Thursday, January 20, 2011

January Joy Through . . . Cleaning?!

Each January, for many, many years, I have felt this overwhelming desire to deep clean and organize my physical space. For many Januaries, I spent my holiday time visiting my family and returning to a hectic work schedule that did not leave time to purge unnecessary clutter from my life. Each year, I felt disappointed that I had set my intention to take time for myself to get organized and did not act on it.

When my husband and I relocated in 2008, we moved from a townhouse in New Hampshire to an enlarged studio space with an eat-in kitchen and 6x8 foot study in Massachusetts. Our Charlestown space is beautiful and much smaller than we were accustomed to in New Hampshire. Since relocating, my husband, a natural organizer and one who despises clutter, has expertly packed and repacked our closets to fit more things into less space than they once occupied; unloaded items on Craigslist - a brilliant creation of the mass marketplace; and, efficiently de-cluttered his personal possessions to the bare minimum.

Despite my years of longing for time to de-clutter and organize in the way that seems to flow so naturally for my husband, I have spent years fighting what appears to be a never ending tide of clutter and avoiding opportunities to address it. Moving to a smaller space amplified the negative impact this clutter has on my life and forced me to address it. Last January I made progress toward a simpler life when my husband and I spent every January weekend moving things around, cleaning, and removing unnecessary items from our home. Yet, throughout this past year I have continued to feel tangled in my own stuff that oozes out of crevices and bubbles out of drawers constantly calling me to use it or dump it already.

Over the past two weekends, I have truly embraced my long-held desire to de-clutter, simplify, and deep clean my living space. Now, when I open my dresser drawer I feel good knowing that I actually wear everything in it; the antique rocking chair is no longer my I'm-not-done-wearing-this-so-it's-not-dirty-yet clothes hanger, and I feel inspired when I retrieve my art supplies from their newly organized spaces.

I struggled through the deep cleaning process and was thankful for my husband's support and encouragement. I still have a few outstanding de-clutter projects in mind, but I know that the truly hard part of organizing my space and my life is done. Now, I rejoice when I sense my lighter, cleaner, more open physical space and feel freedom in my emotional space to embrace new things that will bring me pleasure. Letting go was hard, but I now recognize that living my life not letting go was far harder.

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