I’m being driven witless.
Witless, I tell you.
By the multitude of articles telling me I need to live more simply by getting rid of stuff. Warning me that I’ll expire of unhappiness because my closets and cupboards are cluttered.
Honestly, at least twice a day in the last week, I’ve read these admonitions and how-to’s. Oprah’s online magazine, O. Better Homes and Gardens. The daily newspapers. Blog posts.
Why is it driving me witless, otherwise known as bonkers and even bouleversee?
Maybe it’s because I know there is at least a grain of truth in most of these articles. In the last year, I’ve given things away and still suspect that I could do with less. (I hold on to old towels because they can be reused to dust, clean floors, etc., etc. My daughter says that’s crazy.)
But mostly it’s because all of these advice articles demand too much of me. To throw things out, it seems, one must first be very well organized.
Bah humbug, say I. Organized schmorganized!
There have been a few really neat posts that I like.
My friend Mandy posts photos on Facebook of the small bundles of similar things that she gathers up and gives away.
Liz turned her sorting and giving into a game.
And Sally Cronin shared something I can ‘clip out’ and post on my kitchen bulletin board: Tips for avoiding food waste. Specific and doable. (Yay Sally!)
Otherwise, I ‘m resting in the arms of the first two lines of this wise quote. And you’re only allowed to read the last 2 lines if you understand it in the metaphorical way:
Besides the noble art of getting things done,
there is a nobler art of leaving things undone.
The wisdom of life consists in the
elimination of nonessentials. ~ Lin Yutang ~
62 thoughts on “Witless Wednesday”
Oh, I am right there with you Cynthia. I love the quote!!
Love this, Cynthia! Completely agree about the ‘zeitgeist’ of all this simple living stuff. I also really appreciate the idea of non-doing. As with everything in life – so important to keep in balance and do whatever is right for each of us in any given moment. 🙂
Thanks for this fabulous quote. I am going to print it out and hand it in my kitchen so I can read it to my husband the next time he bugs me about “streamlining”.
I’m a simplicity and organizing nut, so I don’t really understand your frustration. But I hope you don’t let your will wither with witless worry on Wednesdays. 🙂
You made me laugh.
I don’t attempt to do it ALL anymore. If it needs doing, it will still be there tomorrow. Why stress?
Love the quote. ❤
You are a wise woman, Tess. And that’s a great quote: If it needs doing, it will still be there tomorrow. Why stress?
Thank you, Cynthia. I call it selfish. Ha ha. It’s my turn now 😀 🙂 ❤
Oh I agree with you entirely! I know I ought to get rid of some of my stuff but where to start? I get nagged about my books and the ‘junk’ (grrr) in the kitchen cupboards and drawers. And so I start, unwillingly, to go through the shelves hoping to find something I really don’t want or need. So depressing and well nigh impossible! Most things I keep, I keep for a reason and to get rid of it is to discard a memory. I liked Liz’s game and really enjoyed reading Sally’s post – thanks for those, Cynthia.
It’s so funny this trait humans have to think they should tell other people how to live. The minimalists are great. The organized are too. The disorganized are cool. It is our variety that makes us interesting. Organize, or don’, throw out or keep. Just be you and don’t listen to people who tell you what to do.
here, here…..spot on, Cindy.
Well-said. We think we’ve found the answer, and we want everyone else to do the same? My answer to decluttering is to do it when my body feels less pain and the spirit moves me — to tidy things up, give things to family who will treasure them, or to charity. For us, Boxing Day comes often throughout the year and always makes us feel better.
“Use it up, wear it out, make do, or do without” is what I grew up on in our pre-consumer, and pre-built-in-obsolescent society. I prefer to consider culter as items that are not currently in use. However, half-finished projects are in a different category…
P.S. Hmmmm, if I write a blog about organizing my 1,500+ CD, am I going to be stepping on toes?
Thanks for the mention Cynthia.. if it is any comfort it has only taken me about 30 years to get round to it! And only because I no longer had anywhere to put it.. at least with food, apart from cravings, there is not the same attachment as to Aunt Maud’s purple vase! hugs
I hold on to my children’s report cards, letters, cards, and to special letters and cards from my mother and close relatives. And though my kids say “throw them out”, I make sure I show them what I’m about to throw out, only for one of them to say, “No, not that!” Makes me laugh. A day will come when I will say: “If you cherish it, bring it to your own home!” But they have small dwellings, so I hold off.
I will admit to keeping every card my husband has every given me including the first note he wrote me 36 years ago.. somethings are too precious to get rid off. xx
It must be something about the new year that makes people want to write about getting organized and throwing out stuff. I try to stay organized but I like my stuff (I keep old towels too!) and like to be prepared. Live and let live, I say! I am sure your House is beautifully organized with your beautiful stuff!
