Friday, March 20, 2015

Why I Can't Clean That Closet


        Spring is coming.  I promise it will be here.  And every spring there is cleaning to be done.  For years, I've had an overstuffed closet.  The pole sagged and it was in danger of falling down or snapping in two.  I had to remove some of the heavier clothing and lay them temporarily in a laundry basket on the floor.  That basket went from temporary to permanent after a year.
       My intention was to clean everything out, get rid of clothes I will never wear again and rehang the rest in an organization manner where I can easily find them.
        Did. . .not. . .happen.
        Why?  Because cleaning a closet is not just cleaning the closet.
    Once you empty the closet, the contents will never fit back in it.  Then you'll find something that waylays you, like a photo or a momento from your past.  You'll start to go through it, reliving the happy time.  Hours could go by or only a few minutes.  Then you discover it doesn't belong in the closet, but somewhere else in the house.  Going to the place where it belongs means you open another drawer or closet or door and find you need to straighten things up to fit the item inside.  Or worse, something else gets your attention.  This takes times and again you might find another item sparks memories or triggers a phone call you need to make to again relive the past experience with a friend who understands.

        Suddenly an hour or more has passed.  Then you go back to the original closet only to discover it doesn't look like you've made a dent in it.  You pull out an outfit to put on the I'll-never-wear-this-again pile and stop.  You look at it asking yourself, do I really want to throw that away.  You hold it up to yourself, take a look in the mirror.  Then you decide to try it on.  You want to know if it still fits.  Of course, you expect it will.  But it doesn't, so you throw it on the growing pile accumulating on the floor.
        The next item does fit.  You go to the mirror and look at yourself, proud of your weight, but the style is gone.  Do you have any place to wear it?  After a moment it doesn't matter, it's going to go back in the closet.  You'll find a place to wear it.  This procedure goes on until you start to open the boxes that are on the shelves.  Hat boxes with hats that haven't been worn in twenty years.
        When you moved in you swore you weren't going to allow your closet to flow into other rooms like the guest room or an absent kid's room.  But you need the room and the guest room rarely has anyone in it.  The space there is wasted, you rationalize.  Show the parade begins.  You go back and forth adding things to other rooms, then finding things in that room that need organizing.  You pull things out that need to go somewhere else.  Pretty soon, three to four rooms have been cluttered and you have three times the work to get back to the level of clutter you had before you began to clean the one closet.

        So that's why I can't clean that closet.  If I start, it leads to more than one closet, more than one room, a houseful of clutter and things I intended to get rid of find their way back where they were.
        And I've lost my writing time.
        You might think I could begin the cleaning and take a break and go write.  Writing doesn't work that way.  Once I'm in a book, I could be there for weeks or months.  That pile of clothes on the floor could also stay there, irritating me because I have no time for it.  So the best thing is to wait until there's time.  And who has that?

  
           
      We all have a clutter somewhere.  We'll clean it when we get time.  That time might only be when we move to a new place.  I have no plans to move.  But I will have to clean that closet one day.  I have to paint my bedroom and then everything must be moved.  It will clutter up another room, but the cleaning process will be done.  I can replace the sagging pole with a stronger one, maybe get a closet organizer and never have to worry about cleaning the closet again.

     What about you?  Do you have a closet, basement, garage you just can't clean because it means you won't be working only on that room?

As always, keep reading.


Shirley Hailstock is the author of over thirty award-winning novels.  She is a past president of Romance Writers of America.  She resides in New Jersey with her family, where she is busy working on her next release.

13 comments:

  1. I keep adding things in my closet without ever going through and throwing things away. I know it needs to be done. I even say, shame on me. I even say I'll buy new buttons for an item missing one. Do I do that? No. Great post. I need to go downstairs and start sorting. Thanks Shirley.

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    1. I have a rule: New thing comes in, old thing must go out. Do I follow that rule? Nope. LOL

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  2. Oh.My.Goodness. You've been to my house, spying. I promise, I'm getting to my bedroom closet. One day. When I don't have a deadline. I think I'll print out the last photo as an incentive. :-)

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    1. Everyone has a list of things they'll do if they win the lottery. Me? I want to hire someone to install closet organizer systems in all our closets.

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  3. Oh man, Shirley! I *so* identify! We're planning to turn the hunter-gather-clutter-exercise room upstairs back into a bedroom, so we can keep all the grandorables overnight at the same time. That means turning my former office into a bona fide exercise room. Which means moving my office-y stuff into the family room. I can see it all so clearly in my mind, and I'm itching to get started...just as soon as I complete edits on two novels and finish manuscripts for the next books in 2 separate series. And get the flower beds weeded and prepped for plantings. And... Oh good grief. Has anyone seen my vitamins? P.S. Much luck with your closet reorganization!

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  4. Oh, Shirley, how I wish I could help you clean your closet! That's just the kind of challenge I love. Where do you live? I'll bring coffee and big garbage bags. LOL!!!!!

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  5. I want that last closet! Mine is a dumping ground. I try to give clothes away as much as possible but I can't ever seem to find the time to make things look like that. Glad to hear I am not alone :)

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  6. Shirley - I live in an old Victorian with closets that are about four feet wide! I have that kind of stuffed-in clutter everywhere. And you know you have to have several days free to unclutter, because it's so much worse at first when you start making piles. Fortunately for me, I'm not driven by tidiness. But maybe when Kristine is finished helping you, she could come to Oregon??

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  7. LOL, Shirley, I'm that way. First I get sentimental and then I decide I need to go all out and paint etc... Each year I take more of a 'what items will get more love from someone else' attitude because giving feels good and less stuff makes for easier organizing. Now that pink closet pic...wow!

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  8. Well, the best-laid plans…early this year I started to de-clutter my house. Ha. And I do like to organize, really I do. In fact, that's my new heroine's business. I think I'm pretty good at it. However, my first pass through my bedroom closet seems to have stalled out somehow. The clothes to be tried on are still hanging there, waiting. There's stuff all over the floor. Sigh. I need to re-read that Tidying Up book--right, Kristine?--and ask myself, "Does this item give me joy?" If only I could get started again…Good luck, Shirley.

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  9. My closets are fine. But right now I have three boxes on the table with items for taxes, bills or the waste basket. Thought I’d get to them during Spring Break, but no luck.

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  10. Groan. I have the worst closets ever. Little house. Little closets and though I've given away semi-truck loads of clothes and household goods over the years of my moves to 14 different houses, I still have too much stuff. BUT, spring is the time to donate to the women's shelter and this year will be no different. Now, is that last closet for real??? Does anyone actually LIVE like that? AND if they do, I really don't think I want to know her!!!

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  11. Catherine, there's Pinterest and then there's the Real World. I don't own a lot of clothes and wear out (and throw out) the ones I do buy, so that keeps life simple. If Kohls ever goes out of business, I'm in trouble.

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