The Clutter Project – Introduction

I was born a pack-rat. Even from a young age, my mother fought with me to throw out items that I squirreled away into the corners of my closet, dresser, and even under my mattress. Some of my mom’s favourite stories of me include throwing away coloured colouring books, which to me was a showcase of my hard work and I loved seeing the completeness of the books. My mom, of course, saw them as unnecessary clutter. I would scream and cry and sometimes even dig through the trash bags hoping to salvage some of these important items that seemed to define my existence.

After the de-cluttering, though, my mom could see a change in my mood. I was a happier child with more lightness and positive energy. As an adult I know that my “moodiness” throughout my life can be attributed, in part, to my mood disorder entitled “Bipolar II Disorder.” If we had known back then what I know now, we would have done a lot more than just throw out my precious things. We would have dealt with the problem in the first place. The problem being the accumulation of the stuff and the representation of my inner self. A big part of it was the fact that I did not adjust well to change and ended up not being a very well-adjusted child or adult. While I have become better at it, I work on it every day and try very hard to change the way my brain processes the changes and obstacles and are inherent in life.

The other day I went in to a used bookstore, a place where one who has clutter and is a collector of collecting things should never go. I have had some specific books that I wanted to look at and thought that I would see if the sought out titles were there. They were not, but I found other books that I wanted. I decided on two of the three, deciding that I already had too many vegan cookbooks and put that one back. One was a knitting book so that I could start my next knitting project – I have been quite successful in finishing knitting projects. The other was an ironic choice entitled, “Clear your Clutter with Feng Shui” by Karen Kingston – this one really spoke to me and I instantly felt a connection with the author in the first page that I read.

I have struggled with clutter my whole life, but never have I struggled with it as much as I have since moving into my new house last June. I bought my house and moved all of the stuff I had in my 1.5-storey house into my current house with about 75% the living space as my other one, but about double the storage space. This has proved to be extremely dangerous for me. I have succeeded in packing every single corner of my living and storage space with stuff. Since I have moved into this house, I have felt unsettled, ungrounded, and disorganized. This has done nothing to help with my struggle to manage my bipolar and it seems that every time I get one step closer to organization, two more things come into my house and my life to mess it up again.

Upon reading the Feng Shui book and being in some places lately that have had such positive energy, I have made a commitment to uncluttering my house and my life. I need this in order to keep my sanity and take back my life. Even within the first few chapters, I feel understood: “Probably, like most messies, you maintain that there is order in your chaos and, what’s more, that you need to keep things in the open to remind you of important things you have to do. But if someone actually puts you to the test and asks you where some thing is, at best you only know the general direction in which it lies and rarely its precise location.” This paragraph resonated in me and I knew that this was a project that I must embark on ASAP, ie. NOW.

I am externally motivated and often need goals, sub-goals, lists, and deadlines for a project. While I have not come up with those yet, I have committed to this project. I have taken pictures and am hoping to document this process. I know that in order for me to do something, I must do it quickly or I won’t do it. I hope in the next few days to get this project off the ground and to have it completed by the end of November. Let’s see how this pans out.

First Day of Spring

After what has seemed like the longest winter EVER, it is finally the first day of spring! While it was +1C outside today, it seemed extremely dreary. Saskatoon is generally a very sunny place to live. So when dreary days like this happen, it seems to affect people’s moods a lot. I called a friend saying that I was “bored” for lack of a more descriptive word. In reality, I felt lethargic and unmotivated. Granted, I had biked for 3 hours in the morning, had a 2-hour nap, did my taxes and the dishes. So maybe I was just out of energy and didn’t want to do anymore. Or maybe it was just the grey clouded sky that put a damper on my spirits.

The signs of spring to me are not so much a date, but a smell and a feeling. It has started to smell like spring for sure, but it won’t be until the trees start to bud and the snow melts to make water flow in the streets. Being from the farm, I remember spring being a wonderfully fun time. Water would fill the ditches and us kids couldn’t help but play in the water wearing rubber boots and making rafts. We would find frog eggs in the water and watch as the eggs turned into tadpoles and then into frogs. It just seemed so natural that these little clusters of jelly would turn into hopping frogs. Now there is less water in the ditches and the frogs have all but disappeared. And now, as I have become an urbanite, the signs of spring are not nearly as much fun: dirty streets and wet pants and shoes. However, I have to admit that I will be over-joyed in a couple of weeks when I can get out onto the highway for my first road bike ride of the season!

Happy First Day of Spring!

Smelly Memories

Every once in a while, I have this urge to make split pea soup and when I do, I am reminded of my late grandma. Maybe I have the urge because I just want to feel like she’s near me… or maybe she is and that’s why I get the urge. It’s the smell of the dill in the soup in combination with the root vegetables and split peas (yes, they do have a hint of a smell).

According to How Stuff Works: “A smell can bring on a flood of memories, influence people’s moods and even affect their work performance. Because the olfactory bulb is part of the brain’s limbic system, an area so closely associated with memory and feeling it’s sometimes called the “emotional brain,” smell can call up memories and powerful responses almost instantaneously.”

Today at lunch when I heated up my split pea soup and I started to smell the dill scent wafting, I was brought back to a time in my childhood. There was always a lot of people at my grandparent’s house. With 10 children and many more grandchildren, there was always a lot of kids running around. However, I am brought to a time when I was one of the only kids in the house with my grandma. I was playing in the living room and my grandma was at her post in the kitchen. She would shuffle back and forth from the stove to the cupboard to the table, over and over. She was always cooking for everyone. Her arthritic hands stirred the soup or kneaded the dough… she provided food for her family. When I became a cyclist, she would knit me toque after toque and give it to my mom to give to me to keep my head warm while I biked. I am still amazed at how non-judgmental and supportive she was, even when other people in my family were not.

When she was in the hospital, only days before she passed away after being on this earth for 89 years, I visited her in the evening and fed her ice cream. She loved ice cream, all cream, really. What good Mennonite doesn’t?!? She made a cute comment about how our roles were reversed and I was taking care of her and that this is what happens when one gets old. She lived long enough to see her kids and grandkids take care of her and that was long enough.

All of these memories spawned from a bowl of soup. Isn’t the human mind amazing.