Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Why Diets Don't Work

I have realized that decluttering my home before the start of the new lunar year is about as unrealistic as miracle weight loss. It takes time, energy, and discipline to lose "stuff" weight. I have made some real progress, but it will be a slow process.

While cleaning up the sewing and craft room, I found Exhibit A. What kind of person keeps one of these lying around? Someone who was taught to always be prepared! You never know when you might need to send something into the stratosphere.

Unfortunately, this one has expired. Latex this old is unlikely to survive for long at sub-freezing temperatures. (As long as we are on the subject, have you checked the expiration dates on your other common household latex consumables lately?)

I really don't need this anymore. I have 50 fresh ones in my office. If anyone wants a weather balloon, leave me a comment and I will send it to you, domestic postage only.

Our whole family culled our bookshelves for books we no longer need and Dave's Olde Book Shop gave us $20 credit for them. The few books he rejected went to the local library along with many old periodicals. We will read the back issues on line from now on. Goodwill accepted a small table and many bags of toys and household items. I feel lighter already.

Two books that we didn't need to take to Dave's were Apartment Therapy by Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan and It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh. I borrowed the former and read the latter in the store so these books will not be adding to our home's clutter. I am not sure if the books actually caused me to get rid of more stuff than if I had skipped the reading and gotten straight to work.

Don't be put off by the title; Apartment Therapy (AT) is a very useful and inspirational book. It explains how to explore your home with all five senses, diagnose it's ills and then fix them. I never thought to feel the walls of my home before. If I had, I might have noticed a damp/termite problem before the little critters did so much damage. A friend might have noticed her drainage/mold problem earlier and saved herself much grief as well.

MGR said that many people live in cluttered homes because they don't spend much time in them. They run in and out and treat their home as a place to dump stuff between outings that are their real lives. I definitely see that in our household. On weekends, when I ask Mark to help clean the house; he treats it like a huge imposition and says it is waste of time that would be better spent on another trip or outing.. Even though Mark doesn't like inspirational movies, I asked him to read AT.

It's All Too Much didn't resonate with me even though I liked Walsh's other book, How to Organize (Just About) Everything. I found the pep talk annoying. Maybe it was my mood at the time. But I am a real stickler for logical consistency.

In one part of the book, he recommended getting rid of craft supplies for crafts you never have time to do. In another part of the book, he wrote that we wear the same 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time (no proof offered but it might be close to the mark for me). However, he recommended dressing for the life that you want instead of the life that you have.

But this is so wrong. Craft supplies are just as aspirational as clothes. Craft supplies represent a fantasy life with more leisure time and the health to enjoy it. I would ditch the aspirational clothes and keep the yarn and fabric stash. Well, maybe I could ditch some of the fabric.

My husband said that he heard Peter Walsh on KPCC while working in his lab two days ago. I asked why this was so memorable that he discussed it at home. Mark said it was because PW talked about how clutter blocks people's lives. Mark never understood before how he could work productively at home while I could not. It is a question of noticing that there is so much stuff around that needs to be put away and taken care of. One of my many doctors said the same thing happens at her house. Her husband can work from home because he feels no responsibility to clean up the home whereas she sees this that needs to be done, then that, etc.

It took another man, Peter Walsh, to get through to him. Mark is even talking about strategies for organizing our stuff in the computer room. So perhaps I should have liked IATM more. Maybe I will check out How to Organize (Just About) Everything from the library for Mark.

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

1 comment:

  1. Although I don't necessarily like inspirational movies either (I tried to leave a comment for your DH but I couldn't as I'm on the old Blogger) I do like inspirational books. Maybe because they are usually action-oriented. AT sounds like a good book.

    My gene for feeling like I should pick up clutter must be mutated, as I don't seem to feel that way - my husband on the other hand, definitely has it.

    I like the end quote and the thought from AT about houses being somewhere we dump stuff in between our real lives. The latter definitely resembled my life until Jim started staying home working on the house and we both stayed home more. Now he's going back to work (see my blog post just now for details) so we'll see what happens now.

    Great post as usual! I can always count on your blog for interesting thoughts and new ideas.

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