Wednesday, February 1, 2012


Reflecting on January

January was a month of order—finding it, losing it, and piecing it out back together again.

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In many concrete ways, I can see how focusing on order has changed the exterior world around me. My closets are neater, my drawers straighter. I have less junk in trunks, in chests, and on shelves. I completed various organization projects:

• Cleared kitchen junk drawer
• Rediscovered the kitchen counter
• Washed dishes on a nightly basis
• Organized all the closets
• Cleaned out hope chest
• Organized cleaning supplies under sink
• Completed baby books
• Revamped my blogging approach
• Started meal planning
• Cleaned out toy chest
• Packed away clothes babies had outgrown
• Organized crafting supplies
• Solved the “lost socks” mystery
• Organized spice rack
• Pitched out-of-date food from pantry
• Re-organized work files
• Cleaned out cars

With each project, I learned that, for me, the outward clutter or disorganization has a direct effect on my mental clarity. I work best, play best, sleep best in a well-organized space. I also learned that although being organized requires an upfront investment of time, it ultimately creates more time for me on the backend. Putting Emily’s hairbrush back in the basket every morning might be an extra step, but I get it back the next morning when I know right where it is (as opposed to running around, flipping up couch cushions and digging through the toy chest to find it).

What is less obvious to the outside observer are the internal changes I’ve experienced. The downside to being an organizer like me is that, unfortunately, I can’t plan for every contingency, as much as I try. About ten years ago, when I was complaining about a rather big change in my life plan, someone said to me, “Well, Melissa. Who told you that life was supposed to operate according to your plans?”

I’d like to say I listened and learned from that person, but, quite stubbornly, I continued trying to steer the ship all on my own. If I planned enough, worried enough, cared enough…

This month, when I once again learned that “life doesn’t operate according to my plans,” I fell apart stepped back. From that deep place of sadness and despair, I saw how little control I really have over the most important pieces of my life. It scared me, and it gave me a weird sense of calm. I could allow myself grief, moments to wish for what might have been. But, I wasn’t going to let worry, my vain attempt at order, to steal the joy of what God had already given me.

I am not foolish enough to think that 36 years of worry will be vanquished by one event. All I know is, at this moment, I understand my worry is just another piece of clutter that gets in my way. I am pinning that realization onto the bulletin board of my brain for quick and easy reference.

Of course, in the epic battle of order versus clutter, I must be ever vigilant. It's a daily journey. I've learned being organized isn’t as much about shortcuts as it is doing what needs to be done as soon as I can. Not waiting. Do the dishes. Fold the clothes and put them away. Don’t buy that sweater just because it’s on sale because it will only clutter the closet later. Don’t worry myself about what might happen because it likely won’t affect the outcome. (Again, I'm pinning this all to the mental bulletin board for future reference since these are items I have been known to forget in the past).

Looking ahead to February

This month’s core value is solitude.

Bet you were expecting some a little more relationship-oriented, like family or passion, given that this is the month of love.

For me, solitude is about nurturing the relationship with myself, loving myself enough to prioritize time for me.

As an introvert, solitude is as necessary for me as breathing.

Lately, it’s no wonder that I feel like I am suffocating.

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I am not sure where this month will take me, but I’m already thinking of some ways I might enjoy some solitude:

• Changing my wake-up time to have more “me” time
• Re-joining yoga
• Beginning a bible study
• Reading Quiet by Susan Cain
• Cutting back on my social media time
• Starting my 5K training
• Devoting more time for prayer, meditation, and purposeful breathing

Throughout the month, I will post updates on my progress. If you have some secrets for enjoying solitude, I'd love to hear from you.

Want to join in? Click here for an overview of 12 in 2012.

You don’t have to commit to every month. Join in when you can. No rules, really. Just live (and then blog about it!)

If you made a resolution and want to reflect on your progress, I’d love to have you link-up, too! All you have to do is add your link in the widget below.


RoryBore said...

Looking forward to this one: solitude. I am continually surprised at the number of people I know who don't like to be alone with themself.
did that make sense?
and they can't have quiet either. fascinates me.
then again, in a house with 3 kids, I never am alone and it's never quiet so I guess it is a much more precious commodity to me!

jen@ living a full life said...

I love being alone too! I took a yoga class once and my yoga teacher and I used to have the most amazing time talking about things like this, solitude and those spaces in the mind.

We do meditation tapes, wow it would feel like my body would just float away it was so peaceful. But I could never do that in my house, funny huh? Can't wait to see where this goes Melissa. I'm in, you know that!

KERRY said...

Great post!! And congrats on everything you achieved in January, you certainly were busy but by the sounds of it, it paid off :)
Good for you, you are very inspiring!

MandyE (Twin Trials and Triumphs) said... accomplished so much this month! Congrats!!!

And what an awesome reflection on the organization of our thoughts. I'm so glad to hear it was a small source of solace over the past couple of weeks. I agree that it takes daily (hourly?) diligence to maintain that organization...but I hope it is something that may become a habit for us?

And I'm loving your solitude theme. I generally think of myself as an extrovert...but I really enjoy my alone time, too. I usually chalk it up to being an only child. I *need* time by myself. Unlike some people I know, I'm perfectly fine to eat a meal alone / go shopping alone / whatever. Sure, I value my time with family and friends, but I need the counter-balance, too.

Heather B said...

Oh my goodness, look at everything you accomplished. You are an inspiration! I am looking forward to seeing how solitude works for you. Running is fantastic for 'me' time :)

Just Another Mom of Twins said...

WoW! That's amazing...sometimes from a place of dispair comes great change and happiness...I wish this for you!

I am thinking about linking up...I want to get healthy...I just haven't taken even one small step to THAT yet. *sigh*

Can;t wait for February's "update" on solitude!

Always Heather said...

I just started training for an 8k.. and I'm more of a yoga girl... yoga centers me..the whole meditation piece is very important to my mental health..but I gotta tell you.. since I've started running.. I'm feeling so liberated.. I crank my tunes and take all my frustrations out on the pavement... you might benefit too :)

Kathy Radigan said...

I loved this post and I love how you are organizing your life, yet learning that has much as we plan and organize there are some things we just can control. I go in and out of that lesson myself. As soon as I think I have that one conquered I find out that no, I have more work to do on that one! I could use some solitude myself, I think as a mom it can be challenging but you are right, so important! xo

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