Monday, August 11, 2008

Decluttering the Soul

Been working 24/7 the last few months (always wanted to say 24/7 although it's more accurate to say 12-14/7) and am weary and a bit emotional. I decided to take the week off from the usual Black Mermaid activities including blogging. A week off didn't mean I was in the clear though – for normal people a week off would constitute a flight to a tropical island somewhere to sip cocktails at sunset and to skinny dip at a secluded beach (which is what my friend Rod did last year in Fiji around this time!), or perhaps going into the city and staying at a five-star hotel and having spa treatments while eating strawberries dipped in chocolate. A perfect week for me would be packing up a big fat suitcase of books I've been dying to read and just sitting down and polishing them off one after the other. I remember keeping tabs of my reading activities while I was at school – I think my bumper year was around 180 to 200. Not these days. Now, it's more like one every fortnight. And as far as my week off went, well it actually constituted a massive decluttering of my studio.

Anyway, I'm now happily looking at a wide expanse of pink carpet in my office. Gone are the scattered messy piles of filing – all I have left in the actual office is one large laundry bucket of paperwork to sort, which I will work on bit by bit during this week. I've reorganised my filing system, thrown out lots of rubbish, dusted, collated, and archived some comics artwork including an old WaveDancer piece that Jozef gave me as a gift several years ago, as well as a wonderful page by artist Paul Abstruse from WitchKing. The artwork is nestled safely in a portfolio folder until such time that I find some fabulously wicked frames and hang them on the wall.

I do feel that decluttering is good for the soul – it frees up mental, emotional and physical energy and I most certainly am feeling fresher today. Jack Canfield and co-author Janet Switzer devote an entire chapter to it in their book The Success Principles: How to Get from Where You Are to Where You Want to Be. They talk about cleaning up your messes and your incompletes, and about completion consciousness.  I also heard about another book with the rather amusing title Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat? where the author Peter Walsh recognised a correlation between clutter and being unhealthy. Apparently, many of his clients found that they dropped weight once they cleaned up their homes. I haven't read the book, but it sounds about right.

My job is by no means finished. I still have two tables in the garage with about eight boxes left to sort. That is my goal for this year. My 2009 decluttering goal will be to go through about five years worth of old newspapers I haven't read but hoarded. It sounds obsessive and it undoubtedly is, but I don't intend to read them except for any articles that jump out at me or inspire me creatively or give me ideas for stories. One of the most important things to do if you're a writer is to read read read constantly. I keep these old newspapers because occasionally I come across a story or a photo that just leaps off the page and gets my creativity flowing. I cut those out and stick them into a scrapbook, which is full of pictures mostly – faces, eye colours, costumes, nature, architecture – you name it. 

My 2010 goal will be to sort through and archive all my old photos, as well as all the torn out recipes from magazines which would take about 100 years of fulltime cooking to test every one of them. Got to cull cull cull. Got to dump dump dump. A few years ago I taught my equally messy niece a little chant when she discarded stuff all over her bedroom floor or the rest of the house: "You took it out; you put it back." I really need to start implementing my own advice on the moment rather than in retrospect. Consequently, I am working hard at consciously breaking old habits by putting things away or throwing them out once I have finished using them rather than letting them pile up. And that includes reading papers within a week of being purchased otherwise it's the rubbish bin!

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