Tag: decluttering

The Book

It is done. Well, the e-book edition is done.

What is it?

As my friend Dana, who helped edit it, said:

In this guide, Heather shows how decluttering the home is about far more than just ‘picking up stuff’, yet it is a simple as starting right where you’re standing. The steps in this book are tried and true, as Heather’s insight was gleaned from her own family’s journey in decluttering. There is no one-size-fits-all formula, but by providing you with practical baby steps, tips and tricks, Heather can help even the most reluctant folks see the way to decluttering their lives.  ~Dana

Another testimonial:
This is the most amazing book! Heather did an amazing job of putting her finger on the link between house clutter and heart clutter and helps you tackle both. She offers practical advice on decluttering every room, ways to help keep the clutter tamed, and build relationships while you do so. Her honesty and forthrightness talking about her own struggle with the clutter beast are a huge encouragement to the rest of us. I can’t recommend enough that everyone needs a copy of this book, even if you’re not a self-proclaimed packrat. ~ Mari
You can go to the book page on my site to buy it direct from us (we make more money sooner) or you can go to the Smashwords page and purchase it there (probably easier for those who are not sure how to get an e-book from their computer to their e-reader). Later it will be available on Amazon as well as in print format but for now you can get it here or on Smashwords only.  If you look to the right you will also see a link in the sidebar.

Please contact me at ElasahArt@gmail.com if you have any trouble with the payment process or downloading it.

 

 

I wrote a book

I wrote a book.  It is in the editing process now.  The cover is finished.  And the miracle is I only started actually writing it last week.  God is pretty amazing.

It is roughly 64 pages. Will be available as e-book- both mobi and epub, plus pdf, and also print. Will have it for sale here on my site (and on my art site and likely Etsy) as well as via Amazon (later–will start with my site). At this point I am thinking it will be $5 for e-book. Should be available within a week or two give or take (waiting on edits now but formatting is mostly finished.)

It is a decluttering book written from a Christian perspective because I can’t seem to do anything else.  It is in 3 parts: Preparing your heart, practical advice, and then a bit on maintenance. So there it is.  This should be interesting.

Halving it All

A recent question on the CU Facebook group got me thinking about my experience with too much stuff and how God got a hold of me– which is why our house is no longer cluttered and it is actually easy to find what we need or want and keep it clean.

I have always collected things.  Old books, lots and lots of old books, vintage toys, rocks, vintage clothes, you name it.  When I was a kid my floor was completely covered with stuff and intermingled with toys and books and clothes were fossils, lots and lots of fossils collected from our limestone driveway. When I went to college, I packed up most of my stuff and moved into a teeny tiny dorm room.  It was covered in stuff all the time.  When I got a job as a nanny and moved out I took ALL my stuff with me– most of it never got unpacked– boxes and boxes and boxes of stuff.  And I still couldn’t keep my trailer clean because I had too much stuff.  Same happened when I got married.  And then proceeded to move multiple times, and I took everything with me.  When we finally settled down here 11 years ago  I had boxes stacked in every closet, more books than shelves, the kids toys and clothes overflowed every possible nook and cranny.  The floor was constantly overwhelmed with our stuff.  I couldn’t keep up with the basic chores because I was dealing with 3 little ones (Issac was born 10 months after we moved in) and we had too much stuff.

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Too many shoes? We figured out that they only wore about 3 pairs of these each. Most didn't even fit!

Probably around 2004, definitely in January, God clearly told me to get rid of half.  I don’t remember the verses I read at the time nor how exactly nor what (and the journals are packed up at my in-laws so can’t check.) However it was very, very clear that He wanted me to get rid of half of all of it.  Some of this stuff had never been unpacked since I first moved out to become a nanny 10 years earlier.  Most of it I had held onto out of fear– what if I need this at some point in the future.  That was how my family had always done it– when I had Rachel my mom handed me box after box of my own clothes and toys from when I was small.  My grandmother saved bread bags instead of buying ziplocks.  It was just how we did things.  How could I possibly give this stuff up?  It just wasn’t done.  But half of everything stayed in my mind and stuck with me.  I needed  get rid of half of everything and I needed to start now.  (And mind you Shamus had been wanting me to get rid of stuff for forever.)

So I started.  I started small.  I looked at the coat rack and my pile of coats– I still had winter coats that I had had in school, and ones that had been given to me by family members who were getting rid of (being the only married kids in the family with the only grand-kids- EVERYONE gave us stuff.) So I looked through my coats and got rid of half.  Those all went to the thrift shop.  I realized I could suddenly find the ones I wore with no problem, instead of knocking everything down every time I tried to grab one.  Then I went through my shirts.  I got rid of the ones that didn’t quite fit, the ones that weren’t flattering, the ones that I didn’t really like to wear.  By the time I was done I could close my drawer.  And it went on from there.  I got rid of half our dishes.  Half our books.  Even half our food (turns out we had a whole lot of stuff in the pantry that had been bought that we couldn’t or wouldn’t eat– that all went to the food pantry in town.)  I went through the old paperwork and got rid of the surplus (which was more than half and went to the burn pile.)  And so, in the matter of about 6 months, I had gone through the entire house and gotten rid of half of everything.

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This train only left the house this year as Issac decided it was time to share it with someone else. Much of the rest in this picture, taken in 2006, is long gone. By that time we had a lot less stuff though not near as little as we do now.