I got rid of almost all non essentials when I re-did my house but apparently I’m a magnet for clutter because it all seems to have come back again.
“I hold on to old towels because they can be reused to dust, clean floors, etc.” Well, I guess I’m crazy, too, Cynthia. I’m not a fan of clutter, but I do hold on to cards, letters, etc. that have sentimental value.
I bet you live just fine, Cynthia, and I bet if you need to clear out, you’ll get in the mood at some point. Then you can seize the day.
There’s a certain zen feeling to your reply that I really like….
Phew! I am so glad I haven’t contributed too vastly to your witlessness! I agree the whole business of organisation or decluttering can be demanding, too demanding. And, sometimes, just unnecessary. Did you see the Robert Graves poem I posted on Facebook? It’s about Lollocks. I think my need to deal to mess is driven by my relationship with Lollocks; which is sometimes one of pure fear! 😀 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C5KkQ4hjIBk
When I moved to Daytona Beach, my son hauled three truck loads to donation centers and three truck loads to the recycling center and trash. I believe I was clinging to way too much stuff and now I feel like I still need to get rid of more. Seems once I started I can’t stop. On the other hand I don’t think there’s anything wrong with hanging onto things unless you become a true hoarder.
Yup, we did the same — moved loads and loads of stuff to such places. And that is after doing the same BEFORE we moved. Yikes. Who was to know we had so much stuff? Now we are glad that the charities call regularly and will pick up stuff.
You are so wise, Cythia, and wonderfully witty with it too. Thank you for the interesting links (I like the idea of a systematic game very much and will try it). A wonderful quote on which many of us would like to perch.
Glad you like the links. They’re to sites by some of my favourite bloggers too, much wiser than I am. It’s a lovely quote, isn’t it? Especially the first 2 lines — haha.
With you there, honey. And what a good point about having to be organised in order to be organised enough to throw things out! I’ve tried to be good since I moved but I’ve already thrown something to recycling that I wish I hadn’t!
That’s one of the potential problems. My husband accidentally threw out my brand-new orthotic shoes. I cried. Then I called the charity. Impossible to find it, they said.
Oh, no! I can relate to that big-scale!
I look at the current mania for downsizing/organizing/simplifying as a trend, and expect the pendulum to swing back again. A happy medium is nice and by that I mean a middle ground where each of us finds our own happy. If you like your stuff, keep it!
Yes, give me the happy medium. Downsize, declutter, simplify, organize at your own pace and on your own schedule or non-schedule.
After my father in law died we had to clear his house. He was a hoarder of epic proportions and it took us several months. Once it was done I looked to my own house in horror, thinking of my children when my time came. For the last year I’ve been slowly getting rid of the things I can bear to part with. My house is by no means clutter free but it’s getting better. eBay is a great way to rehome things, especially clothes, and make a little money too. Now if I could only stop buying more clutter…
They say for every one thing you bring into your home, you should get rid of something you currently own. We routinely declutter. Nicer still is when we can make a gift to someone we know would enjoy a particular thing we have loved. eBay is a great idea, by the way.
Oh how I share the “I can reuse, repurpose” this item thinking. But over the Christmas break while home sick for the entire 10 days off, I really focused on decluttering our mud room, shoe/coat closet, and my tupperware cupboard. It was hard to toss some items and I filled many bags for the Goodwill. It’s inspired me to want to keep going even if it’s a little at a time!
Tina, I’m so sorry that you were ill, and I hope you’re much improved now. so many friends and relatives got ill over the holidays – I think we just kept infecting each other.
So glad you got a headstart on the new year frenzy of decluttering that’s clogging up the airwaves now! Keep going, my friend.
I find it helps to do it several times throughout the year, which is what we do, but when the spirit moves, we get cracking!
Happy new year to you and the family.
I must say, as of late, I have been wanting to clear things out … things I honestly do not use or have not used since I’ve moved here (10 years ago) and will probably never use. But I think the important thing, which I believe is what you’re saying, is to just not get nuts about it. Nor do I – or you – need any sage advice from “experts” about how or when to do it! Here and there, I may find a home for some things, trash some really overly worn items of clothing, or just appraise some things and let them go. But it was when 2 neighbors moved out this past Fall and I saw the unbelievable amounts of stuff they put on the street, that I knew I didn’t want to be that person either. I’d say it’s all in the balance, no?
YES. Absolutely. All in the balance. Do it all at once, do it regularly, do it when you can (that’s me). But don’t go nuts about it. The sudden rush of articles these last two weeks feels way too much. As if decluttering was only just discovered, and we must all do it now or die a slow, painful, withering death….
Ahhh, I really loved this post! I feel the same way (except have perhaps been “f0rced” into doing a lot of decluttering with the last move). I loved your New Year’s post and note on my blog…I haven’t been around in such a long time, either reading or writing, and I do miss both. I hope you are well!
