16 Tiny Buddhas

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I avoided my room like the plague when I was following the Japanese Art of Tidying protocal to declutter last year. It’s her fault, really, Marie Kondo’s. She recommended waiting until everything else was sorted and purged before beginning on sentimental items. I took that to mean craft supplies as well.

So I waited. And waited. Until this year.

My approach to this cataloging, decluttering, organizing task has me going room to room. I do like how Ms. Kondo had me group items last year and if it hadn’t been for that I would probably be in a heap at the back of my closet, murmuring, trying to rock myself back to reality.

I started on my room yesterday. When I say ‘my room’ I am referring to that space that is sometimes a jewelry studio, or a library, or an office, or most recently, a hole full of flat surfaces on which to put things to go through at a later date.

This is that later date.

I dreaded it. Knowing that there was so much stuff in there. So many little tiny things to go through and count. Craft stuff, jewelry making supplies, 2 filing cabinets, a large bookcase full of books and an altar on top hosting a meeting of the tiniest Buddhas and Hindu deities along with shells, crystals, candles and rocks. Always rocks.

But it has been liberating, as I think I knew it would be.

I wasn’t sure exactly what to count, how to count. Do I count every paperclip or just the container holding them? What about paper for the printer? Why count each piece? I decided, for now anyway, to count loose things. Pens, pencils, pads of paper, staplers, that sort of thing. I counted the containers that held pencils and binder clips and every empty file folder. I counted the furniture and artwork and the lamps. When I got to the bookcase I counted everything, down to the last tiny shell and wobbly bronze Ganesh the size of my pinky fingernail.

Altar items:

3 Elephants
6 Ganesh
16 Buddha
5 crystals
25 rocks – I really need to look into the rock obsession
1 rabbit – born in the year of
2 frogs
1 sealed container of Ganges water
1 Quan Yin
4 packages of flower petals – mostly from temples in India
1 dog
2 old Japanese guys – I’m pretty sure there’s a more eloquent term for these wise men
4 cards
2 oil difussers
1 owl – from Slovenia who always makes me smile. Get it? Who?
2 nuts – from a recent trip up north
2 fabric printing block – from India
2 Durgas – she’s my girl
4 shells
2 coral
3 feathers
1 Om tile
1 Ganesh tile
1 prayer for forgiveness
1 snake figurine
1 good fortune cat
1 angel
2 mala bead strands
1 peacock feather fan
1 framed Radha Krishna – painted by my yoga teacher
2 Balinese marriage dolls
1 strand of lampwork beads  – that I made in a class, rudimentary but pretty colors.

In all 101 items on top of the bookcase along with a lamp. Four equal sized shelves beneath it containing 120 books and myriad other trinkets and mementos. But I got to touch every one and consider its purpose, conjure its meaning and decide if it was necessary.

So often we set things where we want them then walk away. We may dust them or around them, but that can be a mindless chore – something to get through – and we don’t fully appreciate those things we chose to bring into our homes. Some of us don’t even dust our own things, some of us don’t even dust. Not naming any names.

While I was counting and cataloging I made some initial decisions and purges. I dumped quite a few magazines in the recycle bin, along with some papers I had been holding onto until I uncovered their importance. There was none. I filed papers that had been lingering in my in box that I had to rifle through on more than one occasion to look for something, which had it been filed in the proper place would have saved me lots of time. That’s part of the end game here – time. I filled a box with items to go to others and added to bags sitting in the garage intended for Good Will or some other thrift store.

I also made note of further culling that needed to take place: files that needed thinning, books that could be appreciated by others now that I’ve absorbed what I could from them. I made some decisions about making jewelry and crafts that surprised me and glanced at the boxes and envelopes of family photos – dating back to the 1800s – I have yet to further organize and scan.

This room has been so many things, so many colors and sometimes a complete design and organizational conundrum. I think I may have made some decisions about that too.

I will tackle the rest over the weekend. It will be completed, the first round of purging and cataloging. That will feel like an accomplishment.

Letting go of what I don’t need so someone who does need it can have it feels noble and sometimes scary. What if I need that someday?

Like a coloring book. Purged 11 of those. Still have 9. I think I’ll be okay.

It’s Written in Hindu, in the Stars

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A few months ago, I had my Vedic Astrology chart done. It was infinitely entertaining and confusing. In spite of that, I learned a few things about myself that may explain some of my behaviors. But isn’t that how these always go? We fit our story into the fortune to create a reason from which we gain insight.

In addition, I have been writing my book on India (for four years now, but just recently with for real earnestness) and a few of my traits are being revealed to me here as well.

Stay with me, this all relates to the purging food organizational structure trying to find peace phase I’ve been going through the past 50 years or so.

In the astrology chart it shows that my ruling deity is Yama. He is the god of death. This excited me. What I have learned in this journey is death of anything makes room for new beginnings, new life. The death of an idea, a habit, yes, even a person, creates space. I do not wish to end the lives of others, I do however like to complete things. Moment to moment our inhale dies to the exhale, day dies to night and is reborn 12 hours later. The birth of a child is the death of the pregnancy. One year dies to the next and so on.

