Yesterday I reorganized my bookshelves. It was a Saturday morning following two days spent with my mom who has dementia. So what does reorganizing books have to do with dementia? Mom’s condition and needing to make arrangements for assisted living for her despite objections from her and another family member had left me feeling powerless, exhausted, frustrated, angry and sad. Long ago I learned that when I am stressed by uncomfortable feelings, I can calm myself by organizing my space and purging unwanted and unnecessary items.
My husband had gifted me a Kindle for Christmas–which means I don’t have to have so many books in physical form. And, I had been staring at a congested bookshelf from my TV watching chair in the family room. Add in the angst of family struggles, and I was all fired up to clear out books I’d had on those shelves forever without cracking them open. I couldn’t control how other family members think and act, but I could make decisions about those books and create a new order.
I first got real about the novels I intend to read. When I read for pleasure I want to read stories set in places I love. I also prefer to read stories about the personal relationships, not death, war, murder or intrigue. So, I let go all books whose stories were set in parts of the world that don’t interest me, and tossed books that had violent story lines.
Next I set aside books for my husband to check out. He has had a Kindle for over a year and rarely reads a paperback or hardback book. Removing all those books made room for me to be able to rearrange the remaining books.
I ended up with a small collection of novels I feel sure I’ll read. And, there was a small shelf of spiritual/inspirational books that still speak to me. I also kept all the books I know that matter to Bob; professional books, books from childhood, reference books on home repair, and a few odd books on various topics. What gave me great pleasure was to be able to group all my gardening books front and center. When I was done there was a pile of books for Bob to review, two bags of books by the door to go to Goodwill, and a few books to go back to my office.
When I took the books back to my office I found I was motivated to go through all the books in that room as well. Only weeks before I had lamented that I had no room for more books there because I couldn’t bear to part with any of the books on the shelves. But, newly motivated by my success in the family room, I reviewed all the books collected there. To my surprise I found that there were books that could be purged. Others could be moved to the family room shelves. Again I was left with space. And, I was motivated to reorganize the books according to my current priorities.
My bookshelf clearing adventure reminded me once again that all it takes to get me psyched about completing a clutter clearing job is to move the first few items. I immediately felt pleasure once books started moving off the shelves. When they were just sitting there collecting dust, they seemed like an immovable wall. Very quickly I was able to see space and get clarity by clumping books of like type–novels, spiritual books, books on feng shui, etc. And, when I was done clearing and reorganizing the bookshelves in both rooms I felt so much calmer and grounded.
When Bob later went through his books a few were kept and three more bags of books were taken to the front door and then out to my car for donation. I felt so much lighter, and somehow richer. The books that remained on the shelves felt like gold to me, the best of the best. Now when I need a book I’ll be able to go right to it. And, the view from my TV watching chair is really nice!
P.S. It was so much easier to tackle the job of writing several difficult emails regarding my mom and her care once the bookshelves were clear and reorganized!