maggiealderson

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris

In De-cluttering, Home on March 17, 2013 at 12:57 pm

blue loo

Last night I did something truly extraordinary. I picked up an A4 envelope folder overflowing with delicious-looking recipes torn from magazines – and I threw the damn thing into the recycling.

Then, just to make sure, I threw in several recently rinsed tins and plastic bottles, so it would get soggy and there would be no temptation to take it out for ‘just one more little look’ in case there was something I did ‘need’ to keep.

That folder has been a dust-gathering toxic ‘should’ (I was always going to file them in sections in a binder…) in my life for ten years.

I keep looking at the corner on the floor next to the cookbook shelves where it used to sit and doing a little mental jig of happiness that I’ve finally unburdened myself of it.

Inspired by that, I then picked up ‘The Taste of Italy’. This is a loose leaf folder of a series of articles which appeared in the Sunday Times in the late 1980s – which I have been shifting from home to home and continent to continent ever since without ever cooking anything from it.

That is now in the box of books ready for the school book sale. And breath…

These two bold gestures are some of the signs that I am really moving on to a new stage with my crap clearing (clutter’s too dainty a word, I’ve decided).

One of the things which is has really helped me to do this was a link given to me by one of you – the only problem is that despite scrolling through all the comments and my Twitter feed, I can’t find that person to credit and thank.

So if you were the person who told me about The Happiness Project – here’s a massive thank you and can you please get in touch so I can credit you on here?

Grethen Rubin has put together a truly brilliant website about all the small changes we can make in our daily lives to be more happy, with a whole section on decluttering. Reading this post, entitle Don’t Get Organized was one of the major life bulb moments of my life – and I urge you to take a look.

http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2009/10/note-to-self-dont-get-organized/

I then went on to read this one, which is also life changingly wise.

http://www.happiness-project.com/happiness_project/2013/02/do-you-find-yourself-falling-for-these-12-familiar-myths-about-clutter/

I now feel I’m making real progress in my house, which I’m achieving by doing one little bit at a time. Rather than overwhelming myself with the notion that my WHOLE HOUSE needs decluttering – which it does – I just do one cupboard, one shelf, or one corner, whenever I have a spare 15 minutes.

In this way I’ve now done a kitchen cupboard of great horribleness – throwing out some cornflour that was past its sell by in 2004, along with other treats. It’s now clean, half empty and I can see exactly what I’ve got.

I’ve also done my spice shelf and the top level of my fridge, which was a graveyard of half used bottles of pickles etc.

Every time I look at one of these cleared and ordered areas, it fills me energy and excitement to get on with the next one – which is why I’ve used the picture at the top there.

This is my spare loo and it was the first room I got sorted when we moved into this house. Every time I felt panic setting in that we would never get it all unpacked, I’d go and sit in there with the door shut and remind myself that one day the whole house would look like that.

Sure enough it did, it’s just in the intervening years, that it’s got overfull and is making me panicky again.

I’ve now re-done the loo (throwing away several years of World of Interiors magazines in the process, which was hard, but necessary…) and once again it’s serving that calming, encouraging purpose.

Another on line treat that’s helping me keep the faith was shown to me in comment by Rachel. Sorry if the language upsets you but it’s called Unfuck Your Habitat, which may be coarse, but it really makes me laugh.
It’s a tumblr blog with a the irreverent attitude the title suggests, full of good advice and encouraging pictures which readers have posted of their home transformations (don’t be put off by the less than fabulous décor in some of them – they still look better cleared up…)

It also made me laugh by introducing me to the concepts of the ‘floordrobe’ and the Room of Doom. I have a room which combines these attributes. It’s the long term aim of my declutter and it was so comforting to know I’m not alone in having a relatively OK house, with one disaster area in it.

Mine contains the area where we hang up our coats and the room is such a hog pen we all just throw them on the floor – the floordrobe.

Clearly this has to change – and now I believe it will.

http://unfuckyourhabitat.tumblr.com/

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  1. Can’t tell you how inspiring this all is. Despite claiming when we moved to the UK with just two 23 kg suitcases that we’d live light, am now confronted by the dual urges to nest terribly (being 20 weeks up duff might do that) and need to clear out before we relocate back to Oz. Am paralysed many days, just not knowing where to start – my greatest weakness is the spice cabinet- always tempted to buy new ones, but know that I must just focus on using up what we have. It’s like I had the full set of Derwent pencils to draw with- and now someone’s just left me with primary colours.

    • The 15 minute mini-clutter-clear is making a massive difference to me. Every time I look at a cleared area – and I realise I’ve done a lot now – I feel myself stand up straighter. Good plan to do it before you get any more pregnant…once the little stranger arrives you won’t have time to do anything except gaze at them with adoreation…! x

  2. Brilliant – love the links – off to declutter the kitchen table.

  3. Ha ha … will go over to Unfuck. Love it!
    Know what you mean about the cookery books and bits of paper… Threw ALL my scribblings away (well, apart from 4!) and culled the cookery books by about half too! Need to be inspired and carry on now doing the rest of the cottage. Think I will do the 15 minute pinger thing – such a good idea. S x

    • I did the cookery book cull too. Could probably ditch a lot more, but there are dedicated shelves which are nicely filled, so will operate on the One In – One Out rule from now on x

  4. Maggie, your columns never fail to inspire, thanks!

  5. Thats it no more excuses ..Im starting .. 15 minutes is not so daunting

  6. Oh, I love Gretchen Rubin! And you too, Maggie 🙂

  7. If you like ‘The Happiness Project’ you may well love ‘The Happiness Handbook’ written by an Australian psychologist, Dr Timothy J Sharp … He also runs an organization ‘The Happness Institute’. Also there was an ABC show called ‘Making Australia Happy’. .Dr Sharp says ‘choose health (good sleep, eat well. Adequate exercise),, choose behavious you want to do more of and make time for them ( me? Sew, read, cook, keep a clean and tidy house, piano, excursions with husband),. He also says avoid things you are not good at ( ie. Play to your strengths ), focus on the positive ( all scientific research says you will do less of the bad things if you focus on the good/doing things right ( cf what you/others did wrong). Be mindful. Oh and yes he has a web site.

    His suggestions ( and book ) were life changing for me …

    Keep up the good work Maggie!

  8. Oh Maggie & today I was going to sort out my pile of torn out recipes but I might just follow suit and ditch the lot. I must say I love the sense of relief when I just throw out something that I was going to “sort, file, make a new home for” – it just sometimes takes a long time to get to that point.
    You have inspired me – I might put all my energies into decluttering now instead of the stupid 5:2 diet – but that’s a whole other story!!!

  9. Love the links. I spend a LOT of time reading de-cluttering and wardrobe-organising blogs/sites. But it took a ruthless friend to make me see that I did not need to keep 3 pink silk dresses (all basically the same) that had only been worn once each, between 6-10 years ago. Sigh.

    I like this too (look through the archives for relevant posts): http://zenhabits.net/

    It makes the thought of owning less seem wonderfully fulfilling and free-ing.

    • Keep on doing it… I find everything I let go of makes me stronger to hurl the next one. I’m very close to unloading a couple of very cute, but just decorative bits of kitchenalia that have littered up my bench space for years. They do look nice, but I need the space more. That will be a big deal if I manage to do it.

      • Imagine the beautiful, clear bench top!! The space for baking!

        You could put them in a cupboard for a fortnight to ease the transition.

      • That’s exactly what I’ve done – to see if I miss them! So far, I don’t…

  10. I agree with Tori. This is all rather inspiring in an amusingly human way. Although it still needs to be kept in check a lot of the “crap” was gathered with good intention; to cook yummy food, make something pretty or to make a house a home. And at least us lot are onto it.
    Now I’m off to file last years tax documents.

