Self Care

Decluttering for the new year

It’s the Monday after Christmas. We are all home for the holiday break and it was my turn to wake up early to feed the dogs. I knew I wanted to get moving anyway, since there’s been many more calories consumed and stored in the refrigerator than usual. I sleepily moseyed downstairs to take care of the fur babies, then decided to put on the leggings and head downstairs for a workout.

Since my school had been in remote learning for the last two months (see my blog post, Education’s Worst Nightmare), I had made a habit of doing various strength and cardio workouts with my morning physical education classes, before switching to the dance curriculum and rolling around the basement floor. The daily workouts, while tough on this 50-year-old body, actually helped keep me in pretty good shape in-between long periods of sitting in front of the computer.

Thankfully, the remote period ended when the winter break began. We were scheduled to be back in person in January, so I knew that my regular morning workouts would essentially be over. The kids would go back to their usual in-person game play and I would be watching like a hawk for safety and mask-wearing. Once we return, our goal would be to stay in school, Omicron be damned. This particular Monday morning, I decided to keep up the good habit of moving, lifting heavy things, standing on my hands and stretching so I didn’t spend the week losing all of the progress I had made. As achy as I felt getting out of bed, I finished my hour-long basement exercise feeling pretty good.

I also woke up this morning with the urge to purge – my house, that is. Winter break is always a good time to tackle some of the clutter that builds up as the weeks and months go by. We have a mud room that is a repository for sneakers and boots, dog hair, crumbled leaves, things to donate, packing boxes, and things that we intend to do something about some other time. You’d think it would be an enormous space for all the junk we cram into it, but it’s not, and my tolerance for the clutter had finally reached a tipping point. I love the idea of keeping things neat and tidy on a day-to-day basis, but that is simply not our reality.

When there are a few hours to kill and I need something to do, I turn my brain to making a dent in the mess. When Chris woke up (he finally got to sleep in), he noticed that I had been in clearance mode and decided to join in. We had been holding onto a bag of soap and toiletries for months because he couldn’t figure out where to bring it. We had a cable box that he’d been meaning to bring back to the cable company for over a year. A box full of pots and pans that we wanted to donate (since we had just gotten ourselves a new set) and wanted to give the ones in good condition to people who might need them.

In times of COVID, it’s sometimes hard to find places where we can easily donate. The local church’s donation center had been closed for a while and we were having a tough time thinking of ones that were open and available.

We started searching on Google and came across the Center for Safety and Change, a local organization that provides assistance to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. It is a wonderful resource for people who have nowhere else to go and who need to find a way to rebuild their lives after suffering the indignities of abuse. We called them, hoping they would be willing to take some of the things we had to offer and they said they would.

I went into my closets and found some more items: sneakers, shoes, a brand-new barely used winter coat, winter gloves, zipper hoodies, scarves, mini-toothpaste. Anything that I thought someone might find useful who had to leave everything behind, we packed into the car and hoped they would be accepted. It felt good to make some more open space in my house, and felt even better to think that some of the things I had been holding onto might be appreciated by someone else.

I’m not done with purging the house of unnecessary stuff, but today was a productive start. While the Center for Safety and Change did not take the clothes and shoes (that went to a collection bin run by the police department), they did take the toiletries and pots and pans. I now know where I can bring those necessities so they can go to people who really need it.

After I finished all of the physical de-cluttering, I listened to a podcast episode that I recorded last summer called Mental Decluttering. It’s from a 10-episode series called A Moment of Mindful Meditation that reflects on all sorts of ways to slow your mind down and bring some calm to your life by turning your thoughts inward. It was a great project that I hope is helpful for others as we spend this last week of 2021 mentally preparing for the new year.

I wish you all good health, happiness, comfort and joy, and all the good things life has to offer. Let’s ease into 2022, one day at a time.

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