Smart Superstition

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I celebrate Friday the 13th as a lucky day. It is for me, because I declare it so, and live my day looking for serendipities. I walk under a ladder on purpose, practically daring a black cat to cross my path and knock the ladder down on me.

But I loved the rabbit foot key-chain I had as a kid, and I still wish for the birthday boy or girl to extinguish all candles in one breath so the wish made will come true! "Cold hands, warm heart"? What else are you supposed to say when someone apologizes for cold hands before shaking your hand? It's a pleasantry, not a superstition.

Like everything else in life, we choose our superstitions. I picked up one a few years back – one that brings order and joy to my life.

My conscious, life-affirming superstition is: The orderliness of your house as you enter the new year predicts its orderliness throughout the year. That may not have even been what the person said. She may have said "it forecasts how your year will go." Like eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Eve for prosperity in the coming year (because I like black-eyed peas and can use tradition as an excuse to serve them), I've chosen to organize my environment to a much higher degree around New Year's Day.

I don't trouble myself to get it all done before the stroke of midnight Dec. 31. I give myself a couple weeks into January. For example, the spice cupboard is still such a wreck, it takes me five minutes to locate the crushed red pepper flakes.

To me, the superstition is about order more than cleanliness, but if you're straightening up your office shelves and drawers, why not dust them at the same time?

This year has been particularly fantastic for me. I did my main office cupboard a month or so ago–the really messy one. It's beautiful inside now. (The unimportant ones have not been sorted.) Sorting. That's the main reason for reorganizing. It's a chance to clear clutter and items that no longer serve.

Last year I was so busy, the turtle necks stayed in the dresser all summer, and the sleeveless tops lounged there all winter. This year, I was motivated to downsize. If you don't know me well, you may not realize in the last 18 months I've downsized myself by 82 pounds.  That reduced my shoe size as well as my sock size, let alone blouse, slacks and dress sizes.

I've cleaned out all of my dresser drawers (except the scarf and glove drawer, which is still neat from last New Year's). Not only were wrong-sized items eliminated, so were ragged items (socks with holes in the heels). All of my drawers have cedar lining showing from being "not full." The closet got the same treatment. Shoes and hanging clothes were sorted and reduced, by both size and season.

The pantry is cleared every time there's a food drive.

It may take awhile to address my entire surroundings, especially since it's so cold the tool shed has become a bit tumbled. But I persist, because I love the calm feeling I get when I look at a neat bookshelf or orderly cupboard. I go back again and again just to admire it and feel the joy of accomplishment and revel in the intelligent design (clothes hung by color…yes, I do that.)

And this year, I'm especially enjoying all the space my dresser has for new things. Eighteen dollar socks anyone (they're so puffy, padded and well-shaped!)?

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