Realizations reached through cleaning

bookshelves

The bookshelves I’ve already purged. Yay, progress!

As I’ve been cleaning my office over the last week or so, I’ve realized that I have a lot of stuff. Some of it is really cool stuff that I’d completely forgotten about because it was hidden behind other less cool stuff that I felt obligated to keep even though I never used it. Like a cigar box with beautiful graphics inside. Bakelite jewelry. Fantastic vintage magazines I’d forgotten about. I have cool stuff in here.

And junk. Lots and lots of junk.

I feel obligated to keep things people give me, even if they’re not quite my taste.

I’m realizing this is stupid. If I don’t love something, why should I keep it? Especially when I could release it out in the wild where there’s a greater chance it will end up with someone who DOES love and want it?

So far, I’ve removed several large bags of books from my office. I’ve also recycled the contents of seven three-ring binders. I’m not going to teach again, so why should I hang onto all my old teaching notes? I’ll take the books to the faculty office at the school where I used to work so they can find new homes. I will keep the binders, however, because I LOVE three-ring binders. It’s kind of a sickness. But I will take them to work and use them there.

I’m moving photo albums I never look at to a place where I will be able to retrieve them if I DO want to see them, but they’re not taking up valuable real estate in my office, where I should be surrounded by the things that will inspire me in my daily life. I’m trying to make my office reflect my best self…creative, organized, resourceful, and efficient, yet quirky and fun. Because I am definitely quirky and fun.

I’m keeping old pieces of writing. When I started looking for jobs in 2010, I gathered a ton of magazine articles and brochures and other marketing copy I had written so I could use it in my portfolio. Going through those samples of my work showed my progress as a writer–even though I’ll never use some of those pieces in a portfolio again, I like having that yardstick to see how I’ve grown. I may go through and winnow the collection, so I only have duplicates of my best work. I may not.

I may wait until after I’ve finished tearing apart the closet in here (which unfortunately serves as our linen closet, since we don’t have one anywhere else in the house) and reorganizing behind the eaves so I can make more productive use of that space. After I’ve built shelves for my compact collection, because they’re MY compacts, and why the heck should my husband have to deal with shelves when I’m perfectly capable of creating beautifully mitered edges as a result of working in a mall picture frame store for years?  After I’ve reupholstered the gorgeous vintage slipper chair that’s been sitting in my garage for years in the aftermath of an unfortunate cat pee incident. After I’ve gotten rid of the papasan that takes up far too much space and isn’t even really that comfortable any more.

I’m realizing I have plans for this space. And I can make this happen. I can let go of the unwanted to make room for the things I really do want. I’m on a roll. It’s a good thing, because I still have a long way to go.

argh.

Some of the stuff I still have to sift through.

more stuff

More things I still have to deal with.

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3 comments

  1. Thanks for this motivating post! I’m also working on cleaning out and setting up my new office and I’m feeling extra ready to tackle it in the morning! Love your blog – keep it up!

  2. When I was sorting all my stuff when it came to moving to the states I started becoming really thorough with everything. Moving knowing you can’t really take that much with you really makes you question what means things to you. Obviously my compacts, some things from my memory boxes and photographs came with me, but everything I knew I didn’t have that much attachment to or I could replace I gave away. I think we get very use to keeping things just because..

  3. It’s tough, as you know I just did the same thing to my office. I don’t have all those books, thank you Lord! It is such a rewarding feeling once you do accomplish the “PURGE!”

    PS-You can totally return the THOU SHALL NOT OVERWORK sign if you don’t like it to me–I see it propped next to your desk. ha ha! I love that thing. If you don’t, it wont’ hurt my feelings!

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