At one of the last cooking class I participated in, I learned the term ‘Mise en place.” Mise en place is a French culinary phrase which means “putting in place”, as in set up.
For the kitchen, this means having everything needed on hand so that one (me) is not running all around trying to gather this ingredient or the other while attempting to make a meal. But I have been applying this term in all aspects of my life and so far the results have been fascinating. There are the things I can control such as my desk or the supply closet at work. The things I control with other people, my home that I share with The Librarian and The Bee. The last is my health, which I *think* that I am in control until my body shows me that I ain’t controlling a thing.
This summer, things at work seemed to click into place. My old director left, we had an interim and the summer program that I am always lamenting was not quite the stress induced days that left me questioning my desire to be a Library lady. I know that I keep saying it, but after being diagnosed with renal disease, I decided that I needed to stop sweating the small stuff and allowing for space and time to do things that bring me joy.
After putting it off for weeks, I cleaned up the storage areas at work. I had help – it was definitely a multi person job – and it helped to have someone else suggest that things could be thrown away (some things I needed or could have used in the next week or so, natch). Everything has its place and I am anal about making sure things are put where they belong. There also is the weeklyish tidying of the areas. Since they are being used, there is a little shabby chic going on. My co-workers and I have gotten a little lax about making sure everything is where we placed it so I do go through and reorganize a bit when I am pulling supplies for a program.
This led to me cleaning off my desk. When I let my desk get to outrageous, it was like a paper Jenga game. There were so many piles of paper just waiting to be gotten to or waiting to fall. I told myself that I needed all of the things but once I started to sort and file, I realized that needing all of the things may have been an exaggeration. Did I really need that idea from a conference that I went to in 2008? I never tried it, probably was not going to and it was time to say goodbye.
Once I started I could not stop! Goodbye, duplicates! Sayonara, to that booklet! Ciao, to that template for the program that I only picked up because it was free! Each day I pick a pile to declutter, working my way between my desk and the boxes that I would use to at I swept all of the paper from my desk onto because I was going away and did not want to deal with. One of my library families thought I had another job because my desk was not the confusion and chaos!
Everything has a place. Pens, pencils, the daily things to list” that I have been faithfully keeping. I spend a few minutes at the end of my day putting these things away, making my to-do list and then clearing my desk. I believe that having a clear/clean desk encourages my library people to keep the room cleaner, keeps the kids off of my desk and I love going in the next day and not having to look for things.
Before moving, my house was a mess! Some of it is because I am a hot, unorganized mess. But even as messy as I am, I feel comfortable saying that living in my grandmother;’s house, with her things, held a level of responsibility. Even though I know she is not going to look for the eight staple guns she had stuffed in a closet or ever revisit this home, there was that obligation to keep most of the items that she had bought, collected and owned.
Combining homes with The Librarian gave us double some items so I was not as pressed to keep all of the things. I do feel like most of my things are better but have allowed for me to stop being so snobby and we compromised. Being able to decorate my home the way I want without restrictions of someone else’s belongings has given me the power to stop thinking that I “can’t keep house”and my house and space is not quite the mess that it once was.
There is a junk drawer, cabinet, and, yes, room. A catch-all that boxes of books, extra not unwanted but uneeded items have been relegated to but the idea of company coming does not elicit anxiety and me throwing things into a box for until they all leave. I have a morning routine, especially on those days when I get up at why is this an hour” o’clock. I spend a few moments putting things away, doing a household task or two and my house, while not quite museum quality, is ready for visitors.
I am still working on this one. With the exception of gaining weight and a few bruises decorating my body, I do not always look sick. I have to tell myself to take it easy, that just because I *feel* better, it does mean that I can push myself and really, other than the things I have implemented (different diet and working out) sometimes it feels like it;s not enough.
I found a segment from NPR about Mise en place which made me KNOW that I was on to something. You can check it out here. This is not just a simple segment playing in the background. This was the start of a new way of life which allowed me to find a place for everything and get rid of things that were not helpful or being used.
This is not to say that me life is all kitten and rainbows but I find that I am not suddenly remembering that I have to do a thing, spending hours looking for my keys or wallet to bag or…you get the picture, nor am I bringing work home because I had not gotten to it because I had to spend a while looking for something at work.
So tell it to me…Have you ever heard of Mise en place? If so, how do you apply it to your life? If no, what do you expect to gain from applying it to your life?