Where I Write

Credit: Austin Kleon

We recently had a bedroom floor refinished, which meant emptying the room completely. Now that the work is finished, we’re being VERY selective about what goes back into the space. I’ve donated bags of clothes and books that were just taking up space. The whole process was incredibly disruptive—boxes in the dining room, clothes heaped on the couch, our bed in the living room—but making a mess has ultimately made the room a calming refuge without clutter.

This project lit a fire under me to declutter other areas of the house and I’m making gradual, but good, progress. I’ve tackled the “clown car” of a linen closet and the kitchen’s “junk” drawer so far. Much more to go, but I’m on a mission now. None of this takes as long as my brain tells me it will and the mental lightness that results is well worth the effort.

Last Saturday, I noted that my journaling desk needed a good dusting so I took everything off of that with the intent of decluttering the space. But aside from a few extraneous bits of paper and pen storage boxes, I couldn’t do it. Virtually everything I had on the desk went right back on it, because it all means something to me.

There must be coffee.

Maybe eventually I can pare down the things that surround me, but I have enough space to journal and write letters, so I’m in no rush. I love the stuff that surrounds me as I sit here.

Like my set of ACME Crayon pens.

A photo of Shadow, my deloved pet who died in 1999 at age 19. A jar of “lucky stars.” A glass “kiss” from the Chuhily studio gift shop in St. Petersburg, Florida.

A 30-minute hour glass that serves no real purpose except to make me smile. I do typically journal for about an hour every morning—two turns of the hourglass (half hour glass?)—but I don’t really need it to mark the time. I just enjoy the strikingly blue color and watching the sand slip through as the minutes pass. It’s also something of a Momento Mori reminder, a subject that I’ve become interested in of late. (More on that in a future post.)

Prompts for the St. Ignatius Examen—a meditative practice that I’ve been using in my early morning journaling since stumbling upon it this winter. It’s been incredibly helpful when I find myself feeling overwhelmed and floundering.

Inspiring words from Mary Oliver. A favorite pen. A simple but cherished gift from a friend.

To an outsider, my desk may look crowded with stuff, a space ripe for decluttering. But when I look at it, I see inspiration, love, and reminders about what’s truly important.

So while I’m taking great satisfaction in purging the house of the stuff that’s no longer serving me—the linens for beds we don’t own anymore, shirts that don’t fit, books that were just gathering dust—I’m keeping my desk just the way it is.

Minus the dust.