Sunday, April 17, 2011

Who knew a container and a label maker could be so theraputic?

In a recent issue of Oprah magazine (did I mention I love her?) there was a big feature on decluttering and organizing. I loved it! After I returned from spending a month in a new and empty house, coming back to our house was a bit menacing. My husband and I used to debate about what the problem was and I would say that we have too much stuff and he would say that our stuff is not organized. Now, I think we do have too much stuff, but he was more right and the organization is the bigger problem. So one junk drawer by one, one "just throw it in there" closet to the next, I have been organizing like a certifiable wack-o. And I love it! I want to believe that there is a place for everything, not only thinking: it goes there if it doesn't fall out, or if the drawer still shuts.
The Oprah article mentions that women organize and shop when they are stressed - that until about 10 years ago, research had only been done on the stress response in men- When women were finally studied, they found that women release testoserone and adrenaline, like men do, but additionally, we release higher levels of other hormones like oxytocin- that maternal hormone is what leads us to behaviors like nesting, eating and shopping. Quoting from this O Magazine article,
"Men's stress response says "Fight or flee!" Ours says "Fight or flee—and make sure everyone has a nice warm sweater!"
So we shop, eat and clean, and is often the case in pre-motherhood, these hormones make us nest. So I have been nesting and organizing and I am not pregnant, but I acknowledge that it could be related to this hormone mix symptomatic of my stress. (Cool, isn't it?) And pat me on the back for picking up such a destructive habit as organizing when I'm overwhelmed :)
It is not only the act that is fulfilling, it is the result and the feeling the result gives me. It is a well-roundedly rewarding experience to clean out and organize, I recommend it before drinking a few one evening, or taking a warm bath, or eating a carb loaded meal, followed by mouth-smacking chocolate. Like cleaning, these types of robotic, mundane tasks allow the mind to wander while maintaining the small amount of brain power that is needed to complete the task.
We, like everyone else, had a junk drawer, we actually had four of them. Now, when I open up my formerly-known-as-junk-drawers I smile and watch things slide around, like a toddler in the bath tub, so much joyous wiggle room for these proud objects who made the cut and are left in my drawer. Now, after several trips to Target and Walmart for more containers, and several hits of the print button on my label maker, this house smiles at me when I open up the doors and drawers of scary places. So, Oprah, like she always does, gave me inspiration and since February, I have conquered a gorgeous chunk of space in this house and satisfied my hormonal cravings. Amidst stress and a life I cannot control, I can fix something, I can do something, and I can give myself peace.

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