Aloha, and welcome to Tumbleweed Tidings! As you are reading this, my husband and I, along with some dear friends, recently returned home from vacationing in Hawaii. My 65th birthday was the end of March, and this trip was a celebration of that milestone, as well as a chance to visit some old friends from when we lived there. It was also an opportunity for my husband, who has been consulting and working 4×10’s since last November, to recharge his batteries. He needed a vacation and I went along to supervise:)
Since I have posted several of my organized spaces over the past few months, for this post I’m going to give you some Hawaiian eye candy to hold your interest. Enjoy!
Today, I’m sharing some insight into what I learned from my winter organizing and tidying up exercise. Starting shortly after the first of the year, I systematically worked my way through our kitchen cabinets, drawers and pantry, as well as the freezer portion of our refrigerator. Spurred on by all of the buzz about the Marie Kondo art of tidying up, as well as a desire to do some much needed “clearing out of the deadwood,” I tackled this project in earnest.
When I began organizing and tidying, my main goal was to reduce the clutter and improve the appearance of closets and cupboards. Passing items on to others who might need them was also a motivator, and we did that through giving items to people we knew, donating them to charity, and selling some larger pieces on Craigslist. What surprised me, were all of the other benefits we felt after going through the process. Here are the five unexpected surprises that occurred as a result of organizing and tidying, in no particular order.
#1 – Our master bedroom closet is not too small. Is it just me, or are walk-in closets getting bigger and bigger? For most of my life, my closet consisted of a long rod behind two sliding closet doors. Now, I see closets the size of my children’s bedrooms when they were growing up. Our current home is fairly large, but the master closet is disproportionately small. After moving in, we had a multi-level rod system installed, with shelves above for luggage, and space behind the door for shoe storage. These improvements helped, but it still seemed small.
Once I started tackling our master closet, it was time to take a hard, realistic look at my wardrobe. If I haven’t worn these clothes in 18 years, it was time to give them the heave-ho. Sadly, as I’ve aged, I no longer fit in most of those 2001 outfits anyway. And if Dynasty shoulder pads ever come back in style, I will buy a new jacket and embrace the style, just like I did in the 80’s and 90’s.
Out went most of the clothes that don’t fit. Out went the clothes that didn’t “spark joy” ie. they make me look fat, they are not a flattering color for me, they are no longer in style, the “what was I thinking” choices, and fancy things that I seldom have occasion to wear anymore. As the stacks of empty hangers grew, so did my happiness. Our closet isn’t too small. It was just full of too many items we weren’t using.
#2 – Organizing Saves Money: This one probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise to me, but we have saved so much money since organizing our home. This is especially true in the pantry and freezer areas. By segregating like items together, it was easier to see what we had and use older items first. It also became apparent that there were items that we kept purchasing, even though we had a large supply. Tea, vinegars, canned diced tomatoes and beans are some of the examples. Suffice to say, it was eye opening to realize that we didn’t need to buy tea every time we went to TJ Maxx or a specialty food store:) Having a better grip on the contents of my pantry and freezer has been a cost saver, as well as an impetus to create meals using items we already have. This has resulted in going through old recipes and shaking up our routine menu. Win-win!
#3 – Organizing sets us up for eventual downsizing: In case you missed my “End of Month Musings” the end of March, I just turned 65. My husband is a few years older, so even though we don’t feel like it, we are technically “senior citizens.” We love our home, area, and neighbors, but the reality is that the two of us probably don’t need to rattle around in this large house forever. Add to that the cost of yard and pool maintenance, and there may come a day when our retirement dollars could be spent elsewhere…like travel:) By organizing, there are now areas that are almost empty. Empty closets and drawers are the only path to the eventuality of downsizing in our later years, and we would rather start that process now, than when we are older and it will be harder. We may not move for 10-15 years, but we are getting prepared now!!
#4 – Being organized saves time – When there is a place for everything and everything is in it’s place, it becomes a real timesaver in our house. One example is that I used to spend unnecessary time searching for recipes. Not anymore. Last week, I took the time to go through all of those magazine cutouts, handwritten recipes from friends, and printouts from Foodnetwork.com and other sites. There were so many recipes that I knew I would never, ever make and they were thrown away. The same with some old cookbooks that we never use. Those were donated so someone else can enjoy them. Now, the recipe cupboard, while still a little messy, contains only dishes that we actually like and will make.
Another time guzzler for me is clearing out unwanted emails. I’m not talking about junk mail that goes into that folder, but emails from places I actually signed up for once upon a time like various department stores, restaurants, and other loyalty programs. The problem is, some of those places send you an email EVERY SINGLE DAY. And I would routinely delete them, EVERY SINGLE DAY. While in my organizing mode, one day it dawned on me…why not Unsubscribe to most of them? So, I did just that. Over the course of a couple of weeks, any time I’d get an email from a company, hotel chain, etc. I would go to the bottom of the email and Unsubscribe. This took some time, and some of them were pretty funny in how they gave you about 5 chances to change your mind with “We’ll miss you” “Are you sure you want to leave us?” and my favorite, “Breaking up is hard to do.” But I stuck to my resolve and now when I do email, there are seldom unwanted emails. I highly recommend this as a real time saver!
#5 – Organizing and tidying has brought peace into our lives: This was probably the biggest surprise of all. You see, my husband and I live a fairly drama free life. We are happy with each other, are empty nesters, and live very full and active lives within the community and with a small, but wonderful circle of friends. In other words, we are at peace. This is somewhat of a miracle, for two hard charging Type A personalities:) But since organizing and cleaning out, the house just feels calmer. There are no frustrations in not being able to find things. The pantry, refrigerator and freezer are organized and everything is easy to locate. In the closets, clothing that was once crowded, is now given adequate space to breathe. Likewise, we no longer feel suffocated by so many belongings that we don’t need or want. Peace and serenity reign supreme:)
So those are the top things that I learned from taking charge of the clutter in our home. For many of you that have been this organized for years, you are probably scratching your heads, thinking “why is she so late to the organizing party?” Well, I was a late bloomer as a teen and I guess I’m still somewhat of a late bloomer:) Also, it should be noted that our house wasn’t that bad, it just needed some decluttering and organization to take it to the next level. I am happy to report that the areas that have been completed have stayed neat and tidy for over three months, so the new habits have taken hold. There are still closets to tackle and mountains to climb, but I am spurred on by the benefits we have noticed so far. Wish me luck!