Friday, August 29, 2008


Natalie Goldberg says to write about our obsessions, and lately I’m obsessed with organization. It all comes of being born two days shy of Virgo, I think. That is not to say I’m an organized person; on the contrary. However, I always have this nagging sense that if only I could get my life organized enough, it would stay that way. Ha!

Seven years ago we built a fairly small house (by American standards--I’m sure it is practically a palace compared to much of the world) for several reasons, including limitations on time and money and a desire to minimize our use of resources (and cleaning time). As our family has grown, we’ve resisted adding on for the same reasons. However, that does not mean that we don’t sometimes get frustrated by the lack of space. I have lately been feeling like there is nowhere for me to do anything in the house, thus the impetus for the organizing frenzy (OK, it’s not exactly a frenzy, more of a languid hum, but whatever).

First, I took on the desk (which is doing a fair job of holding its own against marauding piles, although there is a small stack of papers there I need to deal with) and now I have a place to sit and write. Next came the sewing area. For a time I had sewing stuff spread over all three floors of the house--most of the material and supplies stored in the basement, my sewing machine sharing space with my desk, later moved upstairs to a small table in my room, my cutting mat and ruler behind the filing cabinet and various tools scattered at all points in between. The table in my room was too small and the corner cramped, so last weekend I hauled a somewhat larger table out of the basement and placed it on the opposite wall, improving the situation 100%.

The two drawers hold all of the supplies I need on a regular basis--thread, scissors, pins, etc.--so I don’t have to run downstairs constantly, I can use my dresser for cutting and ironing, as long as it doesn’t get piled with clothes, and the material and notions are still in the basement--in increasingly more organized bins. I created a reading nook on the opposite wall, for when hammock season is over (like last week), as long as it doesn’t get piled with clothes.

Finally, to organize my life, I ran across this simple notebook system on one blog I enjoy reading. I set one up last weekend, following basically the same format (minus the pretty colored markers and little drawings), with “ideas” where she has “blog” and a box at the bottom of the “food” column for “exercise.” It’s amazing how motivating a big empty space there is. It’s also impossible to hide “one bag of maple cotton candy” when you write down everything you eat all day (I have heard this is an effective weight-loss tool; we’ll see if it makes a dent in the twin-belly). Having a list of “to do’s” has been super helpful: the first day I wrote “yoga” in that box, and found I couldn’t go to bed until I had done 10 or 15 minutes of stretches (for the first time in months, ow), and have done it every day since. I don’t get everything done on the list, but I get a lot more done more efficiently than when I tried to keep it all in my head, and I find I enjoy sitting down throughout the day (at my desk), checking off things, adding more. The “gratitude” box should be interesting for me, ungrateful wretch that I am…maybe it will keep me from sinking into a pit of despair as we slide into the season that starts with “w” and ends in “inter.”

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