    • But when the good intentions become a toxic ‘should’ or creates clutter that makes it hard to live in an easy way, it becomes counterproductive. I think the learning process is getting to know which will make you feel better to let go ot. If I was really hard nosed I’d get rid of all the half-finished craft projects I have in the house, but I’m not going to. Some of them – but not all.

  11. I just love that your clutter free home inspiration is your loo! That William Morris quote often passes through my head. I’m off to read those articles you linked to. My husband and I have a bit of a push pull going on – he likes things to look neat (which means just throwing things into a cupboard/ drawer and shutting it so it looks neat when you are looking at a clear surface), whereas I prefer to sort and organise ‘properly’….. which means small piles frequently build up in the meantime. A happy medium exists there somewhere…. but probably quite a lot of what I need to ‘organise properly’ could be thrown (although I did prove to him the value of my method when we had to produce his tax return from a few years ago…. and he’d ‘filed’ parts of it in an old briefcase up the back of his wardrobe, the filing cabinet and shoved in a random drawer somewhere else in the house). Throwing out magazines is a must, well done, it can be quite a difficult thing to do.

    • I’m still struggling with throwing out my collection of Martha Stewart living… So hard.

      • Maybe put them in your guest room, presuming you have one, by the bedside table, or in a drawer if you don’t want to get rid of them. I used to buy her magazine every month. I also had subscriptions to lots of other magazines, Living Etc. House and Garden, Homes and Gardens, Country Living, Good Housekeeping etc. I cancelled them all two years ago, and it was very cleansing. However, I still have a clutter problem, but it is just one less bit of clutter to deal with.

      • I used to do that – the spare room thing, but it just looked like clutter. OUT OUT OUT it goes!

  12. Love love love The Happiness Project and the next book Happy at Home. I have got so much from both of those books. I love how it’s not just Rubins’ ideas but there is science and research to back it up. I live with a chronic hoarder and it seriously does my head in! I recently got him to recycle a massive amount of cooking magazines and gardening magazines that I have never seen him refer to at all and now we have so much more room on our bookshelves it looks so neat and tidy.

    He knows that for me to arrive home to a big pile of stuff to be recycled is the biggest aphrodisiac EVER!!

    Go fourth and clear Maggie!!!

    • I’m looking forward to having a look through the books. She is so wise – and I love the humour and the ‘reality’ of her approach. It doesn’t seem high minded and worthy at all.

  13. Great post Maggie, we moved last year so I spent a whole year taking stuff to vinnies and secretly shredding 30 years of hubbies old paperwork piled up in mountains of old shoeboxes. Now we are in a bigger (but still old and charming) house and it’s filling up again! I read a book on re-organising a while ago can’t remember author and she said if it seems like too much just do a 15er (15 minutes). So that can be a good way to tackle jobs that seem too hard. When I was moving I used to look around and think to myself “what job do I least want to do?” then start with that one. Space is usually more valuable than stuff I’ve decided.

    • So agree – and life just glides so much more easily if you’re not working round stuff to do what you need to do. The big change for me is treating it as a long term project completed in short bites. I used to think had to dedicate a fortnight to doing nothing but clutter clearing and of course that fortnight was never possible to find. Every little corner I finish is so satisfing it inspires me to get on to the next.

  14. Maggie, l have been enjoying your posts; thinking about reducing collections; why not take a beautiful photograph, sit the item you are parting with in an attractive setting, and photograph. You will always have a memory of them then, and if you have the photographs made into a photo book,(not an album) how beautiful would that be, photographs of your favourites filling the pages. You may well end up with a series !!!

    l guess its something else to do, but great memories and good fun organising the book. sincerely judy

    • It’s a nice idea – but I do think it would become another ‘should’ for me. Also my photo archives are another form of clutter I need to get on to one day!

