While I have worked hard as an adult to overcome that childhood model of living in a constant state of chaos, I still struggle with it on a regular basis. I do my best to create a (fairly) neat and clutter-free house. Most of our "living spaces", where we spend the majority of our time, are relatively neat. But step into a closet, my office, or open up a cupboard and you're likely to find things shoved in where they don't belong, just so they're out of sight.
I become close to paralyzed and almost unable to function, think clearly, or work productively, efficiently, or creatively when I am surrounded by clutter. I've been feeling a lot of underlying anxiety in the last several months. As I've been evaluating how I can reduce the anxiety, and free up some of the creative energy that is brewing in my soul, a scripture from the Doctrine & Covenants began replaying itself over and over again in my head:
"Organize yourselves; prepare every needful thing; and establish a house, even a house of prayer, a house of fasting, a house of faith, a house of learning, a house of glory, a house of order, a house of God." (D&C 88:119)
I know that the stirrings I've felt are God's way of nudging me along in the direction that I need to go to accomplish the goals and dreams I have for myself and my family.
Over the holidays, I cleaned out my closet. I got rid of 3 huge bags of clothes, including some things I haven't worn in 10 years. It felt good.
Last week, when I came home from church, I found that my sweet husband had added a shelf to the top of the pantry wall (without being asked, nagged, or bribed either!). This added about 5 square feet of shelf space, which doesn't seem like much, but it made a difference. I spent the last 3 days sorting, organizing, and cleaning my pantry and food storage cabinets. I don't have any "before" pictures, but here are they are "after":
While I don't have a lot of cupboard space in the kitchen (aside from the huge pantry), I do have almost wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling cupboards in the laundry room. While many of these are used for cleaning supplies, swim towels, laundry necessities, and the like, I also use the laundry room to house the less oft-used kitchen accessories, and as an additional food storage location.
I have one cupboard for "wet" food:
And one cupboard for "dry" food:
When I finished today, I stood back and looked at my efforts, and felt a huge sense of accomplishment. It was good to know that in an emergency, I could feed my family pretty well for at least a couple of weeks. In addition to the outward sense of a job well-done, I felt some of my anxiety dissipate. I have a long way to go to work my way through the cupboards, file cabinets, desk drawers, and closet spaces that clutter up my life. But I know I'll get there.
Just as I must clean out the tangible clutter of my life, so I must also clean out the clutter and unwanted occupants of my mind and spirit. There are shelves in my mind scattered with pieces of grief, anger, hurt, loss, and sadness that are blocking some of the beauty and creativity that is trying to make itself known. I'm feeling a tremendous urgency to write . . . and not just because Steve is counting down the years until he is able to retire on my dime. I've got several book ideas stirring in my mind, but making them a reality requires me to clear out the garbage before I can get to the good stuff.
Life is an interesting thing . . . so often we lose sight of those things that matter most, simply because they're covered up by a layer of junk. Here's to "creating order", both outside, and in.