As you well know, I am one of those strange birds who is rather fond of organizing and all things tidy. It’s something I tend to do quite often, for it calms me like a good mediation and helps me make space for things that matter. Whether I am making room for creativity, new canning supplies, fresh linens for the beds, time for crafting, summer books, a clear mind, market produce for the counter tops, an hour to read, or just a little extra room to breathe, I enjoy the process of getting things out, and putting things back, with hopes to feel lighter and more like me.
The editing that goes on in the middle of this process is the meat of this game where one sorts and sorts and sorts. Sometimes, the rearranging that goes on during the sorting process can take a bit of time, like when I felt a bit off a few weeks ago and decided that I needed to edit my days. I was spending too much time immersed in things that were admittedly no longer life-giving, like not showering until the evening and comparing myself to strangers on the internet, so I got everything out, sorted it, put some back, and am currently trying to let go of the rest.
And there’s the final part, the letting go bit. If you are someone who happens to harbor guilt for whatever reason be it your Catholic upbringing or the fact that you’re a woman, this might well be the hardest part of the whole shebang. It is for me. At least there’s a place for stuff to go when you no longer need it. but what about the stuff you can not neatly fit into boxes? Like poor social media habits and resentment? I say send it up to God and let Him deal with it. Or at least that’s what I try to do. As for the mismatched dinnerware and tiny baby onesies, those go down the street on the loading dock. Here’s my process. There’s no rush or pace you must follow, but rather a step by step that hopefully will lighten your load and bring freedom to your days.
Step 1: Lay it all out. Start by pulling everything out of drawers, bookshelves, mental compartments, or wherever it is that you are need to edit and refresh. Do one space at a time (any more will overwhelm) and lay it all out somewhere where you can see it. You may need a journal for this part. Depending on where I am organizing, a large tabletop surface works too.
Step 2: Mindfully sort. Make three piles from the large main pile and sort accordingly:
- Purpose: These are the things you need and use. Think practicality, like taking a shower, silverware, a daily walk, or that fitted sheet on your bed. This category is for things that serve a deep purpose in your home and in your heart.
- Joy: This category is very subjective as it contains things that bring you and only you immeasurable joy. These are things that you love and that mean a great deal to you, like the small blue chair that belonged to your great grandmother, prayer in the morning, yoga at sundown, or the beeswax candles you hand-rolled last autumn. If it brings you joy, it very much belongs here.
- Everything Else: This category is for everything else. It’s for things you may like but don’t love, for things you use maybe once a year but sometimes not even that, for things that consume far too much negative energy, for things that are past their expiration date, for things that itch when you wear them, for thing that remind you of that horrible vacation, for books you couldn’t get through, for dresses that are too short or too tight, for unused frames sitting in your basement, and for bad habits you want to crush. Here is where you put everything else. Write them down or set them aside, but give them a space of their own so you can name them, see them, and hopefully soon, get rid of them.
Step 3: Clean up the crumbs. Have you ever emptied your catch all for kitchen utensils and found piles of crumbs and other bits making a home the crevasses and corners? Well, you’re going to see a lot of crumbs after you lay everything out. This step involves wiping down and cleaning out the space where everything else used to live. Light a candle, spray some lavender oil, and infuse good energy into the space you are revitalizing. If you decide to skip this step, you’ll be putting your things back into a dirty home, and that kind of defeats the purpose. If I am doing a mental cleanse or something aside from the tangible, this phase is all about self-care. Cleaning yourself up is integral to this process if you are editing how you spend your days.
Step 4: Put some back. This is the time where you take the top two categories (purpose +joy) and thoughtfully put your things back. I really enjoy this part. Arrange things to your liking and keep simplicity in mind.
Step 5: Let go of the rest. The letting go phase can either be utterly freeing or really, really hard, and sometimes both, but usually not at the same time. When letting go of everything else, be gentle with yourself. Put your foot down and try not to let guilt take over and shame you into holding on a little bit longer. It’s going to try, but you’re stronger. Know that this phase might in fact take as little as a trip down the road to the loading dock of your local thrift store, or the upward of months and possibly years. I don’t have a recipe for speeding the latter up, but I’ve heard prayer helps. If letting go of bad habits like sleeping to late or eating fried foods, try and motivating yourself by swapping other healthier options. If letting go of gifts others have given you but you do not care for or use, know they will find purpose and home elsewhere if you donate. In with the good, out with the bad. And don’t forget to breathe.
I hope this process gives you the encouragement you may need in this season of your life! I am in the middle of two cleanses right now, one at home in my closet, and the other with some habits I am trying to change. Know that whatever the case, you are not alone in any of it.