Posts Tagged ‘The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin’

Getting organized 2

Saturday, September 14th, 2013

I’m into Week 3 post-reading Gretchen Rubin’s book The Happiness Project, and am emerging at last from the organizing phase. I hardly recognize my closet and can at last locate my favorite beaded Guatemalan necklaces, which now live, color coded, in small plastic containers instead of strewn haphazardly on shelves and in drawers. Two things I’ve learned: First, Nobody cares what my closet looks like as much as I do. Sure, when I slid open the door for the big reveal, my husband and kids said “Ooh! Nice! Good job!” But a second later, they were on to the next thing. Whereas I paused for several minutes simply to admire the order. My jeans folded in neat piles. My shoes lined up in a row. My blouses hung on hangers.

The second thing I learned is that my husband and kids notice what I wear, especially if it belongs to a palette other than black. A lavender cotton blouse that I acquired years ago elicited these responses: “Love the color!” and “You look great!” Believe me, I didn’t look that special. Just different. But doesn’t everyone’s eye crave novelty? With my closet organized, I can access stuff I already own, and use it. I’m thrilled!

The other big takeaway from Gretchen’s first chapter is the One Minute Rule. If a task takes less than one minute, do it. That means closing a cabinet, hanging up hats on the pegs in the garage, stacking books onto a shelf. Such small things, that take so little time, that I used to avoid. Not anymore.

This is my Gratitude List for the week:

  • For the first time ever, my kids attend the same school. This means that instead of rushing from one carline to another, I have one drop-off and one pick-up. Fantastic!
  • That school offers twice weekly “homework club” Yes, we must pay for the privilege. But two days a week, our entire afternoon and evening is not consumed by homework. My definition of heaven!
  • Because I feel more organized, I am able to think about my next writing project. Truly, this is the ultimate luxury and one for which I feel enormously grateful.
  • Someone I’ve never met wrote me a note to say how much she loved reading my book, Mamalita. Thank you!
  • I call my parents frequently, but often my Mom can’t remember the details of our previous conversations. Last night, she remembered clearly that Mateo had started an afterschool activity, enough that she could ask specific questions about it. For that, I am grateful, and happy.
  • This morning, my son, reading from National Geographic Kids Almanac, told me “Rats can’t burp.” How have I lived so long without knowing this important fact? Mateo, thank you!

Have a wonderful weekend!


Getting organized

Saturday, September 7th, 2013

Have I mentioned that this summer I read Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Happiness Project? In it, she takes 12 months to tackle her vision of the world and tries to make it more positive. The first chapter is dedicated to clearing out clutter–a first-world problem to be sure, and one that I, although a self-avowed minimalist, have suffered from. Never again! Or at least, headed in that direction. This past week, with the kids back in school, I’ve been cleaning, organizing, and donating, enough that the guy in the Salvation Army truck now recognizes me. And I have to tell you: I feel better! Less is more. I know that. And yet I cling to things. Old clothes that don’t fit. And never fit, possibly. Which I never wear, because as a minimalist, I wear the same things all the time: Jeans and a t-shirt, white or black. Occasionally, a shirt of a different type. My children beg me: Wear something else!

Another thing Gretchen Rubin recommends is a Gratitude Journal. And although at first, this struck me as “so California” (Gretchen’s from New York), I quickly realized there’s no down side to taking stock and counting my blessings. I do this constantly. However, I never write these thoughts down. My journals, which I’ve kept since girlhood, are filled with things I dread or fear, or rants and complaints.

So this morning, while my son is reading quietly beside me, I will take note of a few things I’m grateful for:

  • All the obvious ones.
  • Yesterday, I got a flat tire on my minivan, going north on the 101 freeway, and safely pulled over. I called AAA and within 30 minutes, a tow truck arrived. Ten minutes later, my tire was fixed. Thank you!
  • Our tomatoes are in, and they are fabulous. Gazpacho for days. Enough frozen for spaghetti sauce all year.
  • A Friday lice check at school and we are clear!
  • Playdate today at our house, and the sun is shining so we can go outdoors.
  • This year, my goal was to read more books, and I have done that.
  • A few pending adoption cases in Guatemala have been approved, and the number of waiting families decreases.

An additional subject Gretchen talks about is making and collecting memories, through photo books and albums, and scrap books. For organized people, and I know you are out there, this is a given. For me, this remains uncharted territory. But this year, I’m motivated. The boxes and boxes of pictures that surround my desk downstairs will be organized. Not to mention the thousands of digital images that live on my computer. Soon, eventually.

If you haven’t read The Happiness Project, go borrow it from the library. (One less book to fill your shelf.) Keep an open mind, and, like me, you may finish feeling more in control of the chaos that is daily life.

Image credit: Amazon