Monday, October 22, 2007

Reclaiming Your Mind One Mess at a Time - Day 1

Ever feel like you're being buried alive in junk? I get that feeling often because I live with four kids and a pack rat, but sometimes taking control of my environment helps me take control of my mind.

(cc) Douglas CooteyMost people traditionally roll up their sleeves and clear out their excess junk once a year when Winter wanes and Spring blooms. I do it whenever I feel like that critter in Labyrinth - the one that lived in the junkyard and carried all her possessions around on her back. Remember her? Watching her walk around on screen was a revelation for me at the time. I have never forgotten her character as a metaphor for my life, usually with projects draped all over me. Whenever I feel bogged down, my life is usually buried with clutter so I get busy removing that clutter. This time, however, I'm busy with homeschool and writing and everything else under the sun I want to accomplish before I turn 41 this December. That's why I decided to attack just one mess at a time per day for a week.

I started with the car mess that was living in the corner of our livingroom by the guitars and beautiful doll hutch - a perfect place for car junk, don't you think? When my Plymouth Voyager gave up the ghost last August we had to replace it in a hurry so we swept everything out and into a box and crammed it all into a temporary corner. Unbelievably, that "temporary" mess was still around a full two months after we purchased the Dodge Caravan. In fact, that mess had started to forward its mail to its new location. How embarrassing. I've turned the postman away twice already.

So I hauled it out, separated it into three piles. Keepers, Maybes, and a very large "Why the heck do I still have this?" pile. I kept in my mind one simple adage:

When in doubt, throw it out

(cc) Douglas CooteyI'm busy; you're busy. Who has time for sorting and filing? Anything broken that you haven't fixed yet but hoped you would when you had more free time is just a lie sitting in a pile with other lies collecting dust. Just get rid of it! And so I did. I bought a $6 storage box at Wal*Mart and placed the Keepers in there, threw out all of the "Why the heck" pile, and even tossed many of the Maybes. I spent about 30 minutes tops. Getting it done quickly was part of my goal, so I raced like a whirlwind through the pile before I had a chance to get distracted.

Of course, I work with my own messes. I don't chuck out my wife's or kids' belongings, though many times I have dreamily stood there in front of the towers of junk and imagined how good that would feel. We can't impose our need for order on others if it involves tossing their belongings. Not without their permission. Fortunately, or unfortunately, I have enough boxes of junk of my own to keep me busy for a week.

(cc) Douglas CooteyIn my mind I thought out how I'd photoblog the whole experience for you to be inspired, but I forgot to take pictures until I was finished. How wonderfully AD/HD of me. At any rate, you can see that the pile is now all neat and organized and my brain sighs in relief instead of feeling like it was just poked with a stick when I look at it. The corner is much less cluttered, or at least it doesn't represent a Checker Auto counter anymore. Today I'll tackle that old camera box in the closet. I bet I can junk the lot of it.

Join me each day and comment here when you finish. Spread the word. Let's get a whole bunch of us filling up landfills across the world*. The trick is to pick a small pile. Don't decide to clean out the garage or attic today. We want to build self-esteem through success, not tear it down through failure. Most of my readers are dealing with Depression, AD/HD, or both so beginning yet another unfinished project brings a lot of emotional baggage. I can handle largish piles of junk, but maybe you get all wobbly in the knees just thinking of yesterday's mail. Start small and congratulate yourself on success. Know your limits, but push to expand them, and always remember to work fast and when in doubt, throw it out.

Day One (Corner of Car Junk)
Day Two (Camera Box)
Day Three (Photo Box from Hell)
Day Four (The Easy Peasy Refrigerator Top)
Day Five (Kitchen Storage Shelves)
Day Six (Studio)
Day Seven (PC Junk Box)

Edited 22 October 2007, Monday, 9:19PM: The teaser pronouns were bugging me.

*Always recycle. Landfills are for cup snakes that save the planet.

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