Conquering Clutter’s Demons


Addicted, like I am, to the taste of a good wild mushroom, we headed out to the woods again to look. Nothing. Too cold. But, as I’m reading, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, (inspired by MountainMama) I figure that even if I don’t taste a mushroom today, the experience of the woods is very good for the boys. In the beginning of the book, Louv says that he runs through the woods of his childhood in his dreams. I do that too… special places were I used to play are so vivid and real in my mind, and are the settings for dreams. I never really considered how fortunate this gift was, until I realized that my boys may not have such “rooms” in their memories to use.


So, as we walked we found this house, tucked under a tree root in the woods. It looks so very much like a house straight out of The Wind in the Willows that I caught myself checking around for the camera crews that probably set this scene, with the lush moss growing on top of the roof, so perfectly arranged. But here it is, all natural. Such a simple exquisite little house. Undoubtedly, perfectly, clutter-free.

We got home late, and tired, while the boys irritated every last nerve we had on the way home, and then I realized how much housekeeping I need to do. I’m very good about getting rid of clutter as soon as it comes into my house. Junk mail, irrelevant fliers from school, and empty cereal boxes are whisked out daily. Clutter is bad for you. Sometimes, we can’t see what clutter is. That’s the trick. Clutter becomes a habit.

Articles linger in my house. Relevant and so-pertinent-articles-to-my-life-headlines fill the breakfast table, and the kitchen counter waiting for a moment when the kid’s aren’t talking so I can read them. Again, it happens tomorrow, and I just pile that one on top of yesterday’s article (because the kids are always chatting.) And then the Pottery Barn Catalog arrives, and then I see this one picture, unlike any other Pottery Barn picture that I’ve seen before (Ha!), the perfect solution that will solve all of my organizational and decorating problems in one fell swoop. Gotta keep that. With the advent of the Internet, I gave up saving recipe clippings. I either blog about it right away so I can have a record of it, or it’s gone. And then, there are the scrapbooks — and more accurately, the bits and pieces of life’s daily merry-go-round that I believe are so pertinent to preservation. Sometimes I feel as if I’m drowning under the heap.

Ahhh, yes, and the books I read. In addition to Woods, I’m also reading a book, for the first time, I’ve always wanted to inhale, Expecting Adam. So, what I’m saying is that I have lots of stuff; because I use lots of stuff.

I’m constantly looking for ways to purge. I’m proud to report that on Friday, I worked with my littlest son, and purged out all the jewelry I acquired from my Mom’s jewelry box. Stuff I will never wear. But, I had felt it was my duty to keep “intact.” I put them in a box, along with her collection of hankies, and said good-bye for now. Certainly not getting rid of them; but putting them aside for now. Still, I have more demons to conquer.

I have an telephone answering machine that we no longer use. There are still messages on the tape, and I know there are messages from my Mom on there, talking as if there’s nothing wrong. I can’t bear to listen. Yet, part of my knows how nice it would be to hear her voice, sounding so normal, without the slightest hint of the future. This is something I cannot bear to de-clutter. The question is, what is it costing me to keep it?

So, what I’d like to know about you, is this: is there something in your house that you know you should get rid of, but haven’t because you’re too afraid to let it go?

See more, beautiful, awesome best shot Monday’s at Tracey’s blog.

16 comments to “Conquering Clutter’s Demons”
  1. This is a beautiful post.

    I hate clutter so much, that I get rid of everything. I absolutely refuse to get attached to things – although I never had to deal with the type of things you mentioned.

    But once in a while, I look back and regret throwing, or giving stuff away.

    So I guess I have the opposite problem.

    That has happened to me too… and that’s a hard ache to heal. It’s tough to hang on… and let go.

  2. I too struggle with this…I like a clean, oragnized space but can’t bare to say goodbye to items that have a story…or even storyless items I just might need one day!

