You might walk into my house and mistake me for a minimalist or a neat freak.

That’s OK. I own it. And frankly, it doesn’t bother me.

But since we are going there, I beg you to not walk in and set your keys, phone, crap . . . I mean things . . . on my kitchen island. 

I work laboriously to keep that bad boy clean and clear. I even go so far as to follow my husband around, picking up, and placing his things in their designated spot. 

(Don’t judge . . . some old dogs can’t learn new tricks.)

Annoying? Perhaps. But . . . 

You see, like many domestic engineers, some days, life feels out of control and personal choices seem limited. Schedules are driven by the needs of others. And, that’s OK. It’s all part of this season.

Also, being a military wife, having made 10 moves in 20 years of marriage has helped me to perfect the art of purging and letting go of things.

Cleaning off the kitchen island brings a feeling of calm; I am in the driver’s seat of my surroundings. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy visitors and guests. (Because I do.) That’s different.

It’s about clutter. And chaos.

It doesn’t have to be your island. Maybe it’s your car. Closet. Laundry room. Pantry.

Decluttering and purging can be liberating, whatever your motivation might be.

You can start small: one drawer, cabinet, closet, shelf at a time. But how? 

First, make piles: keep, toss, donate. Don’t think. Go with your immediate reaction. Done.

Then, immediately load it into your car. Schlep the stuff off to a local charity. (Try not to drive around for weeks with the bags because inevitably you will find yourself digging through it searching for that faded t-shirt!)

Making your house a home often starts by removing the value of the things.

I’ve learned the stuff is not what matters. It’s about the experiences and the people you share them with.

So, I challenge you: clean house, one junk drawer at a time. I swear. . . you will find it incredibly rewarding.

By simplifying your living space, you can feed your spirit and make room to clear your mind.

Oh, and next time you stop by, please don’t forget to set your keys in the dish provided by the door. 

Valli Vida Gideons

I am a military bride, who writes about raising kids with cochlear implants, military life, and other things from the heart. Unrelated but not irrelevant... I have a degree in journalism and wrote my first short story in second grade about a walking/talking sponge; I've been an exercise instructor since my teen years (Flashdance sweatshirts, leg warmers and vinyl records to prove it); and may have been an extra on the vintage 90's hit, Beverly Hills 90210 (proof still found on VHS tapes). I got hypothermia in my first marathon at mile 25.5, but went on to kick butt the next six times I toed the line; I use to cut hair on Melrose Ave. in another life; and I am still besties with my two closest pals from elementary school, who encouraged me to share my story. This is my journey. I hope it provides a sliver of inspiration for anyone who is entering or in the midst of a fog. Follow my journey on Facebook and my blog!