Do you need some help with Organizing Your Office?

Do you struggle with organizing your office?  I sure do.  I honestly believe that we are all experts in our own lives and we know what we need.  I was asked to attend a meeting where I used to work because they were struggling with clutter in their small office spaces and they see me as a “Clutter Specialist” aka “Clutter Queen”.    So, I attended their meeting and facilitated a lively and fun discussion.

These were the 7 Office Organizing tips that we discussed:

  1. Start Fresh

Take everything off your desk and out of your drawers, put them in a box, and go back to work. When you need an item, you can put it back on the desk. If there are things you don’t use after a few days…you probably don’t need them.  I know, easier said than done but makes a lot of sense.

2.  Re-Evaluate Your Belongings

Clutter accumulates because we feel like everything becomes important.  As you go through your stuff, ask yourself does this item have a purpose?  Is it redundant or outdated?  Think about old computer accessories.  Are you keeping it because you need it, or because you think you might need it someday? When you consider paper, is there a way you can get this information online?

3.  Give Everything a “Flow

I really like this.  Notice where your phone is and if it feels comfortable to pick it up and write down a message,  Notice how your work comes in, work comes in on the left, gets processed in the middle, and goes out on the right.  Or see what works for you, of course.  That way, your desk is clear for whatever’s next.  Make room for the new!!

4.  Find Your Trouble Spots

Look at your space with new eyes.   You might be surprised at what you find— Stuff that has been around for awhile can become invisible.  It can be helpful to look at your space with a different perspective, clutter might pop out at you and catch you off guard. What is that box doing there?   I see this as stuck energy.  Get that energy moving.

5.  Give Everything a Home

Everything that is on your desk or in a drawer needs to have a home.  If things don’t have a home, your desk becomes a home for everything.  Can you clear off your desk if others need to use it?  Where I work if I am not there often others will use my space so I need to make sure there is nothing confidential left on my desk.

6.  Check your schedule for the next day at the end of each day.

I still forget to do this at times and because I can be out on the road with clients, it can be a problem if I don’t have the proper paperwork needed for the meeting.   Ugh!!  I think its because I need to be in the moment in my work.   Well, that’s my excuse anyway.   I do need to work on this.

No matter how clean you keep your workspace, it’s going to get messy during the day. That’s okay—that means you’re working! It’s when you keep it messy that things start to get overwhelming.  It can be helpful to clear off your space so it is ready for a new day.  Also, check out #5 If you work out of an office, others may need to use your space/desk.

7.  Let Go of Perfectionism

This can be a tough one.  When is it “good enough” and time to just get down to work.  At home I like to have my crafts/sewing organized and tidy before I can start a new project.  It will never be perfect though and that is really okay.   Having a need for perfection can be a detriment to getting done what you want.  Yes, you might make a mistake and throw out something important but it likely will not be terrible and another solution can be found.

These were the seven tips I brought with me to facilitate this discussion on Office Clutter.  They had already spent some time together going through their old files, boxes, bags and had gotten a lot of stuff out.  So they were ready to hear all of this.  They had some great ideas for how they organize there own personal spaces too.

Purging and de-cluttering is something that needs to be done on an ongoing basis and when working with others sometimes it is best to do this together.  Sometimes we just need permission from someone else to be able to let something go.

On a more personal note…..speaking of working together 🙂

 Just cleaned off this desk so that my partner has a space to work …… Yes it is a roll top desk…….and now…..

this is what I need to work on – oh my!!

Do you have some great tips to help with Office Organizing?  Whether at the home office or at the community office?

Posted in Clutter, De-Clutter Your Life, goal setting, Inspiration, office organizing, Organizing, Re-organize, time management | 4 Comments

My Future Self is a Minimalist

space clearing 3

I am not a minimalist but I would like to be.   My future self is a minimalist.  Not so much of a tiny home kind of minimalist but more of a relaxed, slower paced kind of life minamalist.   I dream of having less, less stress, less worry and less struggle.   I just want life to be easier and maybe that means simpler.  Simpler to me means more energy, more fun and more time to spend on things that are important.

How am I working on simplifying my life?  Well, I think about downsizing and decluttering and I do get this done on a fairly regular basis but could always do more. (less thinking about it and more doing it)   I love to work on goals and for me this is often about changing things around and making my space work better for me.  It is also about re-assessing my needs, getting rid of the old and making way for the new.   It means that I can let go of things that no longer fit for me in my life.  This includes emotional clutter just as much as it does about physical.

