Pay attention. I am not kidding. Really.

Category: Pay attention to your home.

Odd #11: Recycling can lead to all sorts of entrepreneurial ventures.

photo of basket filled with paper to be recycled

Recycling paper (or anything) is an OLD idea.

Warning: if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, get ready to recognize that you, too, are ODD. But then, you may already know that deep down inside and simply have been indulging in denial as you’ve read about all my oddities and said to yourself “thank goodness I’m not like her!”

But, as I’ll keep saying, the oddest amongst us can learn and pass on pay-attention lessons that are of value even to the not-so-odd. This blog post gives you more than your money’s worth in pay-attention lessons, FYI.

Every summer before The Best-Ever Christmas, Mother would shoo me outside to get “some fresh air and sunshine” (her favorite cheerleading topics). Personally, I thought fresh air was overvalued. She, however, was convinced that fresh air and sunshine would be good for her bookworm daughter.

I intuitively figured she was wrong, wrong, wrong. Remember the melanin-deficiency thing? Even though I didn’t understand why, I knew the sun sapped my energy and made me want to take a nap. A nap! Ick. Anything was preferable to taking a nap in the middle of the day, especially at my grown-up age. I was so beyond the whole nappy thing.

Being infinitely more in touch with my body than she, my fiendishly clever strategy was to quietly dawdle in my room. Eventually, though, she’d work out that I was still in the house and forcibly shoo me outdoors. In her frustration, she sometimes resorted – depending on how long I’d been inside resisting her commands – to latching the screen doors behind me. (Did this ever happen to you? See? More oddity.)

The summer after The Best-Ever Christmas, when Mother started her cheerleading, I was ready for my enforced prescription of fresh-air-and-sunshine. Yessirr. I marched pertly past her without so much as a whimper with my attaché (cleverly disguised as my red-and-yellow-plaid book bag) and an old blanket tucked under my arm. Taking a sharp left, I headed for my favorite shady spot in the yard.

Mother, bless her soul, was left at the door – trout-mouthed – as I purposefully marched out like the woman on a mission that I was. Pay attention: here’s proof she was bumfuzzled. She forgot to latch the screen door behind me.

Spiraea Bush & Associates

Settling myself in the shade of an ancient spiraea bush in a comfy little corner made by the house walls, I spread the old blanket. (Even my nine-year-old, very odd mind sensed that asking clients to sit on bare dirt smacked of the worst sort of unprofessionalism.) Opening my “attache,” I began organizing my piles of catalogs, magazines, papers, envelopes and, of course, the stack of precious carbon paper – all valuable resources my profligate father had been tossing into the wastebasket by his desk.

With my Spiraea Bush & Associates “office” shaded from the sun’s sapping rays and everything duly appointed, I was ready for business. And just in the nick of time, too, for my first client.

Well, not a client in the true sense of the word. More like a nosy curiosity-seeker named Mother. Mouth closed and well recovered from her trout-mouth condition, she sauntered up to Spiraea Bush & Associates, peered under the bush, and asked what I was doing.

I’ve set up an office. Do you need some secretarial work done?”

“Not that I can think of.”

A pity, as I had the play typewriter from The Best-Ever Christmas, ample carbon paper, plenty of paper with blank back sides, and could easily have produced even the longest of letters – in duplicate or even triplicate. But, no. She had no business for me.

If I was disappointed, she was even more so. It was not, as you can imagine, exactly what she’d had in mind. But hey, she knew better than to complain. You see she’d been a mite duplicitous about fresh air. I thought she meant fresh air. It turns out she really meant physical exercise. But as I was in fresh air, she reluctantly settled for that – for the time being. 

Clearly, though, my desk-type entrepreneurial efforts didn’t qualify as a healthy childhood activity in her mind. Apparently, she wanted to see some running, jumping, or skipping – all activities I found highly overrated then. Now I know I missed my chance for building bone and will be fighting osteoporosis till I die. Odd, isn’t it, how parents know what they’re doing even when they don’t know what they’re doing?

Right about now would be a good time to come clean: Spiraea Bush & Associates was short-lived, as in two days. That’s because Mother shared the enterprise with my father, who initiated a serious father-daughter talk. It seemed he wasn’t keen on the idea that the contents of his wastebasket might end up as flying bits of paper all over our little neck of the woods. Yes, entrepreneurs sometimes meet with insurmountable roadblocks from the startlingly uncreative amongst us. And that’s all I’m going to say.

Well, not quite.

Here are the pay-attention bits
from this entrepreneurial enterprise.

