Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Purge Project: An Introduction

One Thanksgiving, Grandma was at our house and she peeked into what I call my "office." 
"Oh my," she breathed, "you have quite the junk room!"
"Grandma, that's my office!" I exclaimed. 
She looked at me over her glasses. "Riiiight."
Since that embarrassing truth-telling encounter, the "office" door stays shut. The rest of the house is fairly neat and uncluttered. Sure, we have the usual pile of mail, sometimes the recycling sits for a day before one of us takes it out to the bin, and at times the kitchen table serves as a desk. 

But the kitchen table serves as a desk because my ACTUAL desk is ACTUALLY COVERED WITH PILES OF RANDOM STUFF. 

I should say the desk WAS covered with piles of random stuff. Something happened to me this back-to-school month. I didn't have to face the anxiety of going back to school because I'm not a teacher anymore. My August used to be full of revamping and reorganizing EVERYTHANG even though I didn't need to. It was hours of Pinning new first week of school activities (or before Pinterest, Google, or-- you know, reading books).  
I'm not the only teacher who feels this way.
My August was waking in the the night to anxiety dreams of getting to school to an empty room filled with 100 hyper students and no lesson plans. It was getting into my classroom a week before I had to and working from 7:30am-6:30pm organizing desks, files, documents, bookshelves, bulletin boards... etc. I was a little crazy, but my classroom was meticulous.

The pictures above are from my favorite classroom of all my classrooms. My other classrooms were tiny and meticulously kept after my first few years of teaching because if they weren't, I felt like I was going to have a nervous breakdown. I was, am, and always will be a super fan of bins (of ALL sizes-- I don't discriminate), baskets, and label makers. And colors. And comfy spaces.  

When I got home, I'd open my "office" door to quickly throw my bag onto a pile and see the room in varying stages of this...
Ugh. Not okay.
 ...and shut the door so I could grade papers and lesson plan at the kitchen table. I did it for years.
This month I didn't devote the whole month to worrying about starting school. Yet, I still woke with the looming feeling in the pit of my gut that I needed to organize something, prep something, clean SOMETHING to prepare for a new school year even though I have no classroom and my office at work is clean.

It was time for a purge. 

I put that unused energy into going through my stuff-- so much stuff. Too much stuff. As an English teacher, I would scold my students when they used the words "stuff" and "things" in their writing, but that's the only way I can explain the piles in the "office."
Over the last month, I've been organizing the "office" junk room and purging that stuff. The goal is to make it an actual office, as opposed to an "office." 

I've confronted many uncomfortable questions about myself throughout this process, such as:
Why do I have so much stuff?
Why am I holding on to clothes from my 20s that aren't in style anymore? 
Why do I own so many cardigans?
Why are there so many piles of papers sitting in this room? What's even in these piles? 
Why can't I ever find anything when it's all right here in this pile?
Why do I have so much stuff that I don't even like? 

And most importantly:
Why was I so meticulous about my classroom when I was teaching, but not my own home? 

This post begins a series of posts about trying to de-clutter my junk room and create a comfortable space for myself. It's going to take awhile to get the room the way I really want it, but I will make the time. I've always been busy, but not so busy that I can't make time for me.

Here is the beginning:

Next up... the clothing purge.

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