Sunday, February 12, 2012

Spring Cleaning and a Gravy Boat

It *must* be spring, because I did some spring cleaning today! I'm not sure what came over me; perhaps it was energy from the sunshine. But I dove right into the room that needed it the most.

Don't judge me, my bedroom had become a disaster area. I have this awful habit of letting clutter build in the living room and on the dining room counter, and then when I can't take it anymore or have company coming over (whichever comes first), I toss everything into an empty box and stick it in my bedroom to sort "later." Only, later doesn't come. Thus I had several boxes of random stuff piled in there, along with tons of other things that I had brought upstairs to "work on": photographs, paperwork, clothes that need mending, and things that used to belong to my parents. There was also a huge box of dog-related stuff that has been accumulating, like dock diving bags, various collars and leashes, tracking harnesses, treats, chews, and toys. And of course, piles of (clean) clothes that are too big or too small for me.

I haven't sorted the stuff in my bedroom in a long time. A lot of the emotional stuff is in there, and just like when I had to sort through the office boxes, it can dredge up a lot of feelings and memories. All this stuff... the remnants of the past that I hadn't quite let go of. Yet.

Honestly, I walked in there this afternoon, stood in the middle of the room for about 3 minutes, looked around, and walked back out. Twenty minutes later I went back in, *wanting* to do something, but I just did not know how to start. It was all stuff I *needed* to keep and *couldn't* get rid of... all of it! It had all been sorted a dozen times and never made it to the trash can or the Goodwill box. There were reasons for that.

My teenage son walked in. I started telling him how frustrating it was. "There is SO MUCH STUFF!" I said. "Look at it all, it is stuff I have to keep!" I looked around for an example. "Look at this gravy boat!" I said, grabbing the white piece of ceramic from my dresser. (Yes, I had a gravy boat on my dresser...)

"What is THAT?" he asked.
"When your Dad and I got married, my cousins came down for the reception and they each gave us a piece from this... this... white ceramic, um, collection. I have a big white ceramic bowl in the garage that matches this, it's an octagon, I've never used it! And they gave me a platter thing, and this... this gravy boat and its little gravy boat plate. And what, we have used it three times in 22 years?"
My son smiled. I think he was finding this amusing.
"No, really! In our old house I had a big china cabinet and we had all this stuff in there but now, there is no room for it in the kitchen! And it would just get broken anyway!"
My son laughed, and all of a sudden I saw just how ridiculous it was to be lugging this gravy boat around to various states across the country for 2 decades and keeping it on top of my dresser. We never use it! It's not pretty! And I am not even close to my cousins. For the first time I suddenly did not need to keep that gravy boat anymore.

I kept sorting. I kept dusting and vacuuming and putting stuff in trash bags and Goodwill boxes.
"Look!" I said to my son a half hour later, "these are the candlestick things that go with that gravy boat! See?? Look, they match it!" And my son laughed, and said, "Why?? Why do you have those?" and he was so right, and I laughed because those white ceramic octagonal candlestick holders have sat on top of my bookshelf for more than 15 years because they matched the gravy boat, even though they never have had a candle in them.

Funny the things we hold on to.
Emotional clutter shows itself in our homes, in our lives, on our bodies.

I feel lighter now, and it will be so nice to go to bed in a clutter-free bedroom. I think I will sleep much better tonight.


Forty Pound Sack said...

I do the "box it and sort it later" deal, too, only I put everything in the basement. Later came for me when a pipe burst, the basement flooded, and many of those boxes were lost. The only thing I miss is my box of photos, but the hard lesson is, had they been stored properly I'd still have them.

Big "Go, Lyn!" for facing your clutter =)

Bunpoh said...

What a fantastic post. Thanks for this. I have gone through many stages of letting go of physical and emotional stuff, and I still find myself doing the same. Most of mine is behind a large shoji screen and in a closet, but I know it's there, all the time. You're making me look FORWARD to going through it. :)

PlumPetals said...

Spring cleaning is so cathartic! It's great when you can make that transition to see things that you thought you needed in your life but really don't. I'm sure you'll feel much lighter as you keep getting rid of things! :)

MizFit said...

Man I agree. the clutter here is suddenly overwhelming. and it is very indicative of emotional clutter as well.

Anonymous said...


Vanessa Joy said...

Good for you Lyn on your cleaning progress! I have a gravy boat on my mantle filled with wine corks as a decoration. Husband and I were desparate for a gravy boat in the first year of our marriage and we received three as gifts. I love the lines of a gravy boat. Maybe I'm just an odd duck :)

Diane Fit to the Finish said...

I have a post for Wednesday on the value of organization!! We are on the same wave length. I have stuff like your gravy boat that I "see" but just "ignore" it because I'm just not quite ready to get rid of it!

Becca said...

I love how that simple conversation with your son made you see the light!

I am exactly the opposite with "stuff"...I form no emotional attachment and am constantly "goodwilling" stuff, I probably should keep for atleast a little while. I'm like this because I am VERY aware of how clutter, and "stuff" everywhere messes with me emotionally. It's like it the space around me is full of stuff, I am stressed and feel disorganized. I love the feeling of simplicity in my home. It's decorated, but not with a bunch of nicknacks and inanimate objects.

I do have one box in a spare room of stuff I brought back from my dad's house when we cleaned it out after he passed away 2 years ago... I know I've got some emotions wrapped up in that box, and that's why I won't go through it...but I'll get there.

Proud of you for spring cleaning!!

Judy said...

Oh my gosh I can so relate to this post!! Clutter everywhere!
Now that I'm laid off from my job, and I have some time on my hands I've started the 'decluttering, organizational, dejunking process' that gets slowed down by young ones living with us again. Like everything else in my life, I've been having to use the ol' 'babystep' method.

Leslie said...

You are so right about emotional clutter Lyn - it does manifest in our external surroundings. It is so therapeutic to do that deep sorting, disposing and donating of stuff that has served no purpose in our lives for years other than to clutter our spaces!

I bet you do feel lighter, letting go of some stuff that hopefully signifies deeper letting go of the inner clutter.

Angel said...

I loved the show "Clean Sweep". This is precisely the exercise the organizer would take the people through. They never made them get rid of anything but they challenged them in a tough-love way on "why" they wanted to keep it. Good for you in learning to let go!!!

Jane said...

:) It is funny the things we hang on to. Every so often I go through and throw things out too ... but I am more the type of person that I throw stuff out too quickly, and then years later I think, I WISH I would have kept that!

Jenny said...

Thanks for the motivation, Lyn!