I’m reading a book off my bookshelf this week that I bought ages ago when I heard the author speak at an event, with the best of intentions, but have never read yet. Susie Larson is incredibly inspiring, and I feel like I’m gaining some clarity on some things I’ve been praying about for over a year through reading this. I think I’ve been focusing too big. I’m realizing that I need to focus on the small. I need to focus on the quality and service in the small things, and with the small people. I think that’s what I have been doing, but I see others doing big things, and I wonder if I’m missing something, or doing something wrong because everything in my life is small. My self-doubt and self-criticism kicks in when it is all small.
We all have dreams, and we all have aspirations. I realized that I was concentrating on things I often criticize the Church for doing. I want to be flashy and noticed and smart. The model Christ sets for us is so much more simple. It’s base level simple. Getting off his seat in heaven he came to us. Seeing a need, he humbles himself and washes feet like the lowliest of servants. He is so assured of who he is, that nothing was below him. His identity was so secure that no job could debase it. I think his disciples were annoyed how much he talked about humility. I think they were always thinking of the next level, and he was always pushing the fundamentals. Sometimes the hardest areas to walk in obedience are the areas of the small.
So, one of my dear, dear aunts and I have a lot in common, one being we have both always struggled with keeping our homes clean. We were messaging back and forth a few weeks ago, and she said she had found an amazing book on cleaning that I just had to read. She was so insistent that I read it, that she said, “You know what? I’m just going to send it to you for your birthday.”
It’s a Japanese book, and I smiled at some of the cultural aspects addressed. (A bedroom was measured by the number of mats fit in it.) To be perfectly honest, I have thrown this book a few times.
Like when she said that some people have messy homes because they can’t seem to put stuff away.
throw the book at the wall.
Yeah. My problem couldn’t be 5 children in my house dumping stuff faster than I pick it up. Couldn’t be. Stupid lady. All I do is clean up.
So I picked it up again, because I trust my aunt, and I trust her judgment. She never sends me stuff. If she sent it, she must have for a reason.
Then the lady goes on and on about how she never has to tidy anymore. Her house is always clean and things are always put away, and I too can have this life where I just come home from work and take a long hot bath in my impeccably clean home.
throw the book at the wall.
Stupid lady. I don’t live in lala land. You cannot tell me you have a method where I never have to tidy my house again. It’s against nature.
So I pick up the book again, because my aunt knows me, and she knows herself, and if she found something that works, it must work. As I read I think there is something lost in translation because I find she’s not talking about cleaning, she’s talking about tidying in particular. She’s talking about clutter. She’s talking about piles of junk that show up out of the blue everyday. She’s talking about simplifying.
OK, now this is my language. I’m slowly starting to understand.
About a week before I got this book from my aunt, I ran across this blog post about the idea of wardrobe capsules. Studies show that most people just wear the same small amount of clothes, and most of your clothes sit unused. This system is where you keep only your favorite clothes, and only have out in your closet the cluster of clothes that you will wear for that season (3 months or so.) That way, when you look in your closet, it’s quick and easy to see what you want. That idea had already been percolating in the back of my mind. I love the idea of decluttering and go through purges. But this book isn’t about going through a purge. It’s about living the purge. There’s a definite method to it that I have never been taught. She says most people have never be taught how to tidy, meaning we were taught how to put things away, but we are rarely taught how to decide what gets put away, and what needs to go, so the house does not get overwhelmed. The principles to that are in here.
So with a vision of what I want my closet to look like, and using the principles of this book, I have been tackling my closet to start with. That’s where she says to startI’m constantly having piles of clothes accumulate on the chair in my room. That chair isn’t for sitting, it’s for clothes piles. Clothes are stuffed to the brim in my closet, and I even have piles on the floor in there now.
The reason that I have so many clothes and use so few is for a completely different post I’m working on writing. For now, we’ll just say that’s the short version of the situation. The fact that I’ve gone through the body changes of growing 5 children to birth, and I am not able to do stuff that normal people do like try on clothes in the store have something to do with it. It’s a whole long saga.
