Burn the Chair


In Kentucky, we have Mamaws not necessarily instead of Grandmas, just more Mamaws where I grew up. 

My Mamaw is now in her 80’s, still sews for the community, and that lady can create a heck of a burn pile. A burn pile, you ask? A pile of things that can be safely (mostly) burned to get rid of instead of hauling to the local recycling drop-off or garbage collection. 

My Papaw (again lots of Papaws in Kentucky) had a chair that he didn’t necessarily love so it ended up in their attic, however he didn’t want to get rid of it. My Mamaw is the queen of getting rid of the excess. Everyone talks about their grandparents keeping everything— not my Mamaw. She once tried to throw away a beautiful crystal punch bowl set because she didn’t use it. I laughed about that one for days and still do. 

Back to the chair…

My Mamaw knew that she couldn’t take the entire chair out of the attic at once because he would see it and want to keep it. So in her free time, she would go up in the attic, yank off a piece of the chair, burn it along with the other items in the burn pile, and little by little, she got rid of that chair without any maritial disputes. After learning about her method once the last piece had been burned off to ashes, there were tears and laughter. 

Now the lesson here is not that you should burn your spouses items without telling them. Open and honest communication is always the best route. Also husbands— do not make your wives angry because they now have inspiration from my Mamaw. 

My Mamaw did reveal two important things to think about to an audience of young professionals: 

1. Little by little works

2. Eliminate the excess and unused

Slowly, she was able to chip away at a large project. We all have those messes in the home or office— a file cabinet crammed full of papers or a closet full of unused clothing. When we try to tackle the mess all at once, we usually burn out or overcommit and run out of town. So build it in— little by little— your plan to clean up the messes and clutter and excess in 2018.

So about that excess—

The funny part to the story was that my Papaw never knew the chair was missing. He never missed it because it served a function or brought him great joy. How many items in our office spaces or living spaces fall under this category? By now, you’ve seen a TON of blog posts and articles on cleaning out the junk at the start of the new year. Other than making a tackle list, tackling it little by little, and getting rid of the unused and excess, I have no more insight. It's just a 'do thing'.

A few items and spaces to consider as a young professional:

1. Excess binders from conferences and trainings: Using One Drive app, scan the key pages you want to keep and toss the rest! Take to recycling, better yet. 

2. Pens-- how do we end up with so many darn pens? Bag them up and find a better home or pitch them. Purchase only Sharpie pens or these Papermate Flair pens

3. Trinkets, may they be from conferences or just lovely branded merchandise, most often don't bring any joy or serve a function, especially in our work spaces. 

4. Maybe the most important-- email! Get it cleaned out and filed away. Create your system and keep with it-- using the book mentioned in bullet #1 to help guide. 

A few resources as you prepare to burn the chairs in your lives:

1. Read the book Getting Things Done. It's my all time favorite book for organization. 

2. Emily Ley has some great resources with her 'Simplified Life' message. 

3. Home Edit has some great inspiration for organizing. 

I mentioned that the chair ended up as ashes after making its way through Mamaw’s burn pile. Folks, all of the material possessions we *think* are so dear end up essentially as ashes, of course after moth and rust make their way to them. The best way to eliminate the excess is not obtaining it to begin with so let’s commit to that in the new year. 

That and burn the chair! (That felt like a really powerful yet awkward statement in my head!)