  15. O a very inspiring post! I’m spending time decluttering – 15 minute intervals … Thank you!

    • It really works, doesn’t it? and every little corner I do inspires me to want to do another one. It’s building up in the house now and I’m almost feeling ready to attack my Room of Doom…

  16. Oh Maggie, this sounded so familiar and yes I just found my dirty, dusty Sunday Times Taste of Italy Collection!!! Shipped it home to Sydney from London in 1988, has moved house with me a couple of times too, just like yours. Thanks to your inspiration, it and all the other recipes I have been collecting are finally going!

    • This is HILARIOUS. I can’t believe I’m not the only one who has been lugging that thing around for 25 years! It was such a beautiful series in its day, wasn’t it? really new and special and it was nice sending off for the binder… But I have literally never looked at it, so I’m glad it’s gone.

  17. Yes! I hear you! I have a tendency to ummm, keep, things *way* past any rational length of time. This weekend I discarded bags and bags of my children’s half used colouring-in books and broken pencils and I felt amazing 🙂

  18. Soooo….2 years ago i moved from our house on the coast to the inner city-renting. Two rentals and a 35 sq mtr purchase later, i have pared down and pared down and pared down. i am from a family who likes to have ‘things’ so it was natural for me to collect stuff. my husband is a minimalist who has helped me move stuff on. i have sold some, taken heaps to op shops, given a lot away, even moved the books on. i am left with a small amount of kitchen gear, not too many clothes, some jewellery, some gorgeous artworks and the things you need for keeping 35 sq mtrs in place. now my husband and i have loads of time for being out and about, no housework, a reason not to buy that object that would look good on that shelf, and lots of fun travelling and planning for the remodel of our little space. we still have a car and are able to spend on meals out, coffees and catching up with friends in cool spaces!!!!! yay!!

    • wow – this is really really inspiring. It is my plan in the future to move back to the inner city and live in a small efficient apartment (and go to every lecture/matinee/exhibition etc…) and your comment makes this feel like a really great thing to aspire to. The less you have, the less there is to ‘service’. I think that’s a real lesson xxx

  19. Hey Maggie just wondering if you’ve heard of a 2007 documentary called ‘Seven Dumpsters and a Corpse’? It’s a very dark comedy by a Swiss journalist who, with his brother, has to clean out their mother’s house after she dies. This woman was stylish, beautiful and wealthy but died alone in her filthy chaos. The brothers resort to black humour to deal with the huge sadness of it all. It’s compelling and revolting and makes you feel determined not to leave that kind of legacy to your family if you have even the slightest hoarding tendencies.
    PS I know what you mean about ‘clutter’ not being vulgar enough. In our house it’s called ‘crapola’

    • eek! I’ll have to look on Google, but I’ve slightly had my fill of really bad hoarders after watching the US show about them – really full on with dead kittens behind sofas and animal poo everywhere. AAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGH!

  20. Hello

    A big chunk of my blog is dedicated to Decluttering. It is the most empowering thing. I embraced it in 2008 and have never looked back. I enjoyed the Happiness Project but was already on the bandwagon by the time I read it. Standing in front of a well organised linen press decluttered within an inch of its life, or a clean fridge fills me with Unbridled Joy.

    Clutter saps my energy. Plus it makes cleaning hard and you can’t find things in a hurry. xxx

    • Madame Faux – you are the queen of order and one of my inspirations. I did try to keep my nails painted all the time, but fell by the wayside to my daughter’s great disappointment. xxx

    • PS is there a specific link on your site I can point people to?

      • No need for specific links Maggie – when people get a glimpse of Faux Fuschia’s wonderful blog they are usually stayers and will read all of her historical posts. There is a constant theme throughout her blog of de-cluttering and she has inspired me to do the same at my house. Just yesterday I blitzed the pantry and now just like to open the door and admire.

        Loving your blog, have also embraced the 5:2 diet and have lost 5 and a half kilos in 8 weeks and have done it really quite easily. My husband of course has lost more – 8 kilos! We have also in that time managed our two birthdays and 1 dinner party with the hand in hand eating and drinking that goes with a celebration so we are definitely converts.

