From Big Kitchen to Compact

Everything about life seems to have shrunk. I used to manage a home filled with eleven individuals and their many friends. Thank goodness, my kitchen was up to the task! I had this big, beautiful kitchen with lots of counter space, lots of cupboards, lots of room to move around and two – count it – two food rooms! Whole entire rooms dedicated to a comfortable Mormon Food Storage system. Long term items were kept in a really giant basement food room. Shorter items were kept in a room right off the kitchen that was originally intended as a nursery. I LOVED IT!

One can ponder the intrinsic value of change. A new environment, the ability to shed old complacent habits, new local responsibilities, and the soul-stretching chance to toss out surplus things. I’ve pondered this quite a bit. Mostly, I’ve decided that change is good. But I sure do miss that kitchen and those two food rooms! I dragged my feet on the “surplus” concept. As if magically, my new kitchen would somehow expand to meet my concept of ideal. It didn’t. I met the immovable object – and it won.

Today, I finally admitted that my kitchen is the size it is and the surplus just had to go. No question, no mercy. I can do this. I tackled the job all alone. My husband was here – but he was in the office. My adult daughter was here – but she was in her room. One teen daughter was here – but she was doing school projects on my computer. It was all on me. I’m a big girl, I can do this!

It would have been easy if it really was a matter of dejunking. I actually like tossing things that are no longer needed, outdated or broken. Easy! Unfortunately, I had already done that when we moved into the new home. What remained were those things that I did NOT WANT TO TOSS!

I clinched my teeth and went to work. Knives. Have you any idea how many knives I had? Remember the scene in Twister when the main characters fled the tornado and ended up in a barn hung with every imaginable farm blade? That was my kitchen only the knives were a bit smaller. I got rid of them. All of them except one butcher block that is meant to hold a few sharp kitchen knives. And of course the table knives which remained safely tucked away in their drawer.

Then I tackled the giant mugs that lined the back of my kitchen counter. Those mugs were filled – jam-packed filled – with various kitchen utensils. I pared them down to only four mugs full! Yea Me! I opened my Tupperware cupboard and mercilessly pulled out every plastic container, dug through my lid drawer, and started pairing plastic to lids. And – gasp – tossed the extras into the give-away box!

By this point, I was tired, sore, and emotionally on edge. I started to think, “If my family dares to put anything back in the wrong spot, I’ll start screaming.” So I called Jalyn at Organize Clear and Simple. Yes, the same Jalyn who has taught and lectured with me for years. Only now she’s a professional organizer. But still my friend.

“Jalyn, are you busy? Can you come over right away – well, as soon as you can – and bring  your label thing.” I tried to get the word Please out but my voice broke as the emotions hit me. She came fairly quickly but by the time she arrived I had already “finished” the kitchen and was working on organizing my books alphabetically by author.

The first thing I said to her was something like, “I’ve finally admitted to myself that my kitchen is not big and will never be big.”

“I can see that.”

“I want to label things so the family can put everything back where it goes.”

She looked at my half-organized attempt at making my “things” fit my kitchen. She was so kind and patient with me. Before I knew what was happening, she was asking me questions and helping me make my choices. She looked at my pantry. It is a bookcase that stands next to the refrigerator. The refrigerator stands in the kitchen. The bookcase in the living room. Close and comfy. And overflowing with a very unorganized mess of food items. And a bottle of bubbles for the grandchildren. Can’t forget about the bubbles. “Do you want this set up differently,” she asked. Then, as if reality had dawned on her, she said, “Or maybe this is how you like it.”

“Uh…no…this isn’t how I like it at all,” I muttered. I’m an organized person! I like a nicely kept home! I’m really good at managing my home and family – but that was when I had more room! Sigh. We tackled the “finished” kitchen and Jalyn had some incredible suggestions. We pared things down even more. Lots more. I got rid of glasses, plastics, pots and pans, some of my married children’s things and even emptied two more of the mugs filled with kitchen utensils. Jalyn put blue sticky notes on the cupboards warning everybody exactly what is supposed to go back into the cupboard.

“I’ll come back next week. If you like the way things are, then we’ll put permanent labels inside the cupboards. Oh, and have Neil decide which vitamins he wants in here,” she said, pointing to a now empty shelf in a nicely organized cupboard. “Put the rest someplace else.”  I have the perfect place planned for the abundant nutritional supplements – my husband’s quarter-side of the garage!

Cheyanne made dinner. It still messed up my small kitchen. But it feels normal again – finally. Less stuff in less space feels wonderfully as normal as my properly filled big kitchen of times past. People come into my home who have known me for years and give a sigh of contentment as they say, “It feels like the Logan home!” Now, I’m feeling that way about my kitchen. It feels like MY kitchen at last.  Or at least it will once I get those blue sticky notes off my cupboards.

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