HIT THE GROUND RUNNING: Winter Break, I have been waiting for you. 

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I am one of the lucky few who has time off work the week between Christmas and New Years’. As a high school English teacher, my last day of work for 2021 was on Dec. 22. 

I spent those first few days catching up on all the holiday prep I needed to accomplish before Christmas – shopping, wrapping, a little baking, and even more shopping and wrapping. 

Once the big day was here, our family spent two full days celebrating with extended family members, eating lots of goodies, exchanging lots of presents, and engaging in lots of memory-making.
Yes, it was all quite exhilarating AND exhausting!

So on Monday, a day that started with snow and wintry mix conditions, I had no problem with proclaiming that I was going to sit on the couch with my favorite pup, Lola, read the entire day, and maybe even take a little nap. 

I knew no one would blame me or make me feel guilty for this lack of productivity. It’s not often that our family spends the day relaxing at home.

For the first two hours, it was delightful, but by the time noon rolled around, I was feeling antsy – and a little grumpy from not doing more.

After lunch, my husband and I fully decided to change our lounging plans for the day and instead declared this “Declutter the House Day 1”, in the hope of clearing out the remnants of years gone by and making room for new adventures in 2022. 

Our daughters were not overly fond of this decision, but with the threat of being sidelined from time with their friends until their rooms were clean, they quickly joined in. 

We have lived in our house for six years, which isn’t too long, but it’s long enough to have an accumulation of things we no longer need hiding in drawers, closets, and corners of rooms. 

Equipped with big, black garbage bags, I attacked the first room, finding odds and ends that weren’t very hard to say goodbye to, like the books I’ve already finished and the hardened, craft paint brushes that were used years ago.

The first room took less than forty minutes, so I ventured into our bedroom.
Upon first glance, I didn’t think that room would take long either. 

“I’ll have the house done before 3 o’clock,” I told my husband. Boy, was I wrong. 

Instead, I spent hours finding relics that I had forgotten existed.

I found pictures of my children who have since grown into teenagers who like to stay in their rooms.

I found silk scarves my grandmother used to wear with an instruction pamphlet on the perfect way to style them. 

I found gift cards that might contain hidden treasure, or could just be empty shells of days spent shopping.

I found artifacts of races I have run, some of which made me think I would never cross another finish line while others made me fall in love with running even more.

I found homemade projects and reports from my daughters’ elementary school days.

I found birthday cards signed by my mom and best friend with words I know I will cherish for years to come. 

I found pieces of myself I didn’t realize I was missing. 

That’s not to say I didn’t throw anything away. Quite the opposite, actually – at least four bags, if I’m honest. I threw away those things that were preventing me from seeing the treasures I forgot I wanted to hang onto. 

Now, at the end of Declutter the House Day 1, I feel such pure satisfaction at a day well-spent and I am looking forward to a few more productive cleaning days before the end of the year. 

That doesn’t mean I won’t take some time to relax over the next week. 

I’ll certainly sleep a little later, eat a few more cookies, and hopefully read a book or two. 

But I’ll also take some time to regroup, organize, and start to set my focus for the incredible things that are coming in 2022.

Emily Dickey is a Waynesboro native who run for fun and always looks for an opportunity to spread the sunshine.