Stuff Happens

05/16/2011

Creeping but not creepy clutter

Urgency Day 101

500 Things Items 392-399: Candles and Scarves

  • History: Creeping Clutter
  • Value: Reminders that vigilance needs to be constant
  • Parting Pain: Candles: none; Scarves: Some (They’re my pathology.)
  • Un-possessing: Burning the candles, gifting the scarves

Stuff happens.

Despite my– or anyone’s—best intentions, stuff happens. An extra scarf here, an unconsidered candle there, and suddenly those nicely organized shelves and closets are loaded up again. Just as a few extra Thin Mints sabotage weeks of shorts-weather dietary forbearance, impulse buys undermine months of clutter caution.

But in our consumer culture, is it really possible never to submit to the retail-siren song?

In a word: No.

Stuff happens.

Okay, then what? What’s the reaction that’s going to ensure that a few impulse purchases remain an asterisk, a blip in the trajectory toward a less-cluttered life, and don’t become the beginning of a downward spiral back to clutter chaos?

When you stand at a pivot point, what do you do?

(Boy, a couple of Thin Mints sound pretty good right now, don’t they?)

I don’t know about you, but none of the conventional motivational phrases quite do it for me:

  • I don’t want to get back on some horse;
  • I don’t want to keep eying a stubborn prize;
  • I’m kind of freaked out by that picture of a kitten hanging on for dear life.

I need a new image, a new phrase to rattle the bars of my complacency. Hmmm. “Bar rattling?” Uh, no. Okay, I don’t have a poster-ready motivational phrase to offer. I do have one thing that usually works pretty well for me, and trust me, I didn’t invent this, darn it.

When I’m feeling flat, uncommitted and uninspired, I love a good laugh.

Really. A good laugh does for me what running does for runners– I’ve heard. It sends out those endorphins that make anything seem possible. Get to the end of listening to old Bill Cosby routines such as Noah or Toss of the Coin, and I’m clapping my hands together, eyes alight, and asking, “OK. Who’s with me?!” Because I’ve just committed to some scathingly audacious plan. Like what? Oh, like Organize EVERYTHING!, for a relevant example.

Just from having a good laugh.

It’s about keeping perspective though, isn’t it? My family volunteered at a wonderful event last weekend, the Families Helping Families annual 5k Fun Walk and silent auction. It could not have been more fun—well, yes, it could have, if it had not been 40 degrees out in a driving wind and spitting rain, but that just added to the spirit of camaraderie.

At the conclusion of the silent auction, I went over to congratulate my friend– and fellow clutter streamliner—Melanie, for having won a charming gift basket. She was wearing, atop her 5 layers of down and wool, the most sardonic smile. Having carefully instructed her  sweet husband on which auction items to try for while she went and walked their darling new puppy, she was exasperated to find that her $40 in raffle tickets had won her exactly the basket of lovely stuff she had donated in the first place.

You see? Stuff happens.

And we had a good laugh.

prodigal stuff happens, too

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5 Responses to “Stuff Happens”

  1. melanie Says:

    I laughed out loud! Thank you. Among the things in the basket you photographed (and I re-won): 2 candles. My current stock of candles: 42 white tapers, 17 tea lights, 6 multi-colored tapers, and 7 Swan Creek candles (they make the house smell like Snickerdoodles). I needed to “win” the candles like Paula Deen needs more butter in her recipes!

  2. sthibeault Says:

    You are brave to inventory and catalog your candles. I’m still operating on the denial setting where my candles are concerned. Maybe I need to burn off my candles like Paula Deen needs to burn off her butter. (Really, she’s great. Everything’s better with butter! And bacon. Don’t forget the bacon.)

  3. Megan DeAngelis Says:

    OMG, I have nothing intellectual or witty to offer to your post other than I am laughing my a** off right now. $40 to get your own s*** back. Melanie, it was meant to be yours!

  4. sthibeault Says:

    Megan, you KNOW I needed a laugh today, or I would have gushed about your amazing speech. You are the most naturally gifted speaker I have ever heard. You brought us all to tears of joy and admiration. Well done, darling friend!!


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