My last excuse for such a long blog hiatus? A show followed by a trip.
My excuse this time? Another show, followed by another trip.
But in the midst of all that crazy, I actually have done some work on my stuff! I just haven’t been able to find the time to sit down and write about it. I’m currently embarking on rehearsals for another show starting next week, but as of now, I won’t be following that show up with a trip, so maybe I won’t completely fall off the blogging map again (probably wishful thinking, but I’m gonna try). In the meantime, I’ll attempt to bring things up to date.
I mentioned back in January that I had read Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. One of the things she talks about very specifically is the process of paring down your book collection – or, perhaps, more accurately, getting rid of all but your most beloved books. Books are a tough one for me – I love to read, and in addition to devouring new titles, I often reread old favorites and get just as much pleasure from them the second, third, and twentieth time around. I also am a former English major and live in Portland in close proximity to the reader’s mecca of Powell’s, so it’s probably not surprising that I own a lot of books. We have four bookcases throughout our house, and also have built in cubbyholes in our bedroom that make perfect little book storage areas as well, and all of them are full.
Only one of our bookcases is actually nice (a lovely hardwood piece from Ethan Allen)- the others, not so much. Two are cheap particleboard ones from Target (one of which was a hand me down from friends who were moving), and the remaining one I bought very inexpensively at a second hand store. It’s actually hardwood, but it’s also old and kind of falling apart, and could probably use a new paint job. It earns its keep, however, by being unusually narrow and able to fit perfectly into a little niche in our hallway. The Ethan Allen bookcase and one of the particleboard ones lives in our office space in a his and hers sort of arrangement – and the other particleboard bookcase is in the corner of our guest room.
It occurred to me that if I were to whittle down my book collection to what I most loved, I could reduce the number of bookcases I owned as well. This was a particularly attractive idea for our guest room, because having the bookcase in the corner didn’t leave guests any real room for important stuff like luggage. And in the office, the space felt overly crammed with furniture as well – literally every wall in that room was lined with either a desk, a bookcase, or credenza, with almost zero whitespace.
Ms. Kondo’s advice for tidying involves gathering all items of a like type from all over your living space and putting them in a pile in one room, so you can clearly see just how much of that one type of item you own. With books, this can seem a little silly since if your book are on shelves, you can clearly see the titles and sort through them that way. But she was firm on this point – take them out and put them in pile, because part of her process also includes physically touching each item and intuitively responding to the question “Does this item bring me joy?” and if the answer is not a resounding yes, it has to go. I decided to commit to Kondo’s method and pulled all my books from the shelves and spread them out on the living room floor.
I’m sorry to say I was so wrapped up in the process of all that gathering and questioning that I forgot to take any before pictures of the bookcases or the massive pile on my living room floor. But when my sorting process was over, I did have a pretty big stack of books to take to resale – it took me one full rolling suitcase and two large shopping bags to haul it all in. (Side note: I made almost no money at resale. With the internet, books have become much less of a rare commodity. I ended up donating the majority of them).
But while I had technically disposed of enough books to empty two full bookcases, I had not anticipated that the individual sizes of the books remaining would pose a problem. In addition to some beloved large format coffee table books, I have a lot of scripts that I keep in three ring binders which were too tall for most of the shelves of the bookcases, with the exception of the cheap particleboard one in the guest room I was hoping to get rid of (sigh). I could keep all the bookcases I currently had, but it would mean they were all half empty. Ugh.
So we bought a new bookcase. It may seem counterproductive, but after multiple attempts of arranging and rearranging our remaining collection into various bookcase combinations, it became clear that we simply needed something that better suited our needs. So we went on the hunt for one that would be large enough to hold my entire book collection (Ron’s much smaller collection could be easily housed in the nice Ethan Allen bookcase we wanted to keep), and had adjustable shelves to accommodate the scripts and large format books. We found a lovely, locally made alder wood bookcase at a Portland store called Natural Furniture that fit the bill perfectly, and it was on a great sale as well.
That allowed us to happily give the two particleboard bookcases to our friend Kelley, who is a teacher and needed them for her classroom. Creating more free space in our house, and helping a teacher in the process? Yes please. Total win/win.
We’re currently keeping the narrow bookcase in the hallway, though I’m not sure it’s here for the long run. It holds my stash of empty journals and some of the decorative objects and picture frames that got displaced when we got rid of the other two bookcases, so it looks a bit junky, but I’m not ready to let it go just yet.
The office still holds two bookcases as before, and admittedly, still feels pretty over full with furniture. But there is now a lovely empty corner in the guest room where at some point we may put a luggage rack or perhaps just a small set of hooks on the wall, but for now we’re leaving it free. It looks so much more roomy and welcoming, and is much easier to clean – I love it.
