Savoring the moments of piles on the floor and cluttered closets

Over the last two weeks, I have realized that I really need to do some closet cleaning. This feeling has been augmented by a couple of factors. One is that my middle son is packing to go away to college.  He leaves a week from today.  Outside of his room, in the lower level of our house, there are piles that are growing and then being reduced at the same time as the items get categorized and put into boxes.  He is doing a good job and I am trying to stay out of it, for he will be the one to unpack and needs to know where he put a particular item. Currently, I am trying to savor the moments with him, so while the piles for any other reason would definitely agitate me, these are not. They’ll be gone and so will he, sooner than I want.

The other factor that leads to me wanting to clean out is that I’m reading The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. In it, she discusses the “jazz” or “jolt of feel good hormones” she got when she cleaned out her closet. Hmmmm. I’ve cleaned closets before and while I felt purposeful while doing it and accomplished when finished, I am not sure I got a “high” in the process.  I somehow recall feeling overwhelmed and frustrated by the task. But, the walk in closet I share with my husband has been calling me for a couple of months, or maybe it’s been years, to really give it a good cleaning. While not a packrat or a hoarder, things still accumulate. It’s time for a purge.

Purging won’t be easy for me and this is probably the single most important reason why it is not done more often. I sentimentally hold on to things – too many things. There are pieces of elementary school artwork from my boys, piles of my papers written in the past four years of grad school, out grown clothes, favorite sweatshirts from college, my stash of candy, extra school supplies, my “gift” tote – where I store gifts for people who I have purchased out of sync with their respective birthdays or upcoming holiday, six dictionaries I bought for my writer’s circle some years ago, and so much more. But, each time I look at these things I recall a memory or the person for whom they were bought or gave them to me. I recall the hours of work I spent on crafting a paper I was proud to turn in. I am almost ashamed to say I still do that as a 50-something old woman. But, having the paper reminds me of my own hard work.

A large part of Rubin’s book – one of her “commandments” is “Be Gretchen.”  I’ve been embracing that ideology and am finding that I’m happiest when I’m “Being Carol.”   I am who I am. When I am being truest to myself, even with all my quirks, intensities, and yes, even cluttered closets, I am happy.  So, the piles downstairs will disappear. soon enough. My closet will stay cluttered for just a little longer, and I’ll savor these last few days with my son.

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