It All Started With the Cinnamon

I was making butternut squash, and wanted to sprinkle it with cinnamon before roasting.  I love cinnamon, and use it a lot. I went to the cupboard, pulled out my old cinnamon canister (that I keep pouring new stuff into because it works better than the new containers), and shook it.  It felt empty.

(c) Kathleen Thompson

(c) Kathleen Thompson

I opened it, tried to sprinkle the cinnamon, and almost nothing came out.

Now I’m frantically looking for the spare cinnamon, ‘cause the oven’s open, and I’m balancing the baking dish with the squash in it.  None turns up.

I close the oven door and look in earnest this time.  There’s no way I don’t have cinnamon.

I still don’t find it.

I run to the store to pick some up, shake it on the squash, and then I spot it.  The cinnamon I thought I had.  And now I’m looking for another place to put it so I don’t lose it again.  I decide I need to organize the spices so they’re all together.

That requires me to take one of the cabinets apart, as the stuff in there is stacked really high.  And not all is in stackable containers.  In that cabinet I find…two more containers of cinnamon.  Three jars of cinnamon sticks – none of them full.  Nuts that are rancid because they’re so old.  They don’t look bad, but I wouldn’t eat them.

See all the cinnamon?

How much cinnamon does one person need?

Now that I’ve started, I decide to keep going.  Clean out the whole thing.  Consolidate like ingredients together in one container.  Eliminate anything old.  (Keep in mind that I thought I did this about 6 months earlier.)

I got a chair to stand on so I could work on the top shelf.  What did I find there?  3 cake mixes.  Now I’ve been gluten-free and mostly sugar-free since 2011, so I know these cake mixes are at least that old.  I pull them off the shelf and look at them.  They have a “best if used by” date of 2005!!!!!

I doubt even cake lovers would eat this!

I doubt even cake lovers would eat this!

Knowing how long the shelf life of processed foods is, I probably bought them in 2002 or 2003.  I’ve had them for about 14 years!

I also found expired shortening, which smelled rancid like the nuts.  And half-used containers of brown sugar I was able to consolidate.  All-in-all, the cabinets looked MUCH better when I was through.  I felt better too.  Lighter somehow.  And every time I open the door, I go “Ahhhhhh.”

I say "Ahhhhhhhh!"

I say “Ahhhhhhhh!”

It’s funny how that happens, isn’t it?  We start by doing one simple thing, and it turns into a bigger deal.  One thing leads to another and another.  And next thing we know, it’s become a small project.  Or not-so-small project.

But you know, sometimes that’s just what we need to do.  To clear the space.  The air.  To lighten up.  Maybe it wasn’t what we planned, but that’s okay.  Now we have more space – either physically or emotionally.

Do you have a cinnamon in your life?  Something that calls to you, asking you to clean, consolidate, organize, or otherwise lighten?  A catalyst?  It might be physical, like my expired cake mixes.  Or it might be emotional, like an old expired story.  One you keep telling yourself, even though it’s no longer any good.

Why not get rid of it today?  Share what you’re going to get rid of in the comments.  You can even include a picture.  Let’s end this year lighter, with space to embrace something new.  Breathe fresh air.  You in?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Kathleen, you are so right about this. I recently told my Mastermind group about how good it felt to clear out my garage and start working on my basement and all I heard were crickets. Maybe they are afraid to look at their clutter too. Both inside and outside. But at least I know that I planted some seeds in there. I’m constantly looking for things to clear out. It helps me stay less distracted.

    • I’m glad you planted some seeds,Edwin. Many of us are afraid to clear our clutter. Maybe we feel like we’re losing part of ourselves. It’s funny though. Writers often say that they never feel so compelled to clean their desk as when they’re supposed to start writing. So, even as clearing clutter can free our minds up and keep us focused, it can also be a way to hide from what we’re really meant to be doing. Maybe it’a all about the motivation behind it?

  • Debra Healey

    Kathleen, There is a running joke in my family about how long “stuff” stays in my cupboards. A few years ago my nephew found a jar of “freeze dried” coffee in my cupboard from 1984. It was older than him and moved with me 5 times!
    This year I have focused on clearing out clutter and parting with clothes and items that are no longer needed in my present life. I cleaned my clothes closet a few months ago that required 3 trips to Goodwill. It felt good to let go of all of my “work” suits and such. After it was cleaned it felt like I had lost weight! In 2018 I plan to continue clearing out the clutter!

    • Wow. That’s got to be some kind of record, Deb. 1984 and 5 moves! It must have felt great to finally get rid of it – and all those clothes too. What’s next?