Day 3 You Define You

As I move towards organizing my apartment and my life, I have come across the concept of what defines me.  This is a very important concept because I think I am not the only one who thinks that our possessions define us.  This is why people sometimes feel the need to keep up with the Joneses as it were.  You must be aware that your possessions don’t define you, you define you.

You are not your things.  The car you drive, the place where you live and the job you have are not what make you.  What makes you is a lot more than that.  The other day on Facebook somebody was talking about only your skills had any value.  I disagree.  If you are not a good person, your level or skill is unimportant.  Why?  Because you can be the best surgeon in the planet and if you don’t care for your patients, they will never heal.  There is an element of the process that depends on the caring profession.  If you don’t give them what they need mentally or at the level of heart, your expertise will be wasted.  This is true in every profession.  You can be the best chef in the planet, if there is no soul in your food, it will not be the same as your mom’s cooking on a Sunday afternoon, no matter how fancy your dish is.  It will also not bring you any fulfillment, so think about it.

I, for one, have a fear of becoming a hoarder in my old age.  This is why when I moved to Florida, I decided to do a little experiment.  I came here with one piece of luggage and $1500.  At first, my daughter and I had an apartment contract and nothing else.  We lived on inflatable mattresses and we had two chairs, one bookshelf and two pans, two dishes and three cups.  That was pretty much it.  The first six months we did not have much, and we liked it.  Now, four years later, the apartment is overflowing.  So we decided to have a purchase law.  No more clothes and goodies for six months.  We are also getting rid of extra things.  What is the purpose?  To use up what we already have before shopping for more.

We are both writers.  We have all these notebooks.  We can’t buy any more notebooks until we use up the ones we have here.  The same goes for art supplies, cameras, clothes, shoes and everything else.  Don’t take me wrong;  we have a sofa that needs replacing and we are lacking several pieces of furniture.  The point is that we need to figure out what we really have so that then we can plan what we need.

This is part of the process of organizing, discovering what we are about, what we really need to then find a place for everything.  I expect that it will take us a little while to figure it out.  I hope it will help others figure it out to.  Just keep in mind that your stuff does not define you.  Until you figure that out, you will collect a lot of things you really don’t need.  If they are in good condition, consider spreading the wealth by giving it away to those who need it.

So what does your possessions say about you?  Leave your comments below.


Day 2 is Leaning In

There are as many ways to accomplish your goals as there are humans in the world.  Some people like to take charge, balls to the wall and just go at it like a bull.  Others like to take it one tiny step at a time.  I believe in the concept of leaning in.

For years, one of the goals that comes closest to me as a person is the concept of professional organizer.  I have even done some inquiries to take courses and learn the tricks of the trade.  It is a goal that comes from the heart, as I have probably one of the most disorganized apartments in the planet.  I realize that I don’t have enough furniture for all my stuff.  I also have a lot of stuff I don’t use.  So this year, as part of the leaning in process, we as a family decided to not purchase anything for the first six months of the year that was not a necessity.  We defined necessities as food, personal effects like shaving cream, shampoo, soap, etc.; gasoline, dog food and medications.  This is not about saving money.  It is about learning to live with what we already have and make space for some of our belongings that are still paying rent back in Puerto Rico.

As I go through the house, I notice that I have books and magazines that I have purchased twice, and things that I have never used.  And so the dream of becoming a professional organizer stems from my personal need to control my own clutter.  I have always believe that it takes one to know one.

As part of my own curriculum, I also want to train as a personal coach because I know for a fact that clutter is not about things, it is about the people who buy the things and I want to help others figure out what they are substituting.  For me, it is fairly a simple endeavor.  I know somewhere in my brain, I equate things with wealth.  So now I have to make sure that I give these things a home (not necessarily mine), in order to reclaim my space and actually see the value of the empty space.

While I figure out which training I will take and how much it will cost me to get certified, I decided to lean in to my own clutter.  How do I define leaning in?  By taking one small space at a time and clearing it out of anything that does not go there.  Take one of my kitchen counters, for example.  This particular counter is on top of the dishwashing machine.  Here is the view.

This is the counter before I lean in.
This is the counter before I lean in.

I actually had started clearing it before I took the picture, so imagine how packed it was that it had stuff all the way to the front.  Now, some things belong in the counter, and I am not saying that I will leave it bare.  What I am saying is that we must have a home for all things and some of them do not live in the counter.  Add to that the fact that some of these things are empty but nobody knows because they are not transparent, and you get this.

So now, I have finished that small little counter and it looks like this.

This is that small counter ten minutes later.
This is that small counter ten minutes later.

There is another counter behind it that needs a lot of TLC, but this particular counter is now spotless and gives a visual reference to all members of the family that this is where we are going.  Am I going to tackle the rest of the kitchen today?  Maybe.  Will I pick another small portion in another room in the house?  More than likely.  Does it bother me that the entire kitchen is not spotless?  No.  Things do not get cluttered in one day, unless you are moving and then everything is everywhere.  The goal here is not perfection, is learning to live with what we have.  Before you know it, everything will be looking nice and THAT is the point.  Take one thing at a time, whatever your goal is and lean into it.  Do as much as you can.  In my case, every trip from one room to another does double duty.  It takes me and some of my things, to their destination.

What challenges do you have?  If you want to do everything in one day, I am not the resource for you.  If you want to go slow and steady, I am your tortoise, ready to go.  Leave your comments in the section below.