that once you set up a room for a function (or multiple functions) the amount of stuff can be so overwhelming that your brain rails against the thought of shifting it to another area. I know this from experience. When you hit this mental glitch you want to stop before you get started. Don’t let yourself be thrown under the bus by your own brain! My craft room has actually, at one time or another, occupied five different rooms in the house. First it was downstairs. Then it was upstairs. Then over to another room, then expanded into a different room. Then it moved downstairs again. Every time I had to move the vast amount of stuff I balked. Take this type of challenge one step at a time. Clear the clutter. Clean the area. Throw away stuff. Take it a day at a time until you plow through it.
In our case, some of the functional moves (shifting stuff from one room to another) were to placate a crotchety family member, which just made everything worse. An emotionally forced move charges everything with negative glop and leaves a slimy film that can last for years if you aren’t careful. There’s nothing like feeling that your stuff has no respect due to the behavior of a family member. It is wounding, there is no doubt about it. Should you find yourself in this position (and I realize we’re slightly off topic here) look for the positive opportunities presented with the move. They are always there, you just have to look past the hurt to see them. Take the great opportunity to completely cleanse and clear both areas (where you moved it from and where you move the things to) which can actually energize the environment in positive ways and help to dissipate some of the original emotional garbage that forced the move in the first place.
Back on topic! By moving things around generated by your own choice, you are already adding healthy energy to the chi of the environment. Once you’ve cleared out the room, take the challenge again. Breathe deeply, close your eyes and “feel” the room. Do you have any negative emotions or… is it all good? Open your eyes and do the visual test again. Look for what doesn’t belong. What objects seem to be disrupting the energy of the room? Why? Can you move them? Get rid of them? Make your changes accordingly, then cleanse the room with incense, holy water, prayer, etc. Whatever you like best to make an area sacred. Then, do the test one more time. At this point, you should feel content and relaxed. If you don’t, something is still out of place. If you can’t put your fingers on it right away, walk out of the room and let it set for twenty-four hours, then try the test again by closing your eyes and “feeling” the room. You’ll probably be able to pick out immediately what no longer belongs there.
When I did this in the dining room I couldn’t figure out why one area seemed to be so heavy. I realized (finally) that I hadn’t cleaned out the deacon’s bench in over a year. I just never thought to open it because we use it to sit on all the time. It is amazing what can weight down a room!
Five Minute Bedtime Clean-up Routine
I’ve kept up the five-minute walk-through routine right before bed, where I roam around the house and pick up anything out of place, maybe start the dish washer if it wasn’t running already, put the leashes for the dogs on the hook, hang up winter coats and hats we’ve used as the day progressed…flap hand…yada yada. I even made a Crap Catcher Basket for this purpose, which I also use throughout the day. The highly decorated basket (hey, gotta make it fun) sets in the most used room of the house. During the day, as things begin to clutter, I put objects that belong in other rooms in the basket. As I move from room to room, I take the basket with me and put these objects away. At the end of the day I grab anything else that wandered where it shouldn’t and walk around the house with the basket, putting things from the basket where they belong. My goal right before I go to sleep is an empty basket!
This doesn’t mean that everything goes where it is supposed to. I still have those two drawers in the dining room that manage to fill up with junk. The difference is that I clean those particular drawers every few days now, rather than every few months. My biggest troublemakers are hair clips, earrings, receipts and mail. I’ll get there!
My Goals For This Month
So far, my goals for this month included keeping the program going with projects that couldn’t be done short-term in the month of December. Last year and this year I wasn’t able to finish the basement or my oldest son’s room. Just not enough time, and when I did think about it after the thirty-day program ended, I was doing something else. Those areas continued to sit and fester for an entire year. I decided I didn’t want this to happen again, and with the additional time we’ve finished my son’s room and made a huge dent in the basement clutter.
My second goal was to entertain at least once a week. By inviting your friends and family over for various activities, you are forced to keep the clutter at bay. Normally, in the months of January through March, entertainment here ceased. Bad weather, single digit temps, and a desire to recover from the holidays usually brought on a hermit-like existence. Not this year. I decided to return quickly to our normal schedule of Crochet Night and Healing Circle Night, which helped to chase away those winter blues and keep the de-cluttering projects on track.
My third goal involved finishing those little things that I just kept passing over. Bagging up those herbs I mentioned earlier involved one of those tasks. I just kept walking by them and thinking “tomorrow” — which never happened for four months. I could have just tossed them; but, after I put in all the effort to grow them, I felt it would be a stupid waste not to finish the final stage of separating leaves from stems and bagging up the remainder. Granted, I gave much of the harvest away to friends in September and sold a few of my mixtures on Etsy, so I felt I’d already gotten mileage out of my efforts — still, I just hated to see something that could still be useful headed to the trash. I told myself — “Either you finish this today, or you trash it. Your choice.”
I finished it.
Another one of these small goals involved the selling of the rubber stamps I wrote about in the last blog. I wasn’t using them and didn’t want to throw them, so I put them up for auction on E-Bay with 25% of the sales going to a Wounded Warrior program. Last Saturday my daughter-in-law and I stood outside in the frigid cold and arranged the stamps on the picnic table so we could get natural light pictures. Then we boxed them and put them in the craft room.
Yeah. I know. But, they’re just there temporarily.
I wrote a quick listing and put the stamps up for auction. This turned out very well. Five of the auctions have successfully closed and there are six yet to finish at the writing of this article. By the end of this week all those stamps will be gone! Done! Done! Done!
My fourth goal? I’ll write about that one next week! Keep me posted on how you are doing. If you have any ideas to help others, please write and let us all know!