Lighten up

What I am about to share with you will not bode well for my cocktail party chatter.

It’s Friday night. Prime time for wining, dining, the beginnings of real nightlife.

But I’m shredding.

And by that, I don’t mean the cool kind of shredding, the kind that helps you lose weight.

Or maybe I do.

I’m losing weight. It’s just not fat.

A file cabinet and lots of shredded paper.I finally had a come-to-Jesus talk with myself about my filing cabinet.

Before you turn away in boredom, think about this. You, I’m sure, have your own version of my filing cabinet. Overflowing, full of items you’d rather not have to look at any time soon. Maybe it’s your closet, briefcase, junk drawer.

And it’s not just that you are busy. Clutter means something. What is it you do not want to have to deal with, friend?

For me, it’s the ghost of years past. Years where this household had two incomes and some wiggle room.

Regardless of my fears, when the pile of filing on my cabinet reached a foot high, I drew a line in the sand with my lazier alter ego.

“That’s it, Muffin. Time to take care of business.”

To my dismay, in order to fit the foot-high pile of documents in the cabinet, a spring cleaning of sorts had to be done.

You see why this does nothing for my Friday-night reputation?

Just call me Ethel; please pass the shawl and reading glasses.

I was inspired by my friend Meg. At her house last evening, I inquired about the piles she had in her living room.

“Oh, that is all stuff to be donated,” she said. “I used to be a pack rat but something about getting cancer makes you reevaluate what’s important.”

Although not a pack rat, I envied her lightness of being in the most innocuous way. I can do this without cancer’s knock on the door, I thought.

My filing cabinet and I have had an adversarial relationship since my divorce. I was left with lots of messes to clean up. And paper to wade through. And did I mention I am a creative, right-brained type?

I dealt with what I could two years ago and left the rest until a time when I had more stamina and less emotional involvement (aka, fear).

So here we are.

Tonight, just one out of four drawers is done. Three hours and a contractor’s bag stuffed with shredded documents later, I have finished the job.

I feel—lighter.

Should I have tackled my cluttered kitchen island? Probably. My son’s overflowing closet? Definitely. At least these are areas people see from time to time.

My filing cabinet, buried in my office, is no-man’s land. Hidden from the inquisitive eye of any guests.

And yet, I could care less. I’m cleaning house, baby.

Records of my minivan days are gone. Trips to the emergency room virtually erased. Remembrance of a joint mortgage are toast.

Could be sad.

But I’m not. That’s a life I’m not leading any more.

It’s hard to be sad when you’re floating, out from under the crushing heft of a weighty past, fraught with less than desirable memories.

Somehow, in clearing paper clutter, I’m clearing life clutter.

I remember all too well one particular taunt from my ex, “You won’t be able to do all of the financial crap. You don’t have the skills.”

Ahem. Do not ever make the mistake of assuming my deference to someone who is in the financial field is the result of a lack of skills. Writers do not become accountants or chief financial officers for a reason.

We know other people handle these things better than we do.

But have you met me lately?Champagne in a glass. Isolated on white background

I’m a paperless-paying, breadwinning, more organized than ever, (slightly tired) mama.

We’re doing it, Muffin.

Like a boss.

Join me, friends. Float like a butterfly; sting like a bee. Get rid of even just a portion of your ugly, your unnecessary, your painful.

I’ve tested the waters. It’s all good.

In all honesty, I’ve found a glass of something bubbly helps in the thick of it.



20 Comments Add yours

  1. Cindy Dadik says:

    Love this! Great way to get ready for a fresh new year!!! I know that feeling & you’ve inspired me to go through that one ugly closet!! I just finished the garage- what a huge project that was!! Thanks again for the inspiration!!

  2. Marie says:

    This is a cyclical process for me; holding on and letting go. At heart I am a sentimental minimalist, but the procrastinator in me sometimes looks the other way as corners of my home are burdened with chaos. I dance around the distraction until the physical inconvenience interrupts my emotional peace, then leap into cleaning.

    Thoughtful post on the connection between home and heart, Kay. Cheers!

  3. Chris Hauri says:

    With great joy I threw out my high school scrapbook, including my Sweet Sixteen corsage with the little sugar cubes. 48 years is long enough! I congratulate you on your clutter attack!

    1. candidkay says:

      Forty eight years! You should crackopen the bubbly to celebrate keeping anything intact that long:). That’s a feat!

  4. Aunt Beulah says:

    I tend to err on the other side, donating or trashing things I find I need a few months later; or worse, things my husband needs later. When that happens, you’re right, some good bubbly helps.

  5. Roy McCarthy says:

    Yep Kay. I’m looking at each item and asking the question ‘can I live without this?’ The usual answer is yes.

    When I moved back permanently to Jersey I left at least 50% of my worldly belongings in Ireland with a friend, to save excess charges. I have collected exactly NONE of it, nearly five years later.

  6. I’m one of those nerdy people who love to de-clutter. My husband? Not so much. I always think its a great sign to free your environment of crap you don’t need. Its cleansing. Congratulations.

  7. I am going through that at the moment in a BIG way. I understand what you mean about unravelling the layers of a previous life and learning to discard those layers. It is very cleansing. So even though the process seems pointless, it has its rewards of rejuvenation. (and then your children won’t have to do it later on 🙂 )

  8. katpegimana says:

    Congrats, you did well! 🙂


  9. Cheers!!
    Go and finish off all the shredding. Be lighter!!

    1. candidkay says:

      Aren’t we all searching for that incredible lightness of being? 🙂

  10. Shara says:

    Congratulations my friend! Keep up the good work. My plan is to join you for the new year. However my problem is genetic, I inherited a hoarding gene! Although, you may have uncovered the antidote in that glass of bubbly. Cheers! 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      The glass of bubbly does loosen your usual instincts:). Best of luck with your purge, Shara!

  11. Lightening up. I love it! Out with the old stagnant crappy energy (papers) and in with the new. And I’ll join you in that glass of champagne.

  12. I am, by nature, a purger so I feel your “lightness”. I thought your post was lovely and perfect.

  13. Yes! You’re inspiring me. I need to do this now!!

    1. candidkay says:

      Yes! Go, go, go before the mood dissipates:).

  14. A terrific post, Kay. Your determination to redefine yourself in stronger, more positive way comes through your posts and I’m sure it helps to empower others too.

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