The Great Purge

I found myself this fall in need of a change. It wasn’t a need spurred by my volition but one originated by the felines that also call my house home. Laziness, ill-temper, or just plain cat-ness has caused them to sometimes choose not to use the litter box. A really frustrating habit that made me realize it was time to get new floors. Interestingly enough, these two felines are the only male inhabitants of the house, but I digress. After some careful deliberation, I chose the flooring and in true go-big-or-go-home fashion decided to replace all of the downstairs flooring not just the afflicted area. I would need to take three days off of work to “supervise” the installation.

And so it began. As the project grew and the plans formed in my mind, everything that I saw on the floor, on the counter, in the closet, in the car turned into obstacles of the makeover. Clutter that needed to be dealt with. It’s not that I never noticed all of the junk that litters my house before. I’ve merely created a mental barrier to acknowledging it. I by no means have the bandwidth in the week to deal with it, so I choose not to see it. And so it’s been for three years.

This sudden urge, of course, was not really caused by the new flooring. It would have been very possible for me to merely move the junk around to accommodate the installation. After all, that’s what I’d done for years. The change merely triggered a switch in my mind, and I couldn’t think of anything else. It had to go. All of it had to go.

serious-cleaningAnd so the Great Purge of 2016 began. Savannah and I blissfully spent three days confined to the upstairs of the house while the flooring installers worked diligently downstairs. I tackled my closet first. A slow, four-hour process that resulted in four bags of trash, two bags of recycling, and three bags for Goodwill. Shameful. But I didn’t have time to dwell on the shame. I was on a mission. My room and the bathroom were, surprisingly, much easier and were able to be accomplished in the remainder of that first day.

The second day I began again. It was the day to conquer the playroom. I self-talked over my coffee and texted my loved ones in case I didn’t emerge again. I was ruthless. Toys flew into the Goodwill box with no mercy. Items were sorted into plastic bins for the first time in their plastic lives. I even installed the blinds that had been waiting patiently in the corner for two years. It was a beauty to behold upon completion.

Day three wrapped up with the girls’ bathroom, the laundry room, and the hallway. Each provided its own challenge, and each was conquered with blissful elimination of stuff. I vacuumed and shampooed the carpets and wiped my hands to sheer victory. I felt glorious. I could breathe in my living space. I suddenly felt positive about the world. Acquiring things is fun, but never have I felt such joy as I did getting rid of it. Never have the girls spent more time playing in their playroom. It may be too early for New Year’s resolutions, but the experience has caused me to look at things in a different way, and I plan to change the way I approach caring for our things with the girls. A renewed focus on responsibility to take care of our space and to pass on to others those treasures that we no longer have the need or time for. I’m looking forward to a fresh, and cleaner, 2017.