  • Perhaps age nine is a little early for a sedentary desk job.
  • Parents often know exactly what they’re doing, even when they appear clueless.
  • Entrepreneurs almost always have an uphill battle. Get used to it.
  • When you discover a cache of good stuff some unimaginative soul has discarded, ask yourself in what inventive ways it could be recycled. (Need ideas? Ask a kid.)

Odd #12 blog post is ready: it’s all about that seldom encountered weirdness – paper addiction. (Yes, there is such a thing.)

©2015, Teresa Bennett

red box with white text: "It’s important to know who has the best, the most, the cheapest, the best delivery time, etc. Kids look through junkyards, yard sales, ‘free’ ads and under rocks. That’s all aside from keeping a list they’ve acquired through the grapevine of those who can offer the best fish bait, fireworks, homework help and bike repairs." – Joel Brown, Addicted2Success

Need ideas? As I said, ask a kid.

Living Thankfully, 1

photo of one hand handing over a car key to another hand

Even when someone gave me a car, I whined!

Do you whine? I whine A LOT. At least, that’s what my husband says. Since we’ve known each other over 47 years, I suppose we do have to give the man credit for knowing something about his wife. Example: someone gave us a car several years ago. In spite of its excellent condition, I’m quite sure I still whined. It’s a tuna boat. It’s a gas guzzler. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda. 

I don’t like my whining any more than hubby does. In fact, I can’t stand myself when I descend into one of my Olympic whining performances. After years of this tripe, I’d had enough of my whiny self. I decided to try out a new tack to see if I could stomp out this most unsavory habit. I decided to believe that living thankfully is just flat-out yummy-good for me.

Guess what? It worked! I’ll bet it can work for you, too. I’ll bet I can prove living thankfully is yummy-good, too, but you’ll have to stick with me, as it’ll take four blog posts. When we’re finished, I’ll even bet that you, too, will have an exceptionally long list of your own reasons for living thankfully and a plan for continuing to live thankfully. Here we go.

Living Thankfully Tip #1:
living thankfully helps you pay attention
to what’s ALREADY BEEN DONE for you
instead of what hasn’t been done for you.

In short, it fosters contentment and contentment is powerful stuff, as it’s the antidote to whining. Traditionally advocated by every major religion, it’s been given all manner of folksy descriptions through the centuries, e.g., looking at the glass half-full, seeing the silver lining in every cloud, wanting what you have, and so on.

Pay attention to what’s
in your home.

This was my first exercise to kickstart living thankfully and send Miss Whiny packing. I started in a corner of our living room and worked my way around the room, looking for items that were given to us or free for the picking – things that had already been done for us.

Try it. Was that pair of cushy fuchsia pillows a birthday gift? Was the couch a gimme from Aunt Claire because you needed a couch and she had an extra one? What about the table lamp that was a lucky find beside a dumpster? Did a family genealogist on your Dad’s side give you the framed photos of your ancestors as a Christmas gift?

Keep looking. Every time I repeat this humbling exercise, I’m astounded. If you’re like me, much of what you see in your home (and perhaps even the cool – or not-so-cool – car in the garage) took no money out of your own pocket. You didn’t even have to spend time shopping for them. They just fell into your lap through practically no effort on your part.

Someone who isn’t paying attention and isn’t living thankfully will whine about how all they have is this pitiful collection of hand-me-down stuff. Oh, poor thing. (Ick, that sounds uncomfortably familiar.) 

Have you noticed how whining self-pity doesn’t play well in most circles? Have you noticed how you don’t even like yourself much when you whine? Easy solution: send your RSVP “regrets” to the pity party. Instead, pay attention to – and be grateful for – what’s already been done for you and the little, simple things around you. It’ll make you feel yummy-good, I promise.

I’m not done. Next up: Living Thankfully, 2.

© 2014, Teresa Bennett

red box with white text: "He who is not contented with what he has, would not be contented with what he would like to have." – Socrates

Enjoy what’s ALREADY been given to you.

Feeling Good: Encouraging Yourself

Seriously? We have to be told to encourage ourselves?

Well, yes. Because some of us, this writer included, do our very best to discourage ourselves. And if you’re like me, the sharpest tool you use for this self-sabotage is the comparison tool.

Yes, I know this post has a negative slant to it. Discouraging ourselves is a downer. That’s why we need to keep reminding ourselves to

STOP comparing.

photo of two young women comparing food choices

Aw. Now that banana just won’t taste as good.

Talk about a tall order. I know this because I’ve struggled with it my entire life. I know if I can stop paying such close attention to others’ possessions, status, money, reputation, etc., I’m more contented. But my competitive nature and our mass media make it pretty hard not to compare. Pay attention: anything which encourages comparison bears watching.

Think I’m overreacting?

