04 July 2013

Reclaim Your Space - Your Mindset

* This is the first post in a six part series about how I reclaimed my studio spaces.

I've come to believe that there is no greater kryptonite to motivation then saying, "I really should ______." (Insert your issue of choice: loose weight, clean out the basement, learn to skydive.)

I've been saying for two years now that I really needed to do a deep dive purge on my Warehouse and Studio. Both are small spare bedrooms, nothing fancy or grand, but precious to me because they are dedicated space to my art career.

I've toyed with the idea of a studio outside of the home. Even entertained these for a brief moment. In the end I kept coming back to the same conclusion - the amount of room I have is not the problem, the amount of things I was holding onto was.

Insert the requisite amount of guilt, shame, dread and embarrassment that comes along with having to face something of this magnitude. All I could think about was the Hoarders TV show and how I didn't want to end up on it one day.

Here are two photos of what I decided to tackle:

The Warehouse Before the Purge

The Studio Before the Purge

I knew that if I was going to straighten it out, I needed to change the way I was thinking first. It's like going on a diet and deciding that you'll never loose weight anyway so why bother eating a banana when you could have an ice cream cone instead? I decided there was no point in investing the time, effort and money if I wasn't going to see it through.

I always need to understand the why behind things. I wanted to figure out how it had gotten this out of control and came up with five primary reasons:

1. Retail therapy - I had used the buying of things to comfort me during some difficult times in my life and since I had no organization system in place (which may not have mattered anyhow considering the volume of items coming in), it got tossed in a pile.

2. All the organization bins and shelves I already have are fine in and of themselves - they just don't serve me well. Not all of them are functional for me so it was not uncommon for me to have a pile on the floor with empty shelves of a bookcase next to it. (Changing them out will happen farther down the road.)

3. I'm not physically able to do the heavy lifting (I have back issues) and needed help with the labor portion. Part of me still struggles with asking for that kind of assistance so that became a major contributor to the mess.

4. I felt a tremendous amount of shame at how messy everything was. Most of it came from the negative voice in my head but any time I would hear a comment from someone full of negative judgement, I ran with it and inflated it a hundred fold, telling myself I was a horrible person.

5. There is a lot of history in the stuff we own. Going through it meant that I would have to face it. Not all of it is bad, heck, 99% of it isn't bad. But there was an emotional element to it that I knew would take a lot of energy.

Take note that these are not excuses, but a clear understanding of where I was beginning.

Armed with that knowledge (I love self introspection, feel like I can tackle anything if I understand the why of it), I bought these:

And I made an appointment with Mary the Wonder Organizer (that is the title I gave her after spending two days with her).

But the biggest thing I did for myself was this - I cleared my schedule so that I would dedicate two full days to the task and nothing else. That meant I waited four months until I was able to take the time, not an easy thing to do when you feel like something is eating away at your sanity. But I said, "Self? It's time to do this for you and see it through. Be brave, you can do it."

Was it easy? No. I was stressed, I was worried. Tackling the whole thing in two days was a really tall order. But I wanted to do it, no matter how uncomfortable or long the days would be. I wanted to clear the mental stress and block that it was creating so that I could be free to continue on my art journey. Yes, it was actually preventing me from wanting to work on new projects and grow my art business.

The key lesson learned: If there is something in your life that is really bugging you, make a plan to change it. Once you have some parameters to work within, you can concentrate on the work rather then worrying about the how. :)
So the work began.  In the next post will talk about how I chose to work with Mary the Wonder Organizer and why I think working with someone (friend or professional) is key to success. 

** Thank you for allowing me to share this with you. It's a touchy subject for a lot of us and it's always surprising to me how emotionally charged the topic can be - myself included, I really struggled with whether or not I would write about the experience.

But I've always thought that as soon as I hit something that feels uncomfortable to me, it's worth trying to straighten out, means I've come to a part of my life that could use some shining up. No shame, open heart, moving forward. :)


Kathy said...

Your mindset is/was essential to the success of this project. Can't wait for the rest of the story!

Pattie Wall said...

You are going to make a difference for me - keep writing.

Nancy said...

Wading right in was a good plan.. looking forward to more of your insights.

Lynda said...

Lynn, great series! I am looking forward to reading your journey. This will be an inspiration for not just me, but a lot of us. Thanks.

Gerrie said...

You are really inspiring me, I need to do this.

Unknown said...

I can identify with a few of your list of reasons. Thank you for being brave enough to take pics of your "befores." Looking forward to following the progression.

Mia Bloom Designs said...

I'm hoping your posts will inspire me to get organized. Looking forward to future posts. Thanks for sharing!

Eileen Cox said...

Moving forward, indeed! Thank you so much for sharing - it really will make a difference to so many to see that we're all pretty much in the same traincar, but there's light at the end of the tunnel!

Connie said...

been there done that. i am a terrible procrastinator. ...and in no time at all my organized studio is a disaster. the more i organize and label, the more i discover, down the road, what a bad job i did!

Sue Jacobs CZT said...

I need this sooo bad - I'm looking forward to your next few posts. My studio is down to the little walking path down the middle.

I get so frustrated with the TV organization shows that spend most of the episode on the drama of the family relationships and gloss over the actual sorting and cleanup.

Jeannie said...

I love this first post. Identifying why is so important. I am a firm believer in making lists for self discovery. I am so proud of you for following through and you have given me the kick in the rear to finish with my renovation. (I do like the looks of the studio sheds. Our house is only 1100 sq. feet and with two hobbyist, it is crowded.)Thank you for sharing your process.

Robbie said...

You certainly motivated me today!! check out my blog...I did purge some 'stuff' today and it felt good!!! So good I actually worked on two projects!!!

KAM said...

Your process, thoughts, plans, roadblocks...all such important pieces of that getting a plan, setting the space in order, letting go....and presently deep in a sorting of a collection of over 40 years from myself, plus the addition of inherited gatherings from mother and grandmother...well the journey challenges greatly.
I so appreciate all that you have written and shared..some big opportunity windows opened for me and my journey has more focus. ..thanks Kristin

Melody Johnson said...

So smart, and so necessary to become the 'get in there and create' kind of artist you know you are. I applaud you.

Marie said...

And I thought I was the only one with a space like this.....can't wait to see the finished product. This will give me courage to get working on mine.

Susan said...

of course I say Tawanda to you . Indeed. 2 days? very impressive!

Art Tart on a Farm said...

Thanks for talking about this. I know the shame. I can not even watch hoarders because it is too personal. In the last year have met a man and started dating him. He is an organizer, so sharing this part of my life was shameful but I knew if I did not we would not develop in our relationship and become closer.

Now with you as inspiration I can start to tackle it.