Saturday, June 13, 2015

Un Funk Yourself Part Two -- Eat the Toad

In her book The Happiness Project,  author Gretchen Rubin kicked off her twelve month pursuit of a more satisfactory life by attempting to elevate her energy.  It makes sense.  After all, how can you be happy if you feel drained?  If you're too tired, how can you engage in joy producing activities?   So Rubin tries out several vitality-boosting resolutions. 

I've taken on something of a happiness project of my own.  And while I agree that improving energy is a great place to start, parts of Rubin's attack plan weren't terribly useful to me: 

          Get more sleep, she says.   (I think I sleep adequately.) 
          Get more exercise, she says.   (I think I sleep adequately.)

So, okay.  But what really caught my attention was Rubin’s resolution to boost her energy by battling household disorder.  In other words, to energize herself and make herself a happier person, Rubin went on a month-long clutter busting rampage in her home.  Now we’re talking!

Some readers of this blog may recall that last year I went on just such an adventure myself.  It was during the week of my family’s annual biking/camping vacation that I enjoy not attending every year. 

Instead, I spent that precious week of “me time” purging my home of
     general clutter,
     paper clutter,
     and even food clutter.

Compared to Gretchen Rubin, however, I fear I am a clutter-busting amateur.  By her account, she took on classifications of clutter that I’d never even thought of, like:

Nostalgic clutter – when you cling to useless relics of an earlier phase of life.  (Yes, I still have my prom dresses, circa 1975.  Yes, I have a drawer full of crayon scribble “art.”  Yes, I still have the spelling bee trophy I won in fourth grade.  What of it?)

Conservation clutter – when you hang onto things because they are useful, even if you will never, ever use them.  (What do you mean this set of gold charger plates is nothing but a dust collector?  I might need them someday when I host an elegant dinner party.  Maybe.  One of these days.  It could happen.)

Bargain and/or freebie clutter – comes from buying/taking unnecessary things just because they are on sale/free.  (Why do I have an entire cupboard of empty plastic reusable cups from the pizza place?  I never use them.)

Buyer’s remorse clutter – hanging onto things you don’t use, need or even like just because you can’t admit you made a mistake buying them.  (One word:  juicer.)

Aspirational clutter – keeping things around because you love the idea of using them, but never actually do.  (I know that tower of fat quarters is about to fall and crush the dog, but I swear by all that is sacred --  I am GOING to make a quilt!)

Outgrown clutter – holding onto old versions of things, even though you now prefer something better.  (Behold my collection of beautiful stationery and colorful note cards.  For when I stop using email.)

Crutch clutter – This one is kind of the anti-clutter.  It’s when you hold onto dreadful things because you really do use them, even though you know you should get rid of them.  (I know they’re horrible, but I wear those trousers for gardening.  If you don't like it, call the Pants Police and file a report.)

Of all, I suspect the most crippling, the most happiness-suppressing form of clutter is what Rubin describes as “the invisible but… enervating psychic clutter of loose ends.”  She is referring to all those “neglected tasks that make you feel weary and guilty whenever you think of them.”  So, if you want to be happy, it's best to stop thinking of them and get them done!

In a more graphic manner, my daughter Kate refers to handling loathsome tasks as eating toads.  She says, if you wake up in the morning knowing that today is the day you need to eat a toad, isn't it best just to chomp it down and be done with it, rather than spending the whole day bummed out because you know, sooner or later, you have to eat that toad?  She's right, of course.  And I realize that one reason happiness may be eluding me these days is because of all the odious tasks I've allowed to mount up .instead of just taking care of business.  I have more than one toad hopping around me, and sidestepping them all is making me very weary.

So, help me tie on my bib.  I have some toads to eat.

More to come.....


  1. These words are so true! I purged a lot of stuff last year, but yet my shed is full of more! And I am sure there is even more (yes, I have the gold charger plates too!). I do agree that eating the toad first thing and getting it over with is usually the best idea, but not always the way I go. Have a great week!

  2. We need to start a support group for owners of gold charger plates. I think we can make a full recovery!

  3. You're so funny, Nan! I just love the way you write. Great post!

    Thanks for linking up your post on the Weekend Blog Hop at My Flagstaff Home!


    1. Thanks, Jennifer. I'll see you again soon!

  4. Declutter those toads before you start eating. You might find the plate is half as full as you thought.

    1. Great advice, Purfylle! I know you're right.