Monthly Archives: May 2013

Sit With Gut-Quivering Fear

Sit With Gut-Quivering Fear #feelings #movingforward

Last night I had nightmares.

Really terrifying, horrific ones, where the most primal of fears rose up from the depths my brain and delivered what felt like hours of horror movies straight to my amygdala. Except I was in the movies, and I’ve never seen a film this scary.

It started out in a post-apocalyptic ‘Walking Dead’ kind of world, but progressed into a terrifying scene where my grandmother was the caretaker of a house full of ghosts. A silvery hand appeared out of nowhere to drag me into the icy blue netherworld and things spiralled from there. I only woke up once Madonna arrived, dancing ‘Thriller-style’ down a corpse-strewn street. Even I was annoyed with my brain by then.

But when I woke, with all intentions to get up and write for a couple of hours, the memory of my nightmare came rushing back and I found myself paralysed by fear. Literally. I couldn’t will myself to get out of bed because I was terrified.

It’s been so many years since I’ve felt this kind of gut-quivering fear, I had no idea what to do. So I lay in bed desperately trying not to focus on the eerie visions still moving through my head, and instead checked my email, looked at Twitter – did anything not to think about the fear.

30 minutes later I was still there. Still paralysed. I understood it was just a dream, but I kept having to fight off the feeling. The fear was still there, hovering over me.

Then I remembered something Leo Babauta once wrote:

“Let it be. Stay present with your uncomfortable feelings instead of running or hiding from them. Try to really feel those difficult emotions. Observe them. Don’t fear them or seek to run from them. Instead endeavor to live with them and learn from them, knowing that the time you spend doing this will help to heal you. When you do this with serenity, as much as you can muster, you will discover your strength and over time you will notice the bad feelings start to soften and melt.”

I decided to let myself really feel the fear. I let it settle over me like a blanket. My chest relaxed, my head cleared and I just let the fear be. I observed it. I didn’t run from it and I didn’t try to drown it out with Twitter.

And do you know what? It wasn’t nearly as bad as fighting the fear.

I allowed myself to feel afraid, to experience whatever emotions I had tied to the nightmares, and I was able to move on.

I still felt afraid as I was getting out of bed. I still used my iPhone as a torch as I moved through the dark house. I still double checked the office for any sign of paranormal life before I sat down to write.

But I sat down to write anyway.

I felt the fear, but I didn’t let it stop me from moving forward.

Feeling and Doing

And not to get too woo-woo on you, but I think this is something that can be applied to so many areas of our lives. We can allow ourselves to really feel and absorb the feeling – be it fear, anxiety, cravings or something else – but stop it from moving us off our intended path. We can still:

  • Feel the emotional pull of decluttering sentimental stuff, but don’t let it stop you from simplifying.
  • Feel the desire to stay in bed, but don’t let it stop you from getting up and going for a run.
  • Feel the need to buy clothes to keep up with fashion, but don’t let it stop you from living a more mindful, less materialistic life.
  • Feel the hankering to watch another hour of TV, but don’t let it stop you from getting 7 hours sleep.
  • Feel the cravings for junk food, but don’t let it stop you from eating well.
  • Feel the anxiety of trying something new, but don’t let it stop you from moving forward.


Have you allowed yourself to really feel something uncomfortable? How did you react? Did you try to run away, or ignore the feelings, like I did? Or did you meet them head-on?

34 Proven Ways to Keep Your Home Clutter-Free

34 Ways to Create a Clutter-Free Home - and Keep it that Way!

Tell me if this is familiar:

One day your kitchen bench is clutter-free and a calming beacon of white space. The next, there are three separate piles of papers, homework, catalogues, bills, handbags, mobile devices, random hairclips and Lego blocks scattered across the surface. You don’t understand where it’s come from, but there it is. Sitting in the middle of your kitchen like it’s always been. Taunting you and your futile efforts at simplicity.

That is Clutter Creep.

