OMG, the *books*. Piles of nonfiction, stacks of mysteries and romances, dusty autobiographies and Norton Anthologies (Norton Anthologies? really?!)…. I’ve carried books with me since I was in college — in the last century.
But as I found out during my home office reorg, in my gypsy lifestyle, books were important. The people behind them, the writers and the characters, were extended family. The Nortons represented happy college days in the library. Even though I didn’t have a house, they were my physical roots.
During my first coaching with Julie Morgenstern, author of SHED Your Stuff Change Your Life: A Four-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck, I marked the books as being the things to which I had the highest emotional attachment. In this organizing process, you first get rid of the things that are 100% obsolete, to which you have no attachment, building momentum to the obsolete items you’re most attached to. (As a quick reminder: SHED = Separate the Treasures, Heave the Trash, Embrace Your Identity and Drive Yourself Forward.)
I was so attached to them that, in our first session, we didn’t even set a schedule for them. My notes are “Books — get a context from the first round of shedding and then set a date.
What happened though, was that as I gained momentum by releasing the first round of items, it felt very natural to start clearing books. I had a gap between the first round and the second, where I hit my panic phase, but gradually, as I started to embrace my identity without my stuff , the books seemed less important.
I started on a Friday night, with good music on the stereo, a glass of wine, a bunch of boxes, a stack of sticky notes and a pen. Then, over the next few days, as I had time, I’d go sort books. I had to get more boxes because, as I asked each book, “Do you make me feel energized?” the giveaway stack grew.
One of my goals was to give books to family and friends — part of my goal to nurture relationships — so I put people’s names on the notes and stuck them to books. That pile was surprisingly small.
The local used bookstore has several options for book buyback. One is a large order — if your books fill one of those hotel laundry carts (the canvas kind on wheels), then boom…you’ve got a “large order.” I filled *two*.
I estimate I got rid of 250 books. Enough to empty one, entire bookshelf.
I didn’t spend a lot of time styling these because I’m moving in a month into my new house. But…wow! What a difference.
Julie’s challenge to me was to have only the things in my office that fuel my theme “Root to Flower,” and energize me. Looking at these pictures — with the good things from my marriage (the yellow chinoiserie urns were a gift from my former MIL) and childhood (lunch box, skateboard) — reminds me of my roots. The empty bookshelf is the room to flower.
Come back next week for the last post in this series, when I’ll tell you how Julie worked with me on Step 4, Drive Yourself Forward.