- I finished my online course titled Indigenous Canada, and then followed that up with The KonMari Method when it was on sale – maybe someday I’ll make it to one of the seminars and work my way up to being a consultant (more on that below).
- I finally started working again. As some of you might know, I am (was?) a translator by trade, until we moved to the States and I had to stop working because I didn’t have the right visa for it, and then I chose to be a stay-at-home mom. Now a friend hooked me up with a small translation project, which involves translating about two dozen recipes (among other texts), and it makes me really happy not just to work again, but to marry translation and recipes, both of which are “my thing”.
- I kept at my decluttering project – getting rid of 365 items in one year. I only got rid of 5 items over the summer (since I wasn’t home and all), but I’ve made a lot more progress since, mainly in my closet. That being said, a surprising amount of things had to be replaced this year: suitcase, backpack, toiletry bag, electric toothbrush, umbrella, towels, light fixtures, prescription eyeglasses… Obviously none of those objects made it into my tally, since they followed the one-in-one-out rule, but it still felt like a lot of purging.
I got rid of my toaster oven, which was a BFD because there was a time in my life when it was indispensable. But all of a sudden, I had enough clarity to see that I hadn’t used it in years, and most probably wouldn’t need it again, and so I was able to let it go. It freed up a fair amount of space in the pantry, but all of that space was taken over by “lunchables” (not the brand, but containers and snacks and such that I now use for the Little Prince every school day). So even though it was a win, it still felt a bit like I’m barely keeping my head above water in that area, because the pantry is still fuller than I’d like. I think I’ll have to further whittle down the number of staples I keep on hand even though, again, I’m not counting food as items for the purposes of this project.
I also closed a Canadian bank account that I wasn’t using. The account itself is intangible, but it allowed me to get rid of a stack of papers as well as a card from my wallet, in addition to eliminating all my dealings with that bank, and I feel like it frees up so much mental space that I’m counting it as one item.
I decided on counting sets of baby items as single items (example: set of two dozen cloth diapers and doublers = 1 item), and I’m counting papers as items only if I also get rid of the folder in which they were stored (so when I got rid of all the papers in one folder, but decided to keep the folder itself for now because it will be useful to store my genealogy papers, I didn’t count any objects in the tally). As of the moment I’m writing these lines, I have gotten rid of 381 items (breakdown: 60 CDs/cassette tapes; 29 books; 1 movie; 55 baby items; 125 items of clothing, many of which were maternity wear or things that no longer fit post-pregnancy; and 111 miscellaneous items – komono, to use KonMari terminology).
You know what, though? It doesn’t make as big of a difference as I was hoping. Apart from the music collection, most things appear the same at a glance. Well, I did improve the entrance by buying a shoe rack and limiting each member of the household to 3 pairs of shoes at the front door, but if anything, that added an item (although it’s definitely both more functional and aesthetically pleasing). I think that most other items were out of sight. Like, sure, my closet and dresser drawers are less crowded, and my bras in particular are now beautifully displayed, but it’s still not a capsule wardrobe. And yes, we got rid of A LOT of baby items, but those were mostly in the nursery closet, behind a closed door, so I know they’re gone, but it doesn’t show. I got rid of dozens of books, and now at least every book has space to be stored vertically, but all three bookshelves are still needed (and I don’t want to change that). And I didn’t get around to editing our movie collection, mostly because I know the same thing would happen again – it’s like I need an end goal. When I was paring down the music collection, it was so that we would get rid of a piece of furniture and put everything that remained in a single storage unit. But that’s not an option for our movies, and an end goal of sparser shelves doesn’t appeal much to me. So everything in the house is just a little bit better, but there were no major makeovers.
- All of this has put me on a path I hadn’t quite expected: I’m getting so much joy from downsizing (when possible) and especially organizing (all the time) that I’ve decided to be a professional organizer – you heard it here first. I’m in a preparation phase right now; I’ll be dealing with classes, accreditation, banking, insurance, accounting, branding, etc., in the spring, but it all seems very doable for me. And if I make it to one of Marie Kondo’s seminars (tough because of limited availabilities and the fact that I am needed at home), I could work my way to being a KonMari consultant, for which there is a lot of demand.
I took a third online course, about minimalism, not for motivation so much as for “market research”. This was very helpful because it became obvious that there are situations that many, many people are faced with that just don’t happen in my house. Like, I was aware of jokes or memes about these things, but I honestly didn’t realize that so many people really experienced these things (as evidenced by photos and posts in a private Facebook group). Example: tons of clutter kept in the car; piles of mail that goes unopened (including bills and claims and checks, all of which expire); cupboards crammed with Tupperware lids with no matching containers; baskets full of single socks. Honestly, I think I have lost a sock once in my life, when I was doing a load of laundry to prepare for the Little Prince’s arrival – the Engineer found the sock three years later, and it turns out it had fallen between the washing machine and the wall, in the back. The Fox got to wear the pair instead. Seriously, how do you truly lose socks (assuming they’re not stuck flat against the tub of the washer/dryer or inside a pant leg or still in the hamper)? I guess I’ll have to figure out a reasonable amount of time for my clients to keep said basket of single socks…
I remember reading Joel Stein’s Time article (Stuff and Nonsense, August 6, 2012) about Life at Home in the Twenty-First Century, a UCLA project led by Jeanne Arnold, who studied the homes of 32 middle-class families from Southern California. Arnold says that the best predictor of clutter within the house is the fridge – she’s only seen two that had nothing on them, and that’s because they were not magnetized. The average family has 52 items on their fridge. (I had to go check ours: we only have things on one side, as the front is stainless steel; we have 22 things if you count both magnets and paper held by magnets, plus a growing, soon-to-be-12 magnet mosaic from a subscription the Little Prince has. Still more than I had thought.) She also says that 78% of families have a television in their bedroom (we don’t); 53% of families have a second fridge (well, we have a miniature fridge in the garage, which we’ve used to store beverages when we had guests, but it’s not currently plugged in); 75% use their garage solely for storage (guilty, though in our defense, our two-car garage has two separate doors, which means that parking a car there will prevent you from opening the door on one side because it’s so close to the wall – inconvenient for one driver, but impossible for a family with two kids in car seats; factor in the giant trash and recycling bins that we store in there, plus a lawn mower, some outdoor furniture, our rooftop carrier for the summer road trips, gardening items, a newly-acquired hand-me-down wagon, a tricycle and a kid’s bicycle, and yeah, there’s really only room for one car if we need to bring it indoors to avoid freezing rain, for example). Other interesting numbers, though I’m not comparing just now: the average family has 438 books and magazines, 212 CDs, 90 DVDs and VHS tapes, 139 toys, 39 pairs of shoes, and a backyard with a grill, although 75% of families don’t actually carve out any time to spend outdoors (guilty of that too).
If you want to find out more about that project, there’s a great video here. It also explains how clutter is affecting (and burdening) women in particular.
- I’m also going to open an Etsy store, but I’ll tell you more about that once it’s set up.