It slowly leeches in to your clutter-free spaces, frustrating you and making you feel like this idea of a tidy, uncluttered space is a hopeless prospect.

If you’ve been reading here for any length of time you’ve probably seen a post or two on how to declutter. (If not, or if you’re still looking for help in how to begin, try this A-Z post, this one that asks three questions for decluttering sentimental items and this post on the five steps of simplifying.)

But it’s this hamster wheel of clutter that I want to deal with today. How do we stay on top of the recurring clutter once we’ve finally got it under control? How do we eliminate Clutter Creep?

Last week I turned to my fabulous readers (yes, you!) to see if you had any wisdom to share.

Specifically I asked this question via Twitter and Facebook:

Can you share with me one way you stop clutter accumulating in your home?

And, as always, you blew me away with your generosity.

Just a Note: Some of the following tips are very small, some are quite grand, but all have the potential to make a difference to your home and your life. And yes, some are similar, but even a slightly different perspective can be the key to unlocking a stubborn problem.

34 Proven Ways to Create a Clutter-Free Home – And Keep it that Way!

  1. No recreational shopping. Stay out of stores unless I really need something. (Jennifer S)
  2. I reset to zero every night before going to bed. That is, I put everything back where it’s supposed to be. For my husband’s things, I put them on his laptop (my way of asking him to deal with them). When I wake up, I can tackle today because all of yesterday’s stuff is gone! (Alondra C)
  3. I watch Hoarders for 30 seconds… (Beth W.B)
  4. Declutter toys before birthdays and holidays. (Leslie L)
  5. Keeping things because I have an emotional attachment to the memory is a big problem. I’m slowly starting to take photographs of some of these things and it’s much easier to then throw or donate the actual item. (Glenne L)
  6. Take care of the mail as soon as you bring it in – recycle all that needs to be recycled, open what needs to be opened and recycle the envelopes, file things right away. (Laura L)
  7. Make sure everything has a place: shelf, bin, rack, etc…I’m very into organizers for keeping items tidy. (Alysha E)
  8. I purchased a basket for mail. Nothing gets past the front door without being processed before it makes it’s way throughout the house. (Barry H)
  9. Move out of your home and live in a camper trailer. (Beacon Seekin’)
  10. Walk from the mail box to the recycle/garbage. Nothing comes in unless it had to, and catalogs never have to. (Rosie S)
  11. Buy less. Try for a month and see the difference.  (Leslie SN)
  12. Don’t buy or subscribe to magazines or newspapers. You can read all the news and recipes and fashions and crafts and DIY and travel journals etc.,etc., online! (Charles V)
  13. I stopped impulse buying. I only buy what I need. I research and question the need. Can I live without it? How will it benefit me? Do I have a place for it? (Laura W)
  14. Reducing our filing by scanning and saving copies of warranty documents, important receipts, letters etc. One back up hard drive or flash drive takes up far less space than piles of paper! (Glenne L)
  15. Monthly 21-item purges. (It’s an idea I found on YouTube.) You scour your room/house/whatever space you want and purge 21 unwanted items out of there in one go. To recycle, donate, pass on to family, recycle, bin. It doesn’t matter. (Laura W)
  16. Don’t bring it in to the house in the first place. (Kerin J)
  17. Kitchen bench must remain clear. I’ve even taken my fruit bowl away. Found things like that were a magnet for clutter. It starts with a button, then a tube of cream, some bobbie pins, the mail… Before you know it there is more stuff than fruit! The goal is to see the bench clutter-free all day. Things get put away immediately. (Rebecca M)
  18. Say no to things if you know it won’t be used. (Leslie L)
  19. Stop buying it in the first place, lol! (Kristin – Mamacino)
  20. Go on a no-spend challenge for 6 months, and don’t buy anything except materials for gifts, and consumables. Experiences are allowed, such as lunch out and time with friends. (Linda S)
  21. Put things away. You quickly see whether you have room or not and if you don’t, something has to go. But the #1 is not to bring it in to start with. (Patty – Homemakers Daily)
  22. For paper clutter, I just put a paper shredder at the front door. Shred all the junk mail, put the bills in a bill folder. Go through magazines and catalogs immediately. If I find things I like, I go find it online and Pin it on Pinterest. I wrote about how to hide the shredder so it’s not ugly here(Christina – Little Victorian Blog)
  23. I make sure I clean out the fridge and pantry on bin day and shopping day. I find the fridge stays fresh, putting groceries away is less of a chore and we waste less and reduce the tendency to “over shop”. (Glenne L)
  24. Get rid of multiples and replacing them with one or two high quality pieces. (Christina – Little Victorian Blog)
  25. Do one extra organising job each day on top of normal cleaning. For example clean out a drawer or cupboard that’s gotten cluttered – that way it doesn’t get so out of control that it seems like a mountain. (Melanie M)
  26. I have a ‘to donate’ box sitting at the front door – making passing on things I no longer need very easy. I drop the box off at a local op-shop once its full. (Tricia – Little Eco Footprints)
  27. We withdraw a certain amount of cash every week to live on and stash any leftover to save up for things we really want. That needing to save for things has cut our impulse purchasing right down. (Melinda B)
  28. Ask yourself one simple question when choosing whether to keep something: “If I lost it by mistake, would I really care – or even be glad?” (Cassie T)
  29. We’re very particular about what we bring in. And we try to pick up before going to bed. (Rita R – This Sorta Old Life)
  30. Put things away, keep on top of paperwork, bin what is finished with, don’t keep magazines, keep a charity bag on the go. (Lisa A)
  31. If something comes in, then something goes out. We try to have a place for everything. (Clare)

