This year I am trying out the Bullet Journal system. I am predicting it will help me keep track of what I do, where I put stuff, and what I need to do next. My mind is far too busy and my memory too short to keep everything in my head as I used to. This is a pencil/pen and paper, analog system instead of a high-tech system. It involves writing by hand and frequently moving forward the same items to the next day if not completed. The beauty of the system lies in building an index in the front of the journal and numbering all the pages. Then, when I write about something I want to find again or follow through on, I list it in the index and can thereafter find every instance where it crops up.
“Pretty Planners” are all the rage right now as you can see if you follow Pinterest. I love them too, so I am liberally applying Washi Tapes as emphasis on the pages and doodling with colored pens. This holds my attention and keeps me engaged. I work hard at keeping myself cheerful and productive. It is too easy to just give up and settle into old age so,instead, I fight the good fight.
Somewhere between youth and old age a tipping point occurred and went unnoticed. Remember when you could burn the candle at both ends with no ill effect? Dance until dawn? Cram all night for an exam? Those were the days, right? In those days the ratio of energy expenditure to energy recovery worked in our favor. Somewhere in middle-age we began to notice the need for some down time for recovery after exertion. By now the need for physical energy is often the determining factor in whether routine things get done. Throw in a major task like clear out the garage / shed /attic and we’re licked before we start. All we can do is work with the energy available to us. Taking stock at the beginning of the day, we can get a sense of how much energy we have. If energy is low, putter. Find minor, routine tasks and get them out of the way. Take a nap. If your energy is abundant, be careful. Don’t use it all up. This kind of a day is an illusion to trap you into three subsequent days of exhaustion following a day of great accomplishment. Take it from One Who Knows.
In terms of keeping stuff, are you more like a conduit or a cesspool? Can good things flow into your life, stay for a while, then pass on?
When I was a child of 11 in the 1950’s, I was very impressed by a woman named Muriel. She lived in the same new housing development as my family on Cape Cod. She was a retired showgirl and her husband was in the merchant marine. She was flamboyant and enjoyed the good things of life. She had lots of material possessions. She enjoyed them for a while and then she would come knocking on our door with her arms full of things she wanted to pass on. She had taken a shine to my mother. This was our first new home. We had always rented but now we were owners. We had very few possessions to furnish our home but, thanks to Muriel, we soon had draperies and knick-knacks that we could only have dreamed of. The most amazing thing about Muriel was she had no sense of scarcity. She was abundant in every sense of the word.
Looking back over my life, I see that I too, live with that sense of abundance. This does not in any way resemble wastefulness, but is a sense of holding things lightly, of detachment. I have many items of sentimental value that I will keep as long as I am able, but my identity is not wrapped up in the things I possess. I have what I call a “conduit mentality” about keeping stuff. For every new, trivial item I purchase I discard a similar item. For instance, after a small kitchen renovation, I purchased some newer, small kitchen items. Instead of adding them to the collection of what I already had, I gathered up several older items and set them aside to go out as donations to GoodWill or to a more local “swap-shop” at the recycling center.
I’m the same way with my books. I recently purchased some books to help me learn Windows 10, so an equal number of “how-to” books on previous versions of Windows are set aside to be given away. I chose to donate rather than sell these items because it is part of my life as a conduit.
However, most of the people I work with in downsizing or organizing have great difficulty giving things up. They are older people with a lifetime’s accumulation of stuff. There are many reasons for hanging on to everything, from sentimentality to fear of making a wrong decision. But mostly they are unable to think of being a conduit for the many good things and blessings that have come into their lives.