Monday, January 2, 2012

today is a new day

Since yesterday, all my conversations have included at least one discussion about the obsequious trend of making new year resolutions.

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I don't make new year resolutions. Not that I am perfect (not even close) and don't have a few areas that can benefit from the collective impetus to start fresh and change some nasty habits. But the arbitrary deadline to start on January 1st is just like geographical friendships: here today because of proximity, gone tomorrow when that proximity is removed. Maybe not quite tomorrow, maybe in a week. One month, tops!

If I were the resolution-making kind though, I probably would declare this the year of simplicity... I know I could use some of it in my life. In our collective human race to accumulate more and more, we seem to have all succumbed to the weird phenomenon of hoarding. Don't shake your head and say it ain't so in your life, you do hoard too, something, anything. You may call it collecting, or sampling, or even emergency storing, I call it hoarding, accumulating, grabbing and not letting go, irrationally that is. Don't get me wrong, I am not putting down having a hobby... I'm just suggesting that when it starts taking over your whole house or your whole life, to the detriment of other valid alternatives, you may indeed have yourself a little problem. I sure do.

My idea of simplicity is not just about material things, though that's the biggest chunk of it, readily visible and easily diagnosable. Mine goes a little farther to encompass the other exceedingly crowded spaces like my brain, or my life. Here's what I propose for streamlining the clutter in my house, in my thoughts, and in my life.

Clutter be gone. 

  • Go through closets, drawers, garages, cupboards: throw away/donate/recycle/gift anything that you haven't touched, used, sniffed, ate, or worn for the last two years.
  • Set aside small boxes of stuff that have emotional value that you would never get rid of, in an ORGANIZED fashion. Label them, put them away, like time capsules to be revisited every few years or decades.
  • Scan everything paperwork related. If it doesn't fit in the scanner, take a picture or a video of it and save it digitally. It takes a lot less space and it will still be there in case your hoarding instincts are reawakened by your reminiscing needs.
  • For every new item you purchase, discard one similar item to keep your volume of stuff the same (a shoe for a shoe, a xmas ornament for a xmas ornament, etc.)
  • Revisit all closets, drawers, garages, cupboards every six months and repeat.

Negative thoughts be gone. 

Negative self talk is bad. It has a nasty way of insinuating itself in every aspect of your thoughts, it feeds the pity-party that we seem to be so fond of, but it actually spreads like germs to the good thoughts and taints them. How can one get rid of the negative? Just like everything else, by concentrating on the positive. 
  • Sort through your thoughts and organize them: it's just like the clutter on your desk or in your attic, the good thoughts tend to get dusty and encumbered by the sheer mass of all the other less-productive ones. So make yourself a folder (a digital one in your computer) and start files, with categories, then dump your thoughts as they occur into the appropriate files.
  • Purge your negative thoughts in those pages and let them have it! Curse, yell, cry. Then let go. Eventually, you can delete them and just like that poof! they will be ALL gone.
  • Now move on to the good thoughts, the bucket lists, the dreams. Prioritize and make small to-do lists, achievable ones with a few items at a time. Spread them out over weeks, or months. When you're done, go back to the master list and keep yourself busy making these ideas happen instead of have them just sit there and fester in your crowded brain.

Negative people be gone. 

This is a toughie because people are less disposable than shoes or thoughts.

The main idea for me this year will be "it's not me, it's you". I recently started streamlining "friendships" that I have been dragging along in my life with a misguided sense of loyalty, just because we happen to have gone to the same school or had our daughters in the same ballet class. If you don't fit in my life by way of your judgmental thinking, ungrateful stance, illogical habits, or inconsiderate attitude, it's not me who is the problem. I don't have to adjust to you for you to fit in my life, it's you who has to adjust to me and mine. 

Therefore, if you don't fit, I must acquit. 

I have done this before, this is not a new prospect. But somehow I've always found myself going back over my brave decision of "good riddens to bad rubbish" and proceeded to second guess the shit outta myself (see negative thoughts above). Because, you see, despite my best intentions, I have always treated it as "it's not you, it me". I have beaten myself up over and over again for having been maybe too harsh or maybe even wrong. But look at that, one little switcharoo makes all the difference in the world! Bye-bye old friend, you will not be missed. 

I think I may have just found my mantra for 2012. It's not me, it's YOU! I do like the sound of that!

Oh and one last thing? Every DAY is a new day. No need to wait for a whole year to start something new. 

What about you? What will you be changing this year?


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