Two Rules for a Tidy Home

happy housewife

I remember books. Not reading them, of course, but owning them. I used to have stacks of jagged-edged first editions and dog-eared paperbacks covering my coffee table and overloading every bookshelf in the house. It was a rather impressive collection that undoubtedly made me appear to be quite the intellectual.

I remember books. Not reading them, of course, but owning them. I used to have stacks of jagged-edged first editions and dog-eared paperbacks covering my coffee table and overloading every bookshelf in the house. It was a rather impressive collection that undoubtedly made me appear to be quite the intellectual.

But that was before I changed my life by tidying up. I discovered there are only two rules to creating a tidy home:

1) If you don’t need it, throw it away.

2) If it does not bring you joy, toss it.

I loved my discombobulated library, but these two infallible rules made me realize that there was not one book, on its own merits, that brought me particular joy. So, the books had to go. All of them. Today, a sleek e-reader is the only item that sits on the side table in my living room. There is no longer any evidence of the depth and breadth of the vast literary interests I always fancied myself having.

I used to have piles of magazines, too. These days, I allow myself only one magazine at a time. That means no subscriptions. I will only purchase a new edition after discarding the previous one.

Consequently, before I invite anyone into my home, I spend hours at the newsstand selecting the perfect periodical which I set on the coffee table next to a jasmine or mahogany-driftwood scented candle. Typically, I select the New Yorker to subtly let my visitors know that I might possibly be the type of person who attends poetry slams. Every now and then, however, I’ll choose Goop Magazine if I believe my guests would be intrigued by my budding interest in DIY medical care.

I also remember sweaters. Before I magically transformed my life by purging its excesses, my dresser was loaded with sweaters I hadn’t worn for years. That rumpled muddle of bleached-out cardigans and over-stretched pullovers once carried memories of romantic fireside snuggles and late night cram sessions in my frigid dorm room. But I have come to understand that an armoire full of ripped collars and soy sauce stained sleeves may have signified a rich past but barred me from living fully in the present or looking ahead to my future.

Now my drawers are pristine. I own only two sweaters. I wear neither. They remain neatly folded, perfectly centered, one sweater per drawer. I will never be able to replicate their flawless placement, so I leave these two garments untouched.

On one too many occasion, my husband remarked that I had taken this minimalism thing too far.

So I got rid of him.

I miss my husband from time to time, but overall, it is nice to have his side of the medicine cabinet empty and his hulking shoes out of the foyer.

Along with my sweaters, I chucked my goose down parka. I prefer for there to be a one inch space between each hanger in the front hall closet. That puffy coat was so bulky it spoiled the ideal hanger configuration and therefore had to be cast-off.

I used to bundle myself in that warm coat and take long meandering walks through the park. But the joy of an orderly life far outweighs the pleasure of fresh air and exercise on a crisp winter afternoon. These days, I almost never look wistfully out the window after a storm when the skies are cobalt blue nor do I long to run outside to be the first person to leave footprints in the freshly fallen snow.

One upshot of rarely leaving my home between the months of November and March is that I have plenty of time to prepare gourmet meals. I love spending time in my de-cluttered kitchen. I have never felt better than when I ridded the cabinets of every chipped dish and mismatched mug.

It was exhilarating to let go of the never used pizza stone and the over-priced blender that failed to live up to its promise of producing mouthwatering ice creams and rich velvety soups. I felt an indescribable sense of euphoria when I cleared the place of every unessential pot, pan and cooking utensil. All that remains in the kitchen is one cast iron skillet and a spatula.

And cooking has never been so easy!

Now, my diet consists exclusively of pancakes. At this point, I have gotten so skilled at flipping the pancakes by simply holding the pan and flicking my wrist that I am seriously considering ditching the spatula.

At first, my children were thrilled to eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner every day. But soon they began to mention that they might like something else to eat.  When I finally realized that their constant grumbling about our streamlined meal plan brought me no joy whatsoever, I had no choice but to pack their belongings and send them out to the garage with their father.

My kids are great and sometimes I do miss their laughter and little butterfly kisses. But to walk past their bedrooms every day and see the beds perfectly made and every toy neatly housed in its designated toy box fills me with a sense of calm that I have never experienced before.

It is astounding to me that the humble act of getting organized has had such a dramatic impact on my life. By adhering to those two beautiful rules, I have magically transformed my home into a serene and relaxing oasis. What a relief it is to know that the rest of my days will be filled with peace, tranquility, and pancakes.

This article originally appeared in OTV Magazine. Click here to see it there.

Zen and the Art of Bogus Resolutions

Happy 2017! Here’s my latest article for OTV Magazine. Hope it helps to motivate you to hold strong with your own New Year’s Resolutions. 

No Complaints

no-complaints-again

By Jillian Green DiGiacomo

At age 39, I resolved that I would not be fat and 40. I managed to keep that resolution the day I turned 41.

Last year, I vowed to never go to bed with even one dirty dish in the sink. And, true to my word, there never was just one.

This year, I’ve got the perfect resolution.

It’s simple! It’s doable! It entails no physical labor!

I resolve to stop complaining. Complaining is the most time wasting, counterproductive, depressing activity in which a person can engage. I know this because I am a master complainer.

But for 2017, I vow to stop comporting! I vow to stop compiling. Stupid autocorrect! I promise to stop cinplsumibg! Crap! Crap! Crap!

Why does autocorrect only correct what’s already correct? Who am I kidding? I can’t even finish writing this resolution without complaining!

So how about this: I resolve to stop complaining in public. I’ll resist the urge to whine and moan that the table next to me already has their food when I was clearly here first. Instead of grumbling, I’ll politely smile and give a slight shrug to the waiter to let him know, ever so gently, that the basket of stale bread he is holding better be for me because no other table should get a refill when I am sitting here starving.

But now I see that this place serves their bread with olive oil and not butter. Who decided that oil was better than butter? Has anyone ever protested that bread was too delicious with a nice pat of salted butter?

No! I don’t care that the grape adorned bottle of oil is irresistibly charming. I don’t want oil. I may take the bottle home with me, but that’s beside the point.  At least I should be offered the choice of butter or oil so I don’t look unsophisticated when I request butter.

I am very sophisticated! Bread belongs with butter! It’s as simple as that.

I think I’ve set myself up for failure.  It’s hard to quit complaining cold turkey. What if I ease into my moratorium by only complaining about life’s little annoyances while banning tirades about the big stuff?

The big stuff is everything I have no control over, like trade deficits and nepotism in Hollywood. Why complain when there is nothing I can do about it?

Though, to be honest, that big stuff is the good stuff.  The stuff I cannot change is complaining gold. I love to go on and on about big problems; Guantanamo, that pungent smell of urine on the subway, the Kardashians. I can complain and complain with the satisfaction of being right and righteous while not actually having to roll up my sleeves to fix a thing.

Apparently, my fool proof resolution will be more challenging than I’d anticipated. Who invented the New Year’s resolutions, anyway? Why should any of us believe that just because the calendar ticks from one year to the next, we should be expected to make grandiose changes in our lives?

What if I don’t want to change?

I’m a happy person and I’m happiest when I get to complain. So, this year, instead of changing myself, I resolve to redefine my favorite pastime: I don’t complain;  I offer Targeted Audible Observations, or TAO for short. And this year, I will spend my time honing my TAOist skills.

I am no longer a master complainer; I am a TAOist master on a path to living in harmony with all the daily crap that life dishes out.

Now where is that waiter? My water glass is half empty.

No Complaints