        Love Cindy F
        from Oz

      • Yes, I love Faux Fu – she’s a goddess. I aspire to have her nails…

        Wow – amazing result on the diet!!! I envy you as it’s much slower for me, but it does work. I just had to lower my intake, as I’m a) old and b) have been wrecking my metabolism with yo yo diets for 30 years.

        The big thing seems to be to stick to once a week for the rest of your life, but I won’t find that hard. I weirdly enjoy the fast days. x

  21. Love the Blue Loo. It is heartening to see a loo set up for proper entertaining. I love good reading matter; the security of loo paper in view (nice decorative bowl); something to look at on the walls and most of all a decent sized mirror. Mine is a work in progress but decent mags and books remain a priority. I still like keeping Kaz Cooke’s “Get a Grip” close to hand – always good for a laugh.

    Thanks for the links to the Happiness Project. Great advice. Like the bit about handweights – mine had stayed so long in one spot they left a dent in the carpet (but they are now GONE).

    I am feeling much ‘lighter’ since I have been clearing. I am becoming braver, too. The shrunken pale pink wine stained cashmere jumper I bought from Scotch House in 1984 is going: what was I thinking?

    Magazines are another animal altogether: eg I have 3 years’ worth of (UK) Country Living magazines beautifully stored. After a while the content is pretty much the same, but, I MUST KEEP BUYING THEM. No more – and I will cull those I have. I should instigate the rule I set up a while ago, when my Tatler buying got out of hand. I now buy a handful of ‘luxury’/imported magazines as a treat every Christmas and only buy a few special ones throughout the year.

    PS That last statement is a lie. That’s my aim, though.

    • I think the monthly treat of your favourite magazine is one of life’s great simple pleasures – but as you say, we’ve just go to learn to chuck them out right after reading. My problem is I never have enough time these days to read the whole thing in one sitting, so they built up around my bed (on the floor…) half read. Then you can’t remember what you have or haven’t read and it all just becomes clutter. One of the greatest treats for me is being on a plane and being able to read the whole of Vanity Fair in one hit, so I need to come up with some kind of system for magazine reading at home, that will prevent the half-read syndrome.

      • Is it naughty of me to keep the Nov 1985 edition of Tatler? I bought it at Heathrow, enroute to Australia, freshly “engaged” and totally broke. It has the “Gold Digger’s Guide” to gorgeous looking people who are now old and crusty like me. It helps me keep a sense of perspective.

      • Not naughty – treat it as a book. I’ve kept the one with Vivienne Westwood on the cover dressed up as Margaret Thatcher. Also the iconic issue of The Face with Bowie on the cover…

  22. Ha, I like “walk-on-wardrobe” as a variation of floor-robe. Thank god we don’t have one in this home, though I can imagine how easy it would be to start one up! The fly lady does 7 minute flings – which is almost as good at the 15 minute approach. I must put some of our stuff up on freecycle. Always happier when it goes to a new home!

    • Must have another look at the fly lady. I don’t get as bad as floordrobe – but it builds up on the chair in the bedroom and the bed in the spare room (where my closet is…). I feel FOUL until it’s sorted.

  23. As always, I love your stories!
    Who needs all those recipies when you can google what you want! And who ever remembers to actually cook the great things we tear out of magazines!

    • I have occasionally cooked them – some are tripe and others have become standards, but those are already filed in the ring binder, which I will keep. From now on, if I pull a recipe out, if I haven’t cooked it in a week, I’ll chuck it.

  24. Love your loo, great colour fabulous decor.I am trying to unburden my life. It is not only about physical stuff but the bookmarked websites for latter and all the now useless files on my computer that I need to clear. But I love the idea of doing a little bit everyday. As always love your writing.

  25. Beautiful loo!
    Here’s an amazing idea for what to do with old magazines
    http://www.centsationalgirl.com/2012/06/the-dog-eared-pages/
    The very idea of doing it exhausts me (I chuck all mine, actually that’s not true, I have a few I kept on Diana after her death and the Australian Vogue with Princess Mary on the cover) but it might inspire someone out there!

