Clearing the road on the way to clarity

Four months or so, have passed since I committed to declutter. I have been chipping away at drawers, piles of paper, cupboards and shelves.  There is a renewed feeling that the battle waged is being won incrementally.

Before you start envisaging me, trapped in a room between towers of newspapers, empty food containers and a collection of memorabilia of a life lived without restraint, I don’t own that much.

I have, I admit only tiptoed around my bookshelves. A new shelf of books for ‘library loan’ to close friends is now available. Here collected are great examples of storytelling, escapism and hope.

I have also shredded a lot of paper.  I have learned that lining the chicken coop is problematic. It only takes one enthusiastic fowl, or a ill-timed gust of wind for snippets of useless information to fly into the air.  Like we aren’t already waist deep in information?

While I do save to the ‘Cloud’, let’s get real,  if your vocation is education or training, you may as well roll up the recycle bin to your front door and shovel it in! Staying current is an educator’s nightmare.

I have relinquished the salad spinner. I implore you, please do not under any misguided need to inform me of my error, now offer me reasons that I should have kept it! It has taken years to let it go!

I have also noted some odd disturbing idiosyncratic behaviours.

As a researcher and one plagued with the voices of my pro-green parents, ‘Kumbayaing’ in my ears, I have over the years, acquired a selection of approved water bottles. No bisphenol.A’s for me!

To those of you, who missed that lesson – BPA or bisphenol.A is an industrial chemical used to make polycarbonate plastics. BPA is believed to ‘leech’ into the fluids kept in containers made with the chemical, especially when heated. No I’m not guzzling hot water, but many of the bottles of water are stored in warehouses for long periods and even in the sun.

It is with some irony that I admit to struggling with dehydration for years and have resoundingly underestimated the impact of it. I have, like millions of others, instead of drinking water, substituted ‘fluids’ for….tea, coffee, alcohol and the occasional soft drink.

Over the past three months, I have embraced a clear water container,  no BPA’s of course.

I throughly enjoy watching litre after litre of water disappear. Seriously….how did I miss that?

Last week a GP, advised me to ‘keep up the fluids’.   My advice – keep it simple – replace the word ‘fluids’ with WATER!

I think that nutritionist and celebrity chef,  Zoe Bingley-Pullen would agree. I have already learned how to boost my metabolism through water consumption, in the first week of her ‘Falling In Love with Food’ program.

See more here:

I look forward to more ‘sage’ advice over the next seven weeks.

Clearing the clutter, has challenged the ‘ghosts of my childhood’, leaving me a little rattled.

From my collection of stationery, it appears I have a deep affection for the stuff. I have collected a ‘shipload’ of it. This is despite sharing my addiction with children from third world countries.

Sure I could argue, it is an educator’s tool…blah….blah….blah….and if you work for government as an executive, you’ll naturally end up with stationery….well you do…..right?

If I unpack this conundrum a little more, and take this frayed piece of string and rewind it through my life, I would find myself at any early age, watching my father guard his art materials as if there were jewels cat-burgled from the Louvre.

There is also the case of the ‘recurring missing pen’….

Child (me) has new pens – fine-nibbed and expensive

One parent has undiagnosed stationery addiction

Child (me again) leaves the room…….

You get the rest…….it ends in denial and tears…..

Parent without addiction (Mum) retrieves pen…


Is it any wonder that I have anxiety around knowing where my pencil case is?

Saying this, it hasn’t prevented me from stamping my own brand of genetic madness, which I like to call ’empathy based parenting’ onto the psyche of my sons.

I raised my two sons mostly singlehandedly, though I had a small community of wonderful friends that assisted at times.  When I think back to that time, I was like an hamster on steroids, trying to reach the end of the wheel. I worked hard for every cent, with little regular maintenance, running a personal development program for children and working in after school care programs.

This did not prevent me from losing the plot, to what is referred to as the afternoon, that ‘Mum stole our bikes’.

I had bought the boys each a new shiny bike for their birthdays (a month apart). The boys had left them abandoned at the front of friend’s house on the street where we lived. They probably just lost track of time but when I saw the two bikes forlornly dumped on the grass, I spun out of my ‘wheel’ and out of control.

They returned home, mildly hysterical, weeping, shoulders hunched.  I  listened with mock concern, as they tried to explain the ‘terrible thing that happened, that wasn’t their fault’.


Did that ever happen again? No! Are they avid bike riders?

No… probably too traumatised….

Is this admission of less than perfect parenting, a form of clearing the clutter?

If so, I a feel a tad lighter….




Clearing the Clutter

There is an implied obligation that accompanies our possessions. Ideally each one should serve a specific purpose, bring joy through beauty, reflect our individual identity, link us to our heritage, confirm our allegiance to tribe, culture and/or team and collectively represent our living experience. But can they all claim to be doing so?

How much stuff do you own? Is this stuff a true mirror of your authentic self? Is your accumulation of things, preventing you clearing your emotional baggage?  If you are stuck, perhaps the answer lies in the process of ‘clearing’.

