Sunday, June 28, 2009

A Perfect Mess

Over and over again, through recent years we've heard about decluttering. There are lots of books, videos, you tube presentations, etc. on this subject. People have made a lot of money on this subject and people have gotten rid of tons of items from their lives.

Decluttering is a hard thing to do for most people. I know, I am one of them. One thing that has helped here in our little cottage is NOT bringing anymore stuff into it. We no longer go to yard sales, flea markets or thrift shops looking for more to add to our collections. We've decided we have enough. I read lots of blogs, magazine articles etc. and the lure of going to these places is strong. But living in our small space, and with the economy the way it is, it's easier to resist buying these days.

One thing we can't stop buying though is books. We love to read all kinds of sujbects. I found a book that sounded really interesting a few years ago, at a good price, and it's what I will be quoting from in this post.

The book is 'A Perfect Mess' ~ The Hidden Benefits of Disorder. How crammed closets, cluttered offices, and on-the-fly planning make the world a better place ~ by Eric Abrahamson & David. H. Freedman.


Messy homes can provide a far more inviting and nurturing environment than highly ordered ones. For one thing, cluttered homes tell us more about the personalities of its occupants than do homes stripped to their carefully arranged essentials. It's the optional, extraneous items we leave lying around that bear the stamp of our quirky inner selves.

All kinds of wonderful, valuable, and useful things get thrown out in the name of organizing. Organizers will tell you to err heavily on the side of chucking out, often offering the justification that if you haven't used the itme in a year it must not be useful to you. This is silly; follow this advice and you'll get rid of items that might have ultimately proved invaluable. A better yardstick than frequency of use is potential value and replaceability.

Part of the problem is that when it comes to getting organized, people tend to think in terms of Big Bang projects intended to utterly wipe out mess. That leads to the mass excising of a large percentage of possessions, which beside making for a potentially painful experience also increases the chances of throwing out things that will be sorely missed. Instead, why not throw out just enough to restore a comfortable amount of space and order, limiting the carnage to those items that prove no-brainers when it comes to telling the junk from the good stuff. There's no place like home for maintaining some some sentimental mess, after all.

As both John Steinbeck and the University of Texas researchers pointed out, our personalities tend to be more clearly expressed in our disorder than in our neatness. When we are being ruthless about ridding ourselves of what naturally accumulates around us and about meticulously straightening out what remains, we are in a sense tidying our identities. The truth is, we are all at least a bit of a mess ~ and all the more interesting for it.


So, I am going to work on relaxing more and not stressing about keeping a perfectly, decluttered space to live and play in. We will continue to get rid of 'no-brainers'.

What you see is what you get when you visit, a glimpse into our personalities, quirky, fun, weird. At our age who cares. We are not trying to keep up with anyone. We are trying to just take each day as it comes going with the flow.

That's it from the hot, humid south. I need to get up and wash dishes, enjoying the view out the window, and feeling thankful for my many blessings.

A house is who you are, not who you ought to be.

~ Jill Robinson ~


Sharon said...

Hi FlowerLady :)
We have 3 teens and with teens comes more collectible type things, like video games and for one of my sons, a massive book collection as well. Then my dear husband, "the hunter", has so many hunting related items, fishing items and ball caps. I have everything that once belonged to my mother who remarried and took nothing from her past life with her. I have my own things, my grandmother's things, you see? I think clutter is kinda stuck here for a while, but like the book you mentioned implies, it does make home feel more secure and comforting to be surrounded by all of these familiar things.

I think your home is very inviting and I always enjoy each picture you share because I can feel the warmth from the images and your kind words.

God bless you dear FlowerLady,

sweet bay said...

I think your house looks very charming!

I think how much clutter you like just depends on your personality. I *have* to try to keep clutter down, or I can't find anything! Other people can reach into a pile of stuff and immediately find what they want.

I agree that there is not as comforting and homey as a "full" house.

L. D. Burgus said...

I collect everything. I love things that belonged to the people I loved. I appreciate beauty in many kinds of objects and when people who see our house, they sometimes are overwhelmed, not because of the seeming crowed look but the many things of that we have and every thing has a story. My bowl of very old croquet balls set in an old crockery and they are wonderful to look at and to touch. We have dimestore figurines that are glazed like the Lladro ones that are so expensive. They are great to look at or we wouldn't have purchased them. Our furniture is old but each has a history and a story. I once was poor and I am still not so rich, but I love things that convey who myself and my wife are and it comes with the territory if you dare to enter. I am always more impressed with people who know who they are, rather than those who project an image of who they are not.

FlowerLady said...

Hi Sharon ~ Clutter is stuck here also. We have stacks of books in the living room on the floor, we have stacks of stuff in the bedroom, which we are in the process of remodeling, and I've some stuff on my floor here in my little space/library where my computer is.

Our stuff has memories too, stuff we've gotten in our 40 years together. It doesn't mean anything to anybody else, but it has meaning to us. It, our stuff, is part of our life, it's who we are.

A home without clutter is lacking in my book. There is a sterility, whereas home with clutter have a vitality.

Thank you for your kind words, they made my eyes fill with happy tears.

God's blessings on you and your family also.

Love ~ FlowerLady

Hello SweetBay ~ I know what you mean about keeping clutter down in order to find things.

I think one of the things about clutter is having too much, ya know, being a hoarder is a disease.

Most of us have some kind of clutter, maybe it's just hidden when it's time for picture taking. :-)

There are different types of personalities, and some could not live with clutter of any kind. That's ok for them, that's who they are. But for those of us who aren't that way, we shouldn't feel guilty or pressured to be who we are not.

Thank you for saying our little place is charming.

L.D. ~ DH collects lots of things also, tools, iron, etc. Things he thinks he can use someday add to the mix. We have used lots of collected stuff through the years. We have been inspired to do artistic as well as homey projects with our collected stuff.

I agree with your last sentence and so does DH. **I am always more impressed with people who know who they are, rather than those who project an image of who they are not.**

Another collection we have is artwork, so much that we do not have wall space for it all. We have it in the attic, and stacked around. We have collected if from flea markets, yard sales, and thrift shops.

May we all enjoy our homes, and our clutter that surrounds us and makes us feel loved, secure, or fills our hearts and minds with memories.

Hugs ~ FlowerLady

Sue said...

Oh, Flowerlady,
This was so timely for me. I am off work for the summer, and, as I do every summer, say I'm going to get rid of clutter here and there. I do have too much stuff in a room upstairs, where it could be a nice peaceful place to do my computing. I also exercise there when there is room on the floor. It's just so overwhelming to think about getting started.

I also need to clean out my pantry in the basement that my husband keeps throwing things in. He has lots of stuff, too, but his clutter doesn't bother him, and I don't pay attention to it. He can't stand my clutter.

You took some of the pressure off, though. I have already filled a couple boxes with some things I would keep if I had room and then am about to take them somewhere so I can't go through them.

I have also cut back on my garage sale and thrift store shopping. I am no longer adding to my collections through ebay, either.

I love your house and collections I've seen, too.

More hugs,

Dirt Princess said...

I have been trying not to sweat the "small" stuff. I am reading The Last Lecture byu Randy Pausche and it is wonderful. You realize that the clothes on the floor don't really matter as much as the person that put them there does