My office is a stinkin' mess! Six important lessons learned from a deep dive

awareness change is a process permission Jul 20, 2022
messy desk and stacks of files on the floor

When I moved from Colorado to Arkansas 3 years ago, it was fast and furious.  Rather than take the time to sort my office materials, I threw everything into boxes and whisked them into the moving van. For the past two years, they have been stuffed under a work table in my office and semi-forgotten. 

Then a class, Your Creative DNA created by my friend Cynthia Morris, inspired me to undergo a life review.  She calls it an “Adventure Resume.”  (Note: here’s a link to that wonderful class).

I’ve done life reviews before.  In my book, Soul Feeding Studio-Time NOW!, I shared a reflective process that I’ve used annually since 2002.  (Note: If you’re interested in a pdf of that chapter, contact me and I’ll send it to you as my gift.)

Those annual reviews are filed away somewhere… somewhere… in those boxes.

So after a frenzy of searching, those boxes of notes, client files, old workshop designs, and intellectual property are now strewn everywhere. There are four unopened ones stacked in my dining room as if a tower of antiquity and stacks of paper would make dinner more appetizing.

I knew when I tossed those boxes onto the moving van that this day would come. 

It’s excavation time!

Here’s what I’ve learned so far

I’m using this as an opportunity to really deep clean and purge what isn’t necessary.  The first step is to clear a space for the few things I’ll want to keep.  Yesterday I finished the desk drawers; later today it’s the 2-drawer file cabinet. 

Along the way, I’ve had several realizations:

Those boxes reflect my strongest values.  As a teacher, I love to learn, and as a kinesthetic learner, the best way to get learning into my brain is the physical act of writing.  My curiosity encompasses many areas and I kept notes from most every influential book I’ve ever read.  One box is mostly those notes. Then, the accumulated learning resurfaces through my creativity when I teach, as evidenced by multiple boxes of class handouts. My values are all over the place.

I know more than I realize.  Part of holding on to class designs from 30+ years ago is to “not lose” the presentation ideas.  Some of the designs are really creative, so I will keep ONE copy as a model.  For the rest of it, I had to give myself permission to let it go.

I need less than I think.  20 handout copies is a little much; it’s unlikely I’ll reuse them.  Many of the books that I took notes on I’ve already re-read 2 and 3 times.  And the ones I really love are still sitting on my bookshelf.  It’s OK to let the superfluous duplications go. 

Clearing opens creativity.  That work table?  I repositioned it into a better spot to catch the light and pulled out my box of beads.  Crochet and beads and wire have been woven through my creations since the 70s.  It’s time to plant them together in the light and see what new things will bloom here.

This will take a while.  Thirty years of accumulation won’t disappear in a heartbeat if the intent is to glean the ripest grains of wisdom.  And, as I am at my core an orderly person, living with this chaos is really challenging.  It will require another of my values, patience.  When patience is engaged, I’m at peace with the process.

Tenacity is my friend.  Her name is Ivory.  She’s in my bones and teeth and keeps me strong.  It took me 11 years to get my undergrad degree because I wouldn’t quit.  I’ve designed and crocheted large thread tablecloths, curtains, and lace panels.  Some took years.  Ivory is my long-time friend.  We go way back. 

My favorite part? This reflection process has reminded me of the amazing things I’ve already done and the impact I’ve already made.  Clearing has given me permission to release what no longer serves.  I have deeper clarity on what’s truly important and what is ready to be left behind. 

And through it all, my values are shining through!  Soon, the dining room table will be too.

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