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.

Diving In

The weather wasn’t the best today—a drizzly rain settled in after lunch—so I decided to take a longer stab at tackling the stationery decluttering project than the few minutes I’ve spent on it during the week. In a fortunate coincidence, the well-being practice for the Whole Life Challenge (I’m starting week #3 of the six-week wellness challenge) is to avoid all social media for the week. Had that not been the case, I KNOW I would’ve been running to my phone as a way to procrastinate and soothe my overwhelmed nerves. But I’ve removed the Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram apps, so without that pull, I dug in for a few uninterrupted hours this afternoon.


The starting point

Step one is “macro” sorting—grouping like items together. I’m separating pencils, notebooks, fountain pens, ballpoints, gel pens, pen sets, Retro 51s (they get their own category), etc. into separate cartons. This isn’t their final destination, but it’s giving me a better sense of how much I have of each major category.



The tip of the Retro 51 iceberg

So many thoughts are passing through my head as I tackle this project.

  • How did this get so far out of hand?
  • My notebook/pencil stash will certainly outlast me. (Fun thought.)
  • Ooooo…I forgot about this pen! (Repeat about 15 times. Maybe more.)
  • What do I do with all of these empty pen boxes?
  • How can I ramp up my use of all of this?
  • Should I put some notebooks and/or pens up for sale?
  • Should I toss a match into the room and call it good?
  • And the critical one…DO NOT ACQUIRE ANY MORE STUFF!!


Midway through the afternoon, I cancelled my Log+Jotter monthly subscription (despite how much I enjoy their notebooks), because really, there is no justification for adding to this.


I’m still hanging onto my CW Pencil subscription for the time being because I truly enjoy the quarterly, beautifully curated surprise, but, I dunno, does that make sense when you are already knee-deep in pencils?

Right now I feel very much like a toddler at the dinner table who’s pushing peas and carrots around their plate to make it look like they’re disappearing. The vegetables are in different places but are all still there.


It’s kind of a shell game.

Progress? Maybe?



A Public Declaration

I’m fixing this.


I know it’ll take time, and that I’ll have to make a bigger mess to make it better, but I’m tackling this…uh…situation. The Easter basket should be easy. (???) I’ve made this pledge before and taken half-hearted stabs at restoring back order to this corner of the dining room, but this time I’m sticking with it (like that morning journaling in a previous post).


Sorting is step #1. I took a baby step forward tonight and already found something I was missing.

I’m doing this. Want to come along? I could use the moral support.

Expect monthly updates. Ahhhh…this feels better already.