Being mindful and having an awareness of what is happening around me is so important in being able to know what it is I want to focus on.  What do I choose to spend my time, energy and money on?  I am very conscious about purchases and what I want to bring into my home.  I prefer to give and get more consumable items as gifts (ie: wine, chocolate, other food items, natural bath products, candles) , (hint, hint) experiences and/or a visit with a friend or family member.

My friend just recently celebrated her 70th birthday and invited 11 of her friends to join her with some morning yoga, a kayak trip, and lunch. It was such an awesome day!!


Here we are doing a group meditation. 

When I think of what I want more of in my life, it helps me to think about what I no longer want.  It also helps me to focus on my goals and pushes me to move forward towards more of what I know I want.

How do you know what you want for your life?  How does minimalism fit into your life?

Posted in Minimalism, Organizing | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

How To Practice Harm Reduction in Hoarding

How can we practice harm reduction in hoarding?

Lets face it, if you are struggling with hoarding or chronic disorganization, you likely are not going to have a home that you would see in a home and garden magazine!

Living room after  Hehe!!  This is funny but I am technically challenged with images on google so yeah this is mine.  Not sure if it is magazine worthy but you get the general idea.

Anyway, this doesn’t mean that you cannot get your home up to more of a standard that you would be more comfortable with. Your place needs to be your sacred space and while it certainly does not have to be perfect, it is important that it is healthy and that it is safe for you and your family.  Also, it is important that it is your space and you get to chose how this space looks and it is what you want for you and your family.

This might mean different things for different people. There are different ways to look at it.  First and foremost, think about areas that are causing you a lot of difficulty like a doorway with shoes, bags, purses, flyers, mail,  not able to find what you need for the day; papers, keys, etc.  I feel so stressed!  Ugh!!

If you are having difficulty finding things like keys, books, lunch bags, important papers, this is a great area to focus on and to work on making improvements that you will be able to see immediately and will make your place safer as well as may save you time in the long run as you are not searching for lost items.

Think about what your goals are for your home. Do you really wish you could be cooking more?  If so, you need to have your stove and counters clear.  It is important to clean out your fridge on a regular basis and to get good at knowing what you have,  using it up on a regular basis so you are not throwing out wasted food, (basically throwing your money out the door) or not eating out most nights.  Put your focus to this and you will see improvement.  The same thing happens with money.  Right?  The more you focus on it the more you have and the more you will bring in.  YES!!

Are you at risk of your items that are stacked in piles falling on you. I know that most of us live in small spaces and this can make it challenging to get our stuff downsized, put away or taken to its home.  But of course, we don’t want to have stuff falling over and having us even more frustrated with trying to find things.

Remember everything needs to have a home to return to. 

These are some of the recommendations from the London Fire Department if they ever have to come to your place for an inspection.

  • Each hoarding situation is looked at on an individual basis.  Sometimes the department does not need to take any action if the accumulations are non-combustible and adequate pathways are present.
  • The first thing which is assessed is overall safety (e.g. working smoke alarms).  Next an assessment of the building as a whole is done to gauge the impact a fire would have on others.  Building construction and type are major factors as well.
  • Pathways need to be a minimum of 3 feet but this depends on the mobility of the tenant and how they move (assisted vs. unassisted).
  • Clear distances from ignition sources are a minimum of about 1 foot.
  • Pile heights are required to be reduced to no more than about 3 feet.
  • Other considerations are given, depending on the situation.  For example, if the situation was deemed to be dangerous, the LFD could order the building closed and the tenant removed immediately.
  • These are some other considerations in thinking about harm reduction.
  • Do no harm – meaning you do not want to do more harm to the person as they are struggling enough.
  • It is not necessary to stop all hoarding behaviour – like I said they are likely not going to have a home that is going to be in a home and garden magazine.
  • No two hoarding situations are alike – people need to be treated as individuals.
  • The individual needs to be involved as a Team Member – do not ever throw out your loved ones items!!  This is traumatic for an individual.  They need to be involved in the plan and any decision making.
  • Change is slow – YES you need to have the patience of a saint and those who support others with chronic disorganization issues definitely do.
  • Contract failures to not mean that the harm reduction model is not working – Individuals may have difficulty with sticking to the contract but this doesn’t mean they are not making progress.
  • The individual may have other, more pressing issues than the hoarding problem – so true, this person could be dealing with all kinds of other issues, mental health, physical health, family issues, etc.  Sometimes these issues have to take precedent.What do you think?  What does harm reduction look like to you?  I am sure there are many ways we can support our loved ones who are struggling with this issue.  What are some ways that you can think of or ways that you have helped others?  We would love to hear from you.  Please share in the comments below:




