There's an organized person somewhere deep inside me, and she's trying to get out.

I'm pretty smart. For the most part, I can figure out pretty much anything if I just set my mind to it. Problem is, I can be incredibly dense when it comes to knowing how in the world to go about setting my mind to certain things.

This is an amazing book. It's not a book of organizational techniques (although there's a lot of great stuff along those lines, too), but a book about how to start thinking well about organization.

The first chapter filled me with hope--the first time I'd ever had any sense of reasonable hope for this area of life. Certainly, there have been times when I was sure that through sheer willpower I could force myself to stop being myself and become somebody who is capable of being organized. About once a week, as a matter of fact. But reading this book sparked the idea that maybe--just maybe--the person I actually am can learn to organize her home and her life.

Ms. Morgenstern's story was uncannily familiar. Right-brained artistic-type, always losing everything, the epitome of disorganization. When she described wandering for four hours through the parking structures of Chicago O'Hare, trying to remember where she'd parked a friend's car, my mind flashed back to my own experiences wandering aimlessly through Biola's parking lots, and the sickening thought that maybe the really important thing I was sure I'd forgotten at home... was the car. Thankfully, I'd only walked a few yards of the trek home before it occured to me that I couldn't possibly have driven to school while leaving the car back home.

Anyway, she sounded a lot like me, only maybe a little worse. But then one day, tired of spending 3 hours packing up for a jaunt to the beach with her baby, she organized her diaper bag.

The system worked, she applied it everywhere... and the rest is history.

So the first chapter was very encouraging.

The next chapter... not so much.

You see, she says the first step is evaluation. Obviously, you need to know what you want to change, and why. But you also need to take stock of what actually does work for you. That way you won't waste energy on needless change, and more importantly, you'll get a better idea of what makes a system really workable for you. Besides, it's encouraging. If you can organize one thing, you can organize anything.


Only one slight problem.

I couldn't think of anything.

She said this step was indispensable. You can't go on successfully without it.

I contemplated long and hard, but I couldn't come up with any answers. So I decided to move on anyway, futile though it might be. I admitted to myself that I couldn't remember ever having successfully organized anything other than chord progressions, and kept on reading in the snippets in the snippets of time between diaper changes.

As I unloaded the dishwasher, I was mulling over the ideas about activity zones in rooms, and wondering how they might apply to my kitchen.

Cramming the spatulas into their too-shallow drawer, I realized what a constant source of frustration this was. Surely there's a better place for them. That drawer was positively useless for anything other than... oh... say... flatware, maybe.


So I quickly moved the flatware from the deep, narrow drawer next to the stove, and arranged it in the wide shallow drawer in the island between table and sink. It fit beautifully. So much better than that too-narrow drawer in which it had been wudged. And just the ideal location, too. The spatula's fit neatly into the old silverware drawer, with room to spared. Right next to the stove, too!

Oh, the bliss of rightness! Like composing, there was a sudden rush of ecstasy as I realized that solving one aspect of a situation caused a dozen others to fall perfectly into place. It was like music.


It was just like music.

And I realized that if I can organize sound, I can organize space.

The process is identical.

So is the thrill.

So is the beauty and the peace.

It's really low on the list of priorities, but you know what I'm most excited about? Coming up with a system for keeping track of all the musical ideas currently scrawled on scraps of paper throughout the house, and finale files sprinkled through the hard drive. But that'll be awhile. There's a lot of laundry to do, and a lot of cabinets that explode when you open them.

In the meanwhile, though, the inside of the boys' wardrobe is a thing of beauty, I've freed up the wherewithall to organize our own wardrobe (not to mention finding homes for the collection of decorative baskets cluttering the linen closet!) and my soul is very happy.


Emily said...

Good for you, Elena!! :) Isn't it fun? I totally know that thrill you're talking about - I bought some baskets from IKEA recently to help me organize my closet, and oh the bliss when it was actually done!

Matthew said...

Woohoo! Sounds pretty cool to me, Elena. You do realize it's the same part of your brain that organizes music as the one that organizes space, don't you? You're on the right track. ;)

Marcy said...

Hi! I don't come visit your blog very often, but when I do I love it. So... I dropped by, and saw this post, and thought that you might like to know about FLYLady. I absolutely adore her -- she's supposed to help you with cleaning your house, but she's helped every area of my life. Her website is www.flylady.net, and her system seems to work best if you become a member -- this means you'll get LOTS of email from her, but just set a timer for a couple minutes and read what you can, then delete the rest.

Marge said...

How lovely it is, Elena, to find deep satisfaction in the small accomplishments of life – a favorite meal prepared lovingly for your husband, clean sheets on the beds of your little boys, a drawer newly organized with a place for everything. We live in a world that moves too fast to appreciate the significance of these small gifts of love. They are gifts of yourself to your husband, to your children and to God. Much of the time they go unrecognized, but you know and will ponder them in your heart. What a beautiful discovery you are making!

Rachel said...

Beautiful! I'm eager to find a copy of the book.

Marcy is right--you should at least take a look at Flylady. The cutesiness turned me off at first, but I think she's really rather brilliant. Well worth a look.

Elena said...

Yes, I like flylady very much.

I really do need to re-register with a bloglines email account, though. I'm SO bad at deleting email, and I haven't been able to post on bubbs for months.

Which, perhaps, is a good thing for the state of my house, after all. =/