In 1991 I met my friend Helena while attending college at one of the Claremont Colleges. We had mutual friends who thought we might get along because we were from the same city in the Inland Empire. We met and quickly became friends. As it turns out, our fathers had been friends and colleagues since the 70s, and we lived down the street from each other since the mid-80s. Small world!
Over the decades, we supported each other through graduate degrees, marriages, babies, divorces, and layoffs–the usual up and downs of life. We enjoyed life, enjoyed each other, and commiserated over our similarly odd parents. Then, in May of 2011, Helena called to tell me her dad had pancreatic cancer. Pancreatic cancer is a death sentence. In rare cases patients can live another 6 years, but you are usually looking at 18-20 with tumor resection (surgical removal). Helena’s father had an aggressive type of pancreatic cancer, so surgery was not an option. We prayed for six months.
When Helena’s mother heard this, she became despondent and took to her bed. She refused to eat, refused to drink, refused to move. She died 10 days later of many things, but chiefly a broken heart.
At the end of the memorial service, Helena’s father turned to her and said he would stay until he signed the last piece of paper. After that, he was going home to be with her mother. True to his word, he died 24 hours after signing the last document–18 days after her mother and twenty eight days after his initial diagnosis. We were crazy to pray for six months.
I don’t share all this to glean pity. Rather, it’s to emphasize the point that Helena (and the friends and family who later helped her) had no time to prepare for what was to come. Her parents had no time. One minute they were living ordinary lives, and the next they were in hospice. After 40+ years of marriage, most of it in the same home, they left behind an enormity of possessions. Going through those things–the broken waffle iron that never made it to the trash, clothing still with tags, linen closets full of sheets and blankets–was overwhelming and depressing. It completely changed my life, absolutely and forever.
I wrote about that feeling of despair here, not yet realizing everything had changed for me.
In October Nester invited everyone to participate in a 31 days series. I think it was September 28 or 29 that I decided to do 31 Days of William Morris, and somehow I finished the month with 31 projects under my belt! Since then, I have continued to live by that famous William Morris quote almost weekly. A bunch of us link up on Thursdays to share what we’ve done, and we’ll continue to do that during the next 31 days. You’re welcome to link to your projects. The more, the merrier.
During the next 31 days, I will continue to do what I have done this past year. Since I have been decluttering with some regularity for almost 12 months, my projects are becoming less about purging and organizing. My William Morris goals are bigger and require more time and money to complete. As much as it pains me, I’m going to have to tackle the wallpaper in the laundry room. Good grief, that’s going to take days to remove. I think they used super glue for wallpaper paste! My point is, while last year I had a different project every single day, this year I may spend three days on the laundry room and four days moving the boys into a shared bedroom.
Then again, I really don’t want to remove that wallpaper. I might have to invent some projects around here! (Kidding.)
No matter what I do, I will look at each project under the same lens: is it useful? do I believe it is beautiful? If so, full steam ahead.
Ready? Here we go! I typically work on each project the day before it posts. If your impatient, like me, you can see sneak peeks at what I am doing by following me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (I’m @pancakesfries).
Day 2: Organizing the Media Cabinet;
Day 3: Organize the Fish Cabinet;
Day 4: Create Homework Drawers;
Day 5: Organize Shoe Cubbies;
Day 6: Nico’s Closet;
Day 7: Dryer Maintenance;
Day 8: Mikey’s Closet;
Day 9: Tall & Skinny Cabinets in the Kitchen;
Day 10: Cabinet Over the Oven;
Day 11: Kitchen Mania;
Day 12: It’s the Little Things;
Day 13: The Mom Drawer;
Day 14: We Will Never Have a Garage Sale;
Day 12: It’s the Little Things;
Day 15: The Laundry Room, No, 1;
Day 16: The Broom Closet;
Day 17: The Bedroom Cupboard;
Day 18: The Boys’ Bathroom, Revisited;
Day 19: Creating Nudges;
Day 20: The Laundry Room | No. 2;
Day 21: The Laundry Room | No. 3;
Day 22: A Rug, But Not in The Laundry Room, Which is Where We Were;
Day 23: The Dresser and the Cost of Cheap Clothing;
Day 24: Storing Homework;
Day 25: Linen Closet Handles (How to Unscrew a Stripped Screw);
Day 26: Actions Speak Louder Than Words;
Day 27: Memories in the Kitchen;
Day 28: The Laundry Room | No. 4;
Day 29: The Laundry Room | No. 5;
Day 30: The Pantry;
Day 31: Finish What You Start.