It ended up being a good thing (or you could consider it God blessing us) because in August a friend started dropping stuff off at our house that they didn’t want (she was cleaning out her house) and suddenly we had more stuff– some of which we really needed or had been wanting.  And then my parents, who  were divorced both remarried, combining multiple households and started dropping off stuff THEY didn’t need.  And a neighbor started dropping off things her grand-kids didn’t want.

Issac does Kung Fu with marker sticks in our fairly simple living room. The kids pitch-in and help get rid of because they like being able to find the things they enjoy.

Pretty soon I was in the habit of going through, only keeping what we would really use, and getting rid of the rest, recognizing that God clearly WAS and would continue to provide what we needed, when we needed it, and we didn’t need to hold onto all that stuff.  Because that was all it was.  Stuff.  Even the things with sentimental value were just things, things that were getting in the way of my peace, of our family’s peace, even in the way of my relationship with God because I wasn’t trusting Him, I was trusting stuff.

So now we keep the clutter down, regularly going through and getting rid of, and focusing our time on better things than maintaining stuff.  Less clothes=less laundry, less dishes= people will rewash instead of leaving the dishes to pile up, less toys means the kids can find what they really want to play with, less stuff we don’t use means we can focus on what we DO use.  All in all halving everything was the beginning of a much healthier lifestyle for all of us and God continues to bless us as we willingly pass on the things He gifts to us.

A Day in the Life 28: The Messy House– Determination and Maintenance Mode

I am determined to have a relatively clean house.

I am determined to eliminate most of the clutter.

I am sick of the constant mess my mess makers leave behind.

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It doesn’t seem to have anything to do with how much they have more with their inability to remember to put something away when done with it. (One year we took away all but a couple clothes and toys for the summer–instead they left a trail of paper messes and their drawers were constantly empty of clothes.)

Part of the problem is that I am bad at maintenance, my husband is bad at maintenance, and thus so are our children.

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I am very good at doing a big clean up and getting a room to look good for a day or two, maybe even a week if the kids are spending all their time outside. The problem is that once a room is clean the kids descend on it like bees to honey and promptly play there until there is a huge mess. They then move to another location to play instead of cleaning up their mess. Since I am often occupied elsewhere when this occurs I don’t realize it until later and by then they are off somewhere else making new messed. And if the place has already been relatively messy? Well, then I don’t even notice the new mess.

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You see my husband and I are both project people. He is a left-brained thinker–always a list and he is motivated by what is on that list. His list includes all his work projects, exercise, eating, and his office. He stays focused on that list and doesn’t notice what is outside that list–unless he steps in something wet or has to step over toys or search for a clean dish. This is why my main goal is keeping his path clear (and he has a set path) so that he can focus on his work. Occasionally he will notice something beyond what is in his path–which is usually when we kick things into cleaning gear.

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I on the other hand am a right-brained work by association sort. I don’t have a list I have a spiderweb of things I need to do with each associated to other things on the list.When I am tired or achy or getting sick then I want a clean house. I want things organized so I don’t have to worry about a bigger mess. Other times I am too focused on my current project to notice the rest of the mess. My brain doesn’t do lists and schedules–I have top work very,very hard to remember things when they are organized that way. Flylady doesn’t work for me–I resent being told to go clean my closet when I have other more pressing things that need done.

I have realized that instead of trying to force myself to keep on top of our rather large house (the rooms are rather big and we have a huge basement) I need to train my mess makers to clean up after themselves. Since they think similarly to their parents who don’t notice mess unless it is in the way of a project, that means I need to train them to see the mess first so they can clean it uip immediately. Which means that I need to notice it as well.

One trick I have learned over the years is to pray. I literally have to pray that my eyes would be open to see the mess as others see it. Suddenly I see things I hadn’t noticed.

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I also need to withhold privileges and reserve the right to stop the kids from doing anything else until they have dealt with the mess. I hate making them stop what they are doing just to clean up a mess, especially since it is usually something very interesting and creative that they are doing but I need to be determined and make sure to keep up with them and if I do then they will eventually learn. It is not as simple as just instilling a habit would normally be since the older two have learning disabilities that keep simple repetition from teaching–there has to be more to it and it takes longer than it would with a typical person.I also need to continually attack the clutter. With a big house and lots of grandparents every holiday adds to the clutter.You can’t just get rid of stuff and be done. Right now I am praising the Lord that my mother-in-law got the kids each a beach towel and that is all for Easter. Everyone else got them tons of random junk that they didn’t need and which is making its way at this very moment into the yard sale bags. The clutterific gifts have been on the decline but they are still too much. Even if each set of grandparent only bought the kids each one thing for each holiday that would be 60 new things a year. And most of the grands buy more, much more.

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My kids do not need 60 new things each year!!! IT is too much!!! And those 60 don’t take into account all the little random stuff that show up at our house when they are decluttering their stuff and all the other stuff they ask for when we stop at the thrift shop. No wonder we have too much!
We are working on it. Maybe it is time to halve all our stuff again? We do that every few years and it helps. We have 10 garbage bags full of toys and clothes that the kids want to use in a yard sale–I know there is more, much more to be rid of. Too much is too much.

Right now the kids are working on cleaning up their upstairs hallway. It is full of random little toys and stuff that needs dealt with. Yesterday we attacked their rooms. They were trashed and ready to implode. Earlier this week we cleaned downstairs and everythig is already undone because they kept playing down here.