Making room for change, Part 2 — with more photos

betty ming liu Art, Inspiration, Money 15 Comments

Wow, reorganizing the crap in my house got done just in time.  This is my first week on the new job and honey, work has been insane! But I am holding it together because at the end of every day, I am collapsing in a home that has a sense of order.

Now the question is….can I balance work and personal life over the long term?

I’ll admit, I only made dinner twice this week. And the newspapers are starting to pile up again next to my bed. Oh well, no point in beating up on myself because the good news is that getting reorganized has given me new coping tools:

  • I can’t thank Alyson Stanfield enough for her “Getting Organized” online class. This $97, three-week gem offered such a wealth of useful material. Like this week, I’m really vibing with her advice to keep my daily to-do list at 10 items or less. A long list only means that nothing will get done, which would leave me defeated — and I’m not going there.  :)
  • You all have made such a difference! Thank you for your wise comments and words of encouragement on my first blog post about cleaning up, “Making Room for Change.” The support inspired me to keep on letting go. Here’s what you’ve helped me to accomplish…

This fall, my closet was scary. I couldn't find anything. But last week, I really put things away. Now I don't have to keep wearing the same old clothes every day. :)

Look at all the records I was saving for my tax returns. If I was better organized, most of this paper would've been unnecessary. By the time I finished sorting, the sun had set on me & the dog. Effort was worth it! Now my records are reduced to the tidy stack on the bench. The shopping bag of paper is going to the shredder.

What a relief — my physical environment is now functioning in a way that is more supportive of my life. After going at this for a few weeks, I’ve realized that there’s been a pattern to my reorganization:

I've gone from examining my physical environment to eyeballing the less visible messes. Organizing my laptop & online world cleared a lot of the static in my head.

Stripping down to essentials has even affected my painting. Even though I usually crave colorful still life arrangements, I found myself increasingly drawn to white. Last year ended in total deconstruction. All I wanted to do was paint white blocks:



The more I looked at white objects, the more I could see nuances. Painting on a sunny day in an art studio with skylights brought a blueness down on this still life study. Then from the right side, a lamp was shining bright in a way that created an orange-y glow. Would I have been able to see any of this color if I was my old cluttered self? Hmmm.

With this reorganized vision for daily living, I’m feeling stronger at my core. There’s a sense of readiness now. I’ve got room for the new.   :)



Comments 15

  1. Post
  2. Nice post, Betty! Congrats on taking the time and effort to organize your environment. Inspires me to do the same when I get home from my week in the city with my school. I love your white still life. Be sure to check out one of my favorite artists of all time, Georgio Morandi.
    His white still lives are master works of focus and simple living. Happy new year and best of luck in the new job!!

    1. Post

      happy new year, mary anne — so nice of you to visit! thanks. everyone tells me to look at morandi and now you’re mentioning it too. i will definitely make time to read up on him. the link you left is a terrific start. what lovely paintings. btw, i also just visited your blog link too — you’re doing beautiful white dishware! makes your color items that much richer. visiting your site is always an eye candy treat. (if you want to check out mary anne’s work, just click on her name in her comment; it’s a live link).

  3. Clutter is an enemy we all struggle with. Useless paper and stuff seems to accumulate as a corollary to Parkinson’s Law (“Work expands to fill the time available for completion”) and that corollary would be Stuff expands to fill the space available for storage. I would add to that a dictum I modestly entitle “Grace’s Law of Flat Surfaces,” which is “Nature Abhors An Unencumbered Flat Surface.” A table top, dresser top or counter space can not remain empty. Things will gravitate to it until it is filled. Eternal vigilance is our only ward against this encroaching mass of life’s debris. On the other hand, one can be too strict in this regard. I, for example, have every personal letter ever sent to me in my entire life – all bundled by year and kept in an old file cabinet in the attic, along with copies of many letters written by myself. Several times I have opened one of those bundles and re-visited long ago events and people – some of them forgotten until fond recollection was stimulated by those old letters. And of course – someday they will be a priceless resource for my biographer (LOL)

    1. Post

      toby, those letters are archival in nature for you. so they’re not clutter!

      and madeline, i hadn’t thought about lunar new year — but you’re right. it gives us a second chance to make a new year cleaning deadline. :)

      bria, thanks for dropping by…i just sold two paintings and that made me feel like posting something fresh for you to look at.

  4. From another of my favorite authors: “An environment that is stuffed with unneeded papers and knickknacks is an environment in which no clear thinking can be accomplished.” ~ Julia Cameron
    THANKS Betty & Julia for prompting me along!

    1. Post

      rose, i loved julia cameron’s “artist’s way.” it helped me a lot too. and i didn’t know you were into aspects of feng shui. some more cash in my account would be nice!

      amantha, i hope to manage this juggling act. right now, i am really tired. but it’s only week 1 of my new life as a full-timer. there’s hope yet. :)

      yeah, dora, i’m trying to work it…..!

      btw, here is a link that i really want to share. npr ran a story about vietnam vets who were heroin addicts during the war. most of them did NOT continue their addictions when they came home. the story is all about the power of changing physical settings. changing your physical environment can help us break bad habits. fascinating stuff:

  5. Betty: Thanks for the plug again. And thank you for posting pictures. Not everyone does, so it’s nice to see evidence that the hard work got done.

    I, too, recommend that NPR story. It was really interesting! In fact, I’m going to tweet it right now. ;)

  6. Post

    ooooh, alyson — a visit from the high priestess herself! you’re welcome on all fronts. that class of yours really motivated me. and the photos for this post are a must. without them, the words become just blah-blah. thanks too, for the tweets. as for that npr story, that is one terrific radio station. i turn it on first thing in the morning; always something interesting to learn. :)

  7. Pingback: The power of personal punting

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *