Tidying Up in the New Year is a chat about cleaning house, home organization, and letting go. If you are ready to get a handle on: clutter, dust, and crumbs as well as clarity for your goals and plans for 2022, I hope this will stir you before you roll up your sleeves. As for me, goodness gracious, I’ll be packing up the whole house since we’ll call a new house home after February.
Tidying Up in the New Year: Who is Busy Organizing?
Even though it’s tempting, I won’t offer one of those “Pimp your junk drawer, change your life” ditties (although you’d be surprised how many folks would click through with a title like that!). Rather, let’s take a gentle philosphical approach. If you’re like me, gentle is most welcome right now.
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While I’m often motivated to tackle rooms, closets, and storage spaces this time of year, I also know the execution must get done in bursts and from a place of stillness. Wait, stillness? Yep. I can no longer be productive in a hyped up, feverish, caffeinated attack.
And I cannot compare my strides with anyone else’s or think about being some sort of organizing role model for a blog.
I learned all sorts of wisdom awhile back when I connected with a friend who was psyched to show me all the organization strides she made.
In Case You Need a Few Organizing Essentials
A Friend Gets Organized
It was inspiring to see her impressive organization…the sorted piles, and sparkling dust-free shelves.
So I listened to her describe the process to bring order to her home. I wanted to learn more about how paring down, casting off, and sprucing up uplifted and empowered her.
She is one of those cool, calm, steady types, and it was inspiring to note how her eye remained on the prize, yet she did not fret about the process or the time required to reach the finish line.
With perseverance and mindfulness, she simply kept triumphing, step by step.
Plans to Divide & Conquer
She highly recommends the bestseller below to jumpstart home organization, and the book endorses organizing by category.
For example, when she addressed her stockpile of cleaning supplies, she reports it was eye-opening to discover how she owned multiples of products spread across different locations.
When she addressed shoe organization, again, she was astonished by the sheer volume of shoes overflowing from various locations. She chose to donate half of those shoes, and the what was left went to one home in clear view (I saw ’em with my own eyes!).
Decluttering Lesson from Marie Kondo
Jen’s motivation to increase her sense of freedom and enjoy her home in a fresh way reminded me how the time is always ripe to begin!
Why Bother Organizing?
Is it time to explore how your clothing, decor, objects, and clutter are affecting your daily lifestyle, function, energy level, and health?
Because a well organized home does more than serve you better in terms of TIME and efficiency.
As we create more order at home in drawers, closets, and pantries, we may also be ushering in a pervasive sense of calm. (Lord knows that in the third year of the 2020s, we need as much calm up in here as possible!)
Speaking of ushering in calm, did you read my post about paint colors for 2022 RIGHT HERE?
Addressing the Stuff of Life
The dawn of a new year always feels like a natural time to address my stuff, and *big surprise* my issues bubble up whenever I address my stuff.
Since I’m highly sensitive to nostalgia (an emotional memory is attached to every scrap through which I sort!), confronting papers, files, and collected things stirs up all the feels.
Don’t Go it Alone!
Thank goodness I have teachers and hand-holders in my life to help! My sister Jody and my parents are pros because they have a different organizational style and actually feel energized by the whole corralling process.
It’s not a coincidence I frequently blog about peace and serenity; I’m often compelled to create more at home.
Here’s an incredible find to learn to embrace the imperfect!
Pushing Through If You’re Not Naturally Neat
Some of us must push through despite the overwhelm, and I am living proof you can be more organized even if the skill does not occur naturally for you!
Whether we’re clinging to physical or metaphysical things, so much of personal growth involves emptying.
We get to choose the things we will offer ourselves to and choose the things we will release.
Wisdom from a National Treasure
Quaker author and elder Parker Palmer is a spiritual teacher for me who beautifully writes about his evolving perspective and changing priorities as he grows older:
“Most older folks I know fret about unloading material goods they’ve collected over the years, stuff that was once useful to them but now prevents them from moving freely about their homes. There are precincts in our basement where a small child could get lost for hours.”
Make Room for Freedom
I love the idea of removing goods which are obstacles to us moving with more freedom about our homes!
“But the junk I really need to jettison in my old age is psychological junk—such as longtime convictions about what gives my life meaning that no longer serve me well. For example, who will I be when I can no longer do the work that has been a primary source of identity for me for the past half century?”
De-cluttering Psychological Junk
The psychological junk inevitably rises to the surface for me when my fingers and attention begin addressing the material junk I have collected! I become aware of the feelings underlying the junk. And I am challenged to re-examine the value and relevance of these physical things to who I have become.
The author says he has discovered a new question which leads him to a fresh understanding of what it is he should retain and what should be scrapped.
Palmer says, “I no longer ask, ‘What do I want to let go of, and what do I want to hang on to?’ Instead I ask, “What do I want to let go of, and what do I want to give myself to?”
Can you sense the potential power of such a shift in perspective?
What do I want to let go of, and what do I want to give myself to?
He expands upon ideas of fear and abundance.
Fear & Abundance
“The desire to ‘hang on’ comes from a sense of scarcity and fear. The desire to “give myself” comes from a sense of abundance and generosity. That’s the kind of truth I want to wither into.”
Even if we’re not in extreme hoarding mode, we may still be clinging to material goods at an unhealthy level, mirroring our fear and sense of scarcity and keeping us from peace.
Oh the paradox of letting go to gain abundance!
Here’s a great book by Palmer:
YOUR TURN. What new freedoms will you receive in this new year?
What will you choose TO GIVE YOURSELF TO in 2022? If you plan to welcome more calm into your interiors, be inspired by the exquisitely tranquil design within the home of a legendary design team:
Thanks for bravely exploring figurative interiors with me as we consider how we might begin to transform in important ways and give of ourselves more fully.
I independently selected products in this post—if you buy from one of my links, I may earn a commission.
Peace to you right where you are.
Shop for items you already intended to buy on Amazon RIGHT HERE, and also find home decor here to keep decor inspiration flowing on Hello Lovely!
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Very thought provoking. I’m in the middle of a huge purge in our garage because we are eliminating a storage unit that contains items We haven’t used in three years. What does that tell you? I love the phrase What do I want to give myself to? Really makes one think. Thank you for this most thoughtful post.
I know you love Marie Kondo, Kathy! Thanks for taking the time to read this. We all have excess, and I don’t think there is one organization prescription for us all, so we have to begin with some soul housekeeping first to determine what’s going on and to set some intentions. What is beautiful is how once we get brave and begin to let go, we start to feel lighter. A harmony begins to hum. For me, it’s never a one and done sort of deal. I have to keep learning and re-learning because I’m still growing! Peace to you, friend.
I agree that the beginning of a new year is a good time to declutter and organize, and that’s what I’ve been doing this week! I’ve read Kondos book and just started watching her new series on Netflix. I choose to embrace some of her technique and let go of other suggestions. I like the idea of taking it slow and knowing that it will never be “perfect”. Good luck on your organization Michele!
Good for you, Karen! I have some piles I now need to address – things I must decide to sell online or donate. I am trying to focus on that great feeling I will have when the piles are gone! I need reminders it will never be perfect because I am prone to idealizing. Thank you for adding to the beauty here. xox
First off, let me say that images of your home are a very calming and beautifully lovely sight always. I never tire of looking at beautiful light rooms.
Secondly….about decluttering. Oooh I could write a book myself about it! Everyone (yes me too!) has some degree of clutter. But I think the key to keeping it under control is not waiting till it feels overwhelming but rather have ‘scheduled’ times for continued decluttering. Depending on their degree of comfort with clutter, for some that process is daily or weekly. For others it may be once or twice a year. However, what constitutes clutter varies from person to person. Some people live in what I personally would call cluttered and yet it doesn’t bother them one bit and they happily live within their environment. 😉
I have my own personal take about clutter: I know so, so, so many people who are living lives of constant stress. Always seeming to battle simple illnesses such as colds. Always running late. Always saying “Oh you can come over…just don’t mind the dirt & mess.” I also notice these people tend to live in much more cluttered, messy and yes, dirtier environments. Could it be that their environment contributes to their illnesses, their lack of being on time, constant stress, etc.? I believe it does, though there are many who’d debate that issue. 😉
Harmony within our environment is when we feel at peace with it. For some too few “things” around them causes stress…they often feel (as some have personally told me), “… like I’m going to spin out into space without all my stuff around me!” Others feel stressed when they have too much around them, some feeling near to the point of claustrophobic. It is such a personal thing.
Finding our comfort zone, our zen, our sanctuary is indeed one of the secrets to our overall happiness and well-being.
Wow! This so perfectly adds to the beauty of the topic. I’m inspired and will return to your words again since I need to write more on the psychology behind clutter and comfort with material things. Thank you thank you, friend!
Thank you Michele 🙂 I’d love to see some posts on the psychology behind clutter. There is so much to be said about it.
Working on it, friend. 🙂
I agree clutter affects the senses. I always feel agitated when I visit a friend who has a very cluttered home. To her, everything is precious in her home. I would love to help her but know it will never happen, as she sees her home as “decorated”, while I see old things, too many pieces and dust.