Posted in Clutter, decluttering, downsize, families, goal setting, hoarding, Inspiration, Organizing, sacred home | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments

Happy Spring Clearing: Physical and Emotional Clutter

It’s that time of year again when we feel motivated to make some changes in our lives.  How do we move the physical clutter and what happens when we do?  What about the emotional clutter that tends to come up?

The weather is changing and warming up which allows us to open windows, feel and smell the fresh air, watch the new growth sprouting out of the ground and to start thinking about organizing and clearing out. The sun feels so much stronger now and if it is streaming in through your windows you are probably noticing the dust, cat or dog hairs, dirty windows, etc.  It can all be a bit overwhelming.

Perhaps you find the idea of clearing out more appealing than actually doing the work. If so, you are not alone.   There are a lot of reasons why it is difficult to let go of our stuff aka clutter.  Getting started is usually half the battle.  If you are avoiding dealing with the clutter then it might be helpful to actually sit with your clutter and really look at what comes up for you. What is the resistance to doing this work?  You could try writing about your feelings and see what is coming up for you.  It might feel like you are not doing anything but this is a really great way to get started especially if you are feeling stuck. This helps you to start to take some control and to have power over your belongings and your space.

Physical and Emotional Clutter go together!!

While it is easier to see the physical clutter, if you move it without being conscious about your feelings and not paying attention to what might be underneath it, likely you will just re-acquire and end up back in the same place again. When we look a little deeper we might find there is emotional clutter as well. The clutter can very well be emotional baggage and unfinished business.   Do you have old files from a previous career, love letters or cards from an ex-partner, a wedding dress from a failed marriage, books about dreams that you once had, clothing from a happier time or a time when you were a lot slimmer, or projects that are unfinished? (When I was involved in a quilting group in the past we called these UFO’s Unfinished Objects).   These are all areas that can keep us emotionally stuck in our lives.  Clutter can be giving us a message that we do not want to or cannot move forward.

Messages like:

“I will be able to wear this when I lose 10 pounds” (someday in the future but for now looking at those clothes can make me feel bad about myself)

“I am afraid to try to meet someone and start a new relationship” (because I am sad and still thinking and dwelling on the past relationship)

“I spent a lot of money on this so I cannot let it go” (I will hang on to this even though I don’t love, want or need it and it is taking up valuable space that could be used for something else)

“Someday, I will fix, sew, sell this” (again, someday in the future but realistically am I really going to do this)

“I will not be able to clean this mess up, so why bother trying” (a good excuse to not even start and an easy out in some ways)

“I would like to have company over but cannot because of the mess” (relationships are tough and I have been hurt in the past so it is easier to not have people over)

“I am keeping these books because one day I will read them and then I will be able to get more organized” (my books offer me the promise of making things better but in the meantime they are taking up space and causing me to feel bad because I haven’t read them or actually done any of the work or followed up)

Can you see how some of these thought processes can hold you back and how they protect you from actually pursuing your dreams?

Happy Spring Clearing Everyone declutter your life pic


What is your clutter saying about you? How is it protecting you from moving forward?  Would love to hear from you.  Please comment below…..


Posted in Clutter, De-Clutter Your Life, Inspiration, space clearing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Visit to the Clutter Clearers’ Peer Circle

group support

I had the honour of visiting the Clutter Clearers’ Peer Circle once again on a recent Friday morning. They came up with a list of questions for me and while I thought long and hard about how to address them I realized I didn’t have the answers to those questions. So, my plan was to pose those questions back to them.

