It started with the laundry. I hate doing laundry. It's so repetitive. There's no big reward when you finish ALL the laundry, just more laundry. Thankless stupid job. So, there were four piles of clean laundry on my bed. They accumulated all day as I pushed successive loads through. "Gonna get caught up today, I swear I will." But then I got distracted by other, more urgent matters when a load was dry and ready to be folded.
1. 2. 3. 4. Loads. They accumulated, and taunted me every time I walked past my room. I need somewhere to put my clean clothes once they are folded. The closet has run out of hangars, the drawers are overflowing . Never mind that these 4 particular loads are kids clothes, towels and sheets, nothing of mine personally.
So I did what any reasonable person with ADHD does, I decided to clean out my closet, tidy up my nightstand, my dresser top and clean out my drawers. (To be fair, I did the kids closet and dressers a couple weeks ago and it was awesome getting rid of so many old, stained, clothes. And then also putting the nice stuff that will fit Sparrow in two years into storage)
In the act of cleaning out my closet, I filled in the remaining bed space with things removed from the closet to be dealt with. I sorted, I threw away old things. And then a mess appeared in the middle of my bedroom floor, but at least I had a clean closet. Laundry still needed to be folded. As I am putting things away in the closet and consolidating two totes half-full of mittens/hats/scarves into one, I now had a unicorn in my hands: an empty clear tote, with a lid, big enough to store actual things in. These have gotten terribly difficult to find around here. I am probably not the only person cleaning her closet in order to avoid folding another 4 loads of laundry for her family.
Well, the seasons have definitely turned towards Serious Autumn around here. The wind and rain this morning toppled all but two of my sunflowers. It's definitely not getting any warmer in Maine. Like, 80F days are gone until mid 2021 in these parts. So I can probably put my summer clothes in the empty bin. Unfortunately, it wont't fit all the unfolded laundry on my bed though.
To sort my dresser out, first things first: shorts. Then swimsuits (I hate swimming anyhow, and there aren't any natural hot springs around here to enjoy in the winter. ) Tank tops. T-shirts. Dress shirts. Then I decided to organize my undergarments. Might as well just get rid of the emergency-emergency underwear and really old cloth pads that are hiding in the back of the drawer (yes, i'm a hippy I guess,. I use cloth pads because they are 99% biodegradable, and I can get away with only having to sew a large batch for myself every other year.) Anyhow, my drawers were tidied up, so I should clean up my dresser top next. The closet shelves were cleaned and organized, but I should probably also go through the clothes and pull out any dresses I won't be wearing for the next 6 months.
As I folded dresses and lay them into the bin on top of everything else, two things happened.
1) I noticed a lovely, muted rainbow color palette emerge. What was left in the closet had a very different color palette.
2) About half of my clothes from the closet and dresser went into the bin. Next year I'll open it up and I may decide I do not want to wear a bunch of that stuff again. At that point I can give it away to friends or consign the better pieces that no one wants.
By giving myself space in my bureau and closet, I also give myself mental space and permission to make clothes that I will love and wear. The clutter is gone, All that remains are the clothes I really love. My favorite clothes are the ones I get to wear when it gets cold. The warm snuggly wooly cozy clothes. Some that I made, most that I thrifted. I have space to add new, special pieces.
After I made the space in my closet and drawers, I reorganized my clothes in a way I've never actually done before: in a color scale. I wanted to get a feeling for what colors I actually wear. The bright pieces always jumped out at me before, but I know I usually reach for something neutral most of the time. By reorganizing things, I got to see that most of the t shirts I own are black. I mostly hate wearing t shirts because if they fit in my shoulders they are usually the wrong size somewhere else. Anyhow, so the t shirts in my drawer are ones I usually wear for work, or really baggy ones for bedtime.
In my closet, I have a lot of cardigans and skirts. I am reaching a certain age where I occasionally get really hot for brief moments in time, and a cardigan is a lot easier to take on and off, rather than a pullover that might mess up my hair when I try to yank it off in a hot sweaty fury. From the looks of it, I wear a lot of brown, grey, blue with some purple and green thrown in, with the rare splash of red or orange. My winter palette is also a lot cooler in tone than my summer palette, which I though was interesting. I would actually like to add some more bright, warm colors to my winter wardrobe.
