So inspiration leaves me. And the idea stays unrealized.
But sometimes, the circumstances are right. The timing is good, I have the interest and the energy and the money and the will. And those times are magic.
I have spent almost all of my free time for the last 4 years trying to finish all the design projects in my house. Getting rid of my debris has also been a part of that quest. I think I am on round 7-8 of major purging. In any case, I have read several books on the subjects of Decluttering, Organizing, Cleaning, and Simplifying. Most of them had useful information that may have made all the difference, had the time been right. But it never was. Until now.
I am ready to tackle the studio. Let me show you what that means.
As you can see, it has been years since I really addressed this space. Or really did anything in here, but pile crap on top of crap. And no, I do not think I need to seek help for my hoarding issues, despite what these photos may imply. I do think I cleaned it up after the last barn sale I ran in 2013, but that was what? 5 years ago? Yeah.
In any case, I recently had a bit of serendipity fall into my lap. A friend of mine from Haven, Darla DeMorrow, recently contacted me to see if I wanted to review her new book on organizing! Perfect timing, right?
As you all know, it has been almost a year since I posted anything. (Note the reasons listed above. They explain my entire life) I almost turned her down. But something niggled inside and told me to think about it. So I did, for a hot second. I realized I had already been moving towards clearing out the studio. Why not do it for you guys to see? I will try to post every time I work on it. My goal is to finish the whole space before the end of May. I am dubious that I will be able to do that, but for now, that's my goal. So cross you fingers with me, Kay?
But let's get to the book review that's the catalyst for all this.
Organizing Your Home With SORT and Succeed by Darla DeMorrow has two great advantages over any other organizing book I have ever read, before you even open the cover. First, it only takes about an hour to read the whole thing, cover to cover. And second, it is free if you have Kindle Unlimited on Amazon.com or $4.99 if you are just a non-joiner, like me. (In the name of disclosure, Darla gifted me with a digital copy to review. All opinions are obviously my own. So are any spelling errors, gaffing social faux pas, and heinous messes left untouched in this blog post.)
I had no idea what to expect when I started reading, so I just open the file and dug in. I was really curious to see what she had to say that I hadn't heard before. The first few chapters are background on how she thinks about the process of sorting and working through one's possessions (Darla is a Professional Organizer in Philadelphia) and how our brains think about stuff. I am actually fascinated by how the human mind works, so I was happy about these chapters. You can skip them and go right to process if you want.
I was surprised by a quote fairly early on.
"Organizing is only worth doing if something amazing is going to come of it, and amazing comes from relationships, not things."
This one stopped me right in my tracks. I had never thought about organizing like this. But the interesting thing for me was, I had given up blogging the last couple of years (sniff..) so I could make my home more conducive to people gathering. Hmm. That sounds a lot like building a space for relationships to bloom, doesn't it? So yeah, I was pretty much hooked from there.
Another thing that caught my attention was her statement,
"You don't need motivation."
Now I don't know about you, but I find this a bold statement based off previous experience. I have yet to experience organizing and sorting I didn't have to drag myself across coals to get through. And I am tired, after working on so many things for so long. But if she says I can do it and not need to drag myself through it, I am willing to give that kind of optimism a shot. I'll let you know how it goes.
The final quote that sealed the deal for me was this:
"Minimalism and empty rooms aren't the goal. Peace is the goal."
Dang girl, you had me at "empty rooms aren't the goal." I LOVE stuff. I love having a bunch of cool things to look at and memories to think about. But right now, I do not feel peaceful. I feel resentful that I have to spend so much time dealing with All. The. Things. Resentful that I don't have places for things, so I can't deal with them. Resentful that even though I am trying so hard and putting so much effort into making things nicer in my home, it never feels like I have done anything. I didn't realize it until I read that line, but Peace IS the goal for me. I don't know that I would have been able to put it that succinctly, but that describes perfectly what I have been working towards.
Ok, so that's the philosophy that caught my attention. The system itself is described in Chapter 3, so if you are the impatient type (I usually am) and want to get right on it, then that is your starting point. Here is the whole system in a nutshell:
Start with a Written Plan
Organize into groups
Reduce Release and Reset
Tweak, enhance and then
SUCCEED and celebrate
It sounds so simple. But I got a little stuck when I started thinking about what I would actually write down for my plan in Step 1. I think, "Get all the crap out of the studio and throw it away" may be a bit too general and a lot too aggressive. I will have to readdress that, when I am actually ready to start next month. Once again, I'll keep you up on how things go when I am really doing it. I have a feeling that once I am actually standing in the studio, making decisions about how to break things down into smaller tasks, that this step will feel a lot more natural than it does upstairs staring at a book on a computer screen.
I did, however, like her idea of starting with "the end in mind." It is kind of fun to think of my studio being functional again, with things put away and having counter space to actually create the New. It's been a long time since I've had that. And I found it deeply satisfying when I did. I would be willing to change to get that room back and keep it.
Step 2 is where the real action starts. You can tell Darla has worked with real people because she recommends talking yourself through the sorting process. "This is a ____ and I need to do _____ with it" is a phrase that I have a feeling will become near and dear. I attach memories to objects like a champ, and I am hoping that defining what the thing actually is, may help me be more open to letting a bunch of things go. If it's a ratty, tired t-shirt, rather than a receptacle of my memories of my trip to the Yucatan, I am far more likely to say "Adios."
This is also the step where Darla encourages you to:
"Keep searching for things that make your heart sing".
Um. Yes. I think you should sign me up for that.
I will totally keep going through
this crap these boxes of stored possessions to find treasures that make my whole life better. Not that I self identify through stuff or anything.
Step 3 is the "deal with it" phase. This is where you take it to the trash, to recycle bin, the thrift shop. I feel like I have been living in Stage 3 for years. But it does work. Life is always a bit brighter after I see the back of the donation truck. This is also the point when you can start to see where this effort is all heading. I haven't gotten even close to this in the studio, so I will, once again, have to let you all know how it goes when I get there.
Step 4 starts once the room looks like a room again and you are putting your new systems to the test. If they aren't working out, you just try a little tweak here and there to smooth it out.
Step 5, Succeed and Celebrate. This is one I usually skip because A) I am very tired after dealing with all this crap, B) I usually spent all my money on stuff for the project, and C) I am trying not to kill my children as they have already messed things up again. (Well, at least in the past they did. Now they've grown up into perfect human teenagers. Cough, cough.) In any case, I have decided that my reward for duking it out with my studio is that I get to post about whatever I did that day. The posts will be very irregular, sorry about that, but that's where I am right now. Any time to post will be a hard fought miracle. I have missed talking to you all terribly, and I think having a focused story to tell you is just what I need right now to keep on moving and feeling happier in the world.
Despite it's short length, 84 pages, Darla packs in a bunch of useful information like a prioritized list of what order to tackle to rooms in your house, if you plan on doing the whole thing, ideas of how to store things, and how to schedule time so you will actually show up to work. I only scratched the surface. Go read it. It's an hour and a max of $5 out of your life. And if you want, pick a room and post with me on Instagram or Facebook, whichever is your thing, as you work though it. Let's use #SORTwithCMShawStudios. Or you can simply comment here after each post and keep me up to date on your progress. I'll be here, in the studio, fantasizing about a more peaceful creative space.
Talk to you soon,