My wonderful teacher, Noreen McDonald (please see her web site at http://noreenmcdonald.com) has a great saying when it comes to organization and decluttering the house: “Don’t put it down–put it away!” In other words, if you’re using the kitchen scissors, put them back where you found them. If you’re folding the laundry, put it all away–don’t leave stacks of clothes on beds, etc. If you’re cooking, clean up as you go–put each container and utensil (cleaned first, of course) back where it belongs. Following through on this simple statement will quite literally keep you sane. Everything in its place; done and done. No mess, no clutter, no wandering around the house saying, ‘where in the hell did my <insert whatever you like here> go?’ No ranting about who left what where and why in the frickety-frack didn’t they put it away. Sounds easy, right? Doesn’t it sound like the start of perfect organization and harmony in the home?
Well, here’s the thing: often we humans have the very best intentions but just can’t seem to make that jump to rounding up all our crap and either tossing it or organizing it. What happens then? I’ll tell you what happens: you’ll have a house like mine. Regular readers of Luluopolis will know that my husband (AKA the Crankee Yankee) is a fine carpenter, gardener, Mr. Fixit, cat lover and all around good guy. Readers will also know that he is restoring and repairing (and improving) our circa 1957 home on his own, and we pay as we go. This means that often there IS no place for much of our stuff. Oh, we know where it will be going once the repairs are done, but for now it means we regularly step over and around boxes and stacks of stuff that don’t have a real place yet.
Add to that the fact that the Crankee Yankee is a magnet for stuff other people don’t want or can’t use, also he is an unabashed dumpster-diver. I nearly have to carry a rolled-up newspaper around to smack him on the nose and say “NO!” when we see a “FREE” sign. His premise is that this/that/the other thing will be useful sometime in the future. Don’t get me wrong, we have been the beneficiaries of a lot of stuff that we actually DO use. But as for the rest, let’s just say that we are overfull of stuff that is too good to throw out but that is taking up a lot of space NOW.
I have to admit here that I am no angel of organization, either. I am guilty of stacking papers I fully intend to organize into neat folders in our overstuffed file cabinets. I make jewelry, and my supplies are confined to several dozen bead boxes, baskets, plastic containers, three shelves and an entire drafting table. Each time I go looking for something I ask myself why I don’t just spend a day or two (well, let’s be honest–it would take at least a WEEK) and whip my craft area into shape once and for all. But no–the day I plan to do it, it’s too nice a day and I want to walk around the pond. Or, the Crankee Yankee wants to go for a ride, and like a dog, I’ll go anywhere at any time. Or, a friend calls and we go shopping. Or, I develop a hunger for Chinese food and take myself out to lunch. Or, I’ll decide that other chores should be done first. You see where this is going, don’t you?
So, while I admire Noreen’s brilliant statement, “don’t put it down, put it away,” I obviously don’t follow it. But hey–at least I told all of YOU about it, right? So–go forth and put your stuff away! I’ll be right behind you….some day.