On top of these, I’d also add three of my own tips for keeping your home clutter-free:

32. Perform regular clutterbusts.

Whenever you feel the clutter creep taking over (a telltale sign is feeling frustrated or stressed when you look around your home) it’s time to tackle the issue before it takes hold. Take an empty laundry basket and work through your home room-by-room, picking up everything that is out of place. Work as fast as you can, and fill the basket multiple times if needed. Empty the contents onto your dining table or floor and sort through it. Toss the rubbish, bag up any donations and put the remainder back in its place.

33. Do things properly.

When we scrimp on the details – fail to put away the toaster, forget to pack up the craft supplies, leave folded laundry on the bed – we are creating opportunity for more clutter. This is something I am guilty of, and can hear Sparky nodding in agreement. But it really is a key way to keep clutter at bay. A clear surface motivates you to keep it that way, whereas a cluttered surface invites more clutter.

34. Understand the limitations of your current situation.

While not technically a decluttering tip, it is one worth hearing. Unless you want to live in a constant state of stress and anxiety, it’s important to accept the fact that some things cannot be changed. If you have young kids, there will be toys. If you have school-age kids, there will be papers, and bags, and homework. These limitations are part of life. Rather than battling them every day, do what you can to minimise the problem, keep it from getting out of hand and then let it go.

Do you have a favourite tip for keeping your home clutter-free? I’d love to hear it in the comments below. 

May is the Month of the Kitchen and Dining Rooms

{ via apartment therapy }
{ via apartment therapy }

Pardon the slight tardiness, as our home doth runneth over with change-of-season illness and I’ve been runneth over by the needs of a sick family.

Despite this, the beginning of May marks a new set of tasks in the 2013 in 2013 Declutter Challenge. And this month we are tackling the heart of the home – the kitchen and dining room.

To jump straight into the challenge, you can download the May checklist here. Or keep reading to find the full list, as well as added tips and suggestions below.

(If you haven’t started the challenge yet, it’s never too late to join!)

My Progress…

2013 in 2013 Declutter Challenge - April's progress

April was quite interesting here.

I tackled the wardrobes, as per the monthly checklist, and donated a lot. But this is the second year of the challenge for me, and there really wasn’t a lot to work through.

