Pocho gets his ‘chi’ back

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When we were little, it really wasn’t cool to be a neat freak. At least for boys it wasn’t. Many of us weren’t taught at a young age to be organized little dudes. It’s not like we had health, social studies and then a class on organizational skills.

Today, cable channels are filled with makeover shows intended to spruce up the way we look and the way we live. And many of us need the help, so sign me up. Really, sign me up.

While waiting to be selected for “Clean Sweep” on TLC, the best I can do is watch this and other shows for ways I can improve my own surroundings, which would, in theory, make me a more organized and productive person.

So here’s what I’ve learned so far:

Invariably, the first step, according to the experts, is to get rid of things we don’t really need. That process in itself can be painful and difficult – which I found out the hard way. Oh the memories… all washed away in one afternoon.

I started with the “put stuff in piles” method that makes you determine what you’ll keep, sell or donate, store (i.e. seasonal stuff) and toss. On my first attempt, my “keep” pile was so huge that I had to sit next to it like I was a’ whittling away, slowly trimming it down to a reasonable size.

I also learned that it helps to have an objective person by your side for strength and to ask you the difficult questions such as, “Seriously, dude?” A box of Kleenex is good, too, in case, you know, you need to blow your nose.

Next it was time to figure out where to put the things that I’ve got to keep. Though I’ve long rejected feng shui, I am keen to the benefits of positive energy flow. I just have a hard time not smiling when I hear the word “chi.”

So, I proceeded to stimulate the economy by pouring cash into the likes of Home Depot, The Container Store, IKEA and others who make millions by subtly reminding us that we live unorganized lives. I bit and for the most part, it worked. I found my chi (aye chi wah wah!) and proceeded to get overwhelmed before I realized that I just needed to take baby steps. The experts suggest starting with one “zone” instead of attacking the whole house at once. It wasn’t easy but I did it and it felt pretty good.

At least for a while anyway. That’s when I learned the importance of the next tag word in organization lingo… upkeep. Breaking bad habits is hard. Developing good ones is just as hard, but necessary lest you wish to revert to the starting position. Maintenance is key.

So now that I’m in the clean house, I look back at my own starting point and shake my head. I never expected to be spurred to action by a cable TV show but I guess I needed a little TLC after all.

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