New Song

As we begin a new year, it seems fitting that I should also celebrate my new website: This site is a culmination of years spent pondering and dreaming and praying, but it is also a beginning. It is skeletal, at best: only a framework of what I envision and what I pray is possible. It is my response to the call of the God who made me and is still making me; it is my new song. 

The website has two main sections:
BLOG: A miscellany of writing and pictures about my many passions. (See the ABOUT page for a current but non-exhaustive list.)
THIS TWO-STORY HOUSE: My new ministry, consisting of writing by me and others about the ways God has changed our story, as well as prompts to encourage you to think and write about your own story. (See the THIS TWO-STORY HOUSE page for more detail.)

I'm excited to share this with you, and even more excited to hear from you. Will you sing this new song with me?!

Karatasi No. 2

It is January, a.k.a. The Month I Again Return To Journaling. I was an avid journaler from elementary school through early adulthood, filling nearly a hundred journals and notebooks with my thoughts and observations. Every time I completed the last page of a journal, I felt a rush of victory at having filled the book, mingled with regret that I would have to shelve this journal whose cover and pages I had come to know so well. Part of what made this regret so palatable was knowing that I now had an excuse to shop for the next journal. Oh, the happy hours I spent debating the options! Spiral coil or bound? White pages or ivory? 5x7 hardcover or 8.5x11 softcover? After making my selection, I would scurry to my favorite journaling site and crack open the new book, relishing the fresh pages and the possibility that lay ahead.

And then December of 1996 happened. I came home from a week away to find that a pipe in my tiny bungalow had burst and my basement had filled with two feet of water, submerging the wooden trunk that held all of my journals from my entire life. And all of the thoughts and prayers I had poured onto the page over the years were blurred into beautiful, haunting watercolors. 

It was then that I lost my passion for journaling. It suddenly seemed futile, even ridiculous. Why spend all this time and effort rendering thoughts into words if I can't go back and read them, or pass them on to my children? What, really, is the point?

Of course, I knew the point. I knew that all of those words I'd carefully chosen, those thoughts I'd tried to painstakingly articulate, had shaped me merely in the writing of them. Would it have been rewarding to revisit those thoughts, to ponder them anew? Sure. But they had already done their work in me, and no amount of water could wash that away. 

So I slowly, slowly, S L O W L Y have returned to a place where I am again interested in journaling regularly. I've made a few lame attempts the last several Januarys, but have always waned quickly. This year, though, feels different. In many ways, this year feels like my tipping point, and I am eager to process things in writing. 

And what better journal to field my thoughts than this favorite PaperBlanks journal?

It has seen me through several failed attempts at journaling, and I am determined that it will finally get the consistent attention it deserves. Its binding is open, with several tidy folds of paper stitched in such a way that the pages lie perfectly flat without any effort on my part. The paper is creamy, and thick enough that ink does not bleed through. There is even a pocket in back to hold any ephemera I collect throughout the year. 

Yes, this journal and I will spend some quality time together this year. And I am certain that I, my marriage, my kids, and my relationship with God will all be the better for it.

One Shelf At A Time

This has been coming for awhile. Every time I sit to read in my favorite spot on the couch, I fight the nagging inner voice saying, "You really need to organize that end table." Every time I bring in the mail, I inwardly kick myself that I still haven't cleared out the random cords and old Christmas cards from that file drawer in the nearby credenza so I can actually use it for (gasp!) filing the mail. And every time I sit at the table for dinner, I am distracted by the clutter I see on the kitchen counter  and the dining room credenza. 

I haven't always been like this. Organizing is a passion of mine. When I got my four-drawer file cabinet 12 years ago, I raced home eagerly every day to "play" with it. I anticipate and savor the January magazines and blogs with articles like "52 Ways to Stay Organized This Year" and "101 Products to Help You Declutter Your Home", and one of my favorite parties EVER was the one where the hostess complained about her disorganized pantry and not only accepted my offer to fix it, but let me do it right then and there! Ahhhhhh...sweet, sweet memories.

But the best indicator of my obsession with organizing was that my house was actually ORGANIZED. Everything had a place, and I could find anything in a moment or two, thanks to my constantly-updated inventory of everything (every. thing.) in my house. It was my normal. I loved it. 

And then I had kids. Not that it's directly their fault. But since their arrival, I've accumulated way more stuff and had way less time to deal with it. And, let's face it: I've added plenty of my own clutter (thanks to my love of flea markets, Archiver's, and Target) and have been less and less willing to spend my precious "me" time purging and organizing. 

So it's time for a change. And I am so off-the-charts, waking-up-excited PUMPED to get going! Inspired by @beckynovacek's Instagram journey the last couple of years (#40days40bags) and Apartment Therapy's January Cure, I'm plunging into a decluttering and reorganization of our complete home this month. 

STEP 1: For each room/closet, list every area that contains stuff. For example, my dining room list is "secretary, credenza, table, floor". (Yes, I've listed the floor in every room because sometimes that's the worst perpetrator. 😊)

STEP 2: Divvy up the list to tackle a certain amount of projects per day. I'll be doing three areas per day, not including the necessary post-Christmas cleanup that needed to happen first. 

STEP 3: Get to work!

A few key strategies that are helping me:

- Purge and organize only. Cleaning comes later.

- Work in 15-30 minute increments and take a short rejuvenation break in between to read, write, or play. If you're really in the zone when your timer goes off, reset for an additional session, but don't overdo or you'll lose interest.

- Organize for how you live, not how you think you should live. I learned this from one of my favorite organizers, Julie Morgenstern, and it makes an incredible difference. If you drop your purse on the nearest chair, create a dedicated hook or chair right inside the door that's for that sole purpose. If you uncork wine next to the sink, set a container there to collect them. Don't fight your tendencies. Organize them!

- Let your family know what you're doing and that you may (will) enlist their participation and/or help. 

I am confident that investing time in this project will be well worth it. I expect to be proud of my diligence and motivated to maintain it. I expect to feel peaceful in my house. I expect to be giddy with joy every time I find what I need within five seconds of wanting it. The day is coming, my friends! But only if I stop writing this post. 

Splendid organizing to you!