Friday, July 20, 2007


I was at home yesterday lying on the couch feeling a bit sorry for myself. I tuned into Oprah for a diversion, hoping it wouldn’t feature adrenalised stars jumping on her couch. Fortunately I hit gold. You might mock Oprah but I find her story (from abuse to self awareness) inspiring. I believe she uses her wealth ethically and sometimes her media leverage goes beyond just promoting her pals – to actually motivating and educating her audience of millions.

The show du jour looked at emotional clutter. I have a bit of a passion about clutter. I’m great at clearing other peoples but pretty slack at tackling my own. Really, if you want some help – just start with something small that you can achieve. Forget tackling a whole room first, you'll just end up exhausted with piles of crap all around you in a new order and no idea what to do with them. A bathroom cupboard is often do-able. Pull out all the stuff, chuck the things past their expiry date, work out what doesn’t belong there and return it to its true home. With what is left – take the crap you were given for presents that are just not you (we all have the bath bombs or cakes of soap that we feel disloyal not keeping but would never use) – re-gift them, pass them onto a charity or freecycle, or throw them out if you think no one else on earth would use them. You should be left with viable, usable things. Containerise (what a wonderful word) the stuff that has spilled out of packets, clean the shelves and repack the cupboard in an orderly way. Simple.

My favourite guide for such things is Karen Kingston’s “Clear your clutter with Feng Shui”. Ok you can take or leave the feng shui and definitely skip the last few chapters about internal cleansing (colonic anyone?) beyond that is the good stuff. She gets to the nitty gritty of why we hold onto rubbish and more importantly gives you permission to move on from it. My personal favourite is about bad purchases. I for one have bought clothes on sale that are not the right size or colour, or will ever really suit me, because I loved them and they were on sale. A Marianna Hardwick simple floor length dress for a few bucks? Why not. I don’t wear long dresses and certainly not in burgundy velvet – but it was a Mariana Hardwick and it fit! Kingston points out that holding onto such stuff represents failure (ultimately it was the wrong way to spend my money) rather than success (of snagging a supposed bargain). Gifts are another sacred cow to be tackled. If someone you love gives you something hideous or just inappropriate you hold onto because it feels disloyal to let it go. It’s like saying “I don’t love you” when really it’s just, “I love you, but someone else will love this in a way I never can”.

I am still to find a workable technique for my hoard of paper based stuff. Though last year I released a whole filing cabinet full of papers, of now out of date research papers that have been superseded with newer studies and available digitally. An archivist friend made a great suggestion – the ones that you can’t really justify keeping but are afraid of throwing away – scan them. I found when I asked myself – ‘do I think this is important enough to go through the monotony of scanning it?” was sufficient reason to chuck most of it! But the suitcases (yes plural) of handwritten letters and birthday cards I refuse to part with. I know I’d regret the loss of any personal ephemera. While a gardener friend was able to find liberation in composting her old diaries, as embarrassing as they are – I want to keep those words.

Back to Oprah and her latest find - Peter Walsh - both their sites have a plethora of his decluttering tips.

Ok…I’ll hang up the clothes strewn around my bedroom this weekend…honest! And that Hardwick number, maybe someone could take it up for so it is a wearable length?

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Blogger Ann O'Dyne said...

Oprah is a MONUMENT and
good luck to her.

Years ago when I toiled 9-5,
I used to dream of the luxury of slopping on the couch and watching the oprah TV show instead ... now,
not having worked in a few years, I never actually do that thing I dreamed of. Always too busy and remember it after the fact, as in "damn I meant to watch Gore Vidal on oprah today and now it's over".

and belongings ? ... don't get me started.

7:50 pm  

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