    • Oh I feel exhausted just looking at that… a gorgeous idea, but really, who could be bothered? And I’ve got a theory that when you read a magazine – or just look at the pics as I do with homes mags – the things you like lodge in your brain automatically. This was borne out a few years ago when Interiors did their 25th anniversary issue with all their best stories in it and I remembered every single one, as though I had just seen it. I think we need to give our grey matter a lot more credit than we do x

  26. Maggie, I had such a massive collection of recipe clippings. I was asked to go thru them when we were moving house. I was very reluctant. I discovered most of them I no longer had any desire to try. I found about 5 gems, recipes I thought long lost. The rest I chucked.
    I now have a smaller collection, but it is growing, I have to keep a lid on it, or I know it will grow out of control again.
    Years ago I started cooking one new recipe per week, to try to utilise the clippings & MANY cookbooks I have. It worked for a while!
    I absolutely love the 15 minute idea. If I think I have to tackle the whole job, it’s too hard to start. 15 minutes I can do & I’m actually sort of looking forward to it!
    Thank you again for a wonderfully wise & insightful piece.

    • I have a few that I’ve cooked which were great and they’ve become absolute favourites and they are already filed in the ring binder, as you describe. From now on, if I pull one out, I have a week to cook it and if I don’t it gets hurled…. The thing I keep telling myself is there are always new ones, every week.

  27. Maggie you’ve struck that chord again. I have a whole room that needs clearing out… What a waste of a room to have it filled with stuff I don’t need. I’m at least capable of throwing away a book these days, and I keep that William Morris quote in my mind during the sorting process. If it’s neither beautiful nor useful it goes to the op shop or the recycle bin (who needs old uni text books now that we have the www? not to mention the local library). I’ve recently freed up quite a bit of shelf real estate parting with beautiful magazines that I would never look at again. Baby clothes are harder though, and yes, their copious opus of art …

    Thanks for the link about selling second-hand goods. It’s just made the task of Ebay-ing much less daunting, as I won’t be doing it!! The op shop can have the lot.

    In that room somewhere is a poster with the Morris quote at the top. I won’t be ditching it though – it’s beautiful :). And useful too.

    • Being freed from the hassle of selling has been a revelation to me. Last year I did a stall at a ‘posh jumble sale’. I did make some money – about £150 which was nice, but it was so much work and so tiring. This time it’s all going to charity. I feel released!

      • I now donate all my un-needed bits and bobs to charity, too.
        I used to donate a lot to my children’s schools (for “White Elephant”/Books/toys stalls and the like, for the annual fairs) – but now, after seeing the TINY amounts things sold for (or didn’t sell for!) as well as the amount that was bought by some ruthless second-hand dealers for a pittance, I now donate everything to my local charity of choice (St Vincent de Paul) – where the items are either sold in the lovely shop that is run by delightful volunteers (where the money can be used as they see fit by this wonderful organisation and purchased by those in need at a good price) or the items can be passed on directly to those in need (they have a good sort-out and pull out items like blankets, warm coats, etc).
        I now support the School Fairs by baking cakes! x

      • Good for you – have experienced all of the above. Charity shops are definitely the answer. I used to put stuff on Freecycle and got thoroughly ripped off by a woman who I could just tell was going to put all the beautiful toddler bedding (goose down duvet…) straight on eBay. I wanted it to go to a young couple short of cash. It’s such a shame how the nasty minority spoil these well-intentioned things x

  28. Thank you for sharing these lovely links and your de-cluttering progress! I know how you feel! I still live at home so all of my possessions are limited to my bedroom but I’m starting to think about moving out as I have certainly outgrown it! Every year I have a ruthless decluttering session in my summer holiday from uni and I get rid of bin bags full of stuff…I’m sure I can’t buy THAT much stuff every year but somehow I still get to the point (usually around this time of year) where I just feel overwhelmed and I am itching to clear some things again! I have come to the conclusion that I am always going to have too many things and too little space!

