As we were driving home from Arizona, I wasn't exactly looking forward to going home. It felt overwhelming. I knew that was in large part due to the fact that life felt overwhelming because I never felt caught up. I was always spending my time dealing with the current crisis, and as a result, the home systems weren't working as they should. When you are constantly feeling behind, it is hard to relax. It is just hard to function.
Now, I know a good portion of that out of control feeling was due to the crazy amount of significant life changes that have happened around here over the past four months. It was enough to knock anyone for a loop. But when you are in that state, it is difficult to do what you absolutely need to, much less that things that help to keep life running smoothly. As a result, the build-up had become too great and life just wasn't functioning. Realizing how much I was dreading coming home, made me realize just how bad things had become, and that major changes needed to happen.
It was pretty darn providential that the planned work day was just two weeks after we arrived home. Even though I was motivated to gain control, having a significant deadline is very motivating. I had a strong feeling that if I could clean out the house, get the rooms organizes, and regain some control, the level of peace in the house would increase significantly.
So for two weeks, I cancelled school, and we cleaned and sorted and sorted an cleaned. I think the final total of bags of stuff to give away was somewhere around 80. The stuff to discard filled two of the rooms in the pictures I showed you yesterday... one of the rooms on the third floor and one of the rooms in the basement. Much of it was things that were broken, or building debris, or things that were saved that shouldn't have been saved as they had no real purpose. It was an amazing amount of stuff that was taken out of the house.
My gut feeling was correct. I have woken up for the past three mornings and not felt that horrible sense of dread at starting another day that had become my normal. I am motivated to do things because I don't have the every present guilt that I should be doing something... anything... about controlling the stuff. I am relaxed and our school time has been productive. I am just a nicer person to be around. I also have more patience to expend on children rather than stuff, which is good because we seem to be back in a cycle where some children are needing more patience and understanding. (Sigh... three steps forward, two and half steps back.)
It feels a little crazy that just by cleaning out unneeded things can work such a transformation, but it's true. Living in too much stuff is oppressive, that's all there is to it. The result has been worth every minute of labor from the past two weeks.
I've even had time to spend in the kitchen. On Sunday, I spent some time freezing all the coffee that was leftover from the workers on Saturday. It was quite a bit of good coffee, and I hated to throw it out. It turns out that there are more than a few recipes which use coffee as an ingredient. I have never paid much attention to them because, well, who on earth ends up with leftover coffee?! I don't. So I took advantage of the situation and froze the coffee in 1/2 cup amounts so I can use it all the recipes I had been ignoring.
And canning season has officially begun. Mangoes have been on sale, so today I mixed up some mango chutney which I will can tomorrow.