The Great 2011 Purge

This time last year I was reading Organized Simplicity: The Clutter-Free Approach to Intentional Living (Tsh Oxenreider) and made a New Year Resolution to simplify my life and purge unnecessary objects from my home. Before The Great 2011 Purge, art materials lived in all areas of our home and I spent countless hours looking for things and making room for objects that had no permanent place. Does this sound like your life? If so, I can’t recommend Tsh’s book enough.

Digging past my collections, knick-knacks, and countless art materials was exhausting and I knew that if I streamlined my possessions I could be more productive with my time. So I started poking away at corners of my home every week; a shelf of dishes here, a closet there. And it’s helped! I’ve given away unused applianced, weeded out my least favorite books, and I just donated four garbage sized bags of baby clothes to this incredible charity with the unintended consequence of teaching my children the power of helping those in need. I’ve never stuck with a resolution for an entire year, but this one was so successful that it’s seeped into my way-of-life and it’ll be easy to carry it forward into the new year.

paper snowflake scrapsAnd now, guess what? I’m thinking about my 2012 Resolution.

Working for myself has long appealed to me, and over the past year I’ve developed a stronger entrepreneurial mindset that I’d like to nurture! I’m an artist at heart, with no real sense of money and lacking in organizational skills (obviously) , so my resolution for 2012 is to foster my entrepreneurial side. I’m starting 2012 off by working and blogging with this awesome new startup, developing curriculum for this creative children’s museum, reading this bookand devouring this blog.

I think it’s a good start, but to keep it going for the year, my plan is to read inspirational books and magazines like this, streamline my blog to make it more engaging and accesible (a newsletter and revamped archives are in the works), and remain open to opportunities that are a good fit with my my personal and professional goals. Now that I see it all written in front of me, it seems a bit daunting, but I have to remember that a year is a long time and baby steps will get me there. Just like they did last year.

In light of all this, because I’m a mom-to-my-kids first I have to remember that I can only take on so much. In my search for balance between motherhood and personal ambition I’ve had a few meltdown moments that I hope will shine brightly in my mind’s eye as a warning of what can happen if I bite off more than I can chew. These colorful pictures of a happy snowflake-making afternoon are here to remind me that my primary goal is to hold on to my core beliefs as an arts educator and mom who wants to raise her children to be creative souls and independent thinkers.

Have you had a successful resolution that you could share? Have you started thinking about your 2012 resolution?

Be sure to check back soon for my next post on developing a new year’s resolution that will support creativity.

 

Comments

    • Rachelle says

      I couldn’t link to the tool, Valerie, but the it sounds like a promising approach to simplifying and streamlining your creative spaces. I don’t have a room dedicated to my creative projects either, and finally realized that my home needs to look like an art studio if I want to get anything done! Good luck!

      • danielle says

        hear!! hear!!!! “my home needs to look like an art studio”. as you know Rachelle i live whole heartedly in this concept. It comes to me naturally, but i have always felt silly and sometimes uncomfortable when guests are in my home. living room=kids playroom/creative space. bedrooms=quiet reflective play spaces that give room to think and calm down long enough to hear one’s creative voice. bathrooms=clean up zones and mess box. kitchen=perfect room for a perfect storm. dining room=adult play space with gear and supplies.
        My New Years resolution. Not to feel silly any more when guest are in my home. (funny thing: no one ever appears uncomfortable about how i arrange my home. it’s my own insecurity that my home doesn’t appear the same as magazine)

        • Rachelle says

          You know what, danielle, I often feel the same way. We recently moved our furniture around (surprise, surprise!) and I was worried that people would walk in my front door and feel assaulted by all the toys and projects, but Scott reminded me that we’re the ones who have to live there and it’s more important that it works for us. I often long for a magazine-worthy home too, but maybe in another stage of my life :) xo

          • says

            Oh my gosh, our whole house looks like a playroom (um, especially right now, three days after Christmas). I don’t care–kids live here. It looks like a house with kids. They’re not second-rate citizens who have to have their stuff and their interests tucked away in a hidden corner. They’re full members of the family. I think I have a slightly higher tolerance for clutter, although it is time to tackle some areas again. But there’s no way I could make my kids hide their stuff away neatly when “my” chair in the living room is surrounded by yarn, embroidery floss, a pincushion and thread, and projects. But it’s all right there when I finally get a chance to sit down!!

          • Rachelle says

            The way we define our homes and spaces is a reflection of who we are and how we want to live. A chair surrounded by thread, yarn, and embroidery floss says a great deal about how important making is in your life, Amy, and sends an authentic message to your children about the value of creating. There are areas of my home that are always going to have piles — it’s just the way life is for us because I can’t spend my whole day cleaning up if I want to get other things done too. Right now, my yarn pile equivalent is a stack of books, my computer, sketchbook, and unfinished holiday cards. :) Thanks for the reminder that we have to own who we are!

