Recently the spring-cleaning bug hit me…I cleaned out and de-junked all of my bedroom, closet, and front hall entrance (I think this is the first time I’ve been able to see the bottom of the hall closet in several months!).
The cleaning started in my bedroom, because I realized that there are a number of things that I have a “home” for, but don’t use. So I went through every drawer and every shelf with this rule: If I haven’t used it in two years, I will get rid of it. Now fortunately, I send all of my give-away stuff to my mom first, because she likes to go through it. 🙂 She found a good home for some of my excess crochet yarn and wonderful rubber stamp collection (which has lots of good memories attached…I’m just in a season now where I don’t use them anymore). Now every piece of clothing in my closet is something I actually wear, and all four seasons fit in the same area (although I did allow myself one sentimental piece on this: a blue sweater that belonged to my grandmother; It is a little small, but I can’t bear to get rid of it).
The whole idea behind simplifying your home is to create a place of rest and refreshing for those in it. I love this list of 6 habits for happiness at home (click for link).
During this process, I discovered how refreshing it is to simplify life. For me, this often starts with the tangible things around me. What kind of atmosphere am I creating in the spaces that I occupy the most? Although there are still a lot of things I probably could get rid of, I came up with these three observations about making your home a place of greater simplicity and beauty.
1) Get rid of what you don’t use. You don’t have to de-junk the entire house in one day. But start with one room at a time. If something has not been used within one to two years (as in: you know where it lives, but you never touch it), give it away or throw it away.
2) Find a home for everything. For your remaining items, don’t just lay them on the floor in “piles” or stuff them in the corner of a closet. Find a home for everything. Also, I have found–at the end of the day, and periods throughout the day, if I can–if I will take just 3-5 minutes to put things back where they go, it makes this whole cleaning/organizing process easier. And you can breathe easier without getting overwhelmed. Often, my clothes from the day get piled on my bed (you know the drill: work clothes, exercise clothes, lounge clothes, pajamas). At the end of the day, instead of moving the pile to the floor or a chair, I have made a conscious decision to put it all up at the end of the day (unless it’s a super late night). Often as I’m hanging up dresses or folding jeans in the drawer, I have to remind myself: Fifteen minutes, and it will all be done. It is worth it in creating an atmosphere of peace.
3) Surround yourself with beautiful things. This does not mean expensive things or lots of clutter. But what things make you smile? What makes you breathe a little easier? What pieces remind you of treasured times in life? Is it a single flower in a vase? A special piece of artwork? (even art from your kids!) Photos of family and friends? For me, a few of my treasured things are books, scarves given to me by sweet friends, and a cloth-covered bulletin board next to my bed full of notes and pictures.
I read this quote recently that I really like:
“I’m going to make everything around me beautiful–that will be my life.” ~Elsie de Wolfe
Really, that’s all that simplicity is.
Simplifying life (even organizing and de-cluttering) is not meant to overwhelm you with another task for your week. It is meant as a way to create a place of peace and an atmosphere of “welcome” in your life–and in the lives of those closest to you.