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.


April 8, 2013

What Should I Do?

Recently I met with a lovely lady named Joanne who had heard me speak on the AM740 radio show emFrom a Woman’s Perspective/em. She lives in a bungalow in a nice Toronto neighbourhood. We began to chat and I asked her ‘How can I help?’. She said that she wasn’t sure.

Joanne is a widow, with adult children living a style=’color: inherit !important;’ HREF=’’ title=’denmark’in Oakville. They/a are encouraging her to downsize and move to a retirement residence close to their home. She is living in about 50% of the space in her home, so downsizing doesn’t scare her. But she is very attached to her current neighborhood and community, with church, activities and shopping. I was shocked to learn that she is close to 90, because she appears to be much younger, and is certainly not in need of health care at this time.

My mantra for years has been ‘Plan Ahead’, and I shared it with Joanne. She agreed that now is the right time for planning. But she is really torn between whether to take action right now or not and she was hoping that I could give her the answer.

The discussion made me realize that there are really 2 important elements to the planning work. One is ‘what to do’ and the other is ‘when to do it’. Some people struggle with both, and some, like Joanne, know what they will do. They just don’t know when.

Here is what I suggested to Joanne. Take a piece of paper and write down the main reasons to move now. Then on the other side write down the main reasons to stay in your house. I suspect that the second side will have the longer list. When you are done put the page in a safe place and postdate a reminder to review it in 3 months. Do that and make changes. It will be obvious when the balance shifts and the longer list supports a move.

In the meantime, visit all the Retirement Residences that might be an option and be sure about where exactly you want to move in the future.

I find that when I am confused about almost anything the best first step to finding a solution is to write things down. For me at least, clarity often comes more easily when I’m looking at things in black and white on a piece of paper, rather than staring at the horizon.  Give it a try!


March 9, 2013

Downsizing by Design: Foolish??

This week I read an article written by a man named Greg who moved into a Retirement Residence with his wife a couple of years ago when they were in their early 70s. It is full of interesting and rich wisdom. He first lists many comments from friends and relatives who, at the time, thought they were ‘foolish’ to do it. Two years later he admits his bias, and offers rebuttals to each of their concerns. A title=’ask powersports’ href=’’ Tanzania/A

Greg and Evie summarize their experience with the following 2-part mantra:
• Make the move to retirement community living while you are still a couple
• Do it while you are still able to deal with this major life change physically, emotionally and mentally.

Read the full article at a href=

Retirement residences aren’t for everyone. But Greg and Evie’s perspective at least encourages everyone to give the concept some serious thought, and perhaps even a trial run.


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!


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