Saturday, 16 July 2011


The last couple of weeks have been crazy busy, in a good way. I went to the Folk Festival for the first time in years, twice -- first catching up with an old friend and then introducing my son and husband to the hottest (literally), largest music festival around. We've been on staycation, welcoming another family to our town and joining in the tourist fun -- mini golf; street theatre; canoeing; Turkish spa... Staying up too late on long summer nights; even our three year old is sleeping in.

With all the fun, I haven't had much chance to write, let alone declutter. But I'm happy to say that my basement clutterbust is indeed underway. Just after my last post I went into the basement with a few black garbage bags and got to it.

I wasn't particularly methodical and I didn't have a lot of time, but I started with the first thing that caught my eye and kept going for about two hours. 

The next day I took a box and bag full of books, games, etc. to the Salvation Army store. 

The day after that a friend helped me take three garbage bags full of winter coats and other clothes to a shelter for the homeless. Or at least, that was our plan. We went in the wrong door and found ourselves standing amidst the cells of the local intoxicated persons detention facility. Yup, decluttering has driven me to the drunk tank.

It felt so good to drop off those winter coats, knowing that they'll help people stay warm this winter.

Thanks to my husband for contributing lots of his old clothes.

Finally, I filled a box with old dishes and other bits and pieces, and took it out of the house today.

I'm looking forward to resuming the basement clutterbust as soon as our vacation winds up. 

Monday, 4 July 2011

Clutter Busting with Brooks Palmer: A Trick of the Mind

On Friday, which was a holiday for us, I went into my basement to start clutterbusting. It's is our ultimate clutter repository. Everything that doesn't have a home above ground eventually ends up there (or, rarely, gets kicked out of the house). The basement looks worse than when I started clutterbusting our house. Two reasons. First, when I clutterbusted the guest-room some of the clutter ended up in the basement; not good. Second, I've successfully removed a lot of toys and clothes from the basement (and the house), but in the process the neat piles of storage bins have been disturbed. A lot of the bins are now empty but they are strewn about so it looks worse than when they were stacked full of clutter. Go figure.

Anyway, I went into the basement on Friday afternoon, armed with a garbage bag, and I got totally overwhelmed. I didn't know where to start. I didn't know where to put things. It was too late in the day (I slept in; I went for a run; we went to my parents-in-law's for a family brunch; just before we left the brunch I accepted a nice, cold beer, and then I succumbed to the need for a short nap when we got home; I put on some laundry and emptied the dishwasher and marinated some chicken for supper...).

So there I stood picking up bits of clutter and putting them back down, looking around at all the disparate bits and layers of clutter. I was overwhelmed. I came outside and sat down and said to my husband, "I can't do this."

Instead, I put my son in his Mr. Turtle pool and he splashed and slid and played with his boats and I smiled and talked with him and pulled out some weeds from between the patio slabs. And that was the right thing to do. I was happy. He was happy.

In hindsight, 4:30 p.m. on a beautiful summer day was the wrong time to start clutterbusting my basement.

That night, after my son was in bed, I read this post on one of my favourite blogs: Clutter Busting with Brooks Palmer: A Trick of the Mind. Brooks Palmer advised that, "you can be overwhelmed and clutter bust. They can happen at the same time." That resonated with me.

[I pause to note that I named my blog clutterbuster before I had ever heard of Mr. Palmer or his great book Clutter Busting. A clutterbuster was who I wanted to be, and I was happily surprised that no one had snapped up the clutterbuster name when I first signed on to blogspot. A fellow blogger, Clutterkiller, later recommended Mr. Palmer's book and blog and I am grateful.]

Rather than quote Brooks Palmer's entire post, go read it.

But this is the part that I'm going to take with me as I go down to the basement now:

"When you pick a place and start asking of each thing, 'Do I actually need you, or can I let you go?', the feelings of being stuck may still be there, but they will begin to diminish." 

That, and the idea that one can be overwhelmed and yet proceed. Because that's exactly what I need to do.

Thank you Mr. Palmer.

Friday, 1 July 2011

What not to wear

While I passed judgment on all my clothes last month, I took the time to observe what works for me and what doesn't. 

I figure that this was time well spent, since not buying something means never having to de-clutter it.

Here's my personal list of the top 5 things I should never buy again:
  1. Tops that are too low-cut. Casual low-cut tops are particularly bad, since my toddler loves to use my bra-cups as a handle, and I spend a lot of time at ground level, tying shoes, sharing hugs, and digging in sandboxes. 
  2. Tops that are too short. If it isn't cut long, it isn't going to flatter me. Between the belly and the backside, cover me up!
  3. Short pants and skirts. I'm tall. My clothes should be too.
  4. Long shorts. For some mysterious reason, long shorts look worse than short shorts. Weird.
  5. Short-sleeved golf shirts. I've only kept my favourites, but I still have more golf shirts than golf games. At least I can wear the wicking ones for running, while I dream of a golf vacation. 
    On the other hand, I can always count on:
    1. White tanks. Perfect for layering under those low-cut tops.
    2. Long, lean tops.
    3. Elbow-length sleeves. I love these. Never need to roll them up; never too short; no farmer's tan; perfect year round.
    4. Boat necks. 
    5. Knee-length skirts. 
    No wonder I have two identical long, white boatneck tees with elbow-length sleeves, and I wear them constantly.