I consider myself to be a highly organized person. I have flawless systems in place for just about everything and I pride myself on my ability to remember the appointments, make the phone calls, find that gift I bought months ago for the birthday that is this week and even pull from the back of my brain the oddball placement of Beckett’s doll’s missing shoe. We have a scheduled bi-monthly pickup from the local non-profit for donations and I make regular trips to the consignment store to drop off unneeded/unwanted/outgrown kid’s gear and clothes. Our closets are lined with labeled containers and neat baskets. We do not live in clutter. At all. And, we don’t buy things we don’t need.
So, taking all this into account, when I heard about the book “Organized Simplicity” by Tsh Oxenreider – I thought to myself “pssssh… We don’t need this. We are already simply organized.” Well, turns out that being simply organized and organized simplicity are two very different things. My initial reaction may have been a snap judgment and upon reflection things became muddier. I started looking in drawers and pulling out things we used and realized that everything had its place, but there was no space. None. The cupboards, closets, garage and garden were organized in such a snug fashion that there wasn’t room for anything else. I realized the reason we don’t buy things we don’t need is that we don’t have room for them. And, I thought to myself – I WANT there to be room. Not for more stuff, but for air. For my eyes to rest upon. For my dust rag to easily wipe off.
And, so the Ferry family has begun the trek into Organized Simplicity.
The first step is creating a personal family statement that embraces, acknowledges and affirms what your family (or you as an individual if you live alone) stand for, believe in and aspire to be. It’s a simple (starting to see a theme here?) and timeless statement that gives you a constant reminder of what you live by and live for. I will share ours in the next week or so after I have transferred it from a dozen post-its onto a single piece of paper with a coherent string of words.
The second big step is where we are at. You go through your house – room by room. You completely unload the room (yes, as in everything is taken out). You clean the entire room – top to bottom. When Beckett and I tackled the kitchen, we resembled Cinderella with our sudsy water, rags and headwraps. And, then with your personal family statement in hand, literally, or in mind, you begin to put things back. There is a certain level of ruthless determination to the sorting, deciding and organizing portion. The goal is to only have things you use, appreciate and value in the room and eventually your house. Everything that is unwanted or unneeded is headed to a garage sale.
Jacob and I did our garden shed one evening. I was still skeptical about how much we would really have to get rid of, since I am so organized and everything, and the “cleaning” of our garden shed is an annual thing we do each fall before we bring in all the gear for winter storage. The eight-foot by ten-foot shed took the two of us an hour and I was absolutely flabbergasted by the accumulation of garage sale stuff we piled up. We didn’t need to hit any other part of the house – we literally had enough right there for a garage sale. No kidding.
The garden shed made me see the potential and I was gung-ho to keep up the momentum. I planned to hit the kitchen hard the next morning. I should have braced myself. I bit off a LOT more than I could chew. One day in, two kiddos to feed and nap and watch the whole time and I managed to do all our cupboards below the countertops. The pulling out of the fridge and stove along with the high cupboards was for day 2 (err… day 3 and day 4). But those three cupboards and eight drawers that I explored on day 1 – yielded an entire pool table surface of items to sell/give away/toss. No joke. It was unreal. There are things like the tempermental FoodSaver that sealed cheese in plastic bags that I won’t miss. Or mini-loaf pans coated in non-stick I used for Christmas goodie baskets. And, four different spatulas for flipping pancakes (who would ever need four spatulas at one time?!).
The kitchen completion is going to require some serious recovery time for at least a few days before we jump into, dismantle and reorganize any other rooms, but we are on the train and I can see where this is headed. And, I’ll be honest, it feels SO good. It’s hardwork. Really hardwork, like moving, but staying in the same house. But, it’s freeing. Ridiculously freeing. I’ll keep you posted on our adventure in living more simply.
If you are so inclined, the book Organized Simplicity is available at most bookstores (support local if you can!) or you can borrow a copy from your local library like I did.