I can’t remember exactly when I first felt the urge to purge. Maybe I was trying to find someone’s phone number in the Mt. Everest of paper piles. Or maybe it’s when I first got interested in Feng Shui 10 years ago. Whatever it was, the challenge and satisfaction of organizing has been a constant revelation. Always a big relief.
The ridiculous part is how long it’s taken. You think you’re done, but then you see something else that hasn’t been used in two years. Last year you couldn’t part with it, this year you can’t wait to give it away. Magically, attachment disappeared. I swear, clutter breeds overnight, multiplying to the extent of the walls. Of course you have to keep what’s dear to your heart, but you do have to be a little ruthless to make headway. By now, re-evaluating the drawers, closets, cupboards and bookshelves of my home is like radar kicking in.
Ironically, my small collection of Feng Shui books might be on the chopping block soon. I’m finally ready to part with some of my favorite books to share these solutions with other overwhelmed souls.
This image is my latest redo and it’s brilliant. I got tired of pushing through tubes of this and that to get my comb or my earrings every morning, so now all these “essentials” are on the wall instead of piled on the counter. The scarf in the corner is to clean glasses every day. I’m a fan of convenience but, apparently, obsessed with moisturizers!!!
The favorite TV watching around here is documentaries about how other cultures live. Last night’s Netflix find, “Hunters of the South Seas” took us to a tiny island community in a remote part of the Pacific where yams are their currency. If a man didn’t grow yams, well, times got tough. The stark reality of all my stuff flashes red every time I watch these simple lives. My local charity Vina Moses — a regular looking thrift store but everything’s free — is no doubt falling in love with me. Traveling to these places, from my living room, keeps my possessions from possessing me.
Every day I walk by homes in my neighborhood and imagine what could be in all those garages. It’s certainly not vehicles because they are all parked “in front” of the doors instead of behind them. The word “garage” is actually another word for “self-storage unit”. Personally, I hate cold cars and icy windshields, so making sure my car is cozy inside has always been priority #1.
Occasionally I’m lucky enough to get a glimpse inside one of these storage units. Now, I know homes aren’t set up to accommodate bikes and saws and tents and such but, oh, the crap I see. Mostly stuff the family used to use, but it was easier to shove it out the back door and just forget about it. A variation of “sweeping dirt under the rug”. Out of sight, and all that.
I grew up in San Francisco suburbia and have lived on the Northwest coast ever since. I’ve always had shelter, flushing toilets, light fixtures and plenty of food. These opposite cultures inspire me, and it never fails. I wake up the next day searching for five more things to subtract from my life.
There is no doubt in my mind, keeping life simple is simply an easier way to live. And another Netflix series, Tidying Up, comfirms it. Marie Condo, author of Spark Joy, gently guides families through the process of organizing their homes. Watch this a few times and you’ll know there’s good reason for the acronym KIS. Or the embellished version I’ve seen, KISS (Keep it Simple, Stupid).