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Why Start With the Closet?

I am almost a week into my Simplify your Closet challenge and I am getting a ton of feedback. I honestly have been stunned by how much interest there is in this! I’ve gotten several questions–and a few objections–about how and why I am doing this. I wanted to stop and answer the most common question I’ve received: Why did I start with my closet? Why not the kitchen? When am I going to do challenges for the kids’ toys or the living room?

I started with the closet for a very simple but important reason: I have to simplify my own life and tackle the chaos monster inside of me before I can help my family do the same. For me it is a lot like putting on your oxygen mask on an airplane. I have to take care of myself before I can help someone else.

I’ve done a whole lot of decluttering and organizing challenges over the years. I was an excellent Flybaby. I have learned a lot from those systems, but they never fully took hold. Why? Because even though my sink was shiny, my bed was made and my laces were tied, my closet was a mess. My things were in a pile. I’d wake up in the morning, the time of day when I’m most likely to feel like climbing back under the blankets and hiding from the day, and walk into a closet that was disorganized and full of clothes I simply didn’t like. I couldn’t find the things I did like. I’d find one piece, or a other, but something else wouldn’t fit, or it would be out of style, or it would be uncomfortable. I’d have plans to do five minutes of prayer and ten minutes of exercise and stretching every morning, but I’d never make it to those, because I was spending too much time digging through my closet, frustrated, trying to find something to wear for the day. By the time I went downstairs, I’m already discouraged. It is hard to think clearly in the morning when you start the day–every day–staring into a big chaotic mess.

Simplifying my closet offers me the hope that my day starts on a positive note. I will find clothing I know I like. There’s just something about wearing clothes you love that improves your mood. Because I have gotten rid of more than 50% of my clothing, it will be easier to find things that work well together. I will have the time and mental energy to do things like pray and do some light exercising. The chaos monster will still be there, waiting…but I will have at least one area of peace in the morning. I can then step out and face my family’s chaos having had that moment of peace.

I can and will tackle the kitchen, the kids’ toys, my office, the garage and so much more. But first, I need to find my peace. I can do so much more for my family if I stop and take care of my own chaos first.

How’s it going for you so far?

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  1. Stephanie says:

    I just posted this on Facebook and then was “led” to your blog!
    Stephanie Knauer
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    .So as I am snuggling with my babies this morning, I realized that what I NEED, I already have and the rest will just work out the way it is supposed to. Thanks to the strength and faith that is being sent my way, my new mantra is “Roll with It Baby!”

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    The Chaos Monster
    Posted by Heather on Mar 25…, 2012 in The Chaos Monster | 0 comments

    I started to write this post two weeks ago. I find that interesting, because as I was contemplating what else to add to it, all hell broke loose in our family. The chaos monster literally made a visit to our home. My husband’s grandmother died the same day mine went into the hospital. (Mine is in hospice/palliative care now.) My husband’s car broke, my daughter came down with a stomach virus five hours before we were to leave to drive to West Virginia for the funeral, and last but not least, this site was hacked. While I sat at the funeral home in West Virginia, hackers did quite a number on this site. For several days I wasn’t sure I would ever recover the site. I was beginning to resign myself to the fact that it was all gone. Then suddenly, after one last try, it came back. Whew. Today, as I was praying at church, I heard God’s voice loud and clear: don’t be intimidated. Don’t let the chaos monster win. Keep going. Keep fighting. So here I am, standing up and saying to the chaos monster: you won’t win. I WILL have simplicity. One day at a time.

    What is the chaos monster, you ask?

    The chaos monster is when you have plans to get up and exercise, only to find your back spasms, throwing you into unspeakable agony the second you get out of bed.

    The chaos monster is finally getting some time to work on a computer-based project and having the computer suddenly shut down and run an hour long windows update program.

    The chaos monster is planning for a meeting for weeks, preparing yourself and finally feeling calm and ready–only to have your daughter throw up five minutes before you’re to walk out the door to work. And you have to stay home to take care of her.

    The chaos monster is waking up to a week where everyone in your family are finally healthy all at the same time, only to get a call that your grandmother has passed away.

    The chaos monster is setting up a lovely detailed sleep schedule and sticking to it after months of insomnia issues, but your normally über-organized husband loses his keys the first morning–meaning he has to wake you thirty minutes early, throwing your whole schedule off.

    The chaos monster is having an important work day planned out to the last moment, only to have your spouse’s car break down on the side of the interstate.

    The chaos monster comes in all shapes and forms, but we all know him. He comes in the most unexpected moments. He seeks to upset and destroy any plans you might have had. Just about the moment that you think you might have some control in your life, the chaos monster arrives to remind you that in reality, we have very little control over our day to day lives.

    I have four people in my home: three have ADHD. Two have OCD. (that’s some very interesting math, isn’t it?) My oldest has Aspergers Syndrome and sensory issues. My daughter has dyslexia. There’s a whole lotta chaos in my home. Every. Single. Day.

    Yet while we can’t predict when and where the chaos monster will strike, we do have control over our reaction to him. We can choose to not be simply reactionary–running from crisis to crisis. We can choose to be somewhat prepared. We can choose not to let chaos run us off our course or distract us from our goal. For that is the chaos monster’s purpose: to keep us always reacting, never enacting.

    We can choose to handle the crisis but keep moving forward. We can choose to simplify our lives so that when the chaos monster strikes, we have less to stress us out. Funny thing about the stuff we accumulate–stuff takes caring for. It needs our attention. It adds to our stress. So let’s simplify. Let’s train and get into a place where we are ready when the chaos monster strikes

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    .For those of you who know me well, I have been trying to find ways to live a more Christian life, meaning I can do something for others with no benefit to me only knowing I was there for someone else! That being said, I have spent the last few weeks working through an idea that I am going to spend the summer researching, organizing, and trying to set up. I would like to start a nonprofit organiz…ation designed to help anyone of any age who may face some kind of barrier which keeps them or their loved one from moving ahead in life. This could be a learning difficulty, needing a GED, working on financial goals, opening a bank account, needing something mechanical to enable them to do something they couldn’t do, filling out paperwork, practicing for a job interview, etc. My idea is to start by putting together a list of people who would want to volunteer time. I am looking for people of all ages including our children. Time could be in tutoring, mechanical work, financial advice, driving someone somewhere, etc. Amount of time is up to you. I know as I work on this and make connections, I will think of many things and find many resources, but I want to start somewhere. I am sure in some form some of these exist, but I want to start looking at what is out there. If you are interested or know of organizations which already do similar things, please let me know. Steph

    I am wondering if you could help me get some ideas for helping others. I am a special education teacher and parent and my primary focus is to help break down barriers for all people so that they are able to reach their full potential. Any suggestions or advice you may have to help me get started on my journey would be greatly appreciated.

  2. Stephanie says:

    YIKES Please undo this, I did not mean to post all of this!!!

    • No worries Stephanie. I saw it all but didn’t publish. I’m on a similar journey–God has me simplifying in a major way, do I can better enjoy all of the blessings he’s given me, and to make a greater impact in this world, unhindered by all the trappings of “stuff” that we typically have to take care of. I hope my sharing my journey will help others!