Archive for the ‘Decluttering’ Category

The Upstairs Bath

Sunday, April 18th, 2010

As I mentioned previously, at the end of February I decided to de-clutter the house. Mr. J and I are both packrats and now that I work from home, I was really feeling hemmed in by all of the “stuff” that we had accumulated since we moved into the house six years ago.

I decided that I needed a neutral place to start getting rid of all of the junk that had seeped into my life.

Since Mr. J moved out, the upstairs bathroom gets little use. It seemed like the ideal place to start de-cluttering. I mean: after all, how much stuff could there be in an unused bathroom?

Well, as it turns out: TONS of JUNK.

The bathroom upstairs has a vanity that spans the entire wall and was packed solid not only with all of the towels, toiletries and toilet paper you might expect to be under a vanity but also: multiple bags of free make up giveaways (gift with purchase sort of deals), candles of all shapes and sizes, lace sheer curtains and if that wasn’t strange enough there were various insoles from approximately ten pairs of shoes.

The two drawers that the vanity has were completely filled with jewelry, hair products and pint-sized toiletries taken from luxury hotels: such as the bed and breakfast we stayed at on our wedding night and the Wynn in Las Vegas.

I was horrified when Cyndee said, “Everything has to come out.”

What?

What I would soon find out was Cyndee wanted everything out of every drawer, every cupboard, every shelf, etc. of the bathroom (and later every room in the house). She pulled all of the shampoo, conditioner, and soaps out of the shower and as she began to wash down the tiled shower area I felt my face burn crimson as I realized not only was I a packrat, I don’t know how to clean a house!

I wanted the floor to open up and swallow me. Who teaches you to clean a house?

My idea of “cleaning” is vacuuming and dusting.

I’m not trying to throw my mom under the bus here, but seriously, where do you learn to clean a house?

I’ve walked into people’s homes and been shocked to find NOTHING on their kitchen countertops; nothing on their bathroom vanities; nothing on any surface in their home.

I don’t get it!!

As I stood in the middle of the upstairs hall surrounded by more mini-bars of soap than anyone could ever need, I knew that unless I (wo)manned up and got with the program the whole de-cluttering was going to end in ashes before I even got started.

Cyndee looked at me with kindness on her face and said, “I’m not here to pass judgment. You decide what you want to keep. We just have to find its place.”

And that became the mantra as we worked our way, room to room, upstairs to downstairs. “Find its home.”

So tell me: who taught you to clean? What does cleaning mean to you? How deep do you clean? And how often?

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Packrat? Hoarder?

Saturday, April 10th, 2010

One of the main differences between my commuter hubby and me revolves around cable television: I don’t have cable. I think it is ridiculously expensive and frankly I’d rather spend my discretionary income on high speed internet and “presents” from my favorite home shopping network.

However, Mr. J, being very much of the male persuasion, has every cable channel imaginable in his apartment. When I’m ‘in residence” at his pad I admit to ‘jonesing’ (pun intended) for a few channels: A&E is one of them. In January A&E started a new season of “Hoarders.” In case you aren’t familiar with it, the name is pretty explanatory.

Each episode showcases two separate people whose inability to let go of things is so out of control that they are headed toward disaster: the house is unsafe and they might lose their children (‘lose’ as in: taken away from them, not ‘lose’ as in they can no longer find them in the mountains of junk); a loved one has fallen down stairs, breaking bones, and is now threatening to leave them unless the clutter is cleared. The show considers hoarding a disease and cleaning out the house is only the beginning step to change the person’s life.

After watching two episodes in February I turned to Mr. J and said, “We are about 2.5 steps from being hoarders.”

Now I might have been exaggerating just a little (and I hope anyone who has ever seen my house is nodding their head in agreement right now) but I am serious in my concern.

Both Mr. J and I are packrats. We tend to keep everything: books, plastic containers, electronics that are completely outdated, clothes from the 1990s and my personal bugaboo: paper.

Paper breeds in my house, multiplying like bunnies. Paper slays me: I don’t know what to do with it and I can’t let it go.

To piggyback on the problem of being a packrat partial to paper, I struggle with organization as well. Historically my bosses have complained about my desk being piled high with folders, industry magazines (an occasional copy of Oprah! thrown in as well, but they couldn’t see it, now could they?) and paper.

Yet, if anyone needed something I could lay my hands on it immediately. Eventually, tired of the comments, I’d give in and clean my work area. Of course, the minute I’d either tossed or filed something I needed it within days.

Like everyone who has been through any sort of time management course, you know the number one mantra: “only touch paperwork one time.” You are supposed to: Deal with it. File it. Trash it. All at the same time. Unfortunately for me, once it is filed it is lost to me forever, like a black hole: I have no idea where it is.

Just to pile on: I also have a family history of clutter: my parents’ house has been known (occasionally) to have a tiny, tiny bit of clutter. My grandparents who lived through the depression tended to stockpile non-perishable goods: coffee, aluminum foil, soap, etc.

With those two and one-half strikes against me (not even I would be so negative as to claim three strikes):
Predilection to hang onto everything
No innate sense of organization
Maternal (thus the one-half) family history of hanging onto or hoarding “stuff”

I felt justified in my comment to my hubby: we are about 2.5 steps from being hoarders.

We might not be hoarders today, but where would we be 5 years from now?

It was time for an intervention!

Stay tuned as my friend Cyndee first comes into our house and we begin to declutter what should have been an innocuous room: the mostly unused upstairs bathroom.

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Airing my Dirty Laundry

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

1. Deodorant
2. Greeting Cards (unused)
3. Holiday Cards (unsent)
4. Envelopes: any size you can imagine
5. Bath products
6. Body lotion
7. Make up
8. Tea: Herbal or otherwise
9. Cellophane Tape
10. Candles (all unburned, of course)

What do the things on this list all have in common, you might be asking yourself? Well: they are things I never need to buy again. Ever. Ever. EVER.

You can add to that list:
1. Dish towels (3 ratty. 20 unused.)
2. Shoes
3. Binder Clips
4. Purses
5. Wrapping Paper/Gift Bags
6. Paper Clips

It would be relevant to note that you don’t see “Cleaning Supplies” listed anywhere on this list.

A few weeks ago I decided changes had to occur in my house. Spring fever had set in.

Generally in my neck of the woods we don’t see spring until mid-May. By the end of February I was climbing the walls of my house/office and desperately needed a change.

Now traditionally I change my hairstyle or color as February is on the wane but since I’ve started working from home and basically being in the house 24/7, I decided a more substantial change was needed.

I suckered a friend whose house I always love walking into because it looks like it belongs in Better Homes and Garden into helping me declutter and redecorate.

“Redecorate” might be the most liberal interpretation of that word ever as I’d never really decorated.

While shopping for sofas, easy chairs, ottomans and nifty decorative accoutrements was the most fun part of the job, the back breaking labor of decluttering was an amazing (and sometimes shameful) learning experience which you’ll hear more about in the next couple of weeks.

More to come!

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