I guess the lesson I learned in this process is that sometimes it makes sense to upgrade to one new lagom item that fits all your needs, instead of keeping a larger collection of imperfect items that have to all work together to get the same job done. It may have cost us a little extra to make it happen, but it was worth it.
Posted by laurafayesmith in Actress, Decluttering/Organizing, Travel Tags: actress, bookcases, books, decluttering, Ethan Allen, furniture, guest room, Marie Kondo, Office, organizing, Powells, purging, reading, shopping, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, travel, vacation
Happy 2015 everyone!!!!
I realize I have been absent for a looooong time. I have good excuses though – I was in a play, then went to France for a couple weeks, came home to a ton of work due in a very tight timeline, and then the holidays hit and well, that pretty much brings us up to date. I’m hoping to blog at least once a week if possible this year, but I know I’ve said that before and then…you know…life.
Another reason for the inactivity is precisely that – inactivity. For the past few months I haven’t really done much cleaning, decluttering, or reevaluating. It’s been all I could do to just be where I needed to be and make deadlines on time. And while my house, purse, and car have been a MESS all fall and winter, I’m also happy to report I did very little purchasing either, so it was sort of a zero sum game on the whole lagom seeking mission.
I am proud to say that we did not go into credit card debt for our vacation, and while I did buy a few things in Europe, I didn’t go nuts either. I bought a few, carefully curated, carefully planned items that I had done a lot of research on before our trip, and all in all, I spent VERY little time shopping – which was weird and great all at the same time. Instead, we explored beautiful places, ate amazing food and drank tons of wine:
But for the most part, over the past few months when this blog has been silent, I’ve just been sitting with my stuff as it is, not really thinking about it one way or the other, and therefore have made no real changes. With the launch of a fresh new year though, I have begun to feel a renewed sense of wanting to lighten my life.
For Christmas, Ron gave me a copy of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and reading it has newly inspired me to think about what I truly need, use, and love, and what stuff I’ve just grown accustomed to seeing in my space. Ms. Kondo is a bit more of an extreme minimalist than I aspire to be, and I’m not 100% sure I subscribe to everything she suggests, but I still really enjoyed her book. It’s made me start looking around with a keen eye again, and let me tell you, when that happens…nothing in my path is safe.
Even though Ron did not read the book and I haven’t really talked to him about it, he seems to be on the same wavelength as well. Yesterday morning, as we were putting away all the Christmas decorations, we were moving the armoire that holds our tv, stereo, dvd player, cable box, phone, etc. back into place, and he asked me how I would feel about getting rid of the stereo, since we never really use it. We own a couple high quality smartphone speaker docks, and we just tend to plug our phones into one of those and listen to our music that way – I can’t really remember the last time I got out a CD and used the stereo. So I agreed, and from there we also decided to get rid of the dvd player we have upstairs (it’s fairly old and had not been working properly, and we still have another one that does work in another part of the house, and I can’t say I’ve been missing the broken one since we usually watch movies on cable anyway).
Then we went through the rest of the armoire, clearing our dvd collection of any movies we no longer cared about, our cd collection of music we no longer listened to, and I tossed about 60 (seriously) empty cd jewel cases I had been saving for oh, NO APPARENT REASON. I even found a small stack of old VHS tapes that somehow survived the last purge, despite the fact it’s been about three years since we’ve owned a TV with a VHS player on which to use them:
I particularly love the two that are titled “Laura – Misc. Tape”, with no further indication of anything else that is on them. Especially since I don’t own anything to play them on in order to find out. Genius decision making right there, folks.
And when I went to get a couple bags to hold the stuff we were getting rid of, I found myself plowing through a bunch of those well intentioned reusable shopping bags that multiply like rabbits in the closet because I always think I’ll use them, and then, of course, don’t. Ron and I picked through them and each chose a couple to keep that we liked best, and the rest we got rid of. In the process, I also I found not one, but TWO lost scarves I’d been searching madly for over the past couple weeks tangled up in the mess.
As anyone who has been reading the blog for a while knows, I have been at this process since January of 2013, and with each area of my home I’ve decluttered, I’ve always gotten to the point where I’ve thought “That’s it – I can’t pare it down any less. Everything that’s left is something I need, use, and love.” Fascinating how time can change that perspective, isn’t it? I think I maybe needed the past few months to just sit quietly with some of my decisions, before I could revisit them with a clear head. If the first day of 2015 is any indication, I’ve still got a ways to go, but I’m excited to discover what’s important to me in the new year.
Posted by laurafayesmith in Uncategorized Tags: cd's, Christmas, cleaning, Credit card debt, debt, decluttering, dvd player, food, France, Holiday, Marie Kondo, New Year's Day, reusable shopping bag, shopping, stereo, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, travel, vacation