Zen and the Green Art of Decluttering

Hilltown Families Contributing Writer

Give Me a Break

There is a saying that says something along the lines of, “If you want to see what’s going on inside someone’s head just look inside their drawers.” And this weekend as we were preparing to head out of town and stress levels were running high because we couldn’t find flip-flops, bathing suits, towels, sweatshirts, DS chargers, etc. … I knew it was time to look inside mine: my drawers, my closets, my laundry room.

One look around the house and I began to get restless. I couldn’t concentrate and I couldn’t get organized. My mind was cluttered and so was my house. I had been blaming my constant anxiety on our family’s state of greenness (see my last post), but in retrospect I think the state of my house was the culprit.

All these months of focusing on living a more environmentally friendly life, as well as running kids to soccer and baseball games, working my editorial job, helping with school projects, freelance writing and life in general had left no time to focus on our house and our family was paying the price.

We were leaving in 15 minutes, we weren’t packed because we couldn’t find anything and I was beginning to hyperventilate. I knew a trip to the shore would relieve me of that stress, but I still had to return. Something had to give.

So I did want any mother would do with a house (and mind) in the sad, desperate shape that mine was in: I threw the half-packed bags in the car (kids are resilient) and sent my husband and three kids off to his brother’s house in Connecticut without me for TWO DAYS.

Cue the beam of light and angels singing … Ahhhhhhhhhhh!

OK their might have been a small ulterior motive to staying home besides digging my way out of the heaps of clutter. My sister was in town with my 7-month-old niece (so cute) and I was definitely in need of some downtime (I don’t think I had taken a day for myself to just “chelax” since September). So I waved goodbye, shed a few tears (Ah the GUILT) and I headed off to the lake, played with my niece, ate lunch and came home and took a nap. Can you say heaven?

I even watched a girlie flick that first night with no interruptions or eye-rolling and side comments from my husband.

But then Day #2 arrived and the real work began. I headed to the laundry room and began to weed my way through the mountain of clothes. Did I mention I hate laundry? I separated. I washed. I folded and still that pile remained knee-deep. I could say that, being in the midst of our quest for green, our lack of washing was an extremely lame attempt to conserve water, but this was not the case.

Sports uniforms, the missing bathing suits and sweatshirts, the T-shirts I had already washed and folded not too long ago all lay before me in a giant smelly heap begging to be released of the dirt and grime. It tried to suck me in and divert me from the task at hand, but I persevered. I refused to quit. That laundry was one piece of the puzzle that when completed would resemble my long-lost sanity, and nothing was going to stop me from getting it back.

Then I moved into the guest bedroom where my husband had been dumping the clean laundry for the past month and folding about a quarter of everything he put there. I made a pile for things that didn’t fit anymore or that no one would wear. I put away winter sweaters and turtlenecks until next year and miraculously I began to feel a little less agitated.

Next I tackled the closets. And again I separated the piles. One bag of shoes and two bags of winter coats later I felt victorious. My house was beginning to mirror the calmness I was beginning to feel inside.

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