It's really interesting just getting a snapshot of what I wear the most. My clothing is in a slow state of decay at the moment, and I'm not sure what to do about it. I have piles and piles of fabric and sewing patterns filling up a filing cabinet. I want to make more clothes for myself. The clothes I wear on a regular basis are all starting to get old. They are holey, thin, stained in places. I don't have many pieces that I put on and feel great about right now. I know I should do something about that. I just don't want to shop.
Since starting ADHD medication, I have lost interest in shopping as a way to make myself feel better. It's great for my bank account, but now I have to convince myself to spend money on things that I actually need. I am also a lot more aware of my ADHD tendency to do things like clean and reorganize my closet in order to avoid folding the (still not folded) laundry. Once I got done with my closet, what did I do? I took pictures and started this blog post. I still have not folded the laundry.
I feel like that humanity has been going through a big transition. It's almost the end of an era that has easily lasted since the beginning of the industrial revolution, possibly even since the dawn of humans. I know that sounds silly, but hear me out. This moment in history is completely unprecedented. Globally, humans are going to have to figure out how to live and work together, unified as one, if we are going to survive climate change and biological collapse. We are in the midst of a man-made extinction event!
We can't keep dividing ourselves between Us and Them. And I'm not even talking just about social classes, or nationalities. There is the Us and Them of people and animals. The Us and Them of people and our environments. Borders and nations are an antiquated idea based on kingdoms and a ruling class. Hurricanes, fires, drought, plagues, nuclear disaster (specifically looking at you Fukushima), pests, and polluted oceans don't affect just one nation, one country, one continent or one group of people, and they don't affect just people.
Water scarcity and climate refugees are a huge problem, and one that is growing.
Corrupt politicians and governments are more visible than ever thanks to nearly instantaneous transmission of information via social media. (Thank you to all the whistleblowers in the world)
The people of the world are becoming aware of what is happening not only to ourselves, but our brothers and sisters around the globe. Once enough people decide to stand in solidarity against the tyranny of corruption, and decide to figure out how to survive climate change together there will be hope for the human race. But as long as the Oligarchs and 1% of the world continue to convince the 99% that we should be fighting amongst ourselves and blaming each other, we are doomed.
In childbirth, transition is the moment where you give in to the possibility of death. You accept that death is inevitable, and the only way to make it to the other side is to go through the portal. You realize that you will die someday, and the person your have given life to will also have to die someday. It's intense, it's terrifying, it's life changing.
Perhaps its your first child, you woman you were before, the woman that was not a mother has to die in order for you to be born again as a mother once that baby is born. Or the mother of one, two, three, or many children must perish in order for you to be born again as this new person's mother. Sometimes the death is literal and not figurative, and that is truly heartbreaking. But transition requires a death of some kind, and it's the acceptance of that inevitability that allows it to happen. All three times I gave birth, I suffered through a transition period in my labor, and again as a new mother. When my brother died, I suffered through another transition. These things happen. If you are lucky, if you are strong, if you can accept it for what it is, you can survive and be a whole new person on the other side.
We are going through a collective transition. We can't keep doing things the way they have always been done. We are suffering through this transition because we are fighting it, we don't want to change. Change is big and scary. I don't have any answers for making it easier for 7,000,000,000+ people. What has worked for me in the past is to make noise. Scream if you have to. Howl, drum, move your feet, listen to your heart and let art flow through your finger tips. Take action, show that you have heart. Be kind to yourself and to others. Move the spider outside instead of smashing it. Even the tiniest little life form still has an innate desire to stay alive. You are changing right now, this is just a moment in time and soon it will be over. If you can figure out how to flow with it instead of fighting against it, it hurts a lot less. The pain will still be there, but you can remove the suffering.
So I cleaned my closet, and thought about these things. I got rid of things I had held onto because I used to like them, because owning them had become a habit. I guess I Kon-mari'd? I packed away things that no longer give me joy and made room to see what I already have with fresh, loving eyes. I made a little pile of clothes I love that need some repairs, that need to have new life breathed into them. Cleaning always helps me process big emotions. It's the physical act of removing something unwanted, and leaving a clean slate for something new to emerge. What will you clean today? How will you work through this transition?