I declutter twice a year, maybe more. Every Christmas, I sort through my decor, buy what fits my theme and donate many pieces I no longer display. A new one in, an old one out! Every spring & fall, I sort through my clothes and donate what I no longer want to wear/fit/instyle. January will always find me sorting through my cupboards & drawers. As I get older, my decor is getting whittled down to a few choice pieces. I prefer bigger statement pieces to many littles and those that tell a story of who we are and the life we’ve lead. I’ll never understand a house decorated by Home Goods. Those homes look staged versus lived.
Your home is beautiful and serene, Michele! That, and your words, convey a calm, beautiful person. I’m happy to have stumbled upon your blog.
That topic of decor where everything is precious and hands off would be an interesting one! I think I’m the same way about going for grander statement pieces and feeling annoyed with all the “littles.” Thanks for the encouragement – I enjoy decorating with a light and simple hand!
Oh Joanna….I SO know exactly what you mean! 🙂 I feel the same way every time I visit a couple of my sibling’s homes. Their homes are extremely crowded with so much furniture, pictures, tchotchkes, etc. and their “vintage treasures” that are often just old stuff they can’t get rid of, and all the accompanying dust because they both hate to clean and think a poster that says “My house is clean enough to be healthy and messy enough to be happy” or “This house is lived in, it’s not for show. If you don’t like the mess you know where to go” or “Messy people live here; get over it!” will be reason enough for their home’s condition. UGH! My father, who also liked a clean and organized home, once asked me to help one of my siblings “get rid of all her crap”. I laughed but then seriously told him “Nope. Can’t be done. She says she needs all this stuff.” Ah well……. 😉
Like you I too have seasonal decluttering and donating what I don’t need/want/doesn’t fit me or my lifestyle anymore. Honestly the word that describes my feeling when that’s all done is “liberated”. 🙂
We know there will always be those who live in a more “full” (cluttered?) home and those of us who enjoy more space created by “less” around us. I guess that’s one of those things that makes us individuals and reminds us that we must learn to live together in this beautiful and lovely world.
So beautifully stated Michele! Only you can turn cleaning the closet into a spiritual journey of letting go and opening ourselves to greater gifts from God!! You’re the best!!
That is gratifying to hear, Holly. Thank you so much for lifting me up. xox
What a lovely, soothing post. The photos of your house are so beautiful, and it looks so calming and wonderful. Thank you for sharing this at Thursday Favorite Things!
I’m so flattered, Pam. Thank you so much.
Perfect home with everything in it’s place! Stunning home with a calm and cozy feel. Happy New Year, Kippi #kippiathome
Thanks so much for the kind words!
You have inspired me! What a motivational and calming post. I just love your home. I have featured this post at Thursday Favorite Things today. Thanks for sharing with us!
Yay! Thanks so much for the support, Pam. I’m so honored and truly love partying with you ladies whenever I can. Heading over now! 🙂
Michele, I am so jealous!! That Spice drawer!! In my dream kitchen, maybe. Featuring you again this week at the TFT party! Wonderful week full of blessings to you.
What a blessing to connect with you in blogland, Theresa! I should show you how my spices are “organized” in my pantry — it would make everyone feel superior since they are a disaster! Hahahaha! Thank you for the feature and for hosting so graciously each week. I’ll be over to visit asap!
Give yourself to those cookies, Michele! Happy New Year!
Permission granted! Yay! Happy 2021, friend. Thanks for reading.
Can you tell me the brand and/or where to get the wallpaper in the powder room images from this post?
Isn’t it dreamy? It’s Thibaut’s Lizette, and I bought it from a showroom at the Merchandise Mart in Chicago, but you can plug in your location and find a retailer or designer to order it from: https://www.thibautdesign.com/catalog/product/details/product/lizette_t36152/material/wallpaper/colorway/white_and_grey_644/
You MUST write a book – your blog post simply need to be “organized” ( see how I did that) into a lovely coffee table book.
The pictures ,the quotes, the wisdom and reason to stop and ponder …. Yes you must
Thank you for the encouragement – I do need to organize the content. I appreciate your endorsement! 🙂
I had a conversation with my daughter today about how we sometimes misidentify things as emotions and emotions as things. How we can either pitch things, when we’re really trying to rid ourselves of unwanted emotions. And at other times we cling to things, as substitutes for the emotions we desire. Organizing is not for the fainthearted. Thank you, Michele!
So much wisdom and rich food for thought – holy moly. THANK YOU! xox
I agree with Marilyn!!