May 25, 2013

Moving on From Your Mistakes

People make mistakes. We all do. Just turn on the news to see who is making mistakes. Big public mistakes. And when one of those politicians, actors, or business leaders tries to hide their mistake, or sweep it under the rug, or deny it altogether, we are even more critical of them.

But sometimes we do exactly the same thing.

I bought a couple of new clothing items this week. In keeping with my ‘clutter prevention policy’ (if something new comes into the house, something must go out) I went into my closet to select what I would take to the donation shop. Logically, my eyes were drawn to clothes that I never wear. This includes the ones I’ve outgrown (temporarily because I will lose those pounds), the ones I’ve worn in the past but don’t have occasion to very often anymore (suits from my corporate days) and finally, my mistakes. The clothes I’ve fallen in love with in a store, bought, and for one reason or another, have never worn. Or wore once to discover it was a mistake.

Some of these mistakes are old. They have been hidden in my closet for years. And still I resist getting rid of them. Why can’t I admit my mistake and do something about it? The evidence is staring me in the face. But I’m at an emotional standstill.

Having done some research, the best answer I’ve heard to the general question of why we don’t admit our mistakes is “Guilt and Pride”. Bang on. Somehow knowing this sets me free. After all, no one else is going to find out. So I’m off to the donation center to pass on these items to someone less fortunate than myself. And already I know that the pangs of guilt and loss of pride are being replaced by the glow you get when you make someone else happy – the buyer of my beautiful, unworn clothes.


February 28, 2013

Decluttering by Design: Setting up a Support Group

When you are faced with a major challenge, you need a support team to help you through it. Think of giving up alcohol, and what AA does for people who want to do that. Or think of training to run a marathon, and how much easier it would be running with other people. So if you feel that you want to declutter your home, but you can’t get started or have a history of starting and stopping, maybe finding or creating a ‘decluttering group’ is the answer to your problem.

Being part of a group has a couple of key benefits. First, there is momentum in groups. Individuals will feed off the enthusiasm, ideas and successes of everyone on the team. The old adage of 1 + 1 = 3 exemplifies this. Second, groups breed accountability. When you start something on your own, the little voices in your head can easily persuade you to stop it, and it is easy to follow those voices when no one else will know.

I’ve recently discovered that there are decuttering groups you can join on the web. They connect online, reveal what they are going to do, and report back on their progress. The other members of the group are not likely to be sympathetic to your flimsy excuses for not following through with your commitments, so there is a far better chance that you will be successful.

And if you can’t find a group, start one yourself. It can be people you know, or complete strangers. The important thing is that it is a group of people who will support each other in reaching their goals. And a clutter free life is an admirable goal!


February 20, 2013

Decluttering by Design: Book Hoarding

I found this testimonial on This website promotes the book ‘More or Less’ written by Jeff Shinabarger, who calls readers to create their own social experiments to answer the question, “What is enough?” He says that it all started with one idea: What would happen if we created a culture in which we gave away whatever was more than enough for us? How would our habits change if we shed the excess of money, clutter, and food in our lives?

Leslie Slade offers this story of her own. “I have been an avid book lover for many years, but during my last move I realized that I had turned my love into a hoarding problem that required no less than 15 boxes to hold. That is when I decided it was time to break my book over-collecting habit. The easier to part with books I either donated, took to a local resale shop, or put up for trade at But then there were the books that I had enjoyed, maybe even had a life story or memory attached to, that I couldn’t just give to anybody. So instead I gave them to my friends. I went through each book and specifically chose a friend I thought would most enjoy that book, wrote them a note about what the book meant to me, and then asked them to pass it along to another friend when they were done. And suddenly I was so happy to see my library shrink since it meant that the books I cared about were now being read by the people I cared about.”

The book will be in bookstores in March. I have one on order!


February 17, 2013

Decluttering by Design

I’m not moving any time soon but that doesn’t stop me from constantly thinking about clearing out the clutter…and saving money in the process.

Last week I came to the bottom of the giant bottle of moisturizer that keeps my skin from falling off. Just before I was going to head out to my favorite store to buy a new bottle, I had occasion to dig into the back of the cabinet below my bathroom sink. That wasn’t easy because it is jammed to the gills.

What treasures would I find? Well one was a bag of many, many little bottles of moisturizer (and shampoo) that I had brought home from hotel stays. I looked at them all, and had to ask myself, “Just what am I saving these for?” At the time I’m sure that I assumed I would need them for the many future trips I would be taking. But now I know that most places will just provide me with what I need.

So…what a great decluttering opportunity! I cancelled my trip to the store, and have started using my little treasures. Soon my bathroom cabinet won’t be so jam packed, and I can defer paying for another bottle of moisturizer for at least a couple of months. It’s a win win!


August 16, 2012

Sifting through the past

Over the years we have had many clients who hired us to help when their parents passed away. Some are ruthless when it comes to getting rid of things. Others want to go through everything one last time before sending it to the land fill. The latter group is often not able to do the review right away, either because of the emotions they are experiencing or they simply don’t have the time. So they put the boxes aside to go through ‘later’. And when they get to it, we sometimes get notes like this…

“Spent a rainy day watching the Olympics and going through the first box (40 trays!) of slides that have been in boxes in my basement since Dad died. Discoveries so far, to those of you who have shared my first 62 years… My brothers used to be cute. When I had a good body, I had no fashion sense… so unfair! I have awesome kids. xxx Lake has always been fantastic. God has blessed me with 2 wonderful church families. We are all older. My parents deserve an award (and sympathy) for traveling all over North America with 3 kids and trailer. Stay tuned for revelations from the next 3 boxes.”

Storing treasures for later review can be a good thing… if you are sure to get to them!


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