I did finally find the courage to work through the very last of my old business stock though, an exercise that has been three years coming. It was a huge relief to realise I no longer wanted or needed to hold on to this stuff. And while I no longer wanted or needed it, I was loathe to simply throw it away. So I decided to try and sell some of it on eBay and I have to say, it was really satisfying. Not to mention good for the bank account!

We ended up listing a lot of other stuff online, and have so far seen much of it go. It is certainly no joy to spend hours listing unused belongings online, but it’s been a great experiment. (Expect a post on the pros and cons of selling your old stuff online quite soon!)

This month I…


  • kids clothes x 17
  • my clothes x 13
  • Sparky’s clothes x 45
  • toys x 4
  • baby gear x 2
  • baby linens x 7

Gave Away (to friends and family):

  • kids clothes x 8


  • my clothes x 2
  • Sparky’s clothes x 1
  • snowgear x 4
  • stirling silver findings in bulk x 300+
  • branded jewellery boxes in bulk x 50+
  • jewellery in bulk x 65+

TOTAL:  518 items

Progress to Date:  1010 unwanted items are gone!

(Over halfway there – and it’s still feeling good.)

Now, May is the Month of…

Entertaining, where we tackle the heart and soul of the home – the kitchen and dining area. 

Think about everything that happens in this part of the house, and it’s really little wonder they wind up full of clutter. Mail, paperwork, handbags, schoolbags, junk drawers, mobile devices, car keys, homework, cooking, eating, entertaining, relaxing – these two areas have so much going on.

The amount of time you need to set aside for this month’s challenge depends on:

  • the size of your home
  • how much clutter and stuff you own
  • whether you have a separate formal dining room (many homes no longer do) and a more casual meals area, or if you eat in the kitchen
  • how much entertaining you do
  • the size of your family or the groups you entertain
  • whether you and your friends/family drink lots of wine/cocktails
  • whether you’re a keen chef, or a much simpler cook
  • the size of your kitchen and pantry
  • the amount of storage you use for kitchenware etc

As an estimate, I would suggest you give yourself three hours to declutter the kitchen (easily broken down into smaller tasks) and another 2-3 hours for the dining room and any related storage.

For example, you could break the kitchen tasks into the following:

  • cutlery and utensils drawers – 15 minutes
  • fridge – 15 minutes
  • pantry – 30 minutes
  • top of the wall cabinets – 15 minutes
  • wall cupboards – 30 minutes
  • low cupboards – 30 minutes
  • remaining drawers – 45 minutes

To keep you on track, I suggest you follow the decluttering guidelines from Month #1 (find them here). Use them to work through each area one-by-one.

The May Declutter Checklist

Click here for a printable version of the checklist.


  • Top of cabinets – clear of all clutter
  • Wall cupboards
    • Glassware
    • Crockery
    • Baking tins
  • Pantry
    • Staples
    • Tinned goods
    • Dry goods
  • Fridge/Freezer
    • Inside
    • Outside
  • Low cabinets
    • Pots and pans
    • Large appliances (rice cooker etc)
    • Cleaning equipment
  • Benchtops
    • Appliances (coffee machine, kettle)
    • Clutter spots (papers, devices)
  • Drawers
    • Cutlery
    • Utensils
    • Junk drawer
    • Plastics/Tupperware

Dining Room:

  • Furniture
    • Chairs (correct number for the table/room)
    • Other furniture (storage, shelves etc)
  •     Decor
  •     Linen


(Any extra storage space for kitchen/entertaining needs, such as a buffet or sideboard)

    • Serving platters
    • Serving bowls
    • Wine glasses
    • Cocktail glasses, shakers, etc

Again, the May Checklist can be found here.

I’d love to hear how you’re finding the challenge. I know of at least one reader who has already surpassed the 2013 goal – which is fantastic!  Leave a comment with your tally, or let me know what you’re finding difficult to work through.