These are the questions with the answers from the group members:

  1.  How can I make my home a sanctuary? 
  • Being in the drivers seat and in charge of my space
  • Safe, supportive and comfortable
  • Having a spot where I sit that is just for me
  • Having a cleared place to sit, sleep, cook, eat, etc.
  • Being with my cat and having more clear space for him to play (pet therapy)

2.  How can I get over the fear of exposure (others seeing into my apartment when the door is open)

  • I don’t care what others think.  I am a self declared hoarder and I just let people know.  I am working on my living situation and am proud of how far I have come.
  • As I get older, I care less about what others think.
  • This group helps me to feel supported and to know I am not alone.
  • We have been meeting now for almost three years and everyone is making great progress.
  • We would like to write to James Hind, Fire Inspector to share with him about our progress and to help him to understand the groups efforts and accomplishments.
  • It is like we are “rebuilding ourselves”.  This problem didn’t just happen overnight and will not be corrected overnight.  It has been an ongoing process.
  • We feel there is a lot of hope in getting better and improving our personal spaces

3.   Why are some things so tough to let go of?  

This was such an interesting question from this group because they know the answer to this one and what I heard from them in their answers is that they have already stepped beyond this question. They talked about the usual reasons that we know like emotional and sentimental attachment, decision making is tough, and having the perfect place to donate to.

Group members talked about the fact that they can appreciate the process more and they know that they cannot go from A to Z but find that they are able to get there quicker. A group participant mentioned that the same thing happens with other setbacks as well. We all have tough days but are able to bounce back so much faster.

A great discussion came up about goals and success and how we think they are like a straight line but really its more of a messy up and down, squiggly kind of line.

They had some great insight to offer like a great rule of thumb

“what goes in the box, stays in the box”

something I may have to put into practice.

Also, a great question and insight from one of the group participants in thinking about letting go of items was not “Why is it hard to let go?” but “Why is it getting easier?” There is a great exposure exercise that I was able to remind people of from the CCSG which is to let something go and then think about how high your anxiety is on a scale of 1 – 10, then think about where it is at 10 minutes later, etc. Most likely by the next day you are not missing or thinking about that item at all.

4.   How to decide what I want to bring into my space? 

This question really brought the group full circle which was so awesome.

“After de-cluttering, I don’t want to bring anything into my space”

“I am feeling protective of my space”.

A few popular quotes mentioned by group members:

“Does it spark joy?”  by Marie Kondo

“Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful” William Morris

“Be more excited about how far you’ve come, than you are discouraged about how far you have to go.” Joyce Meyer

Participants talked about how they are much more aware of their own needs and wants. One participant said that she has a list of things she wants and carefully keeps this in mind when considering what to bring into her space. Also, the thoughts about letting go of things no longer needed are also at the forefront of this decision making. Mistakes will be made and this is not the end of the world!! Group members talked about how much more confident they are about making decisions for themselves.

Participants talked about the challenges when the current lifestyle interferes with the ideal life that they want for themselves.

“Having more clear space means that I can live the way I want and can see my vision and goals for myself and my space.”

How would you answer these questions?  Please comment below:



Posted in Clutter, De-Clutter Your Life, declutter, Emotional Clutter, goal setting, Inspiration, sacred home, Support Groups | Tagged , , , , , | 3 Comments

Happy New Clearing

I love the idea of clearing out the old energy and making room for the new. But really, how do you do this and what does it really mean for you?  I don’t believe in New Years’ Resolutions.  I am really all about goals and working on yourself to really figure out what your priorities are and what is most important to you in your life.  I have written lists of goals for myself in the past – check out this blog post from May 2013

I actually achieved most of these goals.  While I don’t suggest that you need to come up with 25 or even 50, these goals whether small or large can be quite achievable when you become really clear on what you want for yourself.  It can be quite surprising really!!

Having goals for yourself really means honouring yourself and looking at what is important to you. It means taking the time to figure out how you can be the best you, you can be. This is an ongoing process and not one that starts on this date or that date.  It is who you are and who you want to be in this world.

It means looking at the past and honouring what has happened and learning from these life lessons. The past is a great teacher if we are only able to see it this way without huge regrets. If there are huge regrets (and I am sure we all have them) then how can we deal with them and move on.  The past cannot be changed but we do have control about our present and our future.  In fact, I love this thought.

“Clutter is a way of hanging on to the past and a worry about the future”

As I left work on New Years Eve a co-worker gave me this: (author unknown)

* I release all things from the past year that have caused any negative attachment.

* I prepare and welcome new changes, new lessons and new adventures.

* I welcome new opportunities to grow emotionally, mentally and spiritually.

This is what I call “doing the work” and I believe we need to focus and revisit this on a regular basis. I am excited to create a new vision and new goals for myself to create my new 2016.  What are some of the ways you challenge yourself to move forward to be the best you you can be?  Would you like to learn more about clearing out old energy?

