Happiness Expands in March

My Happiness Project continues in March

As I continue my year-long Happiness Project (w/Gretchen Rubin), we focused on ORGANIZATION in March. 

There are two routes you can take and two ways of thinking about the theme— Stuff & Time.

Since most of us have a ’stuff’ problem… the course asks you to look at your spaces, where you accumulate excess, areas that are difficult to stay tidy, and then to see if there is a BIG project to attack, or if you’d be better off choosing a number of ‘small wins’.

So, off I went.

I have always been a fan of things having a place, of tidiness and of arranging items attractively.  I also do a lot of planning in my life, of the year ahead and upcoming events… for the studio and for my family.  

I wanted to focus on both… complete my 2024 plan for the studio, family holidays and to make confirm/arrangements that were up in the air, AND make some visible progress on organizing my things.

While I am not a hoarder, I have and value A LOT of stuff.  As you can see in the studio, I am not a minimalist.  So keeping track of all the stuff, keeping everything clean and tidy, and knowing where to find a particular item when I want it, is a real chore. 

I am always trying to de-clutter and create ease in finding, storing and displaying all of these ‘valuables’ and to let go of those that aren’t really of value anymore.  I did the Marie Kondo thing, but found that a lot of my stuff really DOES bring me joy, or has a purpose, so here I am- with a house, attic, garage, greenhouse, shed, and yoga studio full.

If you step into these spaces, they are tidy, BUT I know there are items I could part with, items I would use more if they were easier to find, and items that aren’t for me anymore- even if perfectly good. 

My very first and primary goal was to do something with the fifteen hi-8 videotapes containing 30 years of family memories… Whatever had been converted to VHS were lost along the way, or damaged, but I had the original tapes, and could attach the camera to the TV to watch them… as long as the camcorder kept working… and the tapes didn’t further breakdown.. which some were showing signs of, I could still see these.  

It is a ticking time-bomb, or feels like one anyway.

 Plus, I wanted to digitize them and maybe make something with the clips— to see and hear my mom again… see my family and myself in moving pictures, prior to smart phones. 

This task was on my to-do list for a few years now- 22 for 2022 and 23 for 2023 and didn’t get touched— I would watch a few, get distracted, look up ways to convert tapes, then put it aside fir ‘later’.

It is again on my list for 2024, and this is the month to get it done!  I did lots of Googling and purchased equipment on Amazon… TWICE.  After spending at least 15 hours over 2 weeks, I went back to Google and found a man in Swords to do the job for me.  

I still had to watch and label fifteen 90-minute tapes to determine what they were, what I wanted saved, and how much it would cost….

My other big job was my teenage daughters room… it was very messy, full of junk and clothes, had gotten water damage and mold, and needed a makeover from teen room to respectable adult room, that guests could possible stay in too. I attacked the mold a few months back, which took a while, but the rest just sat there, undone.

Other tasks were small and achievable— clear a closet, get all the holiday decorations back in the attic where they belong, go thru key documents (replace and dump what was old and unneeded, and make them all easy to access and find-insurance, car docs, medical docs, mortgage, bank statements) etc..

I am happy to say, that by the end of the month my big tasks were completed or well under-way… 

The videos are in Swords being digitized and soon I will be able to watch them easily, share them with family, edit them, and treasure them safely.

I’ll probably not be able to throw out the originals, or the camcorder (it still works!) but I have them in a format that I can do stuff with, and the fear of losing those memories is gone.

My daughter, husband and I all pitched in to do a great make-over in her bedroom.  Unlike me, she was well-able to dump & donate most of what was in the room, so it is completely clutter-free, organized and now suits her and our needs.  YIPPEE. I only wish I took a before-picture at its worst… having it done is a real happiness boost for all of us. 

I completed a number of brief tasks as well – in what Rubin calls a ‘power hour’- instead of going for coffee, or heading home between classes, I stayed at Soul Space, tided presses, and re-organized the kitchen one day.  Another day, I organized my key personal documents in a new, bigger binder- easy to an access and to see.  A third day, I attacked my potted plants- repotting, trimming and tidying them up for Spring. Each little task was do-able and gave me a sense of accomplishment & pleasure.  I tried to do 3-4 of these a week. Of course, the list of tasks never ends, but I am on a roll now…  and with longer, brighter days, progress is more likely to be made!

My takeaways from this month: 

LOOK at your spaces. It might be helpful to take a photo (also good for before and after satisfaction)to SEE what things look like with fresh eyes.  Then tidy it up! See what you can toss, donate, sell, and use- see if you can make the space more pleasant and easier to live in. 

Try a ‘Power Hour’ and do as many little jobs as you can in 1 hour— you can clean and re-organize a drawer or cabinet, tip away at a larger project, put all the laundry away, etc… most projects don’t take as long as we expect.

Pick a big project and ask for help!  Work shared is both easier and more appreciated when everyone knows the effort it takes.  Choose a day to attack the garage, attic, kids room TOGETHER.  You don’t have to all be in on every tasks, but if each person does a bit, the work is more manageable and everyone appreciates it more.

If you haven’t read about the Happiness project, go back to former posts for more info and links.  Join me in finding more happiness in life!



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