Making room to put things away

Our apartment boasts three closets–two in the hallway and one in the bedroom–all stuffed to the gills. I’ve organized them before, but somehow, they always pile up cluttered again.

Fortunately, my sweetheart has decided to take on one of the closets and is working on some of the mess as I type this. Isn’t that a wonderful Valentine’s Day present? I’d rather see a pile cleared than eat chocolate!

Me? I’m sticking to my 15-minutes plan so I don’t drive myself bonkers with overwhelm. Those little chunks give me just enough impetus to keep it up. They support my inner plodder, which sometimes needs a little coaxing to come out of its closet and head down the path.

The other day, while the two-year-old happily played with markers, paper and stickers, I tackled one of the drawers in the sideboard behind my desk. By tackled, I mean, I opened the drawer and picked up the first thing that came to hand. No before photographs.

This drawer was full of candles and candle holders, and I soon had two big shoe boxes full of the ones we hadn’t used in years.

When we lived in a far-less earthquake prone city, we kept candles all over the house, lighting them in the evenings, relaxing in their ambient glow.

Living in San Francisco, we don’t feel all that safe lighting candles, knowing an earthquake might rumble through at any time. We haven’t touched this lot in years.

Unsure whether the Goodwill could use this motley bunch, I packed all but a few of our trove up that first day. The next day, the mite and I bundled them into my grocery cart and enjoyed an outing to the nearest store.

I half expected them to turn us away, but the clerk eagerly took our goods. “Oh yes!” He said. “We can use all of these.” “Even the used candles?” “Oh yes,” he said.

What do you know? Sorted, the lot.

One last 15-minute session clears the drawer

Today, I finished clearing this drawer. I had saved back just a few candle holders, the ones we like best and that have special memories for us.

Plus, there were a few odds and ends that would serve us better in more logical homes. The spare Christmas light bulbs, for example. We know where they belong!

The drawer at the beginning of the its last clutter-clearing session

The drawer at the beginning of the its last clutter-clearing session

As for those candle holders and tea lights, I had just the place for them, a spot more convenient to the dining room table, where we are most likely to use candlelight, but first I needed to clean them.

Quick, easy way to clean wax off candle holders

This is an old trick I learned a long time ago for getting candle wax off candle holders. Put them in a deep bowl.

Put dirty, wax-encrusted candle holders in a deep bowl in the sink

Put dirty, wax-encrusted candle holders in a deep bowl in the sink

Run hot tap water over them. See the green one there? I couldn’t budge those red candle remains at the bottom. Just wait till you see it six minutes later.

Run hot tap water over them and let sit for five minutes

Run hot tap water over them and let sit for five minutes

Let the candle holders sit in the hot water for five minutes, then lift them out and rub them dry with a soft, clean kitchen towel. Now take a look at that green one. It’s as pretty inside as out, and so are all the others.

The candle holders sparkle after rubbing them with a clean kitchen towel

The candle holders sparkle after rubbing them with a clean kitchen towel

One drawer cleared, two to go

This is the first of three drawers to clear in the sideboard behind our desk.

While the candle holders soaked, I cleaned out the rest of the drawer, put everything where it belonged, and washed and dried the liner. Just look: Empty space!

The empty drawer, with its clean but marker-stained liner

The empty drawer, with its clean but marker-stained liner

Some day, I’ll want to replace that liner, but it’s still perfectly fine, and I have to tell you, every time I see it, I think fondly of another of our grandchildren, who one day decided to decorate that liner, among other things, when she was learning to use markers. Too bad she got hold of a permanent marker, but I smile every time I open this drawer.

Making room for the things we need

Getting rid of the things we no longer use or love makes room for the things we need.

Somewhere in all the clutter of the sideboard drawers and shelves I have yet to clear, I will find important tools, like the reboot disks for our computers, and the thumb drives on which we save and update our most valued files–our photographs, artwork and our writing projects.

The other two drawers are chock full of computer gizmos and junk. I’m so eager to get to work on them that I had to force myself to obey my fifteen-minute rule today.

Tomorrow, Sunday, is a free day, with no work expectations. If I want, I’ll read all day, or meditate, or bake, or clear clutter for as long as I like!

Whatever I do on Sunday, it’s always a rest day/fun day, open to whatever feels good. But today, I honor the fifteen-minute rule, which leaves me looking forward to my next clutter-clearing session with heightened anticipation.

In the back of my  mind, I’m planning how to use this freed drawer space, imagining how it can serve us over time.

What have you made room for in your life this week?

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