Posted in Clutter, De-Clutter Your Life, Emotional Clutter, goal setting, organizing over the holidays, space clearing, vision boards | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Hoarding, Acquiring, Saving, Letting Go, Awareness, Action = Hope

home is where the heart is

Some people might think that there is no hope for someone who has a hoarding problem and I am not about to make light of it at all because as we know it is a very challenging issue. But…..there are things that can help and there is hope that things can get better.

If an individual is motivated to work on their clutter/hoarding issues then this is an awesome first step. Knowing and admitting that this is a problem is huge and it can be scary to say “I need some help” but we all do at times in our lives.  Individual one on one help is great and of course group support is very motivating and group members encourage each other.  Check out the Clearing Clutter Support Group

These are the areas to focus on:

Acquiring: How much stuff are you actually acquiring on a daily, weekly, monthly basis and where is it all coming from? Keep track of this week to week and you might be surprised at what you bring home. If stuff keeps coming in and nothing is going out this is going to be a problem. This is usually the easiest area to get under control.

Saving – Amount of Clutter: When you look around your home, what do you see? How cluttered are your rooms? So, basically, how much stuff do you have around you? The size of our rooms can really dictate how much stuff we have. Most of the individuals I work with live in small homes.

Ability to Let Go: Are you able to let go of stuff? We all have attachments to our stuff but some things more than others. This can be especially challenging for those who struggle with OCPD .  For more info on this check out this post

Awareness:  Becoming more aware is really the first step in doing this work. CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) is the preferred treatment and sounds easy but it takes some practice. It’s all about paying attention to your thoughts, emotions and behaviours and then challenging them.

Emotions=Thoughts = Behaviours

Action:  Taking action means actually doing the work, even if it is a little every day. “Small is Huge” is our motto in the group. Challenging yourself to get past the procrastination of dealing with difficult areas. In fact, think about what in your home is causing some difficulty or stress and plan to tackle that. I always like to remind people that this work takes a lot of courage, energy and is challenging work. Always take the time to reward yourself and try to work on having balance in your life.

HOPE:  I always believe that there is hope and that you can make some huge improvements in your life. Never give up. Learn from yesterday, enjoy today and you get to try again tomorrow. Keep at it and eventually you will see start to see how much progress you are making.

I would love to hear from you.  Please comment below and thank you for following.





Posted in Clutter, compulsive acquiring, decluttering, Organizing | Tagged , , , , , | 4 Comments

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway

If only it was that easy.

It is so much easier to stay in our comfort zone where we know what to expect and we don’t have to upset the boat.  We really want to avoid uncomfortable feelings that may come up if we try to make some changes in our lives. We might worry about hurting others or not pleasing others and put our own needs on the back burner.

Fear seems to be the buzz word these days.  It’s all about the fear.  Most of us have some real fear about letting go of clutter, both physical and emotional.   What is this fear about? What will it mean for me if I no longer have this thing, this relationship, this activity, this habit, this addiction? Then what? The unknown is very scary. This is Emotional Clutter.

I recently had to end a relationship that wasn’t terrible but I knew deep down that it was not working for me and I was feeling resentful and angry a lot of the time. I went back and forth thinking “this is really not so bad, there are some good things about this relationship” and “maybe, I just need to give it more time and put more effort into it to make it work”. I mentioned to one of my friends that it was good, not great and I really want great or it’s not good enough. She has been single for a long time and she said “I would take good over great right now if I could in my life”   So, again, I was second guessing myself about this decision and the doubts kept creeping in. I don’t love the idea of being single and there is the worry that I may be single forever, but if that is the case I am okay with that. In the end, I knew I had to make this change in my life and even though it was difficult I am now single once again but much happier. Yay!!

Anyway, back to letting go of other things…..Emotional Clutter…..anything that gets in the way of the enjoyment of your life or living your life to the fullest.  This could be anything that takes up your time and energy and leaves you feeling resentful and drained. Things like unhealthy relationships, bad habits, old patterns of behaviours that no longer serve and activities that are not nourishing to your soul. It is challenging to change these behaviours especially if they have been going on for a long time.

Getting rid of physical clutter will help to shift emotional clutter. If you are feeling particularly stuck, working on the emotional clutter is likely the best place to start. Clearing one, the other follows.

