Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2008: The Year of Purging

I've thought for a couple of days about how I could compose a wonderful, inspiring blog for January 2 that would have your raring to go in the new year. But I'm still yawning and tired from all the holiday activity, and I'm feeling like I'm still hauling a load from 2007.

I'm not big on setting a resolution for a new year -- they are too quickly broken -- and if I can't keep a promise to myself, then how can I keep them to others?

But I will say that I have a goal in 2008 to PURGE! Bit by bit.

The obvious first purge would be a wealth of extra pounds that have crept back upon my body in what seems like an overnight reconnaissance mission. I let loose between Thanksgiving and the New Year, and am I happier for it? NO! Truly they have gotten there because I've been lazy about all things, including exercise, food choices, and health conscious habits. First step was to start a gentle 60-day cleanse yesterday. Step 2 will be working on cutting out carbs (striking those whites -- sugar, flour, potatoes, rice, much dairy, and so on -- as well as highly processed foods) from my diet. Step 3 is back to the old treadmill.

The next purge has to happen in my house. I can't get to the important projects (including treadmill) due to all the clutter that has accumulated in 2007. I have too many hobbies and too many volunteer efforts that create boxes stuffed with stuff. I've got to eliminate the unnecessary in things as well as in my activities.

This quote says it all:
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”
by Hans Hofmann (German Painter, one of the most influential art teachers of the 20th century. 1880-1966)

I can see how this could relate to his painting as well as most all other areas of life, including writing.

You've heard it preached that if a scene doesn't move the story ahead, then it should be eliminated. Hurts, but true.

It can be hard to purge the clutter from life, but we will feel so much better and have a much more productive future if we can just dump the junk. So here is to a 2008 full of purging.

What to purge starter list (I'm preaching these to myself and hope a few stick):
  • wasted calories on any food that doesn't give real fuel for living a happy, healthier life. I'm not a calorie counter. Hate those numbers. I just rank food by value to me.
  • things in the closets and store rooms that haven't been touched in the last 6 months and you have no specific plan to use in the coming 6 months. Just don't be like me when you consider the stuff in the back of your closet and say, "I forgot I had that. It is a perfectly good ____ (dress, shoe, etc.). I should wear that sometime." Just face it, you won't wear it, and it's just clutter weighing you down. We all gravitate to the comfortable standards.
  • computer files you haven't opened in 3 months. If it is something you must keep, archive it to a CD and store it in a fire-safe box. Your computer will run like it's a young pup.
  • condiments in the frig that are older than 3 months.
  • things in the freezer older than 9 months.
  • unfinished projects. Plan to finish the project within a reasonable timetable or just dump it now. So what do I do with that half-stitched quilt on the frame for the last, oh, 5 years?
  • Books. I know they are like old friends, but how many friends can one person really manage? If you know that you will absolutely not read or reread it in the next say 2 years, then pass it along to someone who will. But that still doesn't help me with my antique book collection. I keep them for historic and beauty value -- right?
  • Commitments that clutter your time and raise your stress level. We all have good things we want to do, but too many good things spread our time and energy so thin that we become ineffective in most all areas. Prayerfully resolve to only do the best of the best work. Learn when and how to effectively say no. For me, if running around doing a worthy volunteer job or sitting and watching another reality show on TV cuts into precious prayer and Bible study time, it should be cut from my life. Guard that time with God like a bulldog. Once it slides, it is hard to get it back up on the priority post.
  • wasted words. Learn how to write tight in your books, letters, and even emails so that your message can be delivered with more power. Unnecessary adverbs, repetitive phrases, overused cliches, and the like clutter up our message and weaken the delivery.
Quotable thoughts:

“We live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.”
by Oscar Wilde (Irish Poet, Novelist, Dramatist and Critic, 1854-1900)

“Unnecessary possessions are unnecessary burdens. If you have them, you have to take care of them! There is great freedom in simplicity of living. It is those who have enough but not too much who are the happiest.”
Peace Pilgrim (American Teacher and Spiritual leader and Peace Prophet, 1908-1981) -- Not familiar with her, but they are wise words.

Here's hoping you have a happy new year in which you can lighten many of life's burdens from your load.

(Cute picture of Christmas packages and surprises. Hopefully these didn't add too much clutter to what my family already possesses.)


The Imaginary Blog said...

Wise words, Becky. I'm already taking them to heart. I have the back of my car filled with clothes that I don't wear (how could they have all SHRUNK that much?) and by the time I might be able to fit into them, they'd be so out of style I'd never wear them. So off they go to the ARC (local charity).

Books are getting boxed to take to a library. I figure if somehow a truckload of time gets dumped into my life, I can go back to the library and check the books out!