PS I hold onto old towels, too! 🙂
Yes, funny how one book comes out about the ‘joy’ of organization and then everyone starts writing about how we must get rid of stuff. Well, you won’t want me to say this, but I live in Henry David Thoreau territory, where his famous quote: “Simplify. Simplify. Simplify” is seen everywhere. But of course, he thought up this all on his own, more than a century ago…:-)
Old Thoreau had a good idea, though even he only lasted a year in the wild, right?
I’m for simplifying. We’ve lived a very simple life in recent years. I’m just not for the bandwagon of people preaching — all in the same two weeks — about how we must organize ourselves to declutter right now! Happy new year to you! Hope wherever you are, the weather’s not too cold.
If it’s over 45, it’s too cold for me. So, in New England, it’s too cold right now!! 🙂 And yes, I think we need to blame the editors of books/magazines who all jump into that bandwagon, thinking we ‘simple folk’ need to have the message banged into us continually. :-0
Throwing stuff out is a dangerous game. I dumped my teenage diaries 10 years ago in a fit of ‘new start’ pique. can you imagine how much I regret that now?!
I truly can. Sorry you did that.
Happy new year to you and your loved ones.
And the same to you!
I am a devoted practitioner of the Nobler Art – and a hoarder of old towels. I have my mother’s as well, I am sure the towels are 50 years old.
I honour you. Do you ever use them? Mine have been used for a variety of sins, including cleaning off or drying wet dogs after a bath, drying a wet floor, etc. etc.
Yes for all of the above and my husband uses them for all manner of man cleaning – cars, guitars, etc. and if they are too greasy to wash, to the trash they go. He asked me to look for some more at the thrift shops!
I was forced to get rid of much of my “beloved treasures” when we moved south to a much smaller house…had I had a choice otherwise, not much would have gone. You would think I would be organized now but I still have boxes of “stuff” that I couldn’t part with that I don’t know what to do with now that we are in our downsized home. 😀
I love giving things away .. everything deserves to be used or loved by someone else. But, I also cherish things from my past .. a little bit of hoarding never hurt anyone 😃
We have to declutter here periodically, but I also keep a few junk piles for repurposing, repair and replacement of items that break. Organizing the junk piles is the hard part for me!
You are not nuts & certainly not witless! The other thing is that at the same time we are being prodded to declutter, we are also being prodded to buy/buy/buy. Sounds like a perpetual money-making scheme to me. 🙂
Cynthia, I love your post and the quote…plus your phrase ‘Organized schmorganized!’ How about striking and doing what feels right for you! I go through sorting out, getting rid of stuff whilst at the same time the loft is full of ‘things’! Oh, I’d be sad to have a blank wall and empty shelves staring in my face, so ornaments and photos remain in place!
I am captain clutter so I absolutely get you on this one. The thought of clearing out makes me pall because, as you say, it involves so much organising. However, I did manage to get rid of a whole bunch of old clothes the other day – there are a fair few aid lorries heading to Aleppo in this area so that kind of galvanised me into action. And also, someone else was organising the lorry bit! Result! AND she came and collected the clothes. Mwah hahaargh! So our spare room is five bags of McMini’s old clothes lighter.
Oh and I keep old towels and they are invaluable for when the cat throws up, or comes in with soaking wet muddy feet or to use as dust sheets even… there’s a whole raft of uses for an old towel. 😉
I love that it is nobler to leave things undone. Perfect.👌
If de-cluttering is supposed to be about de-stressing, it shouldn’t become just another ‘to do’ that puts even more pressure on. I find I know when the time is right to clear things out, and then it becomes a pleasure 🙂
I’m with you, sister.
There is a freedom in getting rid of things, for sure. I feel like I can breathe again once I take a bag of items to the donation place. BUT, it shouldn’t be something that causes you even more stress. If the clutter is driving you crazy, tackle it a little at a time…maybe set a goal of just one little area of your house each week. I’ve also find that selling items takes SO much more time and you somehow end up with even more stress, so I just give things away.
Hi Stephanie: thanks so much for replying. The clutter is not edriving me crazy – on the contrary, we sort and donate often. What drives me crazy is when so many media jump on the same thing at the same time — “Declutter! Simplify! Organize!” like it’s a newfound religion. I agree about the effort to sell things, by the way. It takes organization and work. thanks for dropping in, and please do again.
Oh, Cynthia, you’ve hit upon the reason I never open Real Simple magazine:). I want to like it, but I can’t. It’s too aspirational. I will never own a label maker and spend days on end comparing sock folding methods. I’m hoping this says something good about me . . . but like you, I think I’m to the point that I don’t care!
i too feel the pressure of a de-cluttered life – but where to start??? 🙂