Clutter is a Personal Journey

So, how do we get past that fear and how can we work on our own emotional clutter?

Know Yourself: This is where focusing on priorities and goals, and following your dreams can be so helpful and enlightening because it helps you to pave the way for what you want for yourself and for your life. Journaling, Visioning, Reading and Sharing with others are great tools that you can use to help with this.

Challenge Yourself: It may not be as difficult as you think it will be. Usually the fear is worse than actually getting started. Start with small changes and see what happens. Pay attention to the emotions that come up. “Small is huge” is our motto in the Clearing Clutter Support Group.

Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway: I love this expression and I know there is a book with the same name that I have read many years ago. I tell my clients who have panic or anxiety attacks that (as long as they are in a safe place) when they feel an attack coming on and they know what it is they can try thinking “bring it on, give me your best shot” and going with it instead of trying to make it go away. If you can allow the feelings, emotions and pain and go through them rather than avoid this will lesson the power that they have over you. Trying to avoid the pain can make it worse.

“What you resist not only persists, but will grow in size? Carl Gustav Jung

What are some of the benefits that you can think of for dealing with Emotional Clutter?

Please comment below and share this with others who would find this helpful.  Thanks for following along.


Posted in Emotional Clutter, goal setting, SMART Goals, vision boards | 16 Comments

How to Determine if Your Client is Just Being Willful or Struggling with OCPD

clutter Is there a difference between OCD Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and OCPD Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder? This was originally posted on April 25, 2015 at

There can be overlapping symptoms at times so it can be very confusing. It was once thought that OCD was the determining factor in “Hoarding Disorder” but as we know now it is much more complex than that. Individuals often have a number of vulnerability factors that have impacted on their struggles with clutter and hoarding.   I work with a client who was diagnosed years ago through the hospital with OCD. She has issues with hoarding which she is fully aware of but she actually has no OCD symptoms and the classic symptoms of OCPD.

I wouldn’t really describe myself as an expert in this field but usually I can see when someone who has challenges with their stuff also may struggle with OCPD.  Perfectionism and the inability to let go of anything are usually the first clues.  When we think about the issue of perfectionism which is something that comes up a lot, someone with OCPD is so challenged by this that they become paralyzed and unable to move forward.   Throwing out a small piece of paper is a huge success for this person.

An OCPD person may have lots of clutter but it is usually all organized neatly in see through bins with labels, in alphabetical order and possibly stacked to the ceiling. There may even be a list somewhere of what is in those boxes or bins. They probably have empty drawers and filing cabinets as they like everything to be in view.

They have certain rules and regulations about the order of things and how things should be in the world. When this doesn’t quite go their way, they may experience a lot of anxiety and turmoil. Having control is very important for someone who suffers with OCPD.  They really can get so caught up in all of the small details that they easily lose sight of the main thing they were initially involved in.  They often have difficulty with others who don’t agree with them or challenge their thought process.

Here is an example from a male who attended the Clearing Clutter Support Group:

Questions to answer to enable possessing something:

Is there unused space to keep this? Will this improve my wellbeing if I have it?

Is there a present need for this proven by recent experience and rational analysis?

Is my intent for this backed up by a firm commitment to follow through with application?

Do I need this specific article to experiment to discover whether something like this would work?

Could I find a customer to buy this at a price greater than the value I have invested in it?

Is this something of such great rarity as to be unavailable through ordinary channels?

Is this valuable enough to justify keeping it in storage for future use?

Do I value this enough to take it with me when moving to another residence?

As you can see, the thought process can be so elaborate that it can be debilitating in making a decision.  Decision making is extremely difficult for these individuals from what to wear to what to order in a restaurant. choosing

Everything is special and needs a special place. Everything is valuable. I remember once saying to a client “what about the things you don’t love”. She said, “pardon”, so I repeated myself and she said “but, I love everything”. I believe that this is common among those who struggle with these challenging issues.

As a Professional Organizer it is important to be aware that someone may be struggling with these issues of control and perfectionism and that they are not just being willful. So, how can we work with these individuals?

It seems that there are quite a lot of resources about this disorder, support for people who love someone with this disorder but not really a lot of easy answers for those who are suffering.   If the person has insight into their own issues support groups can help as well as individual therapy. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Dialectical Behavioural Therapy would be recommended as they are the preferred therapies for help for hoarders.