  1. Catherine says

    It seems vague, I’m sure, but my resolution for 2012 is “Live with Purpose” – – basically, spend time on what’s important and have end goals behind my behavior.
    A great purge wouldn’t hurt, either. ;)

    • Rachelle says

      It doesn’t seem vague, Catherine, especially if you know what you’re going for. Living with Purpose is a great resolution and reminds me of Ellen Langer’s great book on Mindfulness. Wishing you much success in sticking with this for the year. Happy almost New Year!

  2. Jude says

    I’m not a great one for making New Year’s resolutions, but my intentions for this year sound very similar to yours, except I think I’m a year behind you. I’m going to start decluttering, and try to keep on top of it all, and focus on developing my business, and revamping my blog. Here’s to a successful 2012!

    • Rachelle says

      I was never great at making New Year’s resolutions either, but I think having one specific goal that I really cared about helped tremendously. It wasn’t something that I tackled daily, some days would be big work days and then I’d relax for a couple weeks, but I did keep at it for the whole year. My best advice is to start small and before you know it you’ll see results. And once you see how it impacts your life, you won’t want to stop! Good luck, Jude, and wishing you lots of success in the new year :)

  3. Chelle says

    My New Year’s Resolution 2012 is yours from 2011 :)
    Good luck with your 2012 resolution. Baby steps. Baby steps

  4. Anonymous says

    Ahhh!!!  Just what I need!  I do have big plans for 2012.  One of those plans includes getting my space organized enough to fit my stuff.  I have a feeling that is going to me a GIGANTIC purge.  I just requested a hold on the book you recommended at the library.  I’m tired of spending so much time organizing and reorganizing.  I just want to be able to pick up so I can get busy with all of my other goals!

    • Rachelle says

      Yay, Jill, I’m so glad that this helps, and it sounds like we’re in the same place. Just start chipping away at your stuff little-by-little (or all at once if you can stomach it!), and you’ll be amazed at the results. I learned that I keep too many things for sentimental reasons or “because I might need them one day.” Once I got past that, it was easy to see what to keep and what we no longer needed. Good luck, and know that I’m supporting you on this journey!

  5. says

    I’m not a big one for big, sweeping New Year’s Resolutions. Life…well, you know, life. I’d rather go day by day, with intention. It works better for me. Also, I have found, with young children (and my own parenting choices), that I really do have to think long-range. My first decade of parenting was really, really child-focused, and now that my children are getting more independent, there is more opening available to me. So, literally, I’ve had thoughts on the back-burner for years and years and years. And that’s okay with me. I am impressed by people with young children, like yourself, who have the energy and motivation to take on so, so much on top of parenting, which takes an incredible amount of energy and creativity all in itself. It makes me tired just to observe you all, sometimes. :)

    • Rachelle says

      Amy, you always make me smile :) I know what you mean, and often feel worn out, but there’s something inside of me that just can’t stop go-go-going! The same as when you said, “It works better for me,” I just don’t know any other way. And you’re also right about parenting taking up an enormous amount of creative resources. When I first had my children I pined for days of “being creative” until I realized that my creative energy was just going into a different well. Thanks for your friendship and wonderful, honest comments.

  6. Natalie says

    Very interesting! I do want to declutter and organize. Another major priority for me as a full time working mom is finding a balance between work, child and me time. I need more “me time” to stay healthy and sane. Good luck with your startup, sounds very interesting!

    • Rachelle says

      Hi Natalie, 

      Striking this balance can be tricky and it feels like it’s a continuous dance of give and take. I also find that it’s hard to make time for me, and it’s often relegated to the hours after the kids are in bed when I’m already exhausted. Do you know about Simple Kids blog? I find that there are some good articles in there for simplifying parenting that can open up more time in my life: http://simplekids.net/ In particular, here’s an article about making time for yourself: http://simplekids.net/making-time-for-yourself-and-your-home/

      Good luck!

  7. Teceta says

    Rachelle! I loved everything about this blog post :) I’ve been thinking for the last couple days that i want to start off the year with an uncluttered house, so I love hewing your thoughts :) and thanks for the heads up about the charity, the museum, and kiwi crate- I’m excited to try them all! Looking forward to seeing you all soon :)

    • Rachelle says

      Hi Teceta! I’m so happy to hear that this resonates with you. There’s something about starting the new year and having a fresh start that are a perfect marriage for clearing clutter from our lives. From my point of view, though, you’re home is in tip-top shape. N misses A terribly, and we look forward to seeing you soon too. xo

  8. says

    I’ve got some similar resolutions… Always de-cluttering and organizing but now more than ever I am jumping into the entrepreneur spirit (with The Art Pantry launching soon). I’ve read some inspiring books as well that I can recommend if you want. I’m excited to chat with you at some point and hopefully find a way to collaborate :) Happy New Year!

    • rachelle says

      Hi Megan! I’m excited for you and look forward to the launch of The Art Pantry. And yes, I’d love to know more about the books you’re reading and can’t wait to finally meet. Happy new year!
      Rachelle

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