When it rains a little heavier in Vila Madalena the power often breaks down. Five minutes before my last class the blackout occured and forced me to spend my evening differently. So I went to the kitchen and tried to sort out some old things but there was not much left to do this time. The bathroom will be next. One of my drawers is almost exploding. Today I talked to our cleaner about odd habits some people have and she really is a good story teller, since she worked at all kind of places in the last 20 years. Among her “customers” (for me people contracting a cleaner are customers even if the women here in Brazil call them bosses) were / are super high class families, school teachers and retired professionals. Our little chat was about the use of old cosmetics (creams & make-up) and how bad some ladies smell on parties, because they use old perfume from who knows when. Only because there is written Channel on it, it does not mean that it lasts more than a couple of years. It is recommended to use cosmetics, creams and perfumes within six to 24 months, depending on the composition of each product. After that period the properties might have changed too much and some products can cause some real damage to your skin. And using old perfume, even if it says Channel, might bring you into a displeasing situation.
Organising things and tidying up is something I do to unstress. I know, on one hand it also causes new stress but I can’t help it. It is difficult for me to only sit down and read when I see things around me that need to be done. But once I started tidying, I feel good about the weight I am taking off my shoulders. I let my space breath. It is useful and practical to me as a woman. I try not to have much more than I need. Of course, after seeing the interior of my wardrobe one might argue that there is no way that I could need all that stuff, but ‘need’ does not only include ‘survival equipment’. I am a 21st century woman and I like it. I know I consume and that I am partly manipulated by mass media and huge multinationals who want to decide what is best for me and them, but the manipulation started decades ago when a little girl sat on the floor of the living room in front of the TV and watched old black-and-white movies. A girl need her ‘things’. Basta!
Some time ago I found the book “The Life Chaining Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo in a bookstore and bought it for someone else. Later it fell back into my hands and I read half of the book during a three hour car trip. It really is nicely written and can help people who have difficulties with throwing away stuff. It even inspired my husband to get rid of kilos of clothes that were still good but that he was not wearing anymore. At the end it is all about being honest with yourself. The points I found useful were:
1. Be systematic! Start with clothes, then shoes, maybe accessories and then go into another section, like books and papers.
2. Don’t try to give your old clothes to someone else (for example another family member). That person has probably a completely different taste and you will only transfer your chaos to someone else.
3. Your stuff kind of speaks to you. Hold each object in your hand and it will tell you if it really wants to be used by you or if it has lost its meaning and needs to be thrown away.
4. Once the stuff you want to get rid of is in a big sack, don’t open it again. And don’t let other family members open it either. They might disagree on what is and what isn’t useful.
Even if I was never a high fan of Confucianism, there was always one basic principle that I just knew was right. You need to have organisation at home to be able to organize your family, your work, your city, your state, your country and in the end the universe. All is connected. I cannot concentrate on my job or on my personal interests when I don’t have a clean and clear surrounding.
So maybe your task these days could be to organize your living zones. Make them comfortable and practical for you!