Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Less is more, part one.

Lately, I have begun to feel overwhelmed by my stuff. It actually has been a long time coming, but now it just seems like every time I am quiet and with my own thoughts the same thing keeps coming up: SIMPLIFY. I grew up in a pile home. By “pile” home, I mean that everything had its place in very neat and orderly piles. There were not piles everywhere in the house, just special places like the guest room or garage. And when the piles began to creep out of their designated places into the rest of the house, they would be promptly picked up and put back as soon as it was time to have guests over (Or when the cleaning lady came. Seriously.Tthe piles were put away for the cleaning lady. I can share this little tid bit without shame because my mother would admit it herself if you asked her. Thank you therapy.).

Anyway, all of my adult life I have struggled with clutter and keeping things in order, which is not a surprise, I am a firm believer that my surroundings almost always reflect the contents of my brain, which up until now has been mostly cluttered craziness [side note: I am not claiming that my bipolar has anything to do with my clutter issues, but I do believe that it does nothing to help the situation. Besides, if that were the case then most of America would be considered bipolar (hello there is more than one TV show exclusively dedicated to hoarders), which may not be too much of a stretch when you think about it…but that is another post entirely. End side note.].

When ever I stand in the middle of all of my stuff (which is in nice little piles, BTW) and get overwhelmed, I can count on the following happening:

  1. While wiping the tears from my face, I decide that I am going to pull it together and have a “cleaning day”, tackling my madness once and for all.
  2. I schedule said day for the closest Saturday that I have nothing to do (which is usually many weeks from that point.)
  3. In anticipation of said Saturday, I make lists and lists. A flow chart even. That will aid me in “cleaning”.
  4. The day finally comes and I totally sleep in (because I had an insane week and am totally exhausted), but no worries, I wake up excited and ready to go. Workout clothes are put on (duh.) and play list appropriately entitled “piles be gone” is played.
  5. Aforementioned lists and flow chart are brought out and taped up in an accessible place with red marker used to triumphantly cross things off (I LOVE crossing things out in red marker, BTW. Sometimes when I make lists, I will include things that I have already done, just so I can cross them off. Seriously. It’s a problem.).
  6. I drag my piles out one by one and what starts out as a reasonable process involving the ever popular “keep, donate, trash” boxes, turns in to a hurricane of clutter everywhere and before I know it hours have gone by and I am going to be late for the dinner plans that I made (because seriously it won’t take me longer than 6 or so hours to clean ALL my madness, right?!) and I am forced to take what is left and put it into piles that will be gone through the very next day.
  7. I go to dinner feeling all accomplished until the “very next day” turns into months later when I am standing in the middle of all my perfectly piled stuff feeling overwhelmed. Queue tears…

This literally happens about once a quarter, give or take a month or 2. It’s a cycle that I have become very comfortable with. Until yesterday when I stumbled upon a blog via a friend’s facebook post (thanks Katja!): Rowdy Kittens. It is amazing. I started reading and I could not stop, one post turned into 10 and then on to other recommended blogs…it was out of hand. The obvious became painfully clear: IF I DID NOT HAVE SO MUCH STUFF THEN THERE WOULD BE NO PILES. IT’S NOT THE PILES. IT’S NOT THE CRAZY. IT’S THE STUFF. HELLO JLA, IT IS SO OBVIOUS!!! (Please excuse the caps lock, sometimes I need to raise my voice at myself).

Do I really need enough makeup to gussy up a fashion show of 25 drag queens (with eyelashes to spare)? Do I really need 45 pairs of shoes (asks she, cringing)? Is it really necessary that I have enough serving patters to cater a party of 25? Am I really going to wear the “I-had-to-have-it-vintage-jewel-encrusted-micro-mini-party-dress-that-I-need-to-loose-10lbs-to-fit-in”? The simple answer is NO, I do not need all of these things…

So now that I have succumbed to the idea that I need to downsize the stuff in order to deal with the pile issue, I need to process. And in the interest of not making this post any longer (thank you for your time and patience), I will leave you with this. It is an excerpt from a post that I read yesterday at the Simple Rabbit Society (you can read the whole post HERE, it is short and sweet, yet powerful.):

“…So I want to challenge you to love the old [things] you have.

Love the holes in your jeans.
Love the fact that your computer takes a little longer to load.
Love the dents in your car.
Love the dents in your table.
Love the dents in your friends.

I’m not saying let things fall into disrepair. I’m asking you to unlearn the constant dissatisfaction we’re taught and exchange that negativity for affection for the things that have been with you for a month, a year, a lifetime.” – Chloe Adeline of the Simple Rabbit Society.

More to come on this revelation. Consider yourself warned.


  1. love it! we are kindred! D gets so frustrated about my 'organized messes' all over the house. I too am an abuser of the piles (hello my name is amber; nice to meet you) and research ways to simplify and get lazy as well! wow!
    hmmm get rid of some STUFF you say??? why didnt I think of that?
    but not the makeup! please keep the makeup! (unless of course it's old, crusty and smells funny)

    always a delight to read your mind......


  2. What to do when one lives with a "Pile Maker"? Please advise....

  3. You aren't alone. Everyone I know has piles, (well, except maybe my friend Stacie because she's like practically perfect in an un-human sort of way. -I really don't like her). Anyway, I struggle with my "pile" too. For me, it's the bills/mail/checkbook. Every month I dread the pile of crap that has built up. Every month I have to gather my will and force myself to go through it all. And every month I give myself the same pep talk. It goes something like this, "This month is going to be different. If I just keep up on my pile daily or weekly, it won't be so overwhelming." I'm really not a good listener to said pep-talk, as just last month I waded through eight months of credit card statements & receipts. (Stick a fork in my eye. Now.)

    As for other clutter issues, I really don't have any. (Or maybe they're just spread out over my four bedroom house and garage. I think I have an unfair advantage over you.)


  4. My comment is this here video...

  5. Love the post. I have my "monica closets" which I clean every so often and have all orerly and neat, you know to where you can open them and nothing falls on you. Then people are coming over and I don't leave enough time to clean the way I want to for guests to come by so I stuff everything in said closets. Then again I need to clean them.

    Today, the day I read your blog, happens to be my designated "clean my Monica closets" day at my home. Funny, huh???

    And BTW my grandma is a neat freak, my mom always joked that she would clean before the maid got there and then when we went to visit her in Massachusetts I witnessed it firsthand. She also told me "If you don't make your bed, by time you get back from breakfast it will be made for you." And somehow my grandma managed to feed my and sneak away to tiddy my room unnoticed by me. I think she may have a clone, I'm just saying.

  6. I was with you right up until the moment when shoes were in peril!!! 45 pairs, oh honey, pleeeeeaseeeeeee.... I have tips on this point if you need them!!

    and HELLO!?!? everybody picks up their piles for the cleaning lady...DUH!!!

    ok, now about the/your/my pile "situation"...
    uh, yeah... I'm looking at the 3rd Saturday in September myself...

  7. you are not alone ... i'm purging my closet this weekend and have the garage the following weekend.

  8. Clutter makes me feel all chaotic too. Controlling clutter makes me feel in control of my life, and when it piles up I feel like I'm getting trapped in a downward spiral until I deal with it. Oh, and in answer to your question regarding the triathlon I'm doing...the LB Triathlon. What about you?

  9. You need a new post my friend! ;o)

    I am so excited that I get to see you at the baby shower this weekend!

    I miss your face!


  10. Between your post and the comments Jenn, this is a great read. It's soo good to know that I'm not alone! Whahoo!!!!!

    This might be a bit existential and a great way of avoiding my own process, but if we all got rid of our junk, would the planet spin lopsided?