Try this experiment.

The next time you’ve gussied up your house or apartment for guests, take time to wander through its rooms before they arrive. Look at each area as if you’ve never seen it before. Frame and shoot some nice shots with your phone. (You can always send them to Mom who – trust me – will be quite impressed with your thoughtfulness. (Check out this killing-two-birds-with-one-stone concept in the Making the Most of Your Time post.)

Seeing your digs through the camera lens may prompt you to think, Hmm. Cool. Very cool. Feels comfortable, but hip and very, very me. Savor the feel-good moment. Once your guests arrive, soak in their compliments about your cool digs.

Quick! As soon as possible (after the guests leave, of course!) go window shopping at the mall. Window shopping – no fair buying. Just wander around. Look through the home furnishings departments and stores. Stop in the prints and frames shop. Check out Home Depot on the way home – lighting fixtures, appliances, bathroom fixtures, flooring – the whole works.

Now, back at your place, take a good look around. Does it still make you feel good? What happened to cool, very cool, comfortable, hip? Does the couch look sadly out of date? Do your colors seem blah, compared to the new shades in the mall? Does your carpet seem shabby? Does it all feel sooo uncool? Maybe downright yucky?

Window shopping is, by nature, comparison. You’ve just compared what you have (which made you feel good just hours before) with the newest, brightest, glitziest that’s currently available. Of course your stuff comes up lacking! Try this experiment on anything you like – clothes, cars, electronics, whatever. It all comes out the same because the principle is the same. Regardless of the arena, comparison is the thief of contentment.

It gets worse…

because we compare more than material things. We compare careers, jobs, spouses, families, friends, hair, noses, ad infinitum.

We even compare our own behavior to our own behavior – and beat ourselves up in the process. Comparing what we know now to what we did then just creates a good deal of angst which serves no purpose. Hindsight is valuable for learning life’s lessons, but not for second-guessing how we should have acted in the past.

Convinced? I’ll bet so.

You’ve experienced this firsthand, haven’t you? And the question you’re asking is spot on. “How do I not compare?” I have two little tips to share. I could list a dozen, but would you remember them all? (I can’t even remember them all – at least – not when I need them.) Remembering two, however is very doable, so here you go.

DECIDE not to compare.

When you catch yourself comparing, DECIDE to stop it. DECIDE to use your strong will for something positive. DECIDE to encourage yourself by thinking on other things. DECIDE that every time you catch yourself using this razor-sharp, destructive tool of comparison that you will immediately start listing what’s right about your apartment, your job, your spouse, your car, your life, you.

Avoid situations
that encourage comparison.

Malls and huge department stores come to mind. Place yourself in shopping arenas (the blingy ones AND the not-so-blingy ones) only when it’s time to do research or make a purchase based on previous research.

Be clear about the difference between shopping and recreation. Shopping is for making buying decisions and purchases. Recreation is for renewing your mind, body, and spirit. I’ve never felt renewed after a four-hour shopping jaunt in my local mall. Worn out, maybe. Frazzled, oh yes. Guilted over foolish purchases, for sure. But rejuvenated?? Never. How about you?

Well, that wraps up my feel-good contentment posts – for now. Plenty of people have written about this subject. Find their books and articles; read them. In the meantime, why not get a running start by implementing these two little tips?

Now, how about sharing some of your tried-and-true tricks for contented, feel-good, encouraging-yourself, encouraging-others living?

© 2014 Teresa Layne Bennett

red box with white text: "Comparison is the thief of joy" by Theodore Roosevelt

Old Teddy was right on! (joy = contentment)

Sustainability

I touched on this in The Brits and Us, but I’m not finished harping. If we don’t learn from the redundant British aristocracy, we are, indeed, daft (or just plain foolish).

photo of author's husband in front of Dunham Massey

Deceptively small facade of Dunham Massey

About a month ago, we toured Dunham Massey – located in the Greater Manchester area of England. Owned by the National Trust, it’s huge and operated by another trust within NT, called the Dunham Massey Trust.

In spite of all this trustiness (read: layers of management), it appears very successful – without seeming too mercenary. They must be doing something right because three very large brick buildings were being constructed to house a larger restaurant, larger gift shop, and conference center – all projected to open for the 2014 season, according to one of the staff. They were also doing some major renovation work on the clock tower.

Dunham Massey’s 108 rooms contain 25,000 objects indigenous to the house (collected by its generations of owners). This comes with its own set of problems, mainly maintenance. Five kinds of natural-hair brushes brushes and a special, low-suction Museum Vac are used (with a very light hand) on the furniture and furnishings when the house is closed for the winter.

