Clear Clutter to Manage Uncomfortable Feelings

Last week I wrote this post while sitting in the surgery center waiting room while Mom was DSCN0207having a total hip replacement. Mom is 84 and has Alzheimer’s, so even attempting this surgery was a big deal. Needless to say I was   anxious about that surgery because of Mom’s age, her cognitive impairments, the risk of surgery, and because Mom and I have always been very close.

So, what did this professional organizer do the day before her elderly mother’s surgery? Some people would clean house. Others would drink alcohol or eat unhealthy food. Me? I cleared clutter. Of course! Fortunately for me we are getting a new stove, and that required me to reorganize my kitchen to incorporate all the things that had been stored in the location where the stove will go. I say “fortunately” because it often takes an urgent need to motivate anyone to tackle a project as big as clearing clutter in a kitchen. Most of us would rather avoid that project! Too many decisions!

In my case, however, it gave me a concrete project that I could focus on instead of thinking about Mom’s surgery. It was cathartic to throw away multiple items from under the sink to make room for my zip lock bags and other food wraps. It felt really good to release numerous serving dishes that were very nice, but never used. I got real about the fact that they really were too fancy for the way I like to entertain. Besides, I needed the space for the dish towels and my supplements.

The whole project was a big puzzle. The challenge of figuring out how to make more space in my cabinets and drawers, and how to get current about what we eat and what I use kept me mentally occupied for hours.

The end result: two full bags of garbage and four bags to go to charity. When I finished clearing and reorganizing the insides of my cabinets and drawers, not only did they look in control, but I also felt calmer and less anxious about Mom’s surgery. That clearing set the stage for me to visit Mom to have dinner and do pre-op preparations feeling lighter and capable of being calm and fully present with her.

Clear clutter prior to surgery was a win/win for both Mom and me!