Putting One’s House in Order

June 29, 2017

Like most, this school year has been busy. I usually get asked in the spring if things are winding down at school. Truthfully, May and June are often the most hectic times around here. As the pace accelerates and demands at school increase, I find I spend less time to attending to things on the home front. Priorities, I suppose and knowing that once the figurative dust settles at school, I can get to the literal dust at home.  My often used mantra, “I can deal with that later,” has resulted in all manner of items accumulating in spare rooms, drawers, bookshelves and closets. An annual summer ritual for me is sifting through these neglected spaces and deciding what should stay and what should go. It always seems a bit daunting at the outset…seriously, how do we get so much stuff?

It would seem we are not alone.  There are entire industries dedicated to helping people organize their stuff. Storage units have popped up like weeds all over the city. Books and magazines dedicated to the cause fill shelves at stores, along with containers of every imaginable size and shape to corral assorted belongings. Television shows and websites propose solutions, all in the pursuit of putting one’s house in order. Some perspective here, we are not auditioning for Hoarders by any stretch, but neither are we likely to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens.

I recently came across an author, Marie Kondo, who has successfully capitalized on this trend.  Her best-seller, Spark Joy, offers advice on tidying and organization. The title captures the essence of her system; do your things spark joy? If not, get rid of them. Although I haven’t read her book, I found the concept intriguing. Joy implies a deeper feeling, different from the sense of satisfaction one might get, however fleeting, when you find a bargain at the mall. If I look around my house, there are items that I have  a stronger connection to, others much less so. Where does this emotional attachment come from? The sand dollars from the beach, the pin made in nursery school, an old dog collar, a toy sewing machine all have something in common. They are reminders of relationships and experiences that have shaped my life. It isn’t the things themselves, it is the memories they evoke of a special person, place or time. Really, it is these aspects of life, the living of it, that bring us true and lasting happiness.

Summers are fleeting. So, although I will spend some rainy days sorting through our rubble and dropping off bags and boxes at the Goodwill, my plan is to spend as much of the time as possible doing those thing that are most important. Putting one’s house in order is less abut tidying and organizing than it is about discerning priorities, after all. For me that will entail visiting with family and friends, enjoying time in nature, walking dogs and reading a great book or two. I hope that your summer is also filled with opportunities to nurture important relationships and to make wonderful memories. And if that means we end up with a few more cherished mementoes, it’s okay. One can always find room in the house for things that have found a place in one’s heart.


Christine McInnis