Posted by: mew | January 4, 2010

the path from chaos to order

Isn’t it funny that during a time where my focus was organizing and order, I ended up with chaos like this?

It’s okay, Lucy.  Let me ‘splain.

While pondering what focus 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 talking about some gentle changes that I know need to be made, and that I usually do not make the time for.

The thing is, if I make the time for these small changes, they’ll end up saving me time for other things in the long run.  I know this.  Yet I resist dealing with those organizational tasks because (a) I don’t generally enjoy doing them, (b) I don’t feel very competent as an organizer, and (c) I’m much more skilled at procrastination.

The “whatever” drawer I tackled a few days ago revealed an issue that I honestly hadn’t seen coming.  If I want to invite order into my life, I’m going to have to complete at least some of the many projects I have mid-process.  Half my stress in clearing out that drawer revolved around the egoic self-deprecation that flared up every time I unearthed another half-finished letter, ATC-in-progress, or to-do list with items still — still! — undone.

One of the things on that list just couldn’t wait any longer.

And besides, the boxes were underfoot and in the way in the bedroom.

This project was begun back in late October, when I received the box of goodies from Christina Martin over at Soul Aperture for the pay-it-forward challenge.  (You can read all about it here.)  I was to send on five little boxes to other bloggers and friends who’d agreed to continue the challenge and pay it forward in turn.

It’s all about spreading the love, see.

But the love has kind of gotten stuck in this house for about two months now.  (Luckily, it doesn’t have an expiration date.)  Six boxes were set out, and they gradually began to fill with little treats, as I found something I wanted to add to one in particular or bought six somethings and put one in each.  And then the boxes sat.

And sat.

I don’t think I need to tell you how depressing it was to see them stacked there at the base of my vintage dresser, night after night, or just how my heart squeezed with guilt on those early mornings when I’d accidentally knock over that tower of boxes with a careless foot.

Saturday, I got tired of it.  This project, ahead of all the others, needed to be finished, doggone it, and I needed to keep my promise and put those boxes of love out into the world.  I got my list of addresses together and prepared to tape them shut.

But then they looked so pitiful.  So… plain vanilla cardboard.  I had to dress them up before their journeys.  One of them would be making a transatlantic flight, after all.  And others were crisscrossing the continent, or headed to the Southern Hemisphere where it’s still summertime.  (Too bad I can’t fit in the box.)

So I got out old magazines and collaged them, using packing tape to secure the layers.  This method gave a nice shiny finish, with a bit of depth because of all the clear top layers.  As a side benefit, the packages are now waterproof.  I thought it was a creative way of camouflaging the fact that all of these boxes are on their second (or third, or fourth) use.

Hey, if we all collaged our packages this way, the boxes could last indefinitely, perhaps gaining strength over time with all the various layers of tape… but I digress.

Four out of the six are now ready to send on their way.  I would show pictures of the finished boxes, except that I don’t want the participants to have seen their boxes before they arrive, in case they’re still reading the blog.  So I’ve just shown little details instead.

By the way, if you’re one of the patient pay-it-forward participants, I’d just like to say that there is no intended “meaning” to the collaged boxes.  That is, I collaged with no thought in my head at all, just happily layering images until I liked the look of it.  I certainly wasn’t thinking, “Oh, I hope Angie picks up on the clever subtext,” or anything like that.  It was, as the legal disclaimers like to say, “for entertainment purposes only.”  I was certainly entertained while making them, and I even ended up naming some of them.  (You’ll find the name, if one was chosen, on the inside flap of your box.)  I hope they entertain you, too.

Two more to finish, and then they can all make the trip to the post office with me tomorrow.  I’ll have taken one more step towards order in this house, and I’ll have sent some love out into the world in pretty (and pretty unusual) packages.

A special welcome to all the Creative Every Day participants who stop by to read.  I’m so looking forward to getting to know all of you, observing and cheering your process, and exploring our creativity together in the months to come!



  1. I often think Gremlins break into my house right after I put things in order and make everything all chaotic again. Unfortunately, I think I’m the Gremlin. I love order. But I’m better at putting things off. Good for you for trying to declutter and organize. I love seeing the detail of your boxes of love. I’m sure the participants will be very pleased. Good luck with the ordering process.

    • Oh, so you’re the gremlin 😉 I think I’ve done enough organization for the week now. I’m pooped! LOL.

      Thanks for the compliment on the boxes of love 🙂 And thanks for stopping by!

  2. Your boxes look amazing!!! How fun!!!
    LOL you should see my art room. It’s a bomb.
    I just need to remember to put things away before I start on a new project!
    Having love stuck in your house…hmmm
    is that why we procrastinate?

    • Well, that makes me feel better, gemma, to think your art room is a bomb. Mine’s usually not so much, since I do the serious, money-earning work here, too. But I can’t seem to collage properly without just tossing images all over the desk, floor, bed, and getting glue on my fingers and clothes usually (thank goodness this one was with tape!), and scraps in my lap and my hair.

      But the truth is, when I’m creating like that, for pure fun, time disappears and concepts like “order” mean nothing anymore. It’s only me and the moment, you know?

  3. An excellent way to begin the year, ME, by finishing such a worthy project! It’s funny how we can walk by things that need doing, day after day trying not to notice them due to the guilt they radiate. Strenth of will and self discipline are what is needed. But sometimes those traits are napping. Glad yours woke up and smelled the packing tape! 🙂

    • Yes, strength of will and discipline. And naps, too, after the postmistress has taken them all away 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by, Frances. I enjoy your blog very much!

  4. he. it’s funny i read this tonight because i told myself that before i started tackling my next big project, that i needed to organize and declutter. it is taking me waaaay longer to do than i thought it would. lovely photos!

  5. a gorgeous burst of color! i love the idea of “gentle changes” – i think those work better in the long run. then they become part of your routine almost without realizing it, rather than serving as a massive upheaval and throwing everything else off kilter.

  6. Omigosh, I just asked you about the Pay It Forward challenge in your later post because I read that first and then, I read this one to see you discussing the very thing I asked about. My apologies. I am very happy to be one of the participants and hope to blog about it very soon.

    As to your post, I completely identify with the chaos and trying to get organised. Sometimes, I feel like I take on too many different things/challenges/tasks and they end up overwhelming me. I need to just breathe…focus…and take one step at a time. Good luck ~ 🙂

    • That makes me smile. 🙂 And thanks for the good luck wishes. I will need them!

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