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Home / Articles / Columnists / On the Bright Side /  The Junk Drawer Stays
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Friday, July 8,2016

The Junk Drawer Stays

By Jonna Shutowick. M.S. Ed.  

With each passing year I appreciate the pace I am afforded during the summer months more and more. Especially because I find it increasingly difficult to turn it up again when summer is over. I’m not a spring chicken any more and I just have to admit it! By mid-May, which in Teacher Land is mid-testingmadness season, all bets are off. The diet and exercise plan are replaced with extra-long working hours and fast food meals. Sleep is superseded by paper grading long into the night. Chores around the house go undone and multiply exponentially. Times like these call for innovation… like removing one or two large items from the dishwasher to make room for some new dirty ones and rewashing them all. You think, “Brilliant!” as the dishwasher takes on a second function as cupboard. When random loose items like batteries, screwdrivers, flashlights, rubber bands, pennies and toenail clippers make their way into rooms where they do not belong, they find temporary residence in one of a growing number of junk drawers to be dealt with later.


The first week of my summer vacation is always spent doing the spring cleaning that was neglected in its proper season. I spend the days cleaning out drawers and closets, washing windows, and making donation piles. This year I decided to really tackle my closet. I promised to take the advice of experts and truly purge what was no longer serving me. The clothing was easy. I diligently stuck to the “if you haven’t worn it in six months” rule and donated countless boxes of clothes and shoes. It felt great! Ever so proud of myself, I went to the next level. For me, it was old books. As a self-confessed bibliomaniac, this was more difficult. But I applied the same ruthless standards and donated anything I hadn’t re-read at least once or wasn’t a classic (I have my limits). Next were pictures. I had at least 30 years worth of pictures. Before the age of iPhones and Facebook, I actually made photo albums (well, sometimes) and these boxes contained the pictures that didn’t make the cut way back when! What made me think I needed to hold on to them? Or the extra school photos - like all 16 wallet photos of each kid from every grade… I guess it is because it feels really strange throwing your child’s picture in the recycle bin. But in they went. On to old letters. Wow - I’m not sure which was worse: that I was finally going to part with these artifacts of my past, or that I spent two solid days on my closet floor getting sidetracked by their contents. On the third day, I performed an intervention on myself and just admitted that I still have the memories and they do not take up space or make me sneeze and out they went.

By the time I was finished, I had so much space that I felt lighter myself. I’ve heard people say this, and I can add my voice to attest. Cleaning out my closet was like rebooting my life. I will truly think twice before holding on to something for later. Life is now. And then we move on. If it doesn’t matter now, it will matter less later. Except for the flashlight. If for nothing else, that is why I need a junk drawer. The junk drawer stays.


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