I never make New Years Resolutions. I feel like they are negative in two ways: First, the act of making them implies there is something deeply wrong with the way we've been doing things, and Second, they set us up to fail when we can't manage to change ourselves at some cellular level. No, thank you. I'd rather believe that I'm taking stock of my choices more often than once a year, and then set lofty goals at least that many times, too.
If your dreams don't scare you, they aren't big enough. - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
But this year, I accidentally made a kind of resolution, in that I issued myself a challenge, which happened on our about January 1.
It all started with The Bins. The Rockstars (not) who built my kitchen failed to add any cabinets to an entire wall. Which means that not only is there no work surface over there, there is no place to store any of the crap that goes in a kitchen. Like food. And storage bags. And just, well, kitcheny stuff. So nine years ago, when we moved in, I hacked a "temporary" solution:
Shelves from Target, a repurposed toy box, and a gazillion wooden bins from the clearance aisle (which were pink and purple when I bought them...gag). It works marginally well, as long as I don't try to re-label any bins from what they used to be, because it turns out my family can't read chalk. The main problem is that open shelves and bins are, um, open. And lots of nasty airborne gunk from the kitchen lands in them every day. Long story short: There I was on Boxing Day, T minus 3 hours from the big party, de-gunking the inside of every single bin. You know how parties always end up in the kitchen? I just couldn't risk having a party guest see the bottoms of my bins. Spaz much? Epic.
So big and disgusting and time-consuming was the de-barfifying of The Bins that it got my wheels turning. See, every nook and cranny of my house (and I bet yours, too) has a box, basket, shelf or drawer in it. And every one of those probably requires attention.
But rather than allow myself another hysterical dirt-purge, I decided to issue myself a challenge, instead.
I'm going to see if I can clean out a drawer, basket, shelf, or other nook every single day of 2015. So far, it's really easy - there are so many to choose from! Want to join me? Here are the rules:
1. Pick a drawer, any drawer. No obsessing about where, when or how; no master-planning or list-making, or project management. Just grab some container and give it hell. Could be a pencil cup or the whole coat closet - match the job to your level of enthusiasm.
2. Set a timer for 15 minutes. Otherwise you'll (I'll) obsess over every ball of lint you (I) discover. The idea is to work fast and be ruthless. When the timer goes off, set it for 15 more minutes and knit. Repeat alternating between working and playing until the container is purged. So far, I haven't purged anything that took longer than 2 repeats.
3. Take everything out of the container and dust/dump/vacuum it out. Then make three piles: Throw Away, Give Away, Keep. You know how this works. Just grit your teeth and remind yourself you can do anything for 15 minutes. And when you're done, you get to knit.
4. Put back everything you're keeping, in some sort of rough order (again, no obsessing). Throw out the actual garbage, and put the giveaways into a box destined for charity, as soon as it is full.
5. Only one project per day! It feels so great to free myself of stuff that's been dragging me down that I find it really hard not to take on more than I should. But the point is not to spend any more time and energy than is necessary each day, so I'm only doing one at a time.
Here's the drawer I picked today. Middle one in my bathroom. Can't see/find/remember anything in there. It won't open all the way in this photo because there is a logjam at the back. What I learned:
1. I can declare amnesty for myself and release the following into the void: Bad cosmetic purchases, things other people gave me, and broken things I haven't fixed yet.
2. I may have a hand lotion problem. No fewer than 17 different products were found in this drawer, many of which I know do not actually work.
3. Hair accessories are not eternal. It's okay to free myself of the "Bump-It", the sparkly barrettes Lindsay loved when she was three, and the ponytail elastics that have lost their snap.
While there's still a lot here, I can now see the bottom of the drawer, and I have pertinent information about this drawer, going forward; i.e., No, you don't need any more hand lotion.
And here is what I tossed. Fully 1/3 of the drawer's former contents. Things which were actually keeping it from closing properly on the first try. Stuff that made me sad because it reminded me of mistakes or excesses. Ballast my ship does not need.
Is it possible that 1/3 of my whole house needs to be jettisoned? Maybe so. I'll let you know.
Join me! Let's show off our drawers! And of course, tell me how it goes in the comments!