I don't quilt but if I had a partially-done one on a frame, I'd leave it. I was reading in a knitting book about leaving small leftover balls of yarn in a basket so guests can knit on a continuing stream of, well, knitted something (guess I should have paid closer attention!), sort of a knitted guest book. Maybe you could do that. "Welcome to my home. Would you like a glass of lemonade? Quilt's there. Get started."

Happy New Year!

JanetS, Decluttering!

Anita Mae said...

After 30 yrs of marriage, I have been trying to purge my house and life of only those things that really matter but it is sooooo hard. I started last year by selling some extras on ebay. It worked well but took a lot of time that I could've been writing instead.
I used to keep blue recycling bags of the kids' clothes in the quonset in case a local family needed them but last summer I decided it was time and started carting them to the Salvation Army. When my husband was a boy in Germany with the Canadian Armed Forces, the SA was there at Christmas giving out toys and stuff. He remembers them fondly and would like that to be our charity of choice for clothes and books.
I even gave them dh's paperback Louis L'Amour collection but kept the hardcovers. A week later, I approached a used book store. They didn't want the HB's but would've given good money for the paperbacks. I hope the SA got some money from them at least.
Oh - hubby didn't want them anymore as he reads the inspirationals and Christian fiction along with me.
I still have aways to go in my purging, both in my weight and in my house. I think in my life as well. I have secular books that I've read that have nothing to do with God. Same for CD's and TV shows. Whether they are 'Restricted' or not, they still put images into my mind that dwell there. I don't need that.
So, purging sounds like an excellent resolution. Thanks.

Jess said...

What a wonderful post, Becky. I wish I could lose 100 pounds, write at least 100 pages each month and throw away 100 boxes of who-knows-what in my house and garage. :-) I just can't get a handle on where to start or how to do it. Except for the writing. That's a given and my dh suspects it's my escape from the other two things on this list.

The Imaginary Blog said...

Oh, one other thing. Towels, blankets, and throws that I'm not using are going to the Humane Society. Actually the cats and dogs are getting some pretty nice stuff this week. They'll be snuggly warm!

JanetS, still decluttering

Rhonda said...

Great post Becky!! I started purging this week, too. I'm trying to get back to "normal". Ok. Normal for me. Like you, I over ate during the holidays, have way to many craft projects, and even need to give away a lot of my friendly books. Nice to see I'm not alone in this endeavor. Thanks!!

Blissful said...

Well, I certainly didn't overeat -I had a bad stomach flu Christmas week and was "self purging" to beat the band on Christmas Day. Ugh. But my hubby has already decided to start the purge of our basement book collection we had previously gathered while home schooling our son and is now collecting nothing but dust bunnies. I also hope to keep myself in some kind of shape after life on the Appalachian Trail - like running and curbing my consumption of dark chocolate M&M's. Gotta watch those antioxidants. Sigh.

The Write Life said...

Looks like this is the year of dejunking! We're also changing over our eating habits and spending habits, trying to avoid the clutter before it comes in the house or our bodies. But we have a lot of purging to do, too, to make up for NOT doing it all in the past. Writing is the only thing I'm planning to binge on.


Lynette Sowell said...

It's so true how our lives get padded with stuff, committments, stuff, etc... How all these things attach themselves, I have no idea. During the time between Christmas and New Year's, my dh cleared out a bunch of stuff from the shed. My daughter took 3 bags of clothes to Salvation Army. And me? I'm going to pare down my bookshelves. And schedule. :)

Mary Connealy said...

Becky, it's like you wrote this straight to me. All four of my daughters have moved out now, so WHY are my closets, in empty bedrooms, so full of junk. I've just got to get tough. No more cute prom dresses saved for posterity. No more and it's not that the girls are begging me to save them. I just don't get around to dealing with anything.
I need to start filling black plastic bags with these things. One bag per night. For three hundred years, and I'd be done.

And why, when I re-read a book I've written do I see all these dangling extra words? Why can't I see them to begin with and just not add them. Assuming I am catching tons of them, it boggles the mind to think how many I'd put in without restraint.

Becky said...

I've also thought about purging old, damaging emotions/hurts. Those can really drag down a soul. I've heard of family members not talking for years just for some thoughtless things spoken out of frustration. We must forgive and move on.

Sounds like some of you are way ahead of me on the purging. Way to go.

Read this article yesterday. Sounds like cleaning up, organizing, purging, and the like can actually help you lose the weight too. "A Clutter Too Deep for Mere Bins and Shelves" in NY Times

Anonymous said...

“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.”

Wish I'd said that! It's a keeper, and one I'll memorize for 2008. Thanks for the timely post, Becky.