So I’ve decluttered before. I’ve cleaned out my closet before and got rid of stuff. That isn’t anything new. However, this book has some very different methods for decluttering, in a way that makes it “stick” and I have to say, I’m really liking this. I’ve gone through my tops, bottoms, dresses and socks thus far. I’ve got my underwear, purses, shoes, and accessories left this week. You declutter not room by room, but category by category. You don’t get rid of things you hate, you pick up each item, and see if it sparks joy. I know, I know, it sounds cheesy. But it’s been working.
Now I look in my closet, and it’s like going to In and Out Burger. OK, maybe that’s not the best illustration, but I like having limited options, when all the options are delightful. It’s just been so simple. I’m loving this and it’s truly like I’m carrying around less garbage. I don’t even have enough clothes out in my closet to make a significant pile. Once I decided which of my clothing “sparked joy” I bagged up 5 (count them!! FIVE!!) garbage bags full of clothes that will leave my house. I then used the capsule idea without any effort at all, and only have hanging the clothes that I will wear this season, limiting myself to the portions in the blogpost linked above except I kept a few more dresses. I love wearing dresses on Sunday and 2 is just not enough. I kept 5. Because I’m the boss.
So, I’m only on chapter 3 right now. I’m hoping this book gets more into how to declutter the rest of the house. I really like the ideas presented. I do still throw the book from time to time, when the 20 something, I have no children and just need to keep my little apartment tidy attitude comes out through the author. But the more I read, the more I consider that some principles are universal. The human nature is the same no matter what stage of life you are in. Really, some lightbulbs are going off in my head as she’s explaining what I’m doing and why I’m doing it as if she has a camera watching me. It’s starting to get eerie. I was just reading last night about why the clutter problem is so common with the younger sister, and why that is, and as a younger sister myself (in the habit of hand-me-downs) my jaw just kept dropping as I realized what I was doing.
Honestly, I’m considering reading this book out loud to my children for our next read aloud. Silje has taken notice of my room’s transformation, and she wants to read it so she can do her room next. If this thing catches on, it could be a game changer.
As for knitting, I’m focusing this summer on actually writing all the patterns I need to publish. I need a really clear brain for that since I have such a build up, so I’m pausing from knitting my own designs and making a shawl for a friend of mine. I’m taking some Madelinetosh Prairie Lace yarn in “fragrant” from my stash and I first bought this pattern, because it is so her. But about 2 hours into knitting this, I realized that this pattern is much more complicated than my brain is handling right now. Seriously, I don’t know what half of these abbreviations are.
This designer is all kinds of genius, way above my attention span, and I’m thoroughly impressed with it, and someday I may knit it, and I normally love it when I find a pattern where I can learn some new techniques. But right now I’m really just looking for an easy knit I can bring outside when I’m watching the kids play. I want something simple I can bring to the lake and hold a conversation with someone. So I decided to go with this pattern instead, which I found through a Ravelry search. It’s really simple, but I think there’s this multipurpose elegance to it too. I want one. The abundance of knit stitches over and over again in that stockinette stitch done in the round is exactly what I’m in the mood for right now. I’m chilling out just looking at the pictures. So that is going on the needles, and I had to learn how to do “Judy’s Magic Cast On” so I’m still working with a pattern where I have to learn at least one new technique. Everyone of my personalities is happy now.
The color work portion of my Norsk Cloak is now complete, and I’ve started work on the bottom ribbing. Then there’s some steeking to be done and some ribbed bands, but it should be all downhill from hill.
I finished up Midsummer Night’s Dream for school prep for next year. I love this version. I laughed until there were tears. The kids are going to love it, as we memorize actual passages using the reference How to Teach Your Child Shakespeare. I did think while reading the last chapter, that I will really struggle reading that one aloud because several characters from various story lines going on are all coming together and interjecting in each other’s conversations. It’s a hysterical scene, that I think they will only understand if they act it out. So I’m currently brainstorming ways that can be done, since there isn’t a local theater that is doing this one where we can go see it. I really hope the kids like it.