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Saturday, December 27, 2008

Cleaning Up My Act

Spring cleaning is good, but New Year’s cleaning is even better. It plays into the theme of discarding the spiritual clutter in our lives by making resolutions when we discard the clutter of our physical lives. In the Spring the weather is likely to distract you from an inside mission and the garden will call you as well.

Recently I was able to avail myself of the enforced seclusion of the snow storm by sorting, dusting, vacuuming and general cleaning. I have plenty left to do and will pause long enough to head to the coast to tend to my mother, but I have a few days when I return before I go back to work and intend to take up where I’m leaving off. Not only do I want to be cleaner and more organized for the New Year, I hope to keep up with it this year.

Along with developing a new relationship with my things I hope to develop a new relationship with my money. This would be a good exercise even were we not in a recession, but takes on a new urgency when trying to make do in hard times.

I am setting up an accounting system of a sort to keep track of every penny I have as advised in Your Money or Your Life. I will keep track of what is food spending vs. nonfood spending. I am particularly interested in those amounts as I believe that food and discretionary spending is the only sector of spending that I have control over. I want to see where I’m putting my money, or as Dominguez and Robin say in Your Money or Your Life, where I’m putting my life energy.

It’s a revelation to me to think of a pay check in terms of life energy, but that’s what it is. I am giving my time and my life to receive that money which deserves conscious spending. Obviously keeping good accounts (especially when one has been as lax as I in knowing how much money I have) will cost me time, but getting a handle on where my money goes will make it time well spent.

Another aspect of spending my life energy is to give it to others thoughtfully. I am too often one to submit to someone else’s desires in order to please someone special. It is in my nature to nurture those I care for, but I am going to nurture myself more in 2009 and say “no thank you” without explanation more often. At nearly 58 and past middle age, my time is more valuable than ever.

All this de-cluttering and voluntary simplicity not only will benefit me, but the environment as well. By keeping unneeded items in the thrift circuit and making purchases wisely, I can impact landfills and the air while keeping my money in my purse. I may not be able to afford a farm or have the expertise to run one, but I can make a difference in my little corner of the universe.

And so my time during this break from work is being spent cleaning the spiritual, physical, and financial clutter out of my life. January 1st is a great time for new beginnings and recommitments to last year’s resolutions.

Next stop, planning a garden and building a chicken coop.
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Lorraine Hart said...

Ah, there's nothing like being cabin-bound for some good cleaning and organising! I've been working on closets too, paring-down STUFF which is just getting in the way.

I can still fit the important, memory-filled things in one trunk..the rest I can let go and walk on. That's one handy skill from living life as a nomad!

Stephanie Frieze said...

18 years in this house has filled it to the gunnels. Friends laugh at the idea of us moving!

JosephMcG said...

I am a book collector... always seeking the answers to my questions in reading rather than in living...
Lots of books... wisdom???
Thanks for encouraging folks like me to get on with living and to learn how to say no when no saying is appropriate...


Stephanie Frieze said...

Parting with books is difficult, Joseph! I don't do much of it. That is one thing my children will have to do when I'm gone.

Kim Thompson said...

Wanna hear a cool idea?

A good friend of mine's family started a new holiday tradition. In lieu of gifts, they decided that the adults would do a "book exchange." Each adult brought one of their books from home and the family got some great discussion and walked out of the holiday party with a new book to read!

Stephanie Frieze said...

Great idea, Kim! Thanks for sharing it. Goodness knows I have plenty of books.