Motivational interviewing may help for professionals working with clients. Some Recommended Reading and Resources:

Too Perfect: When Being in Control Gets Out of Control by Jeannette Dewyze and Allan Mallinger

When Perfect Isn’t Good Enough: Strategies for Coping with Perfectionism by Martin Antony and Richard Swinson – this is an awesome site with really accurate info about OCPD – this is quite long but interesting reading on this issue – great website with links to resources – there are some support forums online

Do you know of other resources that would be helpful? Please share below and thanks so much for following along.

Posted in Clutter, compulsive acquiring, Emotional Clutter, hoarding, Hoarding Crisis, mental health | Tagged , , , | 10 Comments

Who Defines How We Live Our Lives?

I recently met a very interesting Jamaican man at a festival I was attending out of town with some friends.  The festival was at the home of friends and in their backyard.  He came over from his house because he heard the music.  We ended up hanging out because for some reason I ended up standing with him on my own.  I asked him if he wanted to sit down and found him a chair.  I also shared my wine with him.

He was a total peace loving gentleman and happy and grateful for his life.  He said he has had seven children (he is 69 years old) and they are all successful except for one who he said has been in and out of jail.   He has contact with all of his children, said that they visit him and he didn’t know how many grandchildren he has.  He has lived in his current home for about 10 years and has lived in Toronto, London and is now living in a house in this small town west of London.  He was married and lost his partner two years ago.

He said he lives simply, spends most of his time outdoors, lives off the earth, heats his home with wood and has everything he needs.  He asked me if I liked animals.  I said, “yes, I have a cat”.  He laughed and said “well that’s a start”.  He said he has over 30 cats.   So, of course, I ask him a few questions about this and he says that people drop cats off at his place, they all stay outdoors, there is a barn and he does feed them.  He does not have any mice lol.  He also has chickens and ducks that he says he gives away and a family of peacocks living on his property.

He recently got a cell phone probably at the insistence of his children but said he didn’t know how to work it and was having difficulty with texting.  I asked him if he was on facebook and he said “what is the facebook” lol.   He was so charming and made me laugh a lot.  He invited me to come and see his place in the morning which he referred to as “the ghetto”.

When I arrived at his home which is on the edge of this small town, there was a friend on his roof helping with some re-shingling which was a good thing as it looked like this house was slowly falling apart.  It looked like a huge job, there was a big pile of shingles on the ground and the eavestroughs were falling off or off already.

I felt so honoured to have a tour of his property and home and yes, he wanted me to see the inside of his home which I believe he is proud of.   I walked in and he said “don’t worry, you are safe, there are no animals in here.”  I guess I was obviously being a little cautious.  His place was like WOW, umm, it seemed that there was a lot of nature in there ie: wood for his two wood stoves and branches across the ceiling and a little bit of OMG really!!  There seemed to be a lot of nature from the outside in there.  Not too much could really shock me but his home was slowly falling apart.  His stove was completely covered in stuff and he said he couldn’t cook but does cook for himself?  He had mentioned that on Saturday he had been fasting as it was the Sabbath.

There were no “Goat Trails” but there was a lot of stuff that was old, broken and basically not worth anything.  I gently asked him some questions about his stuff and his ability to take it away or get someone to help him.  He said he knew it was a mess but he was okay with how it was. He said, “why, no, I don’t want to do that”.  He said he was too lazy but of course I know this isn’t the case at all.

I believe he said he has some income from a work pension, will not apply to CPP because he says he doesn’t need it and I didn’t get the sense that he spends any money.  He did have a van in the driveway which he said was his.   He also showed me around his yard and property.  He has some grape vines growing and he hopes he can give them away to someone who would want to make some wine.   I took a couple of pictures but I didn’t really feel comfortable taking them (although I don’t think he would have minded that much)  – I did ask him if maybe he would like someone to come and do a story on him sometime?  He was undecided but I think he has a great story to tell.

Here are a couple of pics from his place:  The first one is actually a female peacock walking with her little one following behind and the second one is a family of ducks who live on his property.  This was once a beautiful farmland.

FullSizeRender peacock FullSizeRender ducks

This story really reminds me of this controversial article which I absolutely love because I think it totally shows how the creative mind of someone who loves their stuff works.

Do you have a story of someone who chooses to live differently? Please comment below:


Posted in De-Clutter Your Life, Emotional Clutter, hoarding, Organizing, sacred home | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments