Moving chaos…

Moving Chaos…

I am exhausted. No. Really. Bone tired, mentally frazzled, physically beaten down.

Today was the first day of our yard sale, and I’ve been up since 4:30 am. So it makes sense that I am feeling the effects of the hard physical and mental work of disposing of ones belongings.

But really, this tired?

As I look around my living room after removing items for the sale, things are a mess. The end table where I usually park my diet coke is gone, so the soda is on the floor in front of the couch. Without an end table there is no lamp. There are stacks of books in front of the bookcase because we culled about 50% of our books to sell today, and we haven’t had time to put things away. There are boxes of stuff in the hall and bags of clothes on the front porch, (along with an old tv, my son’s camping gear, and the remnants of the tile I tore off our fireplace over a year ago).

And until this morning when we took stuff outside to set up the sale, my dining room table looked like this:


I think the process of moving was invented to be especially difficult so that we would end up, by the time the movers have stripped every last thing out of our houses, loathing our old place because of the complete chaos which has been our lives for the weeks prior to the moving date.

So what does all this have to do with making art?

Well it seems that being creative is extremely difficult when we are surrounded by clutter. I had a feeling that was so – especially for visual people like me. And I think many artists end up moving out of their home studios because it is just too easy to be lured away from making art by the call of the dirty dishes or the heaps of laundry nearby.

Mikael Cho, who writes a blog at, says, in his article “How Clutter Affects Your Brain (and What You Can Do About It

“…excess things in your surroundings can have a negative impact on your ability to focus and process information. That’s exactly what neuroscientists at Princeton University found when they looked at people’s task performance in an organized versus disorganized environment. The results of the study showed that physical clutter in your surroundings competes for your attention, resulting in decreased performance and increased stress.”

Whew! Now I understand why I am a complete mess.

The good news is that the yard sale is helping us rid ourselves of belongings that have been cluttering our home for quite a while. The bad news is that it is difficult to say goodbye to things that should be just things.

More from Mikael:

“Researchers at Yale recently identified that two areas in your brain associated with pain, the anterior cingulate cortex and insula, light up in response to letting go of items you own and feel a connection towards

This is the same area of the brain that lights up when you feel physical pain from a paper cut or drinking coffee that’s too hot. Your brain views the loss of one of your valued possessions as the same as something that causes you physical pain. And the more you’ve commited emotionally or financially to an item, the more you want to keep it around.”

WOW. Who knew that the little wire apple I bought at Marshalls for 3 bucks would be so difficult to part with.

Interesting stuff. I recommend reading it if you are wondering why you aren’t as productive as you used to be or why you are so darned mentally exhausted at the end of every workday.

I promise I’ll get back to painting, but there’s going to have to be a major cleanup at the end of this yard sale before I can be productive again.

Here’s that link again:

2 thoughts on “Moving chaos…

  1. Kathy Paul

    There are FIVE reasons why I needed to read this today. I’m amazed. Wow. Thanks. (And – I notice that he likens the pain you feel from giving away a thing you love ito like the pain you feel from a paper cut — not an amputation — which is probably a good thing.)

    I’m happy to help you set the rooms to rights/functionality if it will lessen the number of paper cuts you are feeling. (Also – if you need a lamp to read by – you can borrow back the one I just bought — the pain of not being able to read IS like an amputation.)

  2. Kris Schmutte

    I couldn’t agree with you more – having moved 14 times and each time it seemd we had acquired a bigger semi….by the last move to FL, we had given away most of our belongings – the kids got their boxes going all the way back to their births, Dan and I pitched our own – thereby saving the kids the trouble of doing it when we were gone – knew it wouldn’t mean anything to them to have our yearbooks from high school (!!!) – We kept little items or pieces of family history – a rocker built in 1898 by my grandmother’s brothers’ for her wedding day, in impecable condition, a painting done by my grandfather in WW1 and needlepoint done by my Mom for her wedding day in 1937…these are treasures to me – no one else – prieceless to me…As we get older, the other stuff matters not – we downsize, we minimize, we see what is really important – the sunrise, the sunset and those we love…..the clutter doesn’t matter, Gini – CARPE DIEM, baby…..


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