Posted by: mew | January 2, 2010

here we go

I finished clearing out the year’s deadwood in the garden yesterday, with lots of help from F., of course, when it came time to lift heavy pots full of damp soil.  I even managed to gather seeds and tubers for next season’s planting, which is on its way.

Can you tell I’m counting the days until the growing time begins again?  It’s just around the corner, really.  Cabbage transplants will be going into the ground the day after Valentine’s Day!  Lately, every trip into the dormant garden is filled not just with the little tasks that must be done now to clear the space and get it ready, but with marvelous visions of what might be, given some time and patience and the right kind of effort.

The notebooks drawer. Because I refuse to photograph the "whatever" drawer.

Today’s clearing task is one I am not looking forward to quite as much:  going into the depths of my “whatever” drawer.  There’s no in-box on my desk, but a medium-sized drawer where I put things that cannot be filed right away, for whatever reason.  The jumble of papers and stuff inside is now threatening to spill over the top, and I know what I have to do.

The funny thing is, I know I’ll feel better once I do it.  Even once I just get started, that good, wholesome, on-the-right-track energy starts to flow.  I still don’t look forward to it.

Why am I doing all this clearing out and cleaning up?  Because one of my three main areas of FOCUS for the first 12 weeks of 2010 is organization.

I used to lead a more organized life… but only marginally so.  Once F. and I merged our households last year, it was easy to become overwhelmed and lose track of my ususal systems.  We were both in our mid-30’s already, with our own ways of doing things, and some chaos was bound to surface as we both tried to make our old familiar pathways get us somewhere — in a brand new forest.

Now that we’ve been together and in this home for just over a year, I think I can see some ways to streamline and simplify our combined lives.  I guess I’m ready to forge some new pathways that will be just right for the both of us.

Some of those ideas have already been put into action in the kitchen (in every area but the herbs & spices/baking supply cabinets, which are a jumble to tackle another day) in December.  But I have plenty more to accomplish in the rest of the house, and I’m focusing my major efforts on my office.

As early as age 11, one of my favorite teachers was telling me that I would really shine if I could just get organized.  Only problem was, no one told me how.  So I floundered along for years, trying to figure it out, and not really having much of a feel for the whole “put together” life.   Mostly I just ignored the problem, to be honest with you.  (And it definitely can be a problem sometimes.)

This is more my style. There is a kind of order there, too.

Some people are just born with this instinct to clear and categorize and streamline already in their souls, and I do admire them.  (I also recognize that my admiration is based on the attraction of opposites.)  My sister is one of those who have the instinct, and my sister’s good friend Heather (also known as my other little sister), is another.  But what I have realized from observing them over the years is that they weren’t born knowing how, either.  Because they like having organized lives, and because they were born with the passion for clear, organized spaces, and because they have this innate joy when a system really works, they are always learning and implementing new techniques, practicing and refining and seeing what will work for them.

As with any passion, once you’ve been doing that for a while, you can begin to create your own hybrid techniques, using the expertise and foresight that comes with experience.  A real sense of mastery and possibility naturally arises over the long haul.

This freewheeling, creative approach to organizing my home is far outside my skill set.  But I understand it because that is precisely how I feel about working in my garden.

I doubt I’ll ever feel that confident about organizing.  But I can make a start, and I can use the techniques I’ve already learned, and you know I’m definitely not above making a call for help to either of my little sisters to pick their brilliantly organized brains.

Now here we go…

p.s. Mandy Dunaway, my sister, is also a wonderfully talented artist.  And it’s not just me who thinks so; she’s been featured in an Atlanta art gallery (although at the time she was still Mandy Wickham — we’ve had a couple of marriages in the family in the past year.)  I photographed this piece over the holiday season.  It’s just a little something she put together from the pile of magazines and catalogs waiting to be recycled, destined to hang in a place where she wanted her wall to have a little more jazz.  Isn’t it lovely?  I love how it feels so modern, and yet still organic.

If you are interested in viewing more of Mandy’s artwork, which includes mixed media pieces, meditative pen & ink drawings, paintings in acrylic and oils, collages, and a series of mesmerizing mandalas, please e-mail me.



  1. I love your word of the year and how you’re already putting it into practice. I’m still mulling word of the year possibilities, and it’s inspiring to see you moving forward.

    • I’m glad for that, Kathy! Today found me frustrated because I haven’t been able to tackle all of my main areas yet… and it’s only January 3rd! Hello, perfectionist.

      So I’d say, on behalf of the rebel in me, to take as long as you need to decide on your direction for the new year. There are still over 360 days left in it, after all, as I reminded myself. 🙂

  2. Focus and organization, both things I need too.

    What gets me is at work I am incredibly organized, It is at home that the system fails, As I like a bit of random chaos, righ tup until the minute Ican’t find my pencil.

    • See, I don’t think we should get rid of the “bit of random chaos.” As artists, I do think we need a wee bit of chaos. It’s as if things need to ferment a little. Do you know what I mean?

      But I do need to organize and streamline the main, everyday parts of my life, especially the daily tasks and work area (since I work at home, too, gaah!) — oh, and the filing system could use some overhaul. I think you get the idea 😉 Anyway, I need to organize all that to make time and space for the writing and creative pursuits that typically get shoved aside when I have to deal with the chaos.

      Glad you stopped by!

  3. […] might look like in my life this year, one of the first things I realized was that I would need to get organized.  Now, I’m not talking a Martha Stewart redo, top-to-bottom, of the house.  I’m just […]

  4. Yay! I got a shout-out! 🙂 The funny thing about crazy organizational skills: getting out of control. I am actually trying to learn to walk by a mess, and just accept it for what it is. I am adopting a new anti-out-of-sight, out-of-mind philosophy. I have some things SO organized, I forget they are even here, and then, they never get any use. I am de-cluttering at the moment, so if you need any decorative storage boxes, I have emptied a few. I’ll send them your way. 🙂

    • Heck, yeah, you got a shout-out! As far as accepting what is, we are all working on that one, Heather. As usual in life, you were given exactly what you need to test your ability to do that: two little ones who thrive by making messes. 🙂

      I can always use pretty storage boxes. Wanna come visit and help me fill them up? 😉

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: