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A few years back Hurricane Charley hit our then home and we had to get rid of most the contents, somehow our photographs, my parent’s former dining room set, and our important papers were spared because of where they were located in our home.  They were in the dining room of the home behind a little wall that had, thanks to the storm, one of my neighbor’s roof tiles embedded into it at head height.

Luckily, because this was a new-to-us home and we were planning on a remodel we had taken lots of photos of the current contents and we had photos of the contents already in boxes that were to be used once the home was remodeled.   However, this is not the way I would have chosen to DeClutter.

Recently, we had a trailer stolen out of a storage facility.  The thief cut the lock on the gate to the facility then cut the lock on our new trailer.  We had sold a home and placed everything we still wanted in the trailer awaiting the purchase of a new home.  Included in that trailer were family heirlooms that I was holding until family members could all gather together, and we could distribute the heirlooms to their new owners.  It also included items I had been given through inheritance that would be perfect for our new home, tools, painted family portraits, an entire kitchen set up, all my winter clothing and all sorts of treasures I hoped would grace our new home.   Again, not a good way to DeClutter!

Both times I felt an incredible sense of loss for different reasons.  The first time I was overwhelmed by the devastation and amount of work involved in repairing and replacing all that was lost and damaged. The good news is I had lots of photos of the contents of the home for insurance reimbursement.

The second time was more emotional because of the loss of family heirlooms and I hadn’t recorded everything in the trailer because some of it had just come into my possession.  And, I thought they would very soon be dispersed.  Every couple of days I recall another item I had in the stolen trailer.

My suggestion is to take lots of photos of items and if you can, keep receipts with the photos.  The insurance company wants to know you paid for an item to record it as a loss, of course.

My message is twofold: 1. Don’t wait to take care of something you need to do in the future, I thought I was being considerate and hoping to have a celebration to distribute the inherited items. I should have immediately taken photos and distributed them to all parties involved. 2. Keep good records including pictures of items separate from the items themselves, even if you expect something to be a quick turnaround. I suggest keeping photos in 2 separate locations.

It’s not the way I would have liked to DeClutter those items but it’s what happened.  On the bright side, it will be fun finding updated replacements for items that were lost and I’ll always have my memories.

A photo is worth a thousand words….

I was thinking the other day how lucky I am to have reconnected with former teachers who had a huge impact on my life.  I thought about the difference teachers can make on a person’s trajectory during their early years and how that impact is felt forever.

One of my favorites, Ms. Hagerty, introduced our class to her love of reading through acting out the voices for us as she read The Hobbit every day after lunch.  This practice decluttered our minds and got us ready to absorb the afternoon’s lessons.  It showed us the importance of reading every day, even for only a half hour and how that can transport you to another world. Many classmates have passed the love of reading on to their children through that book.

Ms. Hagerty also took us on field trips where experiential learning took place and made learning fun.  Everyone wanted to sit next to her, just to be in her presence and absorb whatever concept she was relating to us at the time. And, we tried out a new concept, an “Open Classroom” where we had classes on the school’s lawn, under a tree.  Exposure to new ways of teaching allowed us to understand how we best learn as individuals.

One of my classmates, Dina, remembers the Prisoner of War bracelets Ms. Hegarty introduced us to.  Prisoner of War bracelets http://thewall-usa.com/bracelet.asp  were created during the Viet Nam war as a reminder that soldiers were not forgotten.  On each POW/MIA bracelet was the name, rank and loss date of an American soldier. We purchased and wore them keeping an eye out for each soldier’s return to the United States so we could return the bracelet to the POW/MIA soldier so they understood they were never forgotten.  “POW bracelets taught us to be socially conscious, she didn’t treat us like 5th graders, she treated us like people who could make a difference in the world.”

Understanding that we all learn differently, she spoke about her vulnerability when she learns new things and passed on her tips and tricks to help us as unique individuals best learn in our own way.  She was so organized and had such well-planned lessons and outings we never felt confused by what we were going to be doing that day or what we were learning, she showed us how to organize and declutter our minds.

It was a very safe learning environment. What a gift our grammar school gave us by hiring her!  Imagine, a teacher being able to reach 40 unique students in a variety of ways, ways that worked while creating socially conscious people.   I cannot thank her enough!  Why not reach out to your positive former teachers?

 

Wasting Away

Growing up most of us are taught not to waste anything because there are people starving, that people would love to have what we have so be sure you don’t waste it.  I remember the nuns saying don’t waste your food there are people starving and some classmate would say under his/her breath “then why don’t we send it to them”, GREAT idea and this concept of sending things we don’t use to someone who could use it is most easily translated to our “stuff”.

I work with people who possess an overabundance of “stuff” and when I ask them why they keep so many pieces of a certain item, many times, I’m met with a shrug and “I don’t know”.  I encounter tens and tens of collared knit shirts, tens of multiples of tens of T-shirts (I might go so far as to say hundreds of T-shirts) and lots and lots of black pants.  People don’t know what to do with these item s and they don’t want to be wasteful, so they don’t deal with the overabundance of items they possess.

What if we looked at being wasteful in a different context?  What would you say if I said to you these items are being wasted because they are shoved into the back of your drawer or closet and NO ONE is using them, and they are wasting away when they could be put to good use by someone else.

I know that if I find T-shirts stuffed into the bottom of your hall closet you are wasting them.  I know that if I find collared knit shirts hanging in your laundry room covered in dust you are wasting them.  I know that if I find boxes of socks in the basement covered in mouse poop you are wasting them.  I know that if I find a total of 270 shirts in your home in various rooms that 240 of them are being wasted.  I know that if I find cans of tomato paste, vegetables, tuna fish, or any food item, past their expiration date they are being wasted.

Your money is being wasted.  If you stopped buying excess what could you do with that wasted money?  Would your bank account have a positive number?  Would you be able to go out for a beautiful meal once a month? Would you feel better because you contributed to a soup kitchen or homeless shelter?  Would you be able to volunteer somewhere with the hours not wasted buying items you don’t need?

Be conscious of your spending, donate what you can, enjoy experiences.

Stop Waste NOW.  You can do it!

Look at the photo, what do you see?  The front door is on the other side of the cabinet.   The FRONT door, where Emergency Medical Service personnel will come in to help.  There are items spread all out, no huge piles, it doesn’t seem too bad…but it is!!

When I enter a home to do my initial assessment I am mainly looking at the safety of the environment: the physical safety of the people living in the home, the safety of people entering the home and working in the home, the brain health of the occupants meaning is there an outside influence? I will make suggestions right off the bat.  Safety first, always.

First thing to take a look at is creating a clear path to an exit.  It may seem obvious or you think: I can get around that pile, well don’t count on it.  In the heat of an emergency you can forget your own name let alone how to get out of a dangerous situation.  Ensure that all exits have a clear, unencumbered path leading out.  Do not leave items in an exit path thinking you can step on them if you had to.  In the case of an emergency, they can become the biggest obstacle between you living and dying.  You can slip on an area rug, clothing, drapes, any kind of plastic, containers that can hold things like buckets or food containers, newspapers, magazines, cans, bottles and fall making all the difference in getting out the door or being trapped.

People have good intentions and create piles of things that must be dealt with so they place them in the hallway.  Ask yourself, could an EMS stretcher get down that hallway?  If someone came to assist you could they get the two of you out and past furniture and accumulation of items with plenty of elbow room and nothing to slip on?

Plan with “what if” scenarios in mind.  You will feel so relieved you did and that you were prepared if the time ever comes.

Re-Connect Movement
My dad was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and asked our family not to tell anyone. That was a really challenging request because when I speak to family and friends they always ask how I am and I couldn’t tell them the truth that my heart was breaking, I didn’t know what to do and I needed their comforting words. I got the blues, I turned inward and became isolated because it was too hard to tell people I’m fine, my family is fine, everything is fine.

In my work as a Move Manager, DeClutterer, Organizer I see people who also are disconnected from family/friends/life, have the blues, who cling to items out of a sense of loss, people who assign the soul of those who have died or left to things and I get it. I see them unable to make a decision for themselves because they have decided to protect themselves and this is the only way they know how.


Our clients have a lot of fear of the unknown, they have experienced loss: divorce, death, illness, loss of a career, loss of home, loss of friends, trauma, full-time care of a child or family member, loss of money all of which can translate into fear and many times there is no one with them taking the journey. I always ask my clients “Who is your support”? Many times, it’s me and the lovely, trustworthy, caring people who work with me. 


My thought was, I see the disconnect in my life and those I work with, how can I change that? How can I help myself and others to be more connected? I came up with the Re-Connect Movement.


I thought about how speaking live, either on the phone or in person, to someone could change my hour, my day, my week and my life. I thought about how just the act of reaching out could show me courage and open paths to uplifting emotions and clearer emotions then I thought about how this could impact my clients and others to help them declutter those areas in their lives they were hanging on to.
Please, join me.