  3. Your woodsy adventures sound so marvelous, I wish we could join you guys and then I could learn about mushrooms from you! As for clutter, I’m going on a major decluttering bender myself, not sure i can maintain it as a regular constant thing but it certainly feels good to purge, even if it only ends up making room for more stuff, that’s still better than stuff upon more stuff upon more stuff, right? hehe 🙂

    I think you would love the taste of a mushroom, and it wouldn’t take long to teach you…

  4. I spent all evening on Friday going through the junk that had piled up, literally. Then I look at the table today and see that I just couldn’t get all the way down to a clear surface! Yet.

    I love the shots in the woods, you are right about the rooms in our memories. I know I want my son to have one too.

  5. Wow. So much about your post today resonates within me.

    The Last Child in the Woods, Saving our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder is an ongoing theme we have in our playgroup. That book is on my list to read.

    The part about clutter. Just yesterday, I was looking through jewelry I acquired from my mom and thought the same things you did. Most of it I probably won’t wear, but her wish was for her granddaughter to have the jewelry handed down to her.

    Now, the machine with old recorded messages. I still can’t bring myself to read through my mom’s posts on her inactive yahoo group, I can’t imagine being able to hear her recorded voice. When the time is right, you’ll be able to listen. And what a sacred and beautiful thing to still have. I recently blogged about my mother’s passing since it was her anniversary. Great post!

    Andrea, I know how you feel, but part of me is saying hurry up, because Yahoo might eat the posts if the account stays inactive for long! Maybe you could have a friend check, and copy them so at least you could have a hard copy… for someday.

  6. Love walking in the woods and I did it all the time as a kid. We hardly do it now with life’s demands. 🙁 I’ve been decluttering every month. It feels good to organize and get rid of the unnecessary in our lives!

  7. at least you are purging… and it takes a few years to get past grieving to be able to do that. I k now that was the case with things I felt so emotionally attached to from my grandmother. However, I wonder what to do about my mother’s things. Me, being the only daughter and the one who will have to sort through things. She’s still here, but I wrote about it today.

    Your point makes me pat myself on the back… it does take a few years to get past grieving to do what I’ve done… and I didn’t even realize I had moved past until you wrote this. Very hard to “do-right” by these heirlooms… that may never be needed again.

  8. I love the little house. It’s so pretty. Good for you for taking the time to notice it.

    I have so many things that I should purge, but can’t…or won’t.

    Or won’t…. that’s me too. Something I just refuse to purge.

  9. Ahhh, clutter–it is the never ending burden!!! I absolutely hate it, but it still ends up entering my life daily!! I was up until 2 am going through baby things JUST in time for the arrival of my second son in ONE week—why did I wait until now? Procrastination and clutter seem to go hand-in-hand!

    I always feel like I am trying to climb a mountain (of conquering clutter) and the moment I reach the top, I fall back down again! I wish I could stay on top of it daily and make some perfect system to keep it from happening, but I haven’t found it yet!

  10. Another fantastic post. I am in the same boat as Christina – I tend to hang on to things that ‘I might need one day’.

  11. We’ve gotten rid of so much clutter over the last few years (moving from a 3 bed/2 bath duplex for two adults into a 650 sq. foot one with two kids added on will do that!) but I’d say I could get rid of some craft stuff. Boxes of yarn. Boxes of felt. Half-done projects.

    I think it’s the projects …. or things that are soon to be projects, are the worst.

  12. You know what else it looks like? The roots the 4 hobbits hid under to escape the black rider in the first LOTR movie.

    Yeah, you’re right, Janet… and it does look like it’s so perfect that it’s set for a movie.

  13. It does look like a little Wind in the Willows home…..or my girls would probably say a little wood fairy home : ) I’m guilty of being a packrat. I have many things I should probably let go, but I get personally attached to many things for sentimental reasons….articlesof clothing, vinyl records, books, etc….drives my husband crazy!

  14. Great post. I’m still thinking about and absorbing Last Child…and trying to live it.

    The clutter, well, you don’t want to see my basement.

  15. Pingback: I may have gone too far with my de-cluttering | Susiej

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