I’ve never really blogged like most organizers – I don’t provide handy hints for cleaning the bathtub with eco-friendly products and I’ve never recommended a storage bin in my life. I’ve told you (maybe more than once) that I don’t even own a label maker (sharpies are easier and quicker).
And for a long time this blog was home to send it away Saturday, which I still love. The idea is that decluttering is completely overwhelming and unsustainable if you try to do it all at once. Slow and steady wins that game, so I would share with you something I no longer needed and was letting go each Saturday. Just one and then we’re done. I know that many of you have been playing along too, sharing with me what you’ve been sending away and happily establishing a non-threatening habit of slowly (but steadily) getting rid of what you no longer want, love or need.
The blog just kind of chugged along, and then life happened to me and I’m starting to realize on a whole different level that this decluttering thing is a big deal for all of us, and it’s just not that easy.
I’m in the middle of medical tests for what I hope turns out to be a whole bunch of nothing. But as part of the agonizingly long process, I’m on preventative anti-seizure medication. I haven’t had a seizure but they don’t want me too either, especially when they go in and extract what I’m very much hoping is a benign tumor from the surface of my brain.
And it occurred to me that it might be time to get even realer on the blog. I hesitated to write about this because it might detract from my happy shiny image as a professional organizer, but this whole experience is giving me insights like I never knew I could get into what it’s like to be disorganized and overwhelmed and feel completely helpless and hopeless in the face of it all.
As a result of this medication, I move really slowly now, physically as well as mentally. I need lots of naps and I don’t do phone calls anymore (not that I ever loved them), preferring texts and emails (and blog posts) where I don’t have to react quickly and think on my feet.
Things happen to me, by which I mean I have to go to dentist appointments because all of a sudden it’s the day of the appointment and it becomes too late to cancel without getting a no show fee. Where I once would have scanned my calendar for the week and seen that it was going to be too much to fit in both the dentist and the school pick up, it’s now a matter of making it work somehow so I don’t get that fee.
It feels frustrating and I realize how little control I seem to have over life. Not that I ever did, but at least I could pick when I got my teeth scrubbed.
I’m lucky because eventually I’ll get off this medication. Either I won’t need it anymore or they’ll say I do after the surgery and I’ll explain that this in’t an option anymore and we need to find something less debilitating. Right now I’m putting up with it because I need all my energy for the little bits of work I can still do, and the family stuff I need to do. Haven’t got the bandwidth for discussing medication choices, but if it becomes a long term thing, that’s different.
But either way it’s crystal clear to me that I happened to have the kind of brain that found organizing easy and fun before I took the medication, and now while I’m taking it, I don’t. I’m not lazy, I’m not stupid, I’m not a slob, I just have a rewired brain that doesn’t find any of this stuff innately easy right now. Which means, just like ADHD or depression or any other mental issue that some (frightened) people like to dismiss as a personal weakness, this whole decluttering thing is a brain thing, not a character flaw. No reason to feel bad if you happen to have that kind of a brain. And yes, there are work arounds.
Why am I telling you all this? I guess because I want to reach out across the ether and let you know that although I sincerely meant it all those times I told you I know how hard decluttering can be, making all those choices, physically getting the stuff moving, now I can say I truly do know how hard it is to do anything like that when your brain is foggy and your body isn’t much better. And I’m going to think out loud here on the blog about how we can break things down into steps we might have half a chance of managing.
The whole experience has reemphasized for me that an organized, clutter free home is necessary. But getting there and keeping it there isn’t the simple matter the monthly magazines would have us believe. It’s like climbing Mount Everest to keep track of my checkbook right now, and yet keep track of it I must or we’ll get in serious trouble. The devil most surely is in the details. Keeping track of them, remembering they even exist. I have a checkbook? Hmm, how about that!
I’m going to keep thinking about all this, in between naps, and I’d love to hear from you too. Comment here or email me (no phone calls, please): What have you done that helps you work around the fact that your brain just wasn’t built to naturally organize?
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Joyful Surroundings LLC
Everything feels better with an organized home!