I believe that often books come into our lives at a time for a reason. A friend compiled a great list of books for me to read throughout our summer away. After enjoying one of the books I recommended to her, she started following the author’s blog. That author had a promo of a free kindle download of another author’s book, which my friend mentioned to me. I downloaded the book, googled the author, and found her website.

Twisty-winding its way to me, the best result of this book download discovery was the author’s website. Hannah Keeley is a motivator. I signed up for her “30-Day Purge” and after just one week I am so glad!

I don’t qualify as an Organized Woman. Now and again I stumble upon a system that works for me, at least until something throws a wrench in it (and “something” can be as simple as one of the guys dumping a load of papers on my desk – the overwhelming nature of having to sort paper creates a system wrench, not to mention the wrench it generates in my gut…). But I also know that my lack of organization drags me down. I lose things I want, I can’t find things when I need them… Being disorganized takes time when I least to have time to spare.

Hannah has divided the home into “zones” and Zone 1 is the kitchen, the focus of Week 1. Each day I received an email with instructions to declutter/clean one specific area of the kitchen and tips for how to go about it. Hannah recommends setting aside one hour each day, but it didn’t take that much time. And it was fairly easy to build the work into other work – as I extracted ingredients for dinner, I did a clean sweep of the fridge; while a pot simmered, I tackled the spice drawer. One day I thought I might not have the energy, but I caught a burst when I was prepping the coffee pot for the morning.

I didn’t do it perfectly, but I did well enough. I took baby steps. More than once I left a piece of the assignment for the next day. I haven’t yet mustered the courage to excavate the under-sink cabinet, and the cupboards will require Guy’s assistance – after all, some of the clutter is rightfully his. (The first fight we had after our wedding: where to put things in the kitchen. We each thought we had primary domain in that one small room…).

It surprised me how starting and completing one small task could give me such satisfaction. We’ve lived in this house for six years and I had a) no idea how many crumbs had accumulated in the bottom of the freezer (seriously, how do crumbs end up in the freezer?) and b) no idea how to get the freezer pan out (Guy happily helped – of course he did, I was doing the real work!). Maybe that little bit of organization isn’t revolutionary, but it did make dinner prep faster and shopping less expensive – I knew exactly what I had on hand and where to find it.

And I feel freer. I can give myself grace for disorganization in that area because I have reorganized this area; that area will have its time. One assignment at a time, I am heading in the right direction.

This afternoon Tween opened a drawer that had been the “junk” drawer of junk food, all the leftover treats from every holiday and birthday party, the stuff I won’t eat but mysteriously won’t throw out. But really, no one needs candy from last Christmas or even Easter. It’s almost Halloween, for crying out loud! Anyway, Tween was shocked but, even better, he didn’t complain that I’d thrown out the junk. I had kept a few recent treats and he happily helped himself to a not-gunky-because-it’s-so-old lollipop.

Gretchen Rubin attacked clutter as one of her January tasks when she first began The Happiness Project. She couldn’t find any research to back up the popular belief that organization boosts happiness, but just look at the success of The Container Store or Real Simple magazine: at least in the good ol’ USA, people seem to crave an uncluttered life. And it’s difficult to achieve and sustain. [I just discovered that Gretchen also has decluttering projects on her website; maybe Purge Part 2…?]

So my small attempts at organization this week have been a miracle in my mundane. And they have me thinking: what else do I need to purge from my life? Besides the clutter, what else holds me back? And what small steps can I take to tackle it?

Three times this year I’ve done a three-day food-based cleanse. The first time I was thrilled to lose five pounds. The next two times I was disappointed to only lose two. But then I realized that comparing one experience to the other was the problem. After all, I’d lost two pounds in three days – not bad! A cleanse is really a purge for your diet. The cleanse rebooted my physical system and upped my commitment to healthy eating. I don’t know that I could eat like that all the time, but it was a good discipline.

I have 21 days left of this purge experiment. I already anticipate that, like the diet cleanse, I will need to repeat the process and probably more than once. But my new commitment is to purge the clutter while I ponder the question: what holds me back?


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