    • At least you’re getting into a clearing habit. I’ve had to learn to stop acquiring new stuff, which is very hard because I love old junk and I live in one of the best towns for junk shops in the UK… It’s taking an iron will, but I can’t stand having my life clogges up any more! x

  29. Welcome to Team UfYH! I’m beyond jealous of your bathroom. Once you have your floordrobe conquered, come find me. We’ll talk invisible corners.

    • I love your site – and I’m sure I’d love your entire home, as it would be free of CACA. I don’t go the floordrobe – it’s more of a sparebedrobe, but I’ve cleared it. My problem is just Too Much Stuff, after a life time of collecting (mostly pretty fab) junk. Also padded envelopes. And elastic bands. But I’m doing it bit by bit and the humour on your site REALLY helps. Also the bad language which speaks to my heart. The Room of Doom is getting closer to being possible to approach. Unloading the old fridge that was in it today really helped… xxx

  30. Dearest Maggie,
    Once again you have struck another enormous chord with me (and lots of others I can see!) You are like a window to our thoughts.
    Such a relevant topic in these times of accumulating endless “stuff”.
    Loving all these words of wisdom, links, comments SICK! I have read Gretchen Rubin’s book – which was lovely and so inspiring.
    ….Actually, have to confess I have read/watched/listened to so many things about de-cluttering/organising, etc, etc (I am more than a bit fascinated by the subject) but the one that has really resonated was the ‘Un-f#@k your habitat’ tumblr site (I’m not prudish, just worried my children may read this!) I love that it’s reality and not “picture perfect” rooms styled for magazines. Just real, practical ideas and very normal befores and afters. Love the tips, too – my favourite being “Unf#@k tomorrow morning” tips. Damn straight practical (and do-able) advice.
    Please keep writing – I get so excited when I see your name in my inbox!
    I always know I am in for a treat. Take care xx

  31. Thank you thank you thank you

  32. I love this post! Perfect timing as I’m about to take a career break and try and do some work from home while my two littlies get to school age. But my first task is some serious decluttering to make my OCD husband happy – these links are so helpful and inspiring! Wish me luck.
    On another note, are you still on the fast diet? How’s it going? After 9 weeks, I’m finding it quite easy and finally seeing some progress – have lost 5kgs and 5cm from my waist. Best I’ve felt since having kids. And now seven to go to be have a healthy weight/waist measurement which I’m feeling really positive about achieving. It might take another three months but i feel confident I’ll get there. Also just had a stack of blood work done and my cholestoral and blood sugar were the best they’ve been in a long time and my rosacea is under control – although winter is coming so that’s the true test for my skin…

    • Funnily enough – I’m just about to post on the fast. My experience is almost the same as yours and yes, it’s helped my rosacea too which is a MASSIVE benefit x

  33. Thanks Maggie! You inspired me to tackle the toy shelf today. And then managed to horrify my mother who was appalled that I was throwing out the kids’ toys/artwork/odds and ends without checking with them (they’re 5 & 7)! Sigh. No surprise she’s a bit of a hoarder.

    This comment is more relevant for yesterday’s blog post, where people have been clearing out loved one’s things – I and another friend helped our friend clear out her son’s things after he was killed in a car accident. He was only 5 so had all those things like racing car undies and snuggly pajamas. It was funny how some things were fine to clear out and pack up – stuff like t-shirts and pants. I guess they’re things as parents that you often clear out of kids cupboards. The hardest thing were his shoes and his pajamas. If it ever happens to you, don’t start with the shoes like we did!

    Still, it actually was very cathartic for my friend who had grown quite fearful of the cupboard. She was able to remember some of the things he loved and hated to wear and we had a few giggles and tears. I won’t ever forget her desperately trying to smell him on some of his clothes though.