This chart also proclaims my dharma (the thing I was born to do) as “carrying things away.” This too, made sense. My favorite creature on the whole planet is the vulture – nature’s humble janitor. THEY CARRY THINGS AWAY. Stuff we don’t want, dead stuff, so we don’t have to deal with it. It’s noble.

The writing has revealed my tendency to live my life in fragmented sentences. Grammatically this would look like … To be continued, more to come, stay tuned. Which is completely counter to carrying things away or ending them.

Balance? Harmony? Insanity?

I rush. I cram too much stuff in. I’m learning to let go of a few things on my schedule.  I’m better at prioritizing. But there’s still a lot I don’t complete.

I noticed this as I was writing about an experience in the desert of India when I was on safari with a group. We were at a park looking for interesting animals and such. When I felt we had seen everything there was to see, I was ready to go. The yoga guru I was traveling with, chose that exact moment to lay down on the hard cracked earth, knees bent, hands folded on his belly. What? Why? C’mon! I walked back to the jeep like a spoiled child denied a treat.

The pouting lasted about 10 minutes. I walked back out to where he was and stood there willing him to hop up, clap his hands and say, “let’s go.” Instead he waxed poetic about all that he could see. For about 20 more minutes. I surrendered – mostly because I didn’t have a choice. When we finally did make it back to our jeeps to leave, the sky turned a brilliant orange. The setting ball of fire filtered through unseen pollution created a magical show for us. That we would have missed had my Vulcan mind meld worked.

I’m great at beginnings. I am an ideator, an instigator, a starter. Initiation is my wheelhouse. Implementation so-so. Completion? Let’s just call that an area of opportunity.

This purging, ordering, organizing, cataloging seems like a reaction to this fragmentation and a fulfillment of my dharma all at once. I am carrying away the stuff I no longer need. Or want. The physical and the energetic – if you believe in that hokum – are being distributed among friends, thrift stores and ebay.

It’s another project started that I intend to see through.

It seems the less stuff I have the more space there will be to complete those sentences. To sit still and notice. To be where I am when I am.

To stay for the sunset.

 

 

Clipper, Tweezers and Oils, Oh My

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I chose my “master bath” to start with today. I have two full baths in my little house and neither of them truly deserve the title master, but it’s the one in the biggest of the three small bedrooms so it is master by default.

I counted 225 items in this space. I included every emery board, the towels and all the rolls of toilet paper. As I continue to move through my home I’ve already identified the difference between some of the items I’m cataloging.

There is a difference, for instance, between something I will use up and something that is a possession, in my opinion. I counted the toilet paper rolls but, God willing, there will always be some number of rolls beneath my sink and that will vary. Same with shampoo, lotions, etc. However, I have also noted where I tend to hoard or collect things, like lotions, so that’s good info.

I will also take furniture out of the overall total when I’m done – the big stuff especially like beds, sofas, coffee and end tables. Items that are more decorative will be counted among possessions. Then I can make the harder decisions.

Pawing through all my barely mentionables in the master bath flung me into a sort of toiletry frenzy. Beyond the master I was compelled to count and catalog the other bathroom. And if I’m going to do that, why not the linen closet? So I did.

In all, the three spaces netted me 552 items. As I write this, nearly everything is scattered about on the floor, my bed and other flat surfaces as I contemplate what to keep and what to release. (I am contemplating these things as I sit at an uncluttered community high top in Starbucks with a venti mug of decaf. Who can think with all that stuff around?!)

Do I really need 5 pairs of tweezers? Are they pairs? Are scissors pairs or is it a scissor? Whatever it/they is/are, the answer is no. I probably also don’t need a ripped open sample packet of lotion that is now hard as cement, or 3 pump bottles of scented stuff.

19 bottles of questionably essential oils will likely be finding a new home. And soap. Soap deserves its own blog. Suffice to say I have about 10 bars of handmade soap and three pumps of hand soap. In two bathrooms.

In the linen closet I became acutely aware of my penchant for incandescent light bulbs. I already knew this and hoarded all I could find when the mandate came down from on high to replace them with the sallow-making, sickness-inducing fluorescent bulbs. What I did not expect to find is so many boxes of travel toothpaste or new tooth brushes. The onus of these would be on my husband who accepts all free gifts from our dentist whether we need them or not. They do come in handy when I travel, so all is forgiven. But some may get lost in the purge. I mean, there are 14 boxes. Fourteen.

Overall this counting then purging process feels really good, almost addictive. I want so much less. I want space. But this is a process and I’m watching myself carefully and taking it slowly.

Now to put my spaces back together again. Should be easy with so much less stuff.

The numbers: After initial purge I’m down 122 items to 430. It’s a start.

If I take out the things that I’ll use up, there’s really much less. Like 173. These items include towels, linens, air mattress, baskets that hold things I’ll run out of at some point among a few pretty little things.

I don’t know that I can have a completely austere home, or want one, but I do know it feels good to know what I do have and what I don’t need. I imagine I’ll purge more throughout the year, decorative and otherwise.

Lighter and lighter.