February Habit #5 My Project

Dear FlyLady,

My decluttering story centers on my 12 foot wall of organized, clean bookcases, full of books, and 4 drawers of “vertical files.”  I’ve been an avid reader, worked in libraries, homeschooled, and pursued hobbies, and my books and files reflected all of that.

Through years of reading Musings and Testimonials, I had decluttered and was keeping up with my routines and zones.  Inevitably, as life goes on situations change; when my efforts to redirect and grow seemed thwarted I began to feel stuck.  Something I read suggested to choose an independent project, any project, and then do it.  Around the same time, I noticed that I no longer smiled as I dusted my books or flipped through my files.  I decided they would  be my project.

I have never been one to save clothes from different times in my life, or to keep many mementos, but going through my books and folders brought memories flooding back.  It was challenging in ways I never imagined. As I kept asking myself the decluttering questions, I reflected on why I was having such a hard time getting rid of books that didn’t qualify as keepers.  Some were tied up with my past; if the memories they aroused as I paged through them did not make me smile I was then able to let them go.  Others were tied up in hopes of reading them with future grandchildren; once I realized that (and heard Tammy say something about not intending to homeschool her grandchildren) I kept a select few of those.  I kept some of the excellent reference books for those times when I’m unsure of the reliability of the internet or might enjoy flipping through the pages.

That still left shelves worth of books that I struggled to release.  It was a journey to come to realize that those represented “me” to me; they felt a part of my identity.  Even though I had no desire to ever read that piece of literature again, I had read it.  I had studied the different areas my collection covered.  I had learned and used knowledge and skills and crafts, some more successfully than others.  It finally hit me, like a bolt of lightening, that it was no wonder I felt stuck.  I was so attached to the identity reflected in those books and files of my past that there was no room to grow.

I heeded FlyLady’s admonitions not to try to find the perfect home for the books I decluttered and offered them to homeschoolers, charter schools, libraries, and charities in that order.  My file cabinets were emptied, mostly to recycling but the materials I kept are now in folders on my shelves alongside books on the same topics.  I bought pretty baskets and bins and moved things from closets to my shelves – office supplies, electronics accessories, games, puzzles, handcraft materials, and recorded media.  By the end of the process I no longer felt stuck.

Within a year I realized other benefits from decluttering my shelves and folders when we unexpectedly relocated and ended up in a home with about half the square footage and minimal closet space.  My wall of shelves is functional, pretty, and also a reminder, like our shiny sinks, that makes me smile.

With many thanks to FlyLady, her crew, and all who share with their fellow Flybabies,

A Flying bookworm 🙂

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