I am, at my very heart, a piler. I don’t like to make quick decisions. I like to think I can use something later. It seems wasteful to throw things away that might be perfectly good. As such, I collect clutter the way Oscar (one of my childhood heroes, no less) collects trash. At 1600 square feet, my house has room enough for it. However, in my heart I know it’s not good. There’s always this messy quality to it.
Like any 10-year-old eager to shoot outside to play with her friends, I tend to solve the problem by hiding it. Sure, I don’t shove loads of dirty clothes under my bed anymore, but I have been known to buy baskets for my clutter. At some point, it becomes a basket, filled with stuff, that needs going through, that I ignore because, to be honest, that was it’s real purpose. No matter how much I protested against the accusation.
My husband is a neat, organized person. He is Felix to my Oscar (that’s ironic, isn’t it?). He has systems in place, works them, and knows where things are immediately. I know where things are approximately.
What I’m learning about myself, at the ripe old-age of 45, is that I don’t really need to organize. I need to simplify.
So I started with my digital life. When Facebook updated itself last, I was getting all sorts of stuff on my wall — people, bands, consumer goods, etc. that I’d “liked”. I unliked all of them. Soon, my Facebook wall was uncluttered. Would I like to know about these things? Maybe. Is it worth digging through the visual clutter to get there? Not at all.
Due to having gone a bit non-linear last summer, I shut down my Facebook account for a few days (it was HARD). When I reactivated it, I made a conscious decision to get rid of people. It sounds callous, but to be honest most of the people I “friended” from high school, I’d only done so to see how they turned out. There were very few that I actually cared about or even wanted to be friends with. I also had, between family, acquaintances, colleagues, and students something over 300 contacts. I can’t keep up with 300 people, that’s just crazy.
So I didn’t. I first worked to get rid of 50. Then another 50. I vowed to work down to 150 contacts. Right now, I’m a little over 100 people I’m friends with on Facebook. And of those, truthfully, I only really care about 75 of them. To take care of my students, I started a new “identity”. I have about 150 friends there. I rarely check it. It’s not relevant to my day-to-day operations.
I’m going to take this year and think about who I want to be when I grow up. I can’t be everything to everyone, nor do I want to. I will not be more popular if I carry the right purse, wear the right fashions, or create the perfect home sanctuary for my family. It doesn’t matter how many educational books, videos, and realia I buy. The teacher I am is the person who doesn’t have any of those things. It’s the person who plans the lesson and activities and cares about the learning. The people who love me, love me. My real goal needs to be making time to be with them and doing my professional best — without the bells and whistles.
In looking at 2012, I think it’s safe to consider two life goals. One: become the best teacher I can be. Really be present to my students, their parents, and my colleagues. Pare down the educational offerings and go deep. Two: create a home life and system where my home can be a center of fun for my family and their friends — find a simple way to entertain. If home isn’t where the heart is, what is it then?
Sigh… Boy do I have a big task in front of me. I’d better get started.