    • Oh Ella – the bit about smelling the clothes. I’m crying. I still do that with my father’s cardigan (it hangs on the back of my office door…) and he died 30 years ago. To lose a child at that most beautiful age, what an utterable sadness. Great you and another friend were able to be with her. xxxxxxxxxx

      • That is a heart-breakingly sad story. I cannot begin to imagine the pain of losing a child. The thought of trying to smell him is so desperately sad.
        But I know the strong memories of scent. I keep a little hand-made (and very shabby) box from my father’s bedside drawer (he died 10 years ago). It was made by me when I was about 8 and he always used the daggy little thing to keep his cuff links in, bless him. But it’s not the physical memory or the look of it – it’s the smell. It smells like him. LIke his bedside drawer.
        So for all this de-cluttering (and I am a real chucker-outer and
        minimalist) – some of these things need to be kept. I guess the trick is, just to not have too many of them. xx

      • That’s exactly how I feel. I would never chuck out my dad’s cardigan… But having less other detritus around makes the special things more special – gives them a proper place to be in. Love your story x

  34. Oh Maggie. I feel like I’ve reconnected with an old friend. I was devastated when your column ended (it was the first thing I read in the paper every weekend). I have read all your novels and wait with anticipation for a new one to appear on the shelves.

    I took your latest to hospital with me for the arrival of my third baby and have since rediscovered your blog (I checked it out in the early days before you were regularly blogging).

    You now keep me company while I am feeding overnight – it makes getting up at 3am much more pleasant. It is such a thrill when I get up to find a new post. I’ve now caught up on all your posts and am working my way through Shoe Money. I also recently joined Twitter and you were my first connection (or followee or whatever you’d call it!). Hmmm….starting to sound like a creepy stalker-type now…sorry.

    Anyway, like many, I have also been inspired by your recent de-cluttering posts. I come from solid hoarder stock – both my parents still have their uni notes; I have the antithesis of a hoarder-husband, so mine are long-gone. I hide my habit at home by being organized but it is cluttered none-the-less and I am determined to slowly work my way through it by tackling it in smaller chunks. I am a coach, so I am also using coachy stuff on myself to rewire my brain and change my thinking about what I really need to keep.

    Thanks Maggie for entertaining me and keeping me company…I suppose I should put my baby to bed now. He has been happily sleeping on my lap while I’ve been writing.

    Amanda xx

    • Amanda – thanks so much for your lovely comment. I was pretty devestated when I lost the Good Weekend column and it knocked my confidence a bit, so getting a lovely compliment on here, so so cheers me up.

      I’m an organized hoarder like you, but it’s got out of control and now there are areas of pure chaos in my house, which does my head in. I’m beginning to understand that I have to get rid of stuff down to a much deeper level than I’ve accepted before – but bit by bit.

      But with a new baby, you don’t have to do anything except enjoy the little darling xxx

      • Maggie they were crazy to move you out of the Good Weekend – you were obviously a favourite read of lots of us. Sometimes I wonder what the “powers that be” are thinking!

      • That’s very kind of you… it was hard, but it’s just something you have to accept as part of being a writer. It’s never forever and I was lucky to have such a good long run, but I do still get so many tweets from lovely people like you saying they miss it, I do wonder. I have got my spot in the Sunday Age and the Herald Sun, depending where you are. That’s great fun to do because it’s different and has a discipline, then for the more personal stuff, I’ve got this xxx

      • Maggie – if I were coaching you, I would suggest setting yourself a goal which focuses on what you want to achieve, framing it in a positive sense. For example, rather than de-cluttering (which still includes the negative thing you want to avoid) you might say “creating space”. The brain doesn’t distinguish between doing or not doing something, just the subject matter! And make sure you acknowledge and reward your progress. The great news is, you have a huge support network in your readers cheering you on!

        Now, back to my beautiful bubba (and maybe a little tidying)…

        Xx

  35. […] time ago I read a fab post about getting organised around the house by one of my favourite authors Maggie Alderson.  She […]

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