A few months ago a year ago (!!), I saw Gretchen Rubin on the TODAY show talking about The Happiness Project and thought "I should read that"--then promptly forgot to do that until Barbara O'Neal blogged about it. Before I could forget again, I ordered the book and put it to the top of my reading list when it arrived a few days ago.
Before I cracked it open, though, I wrote down a quick off-the-top-of-my-head list of things I do that make me happy. It went like this:
- Road trips
- Having an organized space
The last one jumped out of nowhere and felt a little funny--until I started reading the book that night and one of the author's January "Boost Vitality" tactics is "Toss, restore, organize." She writes "Household disorder was a constant strain on my energy" and I laughed, because I so connected with that. It's not like my apartment was a mess--although I do feel compelled to clean and tidy up before watching "Hoarders," or I start to twitch. But years ago, a homeopath asked me if I felt everything should be in its "place"--it was his way of determining what my homeopathic remedy was. My answer was an emphatic "YES!" (which apparently means my remedy is Calcarea fluoricum).
The problem lately was that I couldn't work out exactly where everything's place should be. And part of that problem was that I had too many things. Things I was holding onto because...well, because. Because they reminded me of good times. Because I'd wear them one day. Because I'd find a place for it somewhere.
Then I stumbled upon the "40 Bags in 40 Days" idea. I didn't think I had 40 bags worth, but I wrote down a list of areas that I needed to go through: kitchen drawers, bathroom shelves--every single place that I may have shoved anything. Because I'ma tell you, after 5 years of living in a tiny Paris apartment, I was world class at jamming crap into closets. World. Class. I ended up cleaning out 26 bags--and then a month later, I threw away 3 wheelie bins more and hauled the chaise longue that I loved but that just didn't fit out onto the sidewalk. I called the council to come pick it up--they said they'd be by a few days later but it got hauled off by a local that afternoon. Now someone else is making it fit.
And then I started doing some serious organizing. Getting everything into its "place." I've still got a ways to go--I'll need more bookshelves and a wardrobe and some shoe holder thingies kinda like this here:
Actually, exactly like this, because most of my furniture is Ikea's Hemnes range. I love how the white lacquer brings a little more light into my ground-floor apartment.
Slowly, I'm finding where things should go. For some reason, it took me ages to be happy with my kitchen (mainly because the large windows made everything seem sparse). And now I am:
This area specifically gave me trouble, maybe because it's where I make candles and need to be able to free it up quickly. And yes, that is an absinthe fountain doubling as a Jelly Belly holder.
I've still got a long way to go with my hallway (see Hemnes items above) but I've made a start:
Magnetic whiteboard from Typo, girl in snow photo from Etsy, Los Angeles from the Griffith Observatory taken by me on a glorious July night in 2008, Duane Reade bag right there so I don't forget when I go to the supermarket--and also because I love the design, just as I love NYC. In my ideal world, the whiteboard would be right by my desk, but there's not enough wall space there, so I put it where I'd see it often and therefore have to pay attention to my various plans :)
And one last thing I do, which might even be a Fly Lady thing, is make sure the kitchen is clean and tidy before going to bed each night. Strange as it sounds (or might that be "pathetic as it sounds"?), I get a buzz from walking into a sparkling kitchen every morning. In fact, I get a buzz from all the little organizational things. Which I guess is why Gretchen Rubin listed organizing as a vitality booster :)
What makes you happy?