It’s been a month now since I decluttered the office, after reading the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up (read about the adventure here). And the title of the book is true. It has changed me.
Before I tidied the office, it could at times seem clean. But it was very full. And it seemed to take a great effort, emotionally and physically to keep it neat. It was difficult to dust because there were so many knicknacks. Things were organized but still piled quite high, many of the boxes that stored my craft supplies couldn’t close properly, and I was constantly rearranging things looking for a better use of space that never seemed to emerge.
Now the office looks empty by comparison. There is a “desk” on one wall that is actually an antique sewing table. On it sits my laptop. Behind it, on the window sill, is a small green succulent in a glass bowl. Beyond that, the neighbour’s apple tree fills the view with colour. To either side of my desk is a simple, five-shelf bookcase. Before, my bookcases were overflowing. Now, they display only those things that bring joy to my life. Their shelves hold artefacts and tools of the hobbies I love, the activities that define me – writing, sewing, knitting, hiking – as well as souvenirs that speak to my heart.
Against another wall, there is a loveseat and above it a dry-erase map of the world on which Soldier Boy and I plan our adventures. Along the third wall, there is a laundry hamper, an antique cheese box filled with my favourite yarn and an antique honey maple dresser that is filled only with clothes that I love and make me feel like a rock star. (I’ll be honest, by modern standards, I don’t own many clothes anymore. But I never get the urge to go shopping because I absolutely LOVE the clothes I have.) The fourth wall has three small cycling and hiking packs hanging on it. A daily reminder to myself of two of my hobbies that make me feel the most free and strong. A chest filled with the clothing I wear when enjoying the outdoors (mostly technical gear with an ice axe, crampons and handwarmers thrown in. And a small wall closet half full of more clothes I adore. On the floor? Nothing. That’s right. NOTHING.
Now for some of you, having a floor with nothing on it is quite simple. Because you are organization ninjas. This is not me. My house always looks well-lived in.
But now, it’s different. It still looks well-lived in. But the difference is that now every single thing I look at makes me happy.
Imagine the freedom of walking into a room that is both very tidy and contains only the thing you love. Imagine how light you would feel. Imagine how welcoming the room would be. Imagine how happy you would be every time you walked into that room. That is how I feel when I walk in there.
The mood in this room is now joyful and sunshiney. It is open and welcoming. When the mess in the rest of the house is too much, I retreat to this fresh space where my mind is not cluttered with the visual noise of stuff.
Have you ever noticed how loud and demanding “stuff” can be? Constantly wanting me to look at it, care for it, give the appropritae amount of affection to each piece, which is impossible because there is so much of it. Though I never would have been able to articulate it at the time, my stuff was crowding me, hounding me, constantly in my face. Sometimes when my stuff got out of control, it screamed at me like a child having a temper tantrum. Maybe it wasn’t the stuff screaming. Maybe it was the house screaming out in frustration, that it had had enough of being overstuffed, undercleaned and perpetually mismanaged.
I felt like I was drowning in it. I could never relax in it. I always felt like I was fighting a losing battle for control.
It sounds overly dramatic, doesn’t it? Well, one never really understands the impact of something when one is in the midst of it. I know this now because I can actually feel the difference when I walk from an untidy space in the house to my office.
I can breathe.
I don’t know how but I have more energy in the day. I still drag myself our of bed in the mornings but after I get my coffee and I head up to the office, I snuggle into a cozy blaket on the loveseat and start my day in the peace of this calm, uncluttered sanctuary.
Now when I’m out and see something that I might consider buying, I have a better idea of whether it truly speaks to my heart and whether it actually fits into my new space. Before, I might have bought it anyway. Now, very few items make the cut. Not to mention, how easy and quick it is to clean the new office. What used to take an hour takes mere minutes now, freeing up more time to do more of the things I love.
Now that I’ve felt the transformation, I can never go back. Now that I’ve experienced the clutter-free calm of the office, I have seen how everything else becomes clearer – my thoughts, my ideas and my emotions. I can see what is really important in my life because whenever I am in that space, I am surrounded by ONLY those things that are important to me.
I’ve gotten rid of a lot of things that were very difficult for me to get rid of emotionally – souvenirs, momentos and photos. But having done that, I have a better understanding of who I am now as a person. I’m now better equipped to make choices and decisions based on what I value the most.
If you’ve gone through a de-cluttering experience, how has it changed you?
One thought on “The Aftermath of Tidying Up”
Love this and three cheers for sticking to your guns about not accepting things that don’t truly make you happy. We are still working on our house and it is a slow job because of all the years. Keep up the amazing work.