I was looking for my weird earring the other day.
It was a souvenir from my trip to Seoul earlier this month; a 4-inch-long beaded wire with clay figures of random animals and a big royal blue tassel. Or as my friends described it: weird.
Here I am wearing it weeks ago with joy.
I wanted to wear it with joy again last weekend but I couldn't find it.
I haven't been able to find lots of things lately, which shouldn't be surprising as I live in a never-ending episode of Hoarders.
It's pretty ugly.
I talk about living a minimalist life and focusing on what's important a lot, but this is one part of my life where I'm still learning to practice what I preach.
Because all these things are perfectly useful and lovely, but as you can imagine, hanging out in a space like this when I'm home weighs me down. I feel too distracted to think --- I usually write my best blog posts when I'm not home, in fact --- and psyching myself up to start tidying is overwhelming.
I can pack for a month of travel in a carry-on bag, but when I'm home, it's a whole different story.
No wonder I couldn't find my weird earring last weekend (or my passport until the last minute or my house keys or...).
So how did this bad habit start?
You could say I was born with it.
I grew up in a family that was like other families in the 80s: full of love while trying to make ends meet. My parents worked from 6 am to 3 am six or seven days a week hustling to build a business, and my grandmother took care of me while they were gone.
Those early days were unforgettable: how we sometimes couldn't afford to buy food for the next day, how I wore Mom's hand-me-downs to school, and even how teachers wondered about this seven-year-old girl who turned down parent-child school trips and collected report cards by herself every semester.
But my family's hard work and faith paid off, and we eventually had more than enough to live on.
I'm very proud of how my relatives worked to provide for all of us, but that time of lack meant we learned to save everything and pinch the last penny until it screamed.
When I was five years old, I didn't like one of my pens so I threw it away. My Dad picked it out of the trash, saw it still had ink in it, and scolded me about wasting what we had. And he was right; I should have given it to someone who would use it if I really didn't want it.
Now, I've been blessed with plenty, but old habits that fit as badly as my hand-me-downs remain. I've only been able to get rid of things like my worn socks from kindergarten in 2010. I still have art supplies from my student days and a yarn stash from when I used to knit in high school.
It's time for a change.
Just as I keep my life full of only what matters to me, it's time the things I own reflect the same.
Every last Monday of the month, I'll be updating you on my journey to a clean home with “No Mess” Mondays.
I hope that coming clean with you about how terrible I am in keeping house will inspire you to make long-awaited change in your own lives. I hope watching me struggle with my hoarding habit will inspire you to face your closet, your email inbox, or your CD collection –- whatever's been niggling at the back of your mind over the years.
In my own case, I'm sick of how stressed I get when I can't find things I need. I'm sick of feeling free when I bring my carry-on around the world, then feeling weighed down again when I'm home.
And I really want to find my weird earring.
Do you feel the way I feel right now about your own home?
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