A Patchwork Fall

A Patchwork Fall
"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art." ~Paul Cezanne~

October 2, 2015

A Place of Sanctuary: If I tidy up my home life, it will benefit my professional life.

The following is a blog post I recently published on my LinkedIn site - with a few minor changes and updates.

I have been moving through life in the past few years in a constant state of stress. I’m sure many of you relate. Not that there aren’t moments of joy, but the demands of my professional career and my personal roles as mother and wife are often hard to balance, let alone try to find a few minutes of serenity and quiet for myself. My brain is constantly buzzing with “to-do” lists: things I need to take care of when I get to the office, things I need to remember to do on my way home from work, things I need to do when I get home from work…and how to cram it all in two the 2-3 hours I have in the evening for preparing dinner for my family, packing school lunches for the next morning, getting my children into PJs with teeth brushed, and (most importantly) story time and snuggles for bedtime. And, let’s be honest, even though I have a huge laundry list of items (and actual laundry!) to take care of after the kids are tucked in to bed, the reality is that I fall asleep in the reclining chair in my kid’s bedroom about 90% of the time at that point when I sit down to snuggle with my 5-year-old before tucking him in. My level of productivity for that day has ceased while I then have dreams (or sometimes nightmares) about the things I need to get done the next day.

We all need a place of “sanctuary.” Whether we work in the home or out of it, our home should be a place that we can feel safe, calm, and serene. It should be a place we look forward to spending time in, and where we can shut our brains off for a little while to recharge. But, as I have wandered the rooms of my home in the past while, I realize it is not. 

The moment I walk in the door from my very full days at work, I am bombarded by a disheartening array of clutter: dirty socks on the floor (in the kitchen!), dirty dishes in the sink, toys on the floor, the fireplace, the dressers, the bathroom… There is “visual noise” everywhere I look. And, instead of feeling happy and peaceful when I arrive home, I feel oppressed and inferior. As if, somehow, I should be able to manage my life well enough that my house will always be sparkly clean, my office will always be tidy, my professional and personal projects will always be organized and completed ahead of time, and my kids will always behave... Somehow I should be the perfect Pinterest Mom, the always attentive and never stressed Wife, and the completely ironed and put together Professional and Professional Artist.

Ha! We all know THAT’s not going to happen.

But, I have found a glimmer of hope. I have a plan. Not to become the “perfect everything,” but to improve my sense of balance and peace (both at home and at work), and to increase my productivity (both at home and at work).
I recently finished reading a book called “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” by Marie Kondo (#konmari).

This book was very timely for my life right now, and it resonated with me very deeply. While I was listening to the audio book and then re-reading sections of the printed book, the thought came to me:

“If I tidy my home…if I create a Sanctuary for myself and my family – where we can come home from work and school each day and feel peaceful and enjoyment, then my brain and my soul will be refreshed each day. I will sleep more restfully. I will wake up refreshed instead of bombarded by those same elements of ‘visual noise’ that I came home to the night before. I will leave my house each morning feeling less tense and more peaceful. If I wake each day with joy because I have surrounded myself only with the things that bring me joy – and decluttered my space by removing all those items that do not – then I will arrive at work cheerfully and peacefully. I will be more productive! Not just at work, but in all areas of my life. I will be less stressed! Not just at work, but in all areas of my life. I will feel joy every day.”

Don’t get me wrong. By creating “sanctuary” at home I don’t have the misconception that there will never be toys or dirty socks on the floor when I arrive home. There will always be toilets to scrub and laundry to do. However, I do believe that, by decluttering our lives, it will be much easier for my family to take 5-10 minutes each night to “tidy” up each of our personal spaces…and then the peacefulness will quickly return. (Hint: I’ve already started trying this “tidy” approach with my 5-year-old when I get home from work. He is eager to pick up his dirty clothes and put them in the hamper, then put his stuffed animals on the bed. It is quick and easy, and he has made mommy happy in the process. It only takes him 2-3 minutes to do this! Soon, we will have a home for everything he has, and it will be easy for him to keep everything in its place - or put it there quickly.)

When we have created our Sanctuary at home, we can more fully enjoy ourselves as a family and find the respite we each need each day. We can each have a little personal time free of the stress of being bombarded by visual noise. We can recharge for the next day.

As I embark upon this journey, I expect there will be some revelations along the way. My husband and I started tidying with 9+ hours of sorting through our clothing (I did mine first, then he did his). We each handled every piece of clothing we own, discarding the things that do not “spark joy,” and then lovingly putting away those items that we have each chosen to keep. It may take us a month, 3 months, 6 months, 8 months to tidy our home…but we have committed to a new lifestyle. It starts now.

In the process of decluttering my personal life, I believe I will also declutter my professional life – learning to focus on the things that are most important first, and becoming exponentially more productive while finding joy in my work.

Image Sources: All images were found in public domain. Copyright belongs to respective photographers or designers.

UPDATE:  I wrote this original blog post at the very end of August. As of this past weekend, I have finished sorting through all of my books. (My husband did his two weekends ago...but mine was a much more massive project!). 6 boxes of books donated to the Jr. High school, 4 boxes donated to an Eagle Scout project, and I am now in possession of a tidy bookshelf ONLY the books that spark joy for me, or that I intend to read in the next year. Of course, I still LOVE books and will still buy them. But, after I read each new future book, unless I truly intend to read the book again multiple times, it will be sent on to find a new home to bring joy to someone else. :)

This weekend...we begin the sort & tidy for my kids' books...

As always, thanks for stopping by my blog. Have a great weekend!