Unraveling the new year

This post was originally published January 9, 2015.

The new year is just over a week old, and I return to work on Monday. I have been on vacation since January 1. I like to take time off the first week of the new year, to look back over the previous year and evaluate my accomplishments and my failures, to plan ahead for the year to come, and to just relax, reflect, and rejuvenate. Also, people tend to be cranky at work during the first week of the new year – everyone has gone on a diet and there is a conspicuous LACK of Christmas goodies in the kitchen. I give everyone a week to settle down into their routines, then I quietly slip back into my office the second week of the year.

During this year’s break, I had planned to get some major decluttering done. Unfortunately, the first several days of my vacation, I had a cold accompanied by several (or one long) migraines. Needless to say, I have not gotten a whole lot accomplished, but that’s OK. I tacked a couple of small but tough decluttering tasks. One of these was going through my collection of Groovy Girl dolls. I have been putting this off for quite a while, because all these little smiling dolls make me so happy. For those of you not familiar with the Groovy Girls (by Manhattan Toy Company), here is a picture of Groovy Girl Kelsey:

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Now, interestingly enough, I am not a doll person at all. I didn’t play with dolls growing up – I preferred Legos, Lincoln Logs, and Tinker Toys. My daughter got Kelsey as a present on her first birthday. She played with her quite a bit, but I just fell in love with her sweet little smiling face. Over time, Kelsey’s “friends” came to “live” with us as well. Every time we would go the store, one of Kelsey’s friends would come home with us. But they didn’t “live” in my daughter’s room; they lived in my room. I even built a special shelf to keep them on. They quickly outgrew the shelf, and have been on top of my chiffarobe for some time now, though I have not added to the collection in years. I noticed a couple of months ago that they were covered with dust, to the point that you could barely see them. It made me sad and ashamed to think how I had neglected them after the joy they had brought to me. So this week, I removed all the dolls and place them in a laundry basket. I thought that I had about twenty, but I was shocked to discover it was closer to fifty! Some of them, I don’t even remember getting! Many still had the tags on them. I took them all to the dryer, and ran them through on air dry with a dryer sheet to get the dust off. Then, I went through and cleaned any the were stained or dirty. Finally, I picked up each one and decided if I wanted to keep it or not. I used Marie Kondo’s litmus test: “Does this spark joy?” I told myself I would keep five or six, but I ended up keeping ten. I realize ten is not very “minimal”, but it’s quite a bit better than fifty! The rest, clean and smiling, are in a black plastic garbage bag to be donated to the Holiday Bureau (placing them in a closed black plastic garbage bag for about a month will kill any dust mites, according to the Holiday Bureau). The ones that I kept, I placed carefully on the now clean shelf, with a promise to appreciate them and keep them clean. Now, I can see ten little smiling faces in my room, rather than a pile of dust.

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So even though I didn’t cart ten tons of junk to the curb this week, I did get some small, important tasks accomplished. For those of you who have decided to simplify your home and your life in 2015, here are a list of articles that I have found to be useful:

The last of these is a workbook to help people determine their “word” for the year. This word will be used to keep you on track with your goals and the path you have set for yourself. I haven’t had a chance to work through the book completely yet, but I have selected my 2015 word: LESS. I occasionally have moments of enlightenment, usually when I am running, or looking out the window at the sunset. During these moments, I feel happy, at peace, totally content. I am not worried about tomorrow, or replaying the day in my head. I am in the moment. I want to have more moments like that in 2015. And to achieve those moments, I need less – less clutter, less stress, less debt, less junk food, less stuff, less distractions, less of all the things that drag me down and keep me from having those golden contentment moments. With less of these things in my life, I hope to find that at the end of 2015, there will be room for more of the things that I truly value: time with my family, running, my music, charity, and fixing up our wonderful Blue Heaven.

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