The Frustration Arrived Earlier Than Expected

Now that I’m on my third month of Happiness Project resolutions, I was expecting to become frustrated and annoyed at some point during the month. I’m a little surprised, however, that it’s shown up less than two days into my Order month.

Throughout September I looked forward to decluttering. I had visions of neat and tidy rooms with only the things most important and useful to us organized intuitively and with style. I craved the rush I knew would come when I shed hundreds of pounds of “stuff” and joined the ranks of those whose possessions are all utilitarian and attractive.

October 1st, I started in the living room. I went through the three large drawers in our coffee table, the drawer and the shelf in our end table, every one of the kids’ toy bins (we have one set of Ikea toy bins in the living room and one in my daughter’s room), and the closet, which is where we keep our tools as well as our jackets. I got rid of every toy that makes noise (electronic noise; the musical instruments stayed), all of the stray and rusty screws and nails, and the duplicate allen wrenches from all of the Ikea furniture we’ve assembled over the years. In the process I found several items for which I’d been searching. I ignored my bedtime and  stayed up until almost midnight doing this, but I felt great when I looked back at the large pile of stuff just waiting to go to the thrift store or the homeless shelter and thought it was worth one night of less-than-optimal sleep.

October 2nd, I had a rather busy morning and early afternoon, but while I had some gluten-free, dairy-free bread baking before dinner, I decided to start decluttering the cabinet where I keep all of my GF flours, other baking goods, and bulk dried beans. I had visions of moving the glass canisters that hold the beans onto the shelves in the corner of the kitchen. I think the beans, rice, lentils, and split peas look kind of attractive and with them on the shelves, they’d be easier to get to when I went to cook. I was pretty sure they’d be too heavy for the baby to move, too, and so would be safe on the open shelves. About 15 minutes into the project, my husband set the baby loose. Within about 37 seconds of entering the kitchen, he (the baby, not my husband) started taking the canisters of beans off of the shelves. I yelled, “No!” and he started crying, and I stopped and hugged and nursed him until he’d calmed down.

So much for clearing out that cupboard.

I started putting everything back in so we could eat dinner and then I could try again later. My daughter decided that she wanted to help organize and put away everything. She held up the baking powder. “Is this a flour?” she asked.

“No.”

“Then what is it?”

“Miscellaneous.”

“I’ll put it in the ‘I don’t know’ pile.”

“Good idea.”

She held up the millet flour. “Is this a flour?”

“Yes, it’s a flour.”

“Then I’ll put it in the ‘flour’ pile.” Pause, and a short song about millet flour. “What about this? Is this a flour?”

“That’s potato starch. It’s kind of a flour.”

“It’s a flour?”

“Yes, it’s a flour.”

“Then I’ll put it in the ‘flour’ pile.” Pause. “What about this?”

And on and on for every item that belonged in the cupboard. In the meantime, I was trying to consolidate duplicate items, check the bread, and field questions from my husband like, “Should I just cook this in a skillet?” as he held up a frozen block of chicken thighs.

Then the baby dropped a toy pan lid and cut his toe.

After we’d eaten dinner and put the kids to bed, I decided to take a different approach. I surfed over to unclutterer.com to watch the videos that Tasra Dawson made as she put into action the suggestions from Erin Rooney Doland’s Unclutter Your Life in One Week. I started with the first video, the closet, even though I can’t work on my closet while the baby’s sleeping. The first thing I noticed was that Tasra had way more clothes in her uncluttered closet than I have in my cluttered closet. I also noticed that she had a lot more closet space. But I picked up some good tips, like getting my shoes up off the floor. Of course, I can’t buy a hanging shoe organizer until I’m done with my purchasing fast, so that will have to wait.

I skipped to Part 6, Kitchen and Pantry, so I could get some tips and then go back to the kitchen before I went to bed. There were a couple of good tips there, too, like organizing smaller supplies into categories and putting those things into removable containers on the pantry shelves. I liked the idea of putting all of my teas in one bin so when people came over I could just bring out the bin and say, “Would you like some tea? Please, help yourself while I put the kettle on.” But I don’t have a pantry. And I don’t have a utility closet. And I don’t have ample empty wall space on which to hang little basket organizers. And once again, I couldn’t buy those things until November anyway. I thought we had a lot of cupboards in our kitchen, but I’d started to think otherwise and worry that I’d never be able to fit everything we needed neatly into our existing storage areas.

Not ready to become completely discouraged, I decided to see what else was on unclutterer.com in the “Kitchen” category. Ah! DIY magnetic spice rack! That looks easy and really snazzy, too! But I’d need to buy new spice tins, a label maker, special magnets, a metal sheet to mount to the wall, and a special epoxy with which to afix the special magnets to the special tins. And then I’d have to find a place to store a label maker. I decided I’d just mount the spice racks I already have to the wall about the stove, but now that didn’t seem like a good plan because I’d read all of this stuff about how bad the heat and light are for spices, and I was pretty sure that all of mine were too old already anyway after reading about how I needed to go check the expiration dates and see if my spices were still fragrant and flavorful.

Less than 48 hours into the month, and I’m already paralyzed.

So, I’m blogging.

I know this will pass. I know I’ll figure it out and find something that works without putting in a pantry or buying a special epoxy. In fact, I have some plastic shoebox things upstairs that might work to organize my cupboards. But maybe I’ll leave that for tomorrow after we get back from hiking. At least I have some yummy homemade bread for sandwiches to eat for our picnic lunch.

Oatmeal Maple Bread
Oatmeal Maple Bread, recipe from LIVING WITHOUT Magazine, Oct/Nov 2009

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