Saturday, May 7, 2011

Thoughts While Spackling, or Why Sentimental "Stuff" Doesn't Make or Break Our Connections

Sentimental clutter is the most insidious form of clutter. We hang on to items because seeing them, touching them, or just knowing they are somewhere where we can access them, makes us feel connected to a specific moment in time or a specific person or feeling. And yet, these items rarely serve any true function in our lives. Instead they trick us into keeping them, because we're afraid that by getting rid of the item, we might lose that feeling or memory.

But today, as I was spackling our walls as part of our linen closet install, I began to muse about memories and moments and came to realize that something as simple as spackling a wall can make you feel connected to someone you miss.

When I was 12 years old, I lost my mom to cancer. Some 20-odd years later I still miss her in a very real, very deep way. Yet at the same time, I know she's often with me and we're able to connect in the oddest of moments. One of those moments came to me today as I was spackling.

You see, my mother LOVED home improvement projects. Aubuchon Hardware store in Essex Jct., VT was just about her favorite place in the world (that was where she requested to be taken after learning her cancer was, in fact, terminal). She truly enjoyed things that most of us do not, like hanging drywall and spackling. So whenever I'm working with tools, I always feel a bond with her. It is as though we're hanging out together in that moment. I spackle a wall, and suddenly she is there with me.

Which brings me to my point. We tend to hang on to what amounts to junk and clutter, because we're afraid of losing that connection, yet that connection will ALWAYS be there, whether the stuff is or not. The moments when I most clearly remember my mom are not when I pick up something that was hers (I actually don't have that many items, aside from photos), but when I do something that she would've enjoyed, or that was her "thing." Sometimes you have to just separate the person from the object and think "does having this TRULY enhance my life?" I think even sentimental objects must be put to the "is this beautiful? is this useful" test, just like the rest of our stuff. If they aren't, then they should go. If they are, they should stay.

And for me, I just need to open up a bucket of spackle and I'm golden! :)

Thursday, May 5, 2011

I Confess

I'm writing a little confession. In one of the organizing books I read, it recommended you look at your house and think "If Oprah and her camera crew showed up at my house right now, would I let them in and not be embarassed by the state of my house?"

Right now, I'd make Lady O stay on my front porch.

My house is a wreck and I'm just too tired to deal with it. In case you guys are envisioning that I live in a perfectly organized and neat house, I do not. Right now my house looks like a bomb went off in it. Tomorrow is my last day of work-- my maternity leave starts Monday-- so I'm seriously putting off cleaning & organizing until then. I tried to do some cleaning this weekend, but with Little Man hanging around, it is two steps forward, three steps back in the cleaning process. Plus, it doesn't help that I get winded easily these days, so I have to sit and rest in the middle of a lot of my cleaning tasks. I'm hoping that I can send Little Man over to his grandma's house one day next week and get the house back in mint, "people are going to be coming over to see my house because of the new baby" shape!

Let's just hope Maverick doesn't decide to come early!