Oh my it’s dark early these days!  Here are a couple of fall DeClutter tips:

If you haven’t done so already, plan a date to put outdoor summer items away early – earlier than you think. It’s much easier putting them away while the sun is shining and it’s relatively warm than waiting until it’s dark at 4pm.

If you’re storing items for others, set a date in the very near future for them to pick them up. It might be emotional for them and they might push the date out, so start early and set a date you will get rid of the items if they are not picked up.

Decide if you will really use each item next spring/summer. Now’s your chance to pass it along. Clutter is created by postponing decisions.

DeClutter currently stored items and clothing before putting away the items you are planning on storing for the winter. Keep in mind, some donation locations only accept the current seasonal items.

Do not accept items out of guilt that you don’t want from family members who are doing their own fall organizing. Thank them for thinking of you and ask them to pass that item on to someone else.

Ensure your personal paperwork is in order: wills, living wills, health care directives, etc. Discuss so all family members are clear on your choices.

Donate summer/fall clothes that no longer serve your station in life, no longer fit, or are dated. Check with your favorite charity to see if they take out-of-season clothing.

Look at donations from your DeCluttering efforts as helping someone who could use your extra items to improve their life.

If you are overwhelmed by your DeCluttering task ASK FOR HELP, it’s hard work physically and emotionally. Teamwork is best.

DeClutter By Deirdre is committed to assisting people & their families who struggle with where to start and complete De-Cluttering and organizing their homes so they can de-stress and enjoy a full life without extra burdens they could not previously tackle on their own.

It’s important to keep current with expiration dates on food. Do some of your spice containers look like the containers of your youth? Do you have fond memories of your grandparents or parents using those same spice containers? If yes, throw them away! Branding experts change packaging about every 10 years, even a slight change so if your cabinet contains 3 package iterations of the same item, toss the older versions. Without expiration dates on jars and cans it’s difficult to decide if the product inside is still safe, if your jars or cans have NO expiration date, take a good look and if you feel at all uneasy do not take a chance eating from them. Best practice is to make sure canned and jarred goods in your cabinets are not beyond their expiration date stamped on them. Try to take a look at expiration dates once a year, especially canned goods.

Here is what the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says about expiration dates on food: “With the exception of infant formula, the laws that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) administers do not preclude the sale of food that is past the expiration date indicated on the label. FDA does not require food firms to place “expired by”, “use by” or “best before” dates on food products. This information is entirely at the discretion of the manufacturer.

A principle of U.S. food law is that foods in U.S. commerce must be wholesome and fit for consumption. A “best by”, “use by” or expiration date does not relieve a firm from this obligation. A product that is dangerous to consumers would be subject to potential action by FDA to remove it from commerce regardless of any date printed on a label.”

People tend to place spices in the cabinet above the stove but as we age it gets harder to lift our arms that high and they get forgotten. Place herbs and spices lower so they are easily reached.

Be aware and stay healthy!

The Art of Living Lost: Deirdre De-Clutters
JUNE 1, 2017 BY THE ART OF LIVING LOST

I have a friend who “declutters” for a living; it doesn’t matter if you are a downsizing senior or an inefficient professional, she’s the master of re-organization.

I on the other hand am a recycler; I see the beauty in almost everything. I’m not just a saver of stuff per se but more of a sentimental connoisseur. So this week, while strung out on DayQuil, I decided to declutter my home and, in doing so, I unwittingly decluttered my mind and spirit. Let me explain.

Some say we have 50, 60 or 70+ THOUSAND thoughts a day, looking at my chaos, I wondered how many brain cells I’d burned subconsciously thinking about the crap that physically surrounded me? Items evoking the powers of fear, anger, disdain and embarrassment were all resting in my kitchen cabinets. I found stupidity, failure and gas pains lurking in my pantry. My bathroom was awash with the scents of first dates, success and bitchiness. I wondered, where did sexy go?

Rummaging and discarding; physically crushing and crashing my past, I simply felt lighter.

And with the lightness came clarity and joy.

Week after week I share stories about my every day, and sometimes, not so everyday, life.

I’ve asked you to look up and out; this week I am challenging you to take a look inside.

Inside your cabinets, your home, your office and your life. What’s lurking in plain sight that can be crushed, crashed and discarded? Think about it…

Until next week,

XXOO

http://www.theartoflivinglost.com/the-art-of-living-lost-deirdre-de-clutters/#more-2458