Many of us are drowning in useless possessions, that bring no joy and that are collecting dust, waiting for that ‘one day’ when their purpose will be realised.  I have a container of various lengths of string for a day, such as this.

Unwanted and unused possessions often mirror our unrealised hopes and dreams, unfinished projects, failed ambition and maybe the past selves that are no longer reflected in our thoughts, actions and lives. Are you being haunted by possessions that represent someone you have grown out of being?

My socialisation included the forensic examination of the value of material possessions. Surviving the horror of war, my parents, both born in 1914,  experienced first hand how quickly life can be extinguished. They emigrated to Australia, with meagre possessions and like many others of their generation, slowly built their life by industrious labour, preferring to pay for everything with cold hard cash.

You can accumulate a lot of stuff, ask anyone over 50 and you may find that which is annoying you, is not yours alone. Perhaps you are offering a free storage facility for your adult family? This is less of a problem if it is neatly packed in a shed. If it is filling up your cupboards and piling up in the corners of your living space, I suggest a family conference is required.

Many of us daily drag the heavy burden of emotional clutter where ever we go. The old hurts of battles lost and even those won with cost. The unforgiven, or forgiven but never forgotten. Our grievances in a world that is simply, unjust.

Why do we find it so hard to let go? Are we hard-wired to hold on? The stubborn child in me, would like to lay some of the blame, squarely at the feet of my enabling re-purposing parents. The adult in me, knows that this is beyond ridiculous!

I have recently taken up a 365 day challenge to clear. This may come as a surprise to some of my friends, some who have openly expressed, in a tone bordering on shocked concern, ‘It is looking very sparse in here’. I learned from a woman who lived in a shoe that it is best to keep a small space clear of unwanted things, if the people that matter are to fit in.

So then to the task of clearing. I started in areas that evoked the least resistance, for fear that I would abandon the quest altogether, if I launched head first into my richly evocative fabric cupboard. The time will come, but not yet. My aim was to commence the clearing of physical clutter, so that it will ultimately trigger the release of emotional clutter.

I started in my book shelves, however the non-fiction library of self help books is currently out of bounds.  I scanned the back of the novels that I had picked up from many op shop hunts, which at the time sounded interesting but have only served to guard the shelves for years. I am blessed to receive over six new books per year, from my loved ones and dearest friends (who know me well) and have many more books recommended to me to read. Unless I am actively in pursuit of a novel or a book launches itself off the selves into my hands, I am releasing these to roam other shelves and giving up the habit. Selfishly I am glad that the best op shop for books has closed down!

But what to do with unwanted gifts? OM, re-gift, recycle, release, out with the old, in with the new OM’.  I edit,”selectively in with the new OM”.

I am an experienced recycler and  I can let go of material possessions with relative ease, as long as I switch off the re-purposing gene, and no one is suggesting that I let go of my collection of high heels. That day is slowly dawning. My parents, were re-purpose gurus, there was no limit to the possibilities that two environmentalists would go. One litre milk cartons would be sliced off and slithers of used soap jammed into the trimmed base, to make new bars. A kaleidoscope of  options presented in a squared slab, that bewildered confronted visitors. This was in 1960’s, before the wash of homemade soap options, filled market stalls.

I am simply unashamedly unable to ‘re-gift’. Not for fear of giving it straight back to the giver, as I am a disciplined organiser, but because I have a high H ( Honesty – Humility) factor in my personality. This book, The H Factor of Personality- Kibeom Lee & Michael C Ashton, is one of the new, that has recently been introduced to me.  It outlines the missing 6th factor in the well established 5 Factor Model of  Personality Traits, those being Extraversion, Agreeableness, Conscientiousness, Neuroticism and Openness to Experience. It is proving to be a fascinating read. Thank you Caro for sharing this resource.

Beauty is reportedly in the eye of the beholder, but astoundingly absent when gift grabbing from the 24 hour corner store, the airport lounge or hotel lobby. Seriously, don’t bother.These half-arsed attempts shout volumes about the giver and nothing about the receiver. What about the gifts that mumble, ‘ I have no idea of who you are’ or ‘ I bought this really for myself, but I’m giving it to you ( hope you don’t mind, if I opened it?) or ‘despite the fact that we know each other for 20 plus years, I still fail to understand you’.

Bring me a simple flower, a beautiful quote, a great book that you know I will love…

I am relinquishing all that no longer brings me joy. I am not doing this alone but through the Daily Om – A Year to Clear What is Holding You Back, by Stephanie Bennett Vogt. It is available at

A small email will be sent to you, a quiet nudge to your consciousness to ‘slow down, simplify, sense, surrender and apply self care’ and you take action, release and repeat.

Ironically in the sorting out of my book shelves, I came across Stephanie’s book – Your Spacious Self – Clear the Clutter and Discover Who You Are. Obviously I had missed the ‘action’ pathway of the essential Four Pathways to Clearing, – Intention, Action, New Identification and Compassion’. I did however find it on one of those op shop roams.

It is only Day 9, I’ll check back in later. I’ll stop I promise if I find myself in a bare room without a chair.