Yesterday, when I came downstairs in the morning, a beautiful package was sitting in front of the coffee maker. My husband, wanting to surprise me, had left a Valentine’s gift a few days early. He wrote me a note, telling me what a difference he can see in the house since I’ve been working on changing things. This is HUGE – for me anyway, because I’m so goal oriented, and none of my projects has been completed. I am “destination” oriented and this work I’m doing is forcing me to be “journey” oriented. So his encouragement was just that – very encouraging.
In the package was a Kindle. I am, by nature, a saver, not a spender. I rarely buy things for myself, and so I did what any sensible woman would do when being given a gift she didn’t expect. I burst into tears. I was filled with the overwhelming sense of how wonderful my husband is – giving me something so unnecessary, but which he knew I’d enjoy immensely, just because he loves me and is proud of what I’m doing. I only cried for a few moments, and I’m sure it would have been ridiculous to watch, but thankfully I was alone.
So the picture is perfect. It shows what I’ve been doing (the out-of-focus picture of my Kindle) and inadvertently, what actually is in focus is the mess on my desk. You can even see the stains on the papers where I spilled my coffee yesterday because I haven’t yet sorted through them to decide what to do with them. This is a picture of my life these days. Even when I’m trying to ignore the mess, it rears up and says, “Ahem – excuse me – I need to be dealt with.”
I’ve mentioned before that paper is the bane of my life. My “to shred” pile threatens to come to life and devour me. And so, I practice a very refined form of denial. In fact, as I write this there is currently a box of papers, waiting to be dealt with – UNDER MY BED! I pushed it under there so I wouldn’t have to look at it. This is sad, but true. However, there is also a pile of papers on a square table in my kitchen, next to the shredder and trashcan, where I sat for several minutes yesterday shredding, throwing and filing. I am slowly, but surely working on the backlog of paper (just as I’m working on, and have nearly eliminated, the backlog of laundry). Since I’ve added “dealing with mail” to the 10-minute tidy, this pile of paper will not grow.
I hate every minute of fighting the paper. I can’t explain this but I’m sure there’s some deep psychological meaning to it. However, although the exercise is hateful, I do feel a sense of victory as I see the pile disappear. And when it’s gone, it will be gone forever because I’m implementing a system to deal with it on a daily basis. And when the laundry backlog is gone, it too will be gone forever, because I’ve started a system there as well (sorting as we go and washing one load each day, if necessary).
And so, each day, I deal with the nitty-gritty of sorting and deciding. I throw, or give, or store, or put away (or shred or file or wash) each thing I turn my focus to for the day. After just over a month of this, I am beginning to feel the choking sensation subside. I can breathe. There is slightly less chaos, slightly more order. The balance of peace to stress is tipping just ever so slightly toward peace. And this small measure of success makes me feel empowered. I will defeat the Clutter Monster. One day in the not too distant future, it will lie dead at my feet.