The Curse of White Walls

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I am actually a very organized person. I’m also a very cluttered person. Or at this point, a moderately cluttered person. I’m not sure if I have always been organized or if I have learned from all the organization books over the years which offered a thousand solutions for all of life’s disorganized woes. I don’t color code (too much hassle), but I do have everything important in files, in a file cabinet, and I know where that is. I know where the deed to my house is (last time I checked), and I know where my passport is–and where my kids passports and birth certificates are. I have my keys hanging on a hook next to my front door, all the medical files in one place, and so on. On my computer, things are in folders, in folders, backed up on an external hard drive, and so on. So, I’m actually quite organized, but if you walked into my house, you would never guess that in a million years. Well, except for the keys by the front door. I strongly believe in Andrew Mellen’s a home for everything, and over the past 25 years, I have gotten much better about that.

So why do I keep reading organization books? Minimalist blogs? Articles on how to unclutter and find what you’re looking for? Podcasts on how to Organize Mindfully (a great podcast, btw). Because I am taken in by the pictures on all those blogs and magazines and websites that have clean white walls and nothing on the kitchen counters. I believe that if I were truly organized, that is what my house would look like. Yet my house doesn’t. It’s full of color and flowers and mementos and anything blue and beautiful that I can justify spending my life energy on (I have gotten better with the gazingus pins lately). I have houseplants and beautiful sea glass from my trip to Bermuda and the ceramic birdhouse my daughter made for me for my 50th birthday. And my walls are anything but white. Every bedroom has a full wall mural. In mine it’s Diablo Lake in Washington State, I believe. And the other three walls have a soft floral wallpaper. Not white. Not minimalist. Beautiful and it makes me happy.

And thus my dilemma. I know that we all do what works for us. And for me it’s being surrounded by color and things I love. And I am slowly decluttering the things from my life and that of my no-longer-children that we truly don’t need, but it’s a work in progress. And I am coming to accept that it’s OK not to have clean, white, mostly empty walls, and it’s OK to have a lazy Susan on my kitchen table that holds wooden salt and pepper shakers a good friend made me, candlesticks for Shabbat, a tile from my trip to Portugal,  and a big vase with flowers. Next to that is a magazine I want to read, which is next to my daughter’s laptop and calculus homework. It all just means we live there. And, I remind myself, it has no bearing at all on whether I can find my keys.

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