I've been watching four different shows on my computer: "How Clean Is Your House?" from BBC, "Clean House" from Style, "Hoarders" from A&E and "Hoarding: Buried Alive" from TLC. I began watching them about a year ago, as I was thinking about my "Theology of Space" and how what dwells within is outwardly expressed. Since then, I've been deliberately cleaning up my space. Oddly enough, as I clean up the chaos that surrounds me, I have lost more weight. The "heaviness" of my possessions was (and is) being played out in my physical being.
There are certain things that strike me. First, my private areas are not necessairly the most cluttered areas. My bedroom remains pretty orderly (except for the overstuffed closets). I have no problem with too many shoes; I own a half dozen pair. I probably don't own enough shoes as I don't have enough fancy dress shoes. I just don't find them comfortable, so I don't have any. I don't own excessive amounts of makeup or clothing. And I will soon own less; I am paring down what is in my closet. I have excessive amounts of costume (and real) jewlery. I've been thinking about this; I believe I own it merely because I inheirted it from people that meant something to me. It's not taking up a horrible amount of space, so it's sorting and removal has not yet hit the "A" priority list.
The parsonage remains pretty tidy, as well. I believe everything in the parsonage remains tidy because each and everything in the parsonage was hand selected for it's purpose. Everything is in place and everything stays in place because everything in there just makes sense. It's not overcrowded, nothing there is "wasted" material. Everything is used.
The girls' rooms remain pretty tidy (in both houses) for the same reasons: everything is used, there is no space is wasted. They have been very good at eliminating excess - maybe too good. They have probably disposed of things that I may have kept, but it is their space and it is their decision to dispose of unnecessary items.
The public areas in the Loganville house remain moderately messy. I think it's an indication of things moving in and then moving out. The dining room and kitchen areas especially show this. Waves of material comes in, is sorted, cleaned, mended, discarded and then flow out to their designated places. These rooms never look the same from day to day.
The largest areas that remain unsorted, cluttered and just chaotic are 1) the sewing room, 2) the garage and 3) the basement. The sewing room contains all the stuff I have left over from my embroidery business. I have not been successful in getting rid of all it of because there is this lingering feeling that by disposing of it, I have admitted defeat - that my business endeavor was a failure. Objectively, this might or might not be true; that is how it feels. Also, there is years of accumulation from a series of sewing projects: cases of fabric, thread, old jeans to cut up, half done quilts and the assorted paraphernalia that goes with sewing. I have been collecting fabric probably for the large majority of my life. It needs to be culled down. There is also in the sewing room a large amount of paper that needs to be sorted and either filed or disposed of.
The garage also contains a lot of paper: financial records of people long dead, my mother’s genealogy work, and box after box of photographs and letters. This stash is what I have been tackling most currently. There is a lot of “grief work” that I have been doing with all this. I miss most of these people more than I can even express. I mourn them and at the same time I resent them for leaving it all for me to sort. Grief and anger; anger then grief again.
The basement contains some of the furniture that was in my parent’s house. The ottoman I recently had recovered is from the basement. The sectional sofa from my grandparent’s house (Heywood Wakefield) is in the basement as well. I purchased more material from OCHO (OHCO??) at $.75 a pound to have it recovered. As soon as we have the money, I will have the reupholsters come pick it up. I want to place it in my “new” sewing room – Kate’s room. I have a plan and I really want to stick to it. I will have to dispose of the majority of the stuff in the sewing room and mentally and emotionally, I am ready.
There are also some of my dad’s tools in the basement. These also will take time to look at, feel, sort and dispose of. I have my big desk in the basement; I haven’t had a place to put it since I was married. It is huge 6 foot by 6 foot square; the desktop alone is 36 square feet. Maybe I can put it in the garage when the garage is cleaned out. My glass working tools are in the basement, along with my glass – it has not been touched in 17 years. I want to do glass again. Perhaps there will be room for it again soon.
However the majority of the stuff in the basement is Bill’s responsibility. Things from his grandfather’s estate (mostly papers) that must be sorted and disposed of correctly. Other items that need to be evaluated and distributed between the three brothers. I know how stuck I have felt with my parent’s estate; I have tremendous empathy for him. This is not an easy journey. The emotional baggage can be so overwhelming.
I am planning on making sure my kids don’t have to do this. I know some has to remain, but I don’t have to burden them with tons of material. It’s going to take time, but I am going to pare down again and again until there is very little left.
This year, I have called my efforts “Project Order from Chaos.” May it be indeed so.