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Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Good List of Tips to Simplify Your Life Further, Starting Today

Every single professional organizer, minimalist, survivalist & simplicity believer has a different take on things, because we all come from different backgrounds. I have never seen two professional organizers or simplifying mavericks go at things with the same exact approach. We all have varying personalities, and some of us want to focus on minimalism over organizing what we already own, or vice versa. Some people bring politics, religion, and things that are more personal into the path, while other organizers (especially those who are in the business for profit) wouldn't touch those subjects with a ten-foot pole. You will never find two professional organizers who concur on every single little "best way" to get organized or simplify. Some believe that a home should look as if Donald Trump could stand living there, and others think that anything goes as long as you feel happy with it's level of organization. This is why it's important to seek out divergent views on the subject, because in each writer, you'll find appealing things to try & not-so-appealing things that you'll instantly veer away from. While I recommend many websites, books & people to learn from, I've yet to find one that I agree with 100% on every single subject. And I believe that this is the way it should be. The link that I just shared with you can be a jumping-off point for some, becoming vastly inspiring. For others though, the very minimalist lifestyle written about holds no appeal.

Madonna was my girlhood idol. She was not only a good dancer & put out great pop songs, it was obvious that she controlled her career & was making the moula. She co-wrote or wrote a lot of songs she performed herself, and everyone knows that's where a lot of the best royalties come from. And that songwriting is not something just anyone can do well in a commerical market- definitely not for the length time that she dominated the charts, either. At one time, I couldn't fathom why Madonna would ever be upset that people would perpetually refer to her as "The Material Girl". What's wrong with that, I thought? When I picked a song to choose from in high school for a performance where we would sing & dance on our own for a bit, it was the appropriately-chosen song from the film Dick Tracy entitled, "More". When I first saw the film Desperately Seeking Susan years ago, I couldn't understand for the life of me why the character of Roberta was unhappy in her yuppie marriage. She had it all- money, a gorgeous house in Jersey with a huge bathtub, a wardrobe full of nice clothes, she didn't have to work, she had a husband who treated her pretty nicely (if a bit cluelessly) & a sweet convertible to drive. (Though I will say that I finally "got it" years later when I saw the movie again, this time as an adult, and took a good look at Aiden Quinn's magical blue eyes. Poor or not, his character in the film was...Whew! Some kind of good-looking! And he definitely seemed more fun & devoted to her than Roberta's hot tub-salesman spouse.) As a kid I lived in a small apartment, I wore hand-me-downs from the 1970's in the 1980's (not cool- retro was so not in back then), my mother drove an old car, and it would be no stretch to say I lived in a town as small-minded as it was small in population. I hated every stinking second of it. I despised every aspect of that limited, little, gossiping world of everyone-knows-everyone. I couldn't wait to get out of it. I wanted to put that fat, poor little girl I used to be in her grave forever & never look back. I dreamed of the day when money, good looks, men, a gorgeous car, clothes galore & fame would be mine. And while I never reached the pinnacle of success that I fantasized about as a kid, I reached adulthood & bought the finest cosmetics, nice furnishings, pretty clothes, restaurant meals galore, alcohol, food from around the world, perfumes- you name it. I gloried in looking good, appearing to have money & I loved to shop. I was known for wearing beautiful makeup, matching my gemstone jewelry to my clothes & in general being a woman of refined tastes. But of course it was never enough. I had more to clean, more to care for, more to look at, less time to myself because I worked all the time to afford the lifestyle. And while the ugly little fat girl had grown up into an attractive enough woman, I was certainly not experiencing the fulfillment that I'd assumed material abundance would give me.

When I first took to simplicity & minimalism, I still assumed that more was more (I am an American, after all- this is one of our guiding principles as a nation, this belief is having plenty of everything at all times), so I went at cutting the dross from my life out at full force. I attempted to get every aspect of my life down to bare minimums. I was as extremist in my cutting back as I had been in my gathering of things. I found myself deeply attracted to the Quaker belief in simplicity, truth & letting go of the ego (gaining attention for myself). I tried to get down to wearing no makeup, tossing the nail polish out, eliminating goals related to gaining money or attention for myself, not owning any fancy clothing- you name it, I wanted to either simplify or (if I could) completely eliminate things that seemed superficial or trivial. But then I was bored, cranky, angry, anxious & very depressed. I had a lot of time on my hands when I dumped "the things that didn't matter". At first, I used this extra time to read about world history, religion & politics in a way that I never had before. I don't know how many other people have had this happen, but as with opening up any Pandora's box, my quest for knowledge left me deeply disenchanted with humanity. I cannot tell you how many ideas that I had about people were shattered as I read over fact after fact about them. Often I opened doors that I didn't even know existed, finding out things that hurt deeply to acknowledge. Sometimes information about famous people that I already didn't like came through that just made me absolutely despise them. These things were not hearsay that I could fool myself into disregarding, but well-established & documented facts. Nothing looked the same to me anymore. I felt like something or someone had died, and I guess that someone was me- the old me, that is. Everything was ugly & bare to look at, akin to a house stripped down to it's bare beams. I felt like an astronaut who had been sent to outer space in a spaceship, then got cut off from NASA with no way of making it back home to earth- and had nowhere new to land, either. Every anchor that I'd ever had seemed ripped right out of the ocean floor. It was disconcerting, overwhelming, and one of the chief reasons that I warn people ahead of time that simplifying is not the piece of cake to the brain that a lot of organizers claim it to be. When you eliminate clutter, you finally face head-on the glaring feelings about your job, marriage, kids & much more that have been in hiding under a mask of busyness. This is how some people start de-cluttering stuff, only to pick up some other habit as a replacement to their former shopping or hoarding habit. Starting to drink alcohol, smoke cigarettes, take drugs (prescription or illicit) or do other things to numb the feelings that come up when you make drastic changes to your life- or if the changes were made for you- is not unheard of. I'm not telling you to ignore your desire to simplify your life, or that it's a bad idea to get organized. I'm giving you the information about the aftermath, what you can expect if you undertake it as a serious journey. It isn't all about having that mystical, mythical time regained for smelling the roses, walking in the forest & meditating when you're done with working. If you have nothing healthy set up to replace the things you get rid of, like spending more time with family or friends, taking a class at college or a new workout routine, you'll be faced with a lot of spare time that won't be filled with cleaning or bemoaning your cluttered spaces anymore. Have a goal for what you will do with the additional time, energy & money you won't be spending on housecleaning or de-cluttering, when that is set up with minimal maintenance.

Here's to being a happy organized minimalist,


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