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.

Where to Begin…

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Okay. So I’ve made this decision: The Year of Living Mindfully or Consciously. Or The Year of Counting All My Stuff. Or The Year of the Purge. Now where do I start? How?

As I meander from room to room in my not at all large home I become overwhelmed with all that I know is hidden. Desks, chests, cabinets, closets, even vintage suitcases are home to “things”. And some stuff is flat out mocking me by boldly sitting out for all to see. I have to start somewhere.

This is where most people get stuck. Where I am in danger of procrastination.

The whole mess put all together, especially if I start thinking about the black hole that is the garage, pushes me backward onto the couch in analysis paralysis. I look around for clues. Stare blankly at a plant. Gaze outside hoping for a distraction. I can clearly see the organization necessary, the putting back of things. I see that this needs to go here and that needs to go there, but the thought of pulling stuff out of their secret little hidey-holes and exposing them to daylight makes me sleepy.

I could start the old-fashioned way: pick a drawer or small closet to tackle first. Use a timer so I don’t overwhelm myself. This would be the advice of the Fly Lady and countless other organization gurus.

I could take the advice of Marie Kondo in the book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing, and compartmentalize my stuff. Start with clothes first, then papers, books, etc. Her strategy is to pull all the pieces of one category together, touch each one, hold it up and ask yourself if you love it, or something along those lines. I did this with my clothes, books, papers, then shifted to spaces like the kitchen. Mostly it worked but I got a little stuck when it came to art supplies, artwork, and memorabilia.

Or I could use the Minimalists tactic of boxing up everything I own. Everything. And as I need something take it out of the box. After a month or two, whatever I didn’t pull from the boxes gets donated or otherwise released.

Or I could simply keep researching the best way and avoid the actual work.

I need to think and start small, the garage IS NOT the place to begin, or even look, until I get this project underway.

I will start with my master bedroom. It’s a simple space. Clean. I’ll begin with the contents of my bedside table drawer. I never open it except to retrieve my Nook charger. But there are other treasures in there.

Or, no. As I contemplate this I am sitting on my back patio. The weather is perfect, there’s a breeze and my bird friends have come to sip from the makeshift bird bath on top of the table. The table, birds and bird bath are all outside the screened enclosure, but the patio itself, inside the screen, is home to 675 square feet of hiding places. THIS is where I’ll begin. Stay tuned…