Mary Campisi
Mary Campisi
Mary Campisi

Cleaning up and cleaning out.

Cleaning up and cleaning out. 1When I finished my last book, I literally could not see the top of my writing desk. I won’t pretend this is new, but it was really bad this time and the fact that I’d accumulated more piles of “to-do’s” since mom’s passing, made the room even messier. At one point I told my husband my neck hurt, my shoulders hurt, my eyes bothered me, on and on and on. In truth, I couldn’t think, because I had such clutter in that entire room. Every corner was filled with stacks of stuff: notebooks, books, a box of sympathy cards, a statue of Moses I took from Mom’s house… A rock, an exercise ball, three dog collars. Picture after picture after picture, several not in frames. My husband, a former manufacturing manager and believer in “lean manufacturing” offered to help, but he added that I had to be willing to follow the process of decluttering, finding a place for every item, and being able to get rid of “stuff”.

For someone who believes everything contains sentiment, I hesitated. But then I thought about how difficult and uncomfortable it was to sit in my office, even to answer emails. I agreed, and thus began the decluttering and organization of a room that hadn’t seen such effort in years. (Yes, I did just write “years”.) My husband gave me a plan and told me how to approach the task and which section to tackle. I wasn’t 100% thrilled with his recommendations and found myself beginning to take over and fall back into my old habits of moving one stack to another location to another location… You get the picture. My methods were not doing anything to clear the room or my mind, so, I listened and I followed his instructions.

I gave myself seven days to get my office in shape. That was it. Day one saw me combing through old spiral notebooks, and actually tossing several in the recycle bin. Was it hard? Yes, but my concern that I was creating my own confusion was greater, so I started pitching. I found computer discs, old CDs, tape recorders, piles of notes and plotting details. I did save the plotting sections because I still like to look at those, but the difference this time is that they went in a drawer, organized, labeled, definitely thinned out.

When I reached day four, many of the surface areas were clean, neat, and dust free. The insides of the drawers remained cluttered but I spent the next few days working on those. My husband is astonished at the amount of work I put in and at my ability to actually sort and toss. He’s commented several times on what a great job I’m doing and I think he’s a bit shocked at how diligent I’ve been. The room doesn’t even look like the same place anymore. But it is. I see the pictures, my beloved computer, the stacks of notebooks just waiting for new words and ideas. But there’s a difference—now I have clarity and I’m not smothered by piles of stuff, fighting for my attention. I can relax, think, process my thoughts—and write!

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