Even more benefits to decluttering

Last week I wrote about the many, many benefits of decluttering. Well, those benefits continue to wash ashore, and I just can’t help but share them.

A special thanks to my amazing, fabulous sister for reminding me that I wanted to write about this. (Seriously, having a Life Coach for a sister is probably the creative person’s version of winning the lottery. A second best might be knowing that there is a person out there who is making it her life’s work to be a professional cheerleader senza pompoms who could work with you to get stuff done.)

The benefits hit me as a kind of tableau this week.

One tableau was when I wanted to put away the boys’ rather impressive costume collection. We had just been playing costumes, and the pieces parts were all over the place. They had all been kinda wedged into a bin in my closet previously. But I had this idea.

I had, once upon a time at Ikea, purchased child size hangers. I bought them before my eldest could dress himself, so I had no understanding of what children and clothes could be like… If I ever thought that girls (okay, me) could be specific about what they wore, little did I know my eldest scalawag would give girls (me) a run for my money. So I generally fold à la KonMari and let him pick out what he wants.

But I decided to hang those costumes in my closet. And guess what? What with my own closet decluttering, my indulgent husband’s modest selection of button downs and cardigans and having completed my seasonal changeover, I had about two feet of empty closet space, which was perfect for those costumes!

So later this week, when my eldest asked for his Superman costume, I went into my Boudoir, looked up, stepped onto my stepstool (which is now easy access, because there is nothing on the floor) grabbed Superman by the hanger and handed him over.

As I stepped off the stepstool, that was the moment when the tableau happened. That moment could have come directly out of a commercial for Ikea. A. I knew exactly where Superman was. B. There was nothing on the floor of my closet, so it looked like a beautifully color-organized boutique thrift store full of rainbow colored petticoats. C. I was dressed cute (something made easier by having decluttered all the stuff that doesn’t look good out of my closet) and my hair looked good, something I noticed because the big big big Ikea mirror in the Boudoir wasn’t covered with things hanging off of it because I had decluttered all the stuff that was in purgatory there.

I let the moment settle in. I love knowing where things are, I whispered to myself, trying to put that tableau into words. But it was more than that. It was more like, I have a really nice little Boudoir, or, Wow, I love my clothes, or even, I kinda like my life.

Decluttering did this, my friends. I went from rooting around a messy bin containing Clark Kent glasses and Batman masks and Paw Patrol masks, looking for a pirate eye-patch, cursing under my breath to thinking, I kinda like my life.

Tableau Two

The second tableau is harder to explain. I struggled to explain it to my sister, who patiently listens to me patter on and on, but I am still going to give it a go.

During my decluttering festival, I managed to empty one entire nightstand drawer. I decide to keep in it the small amount of handspun yarn that survived the decluttering. When I had finished using up that yarn on my fun vesty-bolero thing, (photos will follow, I promise!) Suddenly that drawer was empty but for some moth balls, cedar chips and a little baggie of several inch long pieces of yarn that I am keeping for a Christmas craft.

But wait…did I say that I used up my yarn? Well, not all of my yarn. I still have a few meters of the Peacock Bliss. So I took those few meters and put them in the drawer, which was already prepared with the moth balls and cedar chips. I also had three skeins of a pastel violet yarn a friend’s grandma had passed to me. (She and I had once sat next to each other at a birthday party and we bonded over our love of knitting.) I don’t love purple or pastels, but the gift was so sweet that I had kept them in the ziplocked bag in which they had been given. They had survived the moths and survived the culling. Those went into the drawer, too.

The yarn had been in the drawer all of two hours when I suddenly had an idea of what to make with that purple yarn. Remember, I had organized all my knitting needles. All my notions were now easy access. I took out an little empty metal box and put in the notions I would need (stitch markers, kingfisher needles, cable needles, needle caps, tiny little scissors) and the size needles that I would need. It was like I was doing Mise en Place, but for a craft project.

Life intervened. I couldn’t cast on right away, but I had all the notions together. So I threw one of the purple skeins, my needles and my little metal box into a little bag I had made by sewing the bottom of a little boy t-shirt (one with a digger on it, thank you very much) and I ran off to attend to life.

When I got home and my boys were playing Playmobil, I realized that they really didn’t need me. So I got out my digger t-shirt knitting bag, and cast on.

This was all so easy. When I went to cast on, there was no digging around for the right size stitch markers. There was no growling because I forgot my cable needle. The decluttering meant I knew where everything was and it was all in its place, and doing the Mise en Place meant that I could sit down and work on a project without having to give it a second thought.

I had the real-life thought, Oh, this is the LIFE!

Decluttering did this. Well, decluttering and Mise en Place.

A little encouragement to the overwhelmed

We are one, you and I. I am so easily overwhelmed, so easily distracted by mess and stuff and not knowing where things go. That overwhelm is proof that I am living above what Dana K. White calls my “clutter threshold.” It took something as simple as decluttering for me to go from kryptonite-level overwhelm to whispering things like, “I love my life”.

In the same vein, making Mise en Place a habit took me from having a too-large stash of crafting supplies which made me unlikely to ever start a project because of the effort it would take to find what I would need for a project, to whispering “This is the life,” while actually knitting instead of dreaming about knitting.

Decluttering and Mise en Place. Mise en Place and decluttering. These are our secret weapons in learning to love our life. This is a hill I am willing to die on (but I hope I don’t have to!)

Published by Lily Fields

I am passionate about contentment. This is a challenge, because I am equally passionate about progress. I get up at 4:00AM to chip away at a solution to this monolithic problem: how to make progress on my contentment. Born and raised in the USA, I married a French philosophy teacher in 1999. We have lived in France since 2007. We stayed young and carefree until life threw us two curveballs in the form of little humans one after another in 2015 and 2017 respectively. Now I am a slightly older, slightly more exhausted version of myself, but with mystery stains on my walls and a never-ending pile of laundry.

One thought on “Even more benefits to decluttering

  1. I hope you don’t have to as well!! I so look forward to this tableau!! I have all the material, and thread to make both my babies unicorn quilts, 1 purple, 1 pink. But, ya know, yada yada yada…. I made them both baby quilts, but both are gone forever, due to their idiot dad’s… uh, behavior.
    We shall see if we can figure out a way to get to decluttering, and who we can get to help. All this junk is SMOTHERING ME!! I feel like I’m drowning, but she will NOT let me get rid of anything.


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