Every object must be cleaned, inspected for damage, and covered with an appropriate dust cover. Light levels, temperature, and humidity levels must be constantly monitored. Even the type of polish used on metals must be such that it can be applied very thinly, e.g., Autosol, a paste brass polish, so as not to excessively wear down the metal. Same for the silver.

photo of part of Dunham Massey's silver collection

Part of Dunham Massey’s silver collection

the rest of Dunham Massey's silver collection

Yet more of  Dunham Massey’s silver loot

photo of one wall of books in Dunham Massey's library

A wall of Dunham Massey’s book collection

photo of copper collection in Dunham Massey's kitchen

Just part of Dunham-Massey’s copper kit

All winter, this army of NT employees (and a few dutiful volunteers and interns) are on the prowl for their devilishly persistent enemies: furniture beetles; carpet beetles; case bearing moths and larvae; silverfish; clothes webbing moths. They use food traps, blunder traps, hanging traps, and Agrodust to trap the little buggers.

And don’t get me started on the horde of craftsmen required to repair, restore, and maintain the stonework, pointing, slate roof tiles, ancient gutters, ancient wiring and plumbing, etc. Then, of course, there’s the platoon of gardeners and other estate workers required to manicure the acres of land surrounding the country house.

Dunham Massey isn’t unique.

This same seasonal maintenance is occurring simultaneously in the other National Trust properties and those owned or operated by NT for Scotland, English Heritage, Historic Scotland, and other assorted keepers of British heritage.

Are you getting a sense of the number of employees involved? Good. Because that’s the point.

As I said in The Brits and Us, for hundreds of years each generation of the British aristocracy knew its job: collect, add, grab, steal, cheat – do whatever it takes – to add to the family estate. Being the dutiful sort, they did exactly what was expected of them.

But then things changed.

Along came WWI and WWII, which made a huge dent in the servant population. Exposure to the wider world also made those who survived both wars less inclined to return and be servile once again. (The lords and lairds and those about to become lords and lairds didn’t fare so well either, causing all manner of inheritance issues.)

The growing clout of unions made factory jobs safer, more lucrative, and more attractive to the previous in-service crowd. A plethora of inventions, e.g., the typewriter, gave them a wider variety of jobs from which to choose.

Great houses, confiscated by the government to serve as hospitals during WWII, were handed back to their owners in rather shabby conditions, as you might expect. It fell to the owners to try to “put it right” – a very expensive job with insufficient cheap labor to accomplish it.

Death duties dogpiled on, making it next to impossible for the aristocracy to pay death taxes when the current Lord So-and-So died. (Try paying 60 to 80 percent on your inherited mansion-cum-land when you’re cash-poor.)

Now what? They’ve done what they were supposed to do. They’ve successfully accumulated 108 rooms of stuff – and have no one to help them use it, maintain it, protect it, show it off, scrub it. The world, as they had known it, had fallen apart. Their world was no longer sustainable.

In large numbers, British blue-blood families had been collecting albatrosses for their heirs. Those huge country homes and estates were not sustainable without a ridiculously cheap servant class and so, one by one, those families passed their estates on to non-profits like National Trust and the others I’ve mentioned. (The ones who didn’t, sold what baubles they could, walked away, and let the family pile fall to rack and ruin.)

There’s rich irony here –
and a pay-attention tidbit.

Remember I just commented on how successful Dunham Massey appeared? We found that to be true on many other country estates Why?

Today, NT, HHA, HS, NTS employ armies of the very class of folks whose ancestors would’ve been in service. But they’re paid a livable middle-class salary, receive satisfaction knowing they’re preserving their country’s social – though blingy – heritage, and have perks unheard of by their ancestors.

Meanwhile, the aristocracy have either turned over the title and keys completely to these NPOs or have struck some sort of deal – living in an apartment or wing of the house their ancestors once had the total run of for a set amount of time (their lifetime or their heirs’ lifetimes). So, ironically, the aristocracy amassed properties which are benefitting the very classes they tried to so very hard to keep subservient for hundreds of years.

Pay attention, now. 

I said in this in The Brits and Us post, and I’ll say it again: don’t make your life’s work the process of accumulating as much of everything as you possibly can. If you do, someone else (and not necessarily your blood heirs) may well receive the benefit of all your hard work.

© 2013 Teresa Layne Bennett

red box with white text of Luke 12: 16-20 (The Rich Fool Parable)

The aptly named “Rich Fool”

The Brits and Us

photo of Tatton Hall's library

The 8,000 books at Tatton Hall

QUESTION:
What do members
of the British aristocracy

and the American middle class
have in common?

ANSWER:
A whole lot more
than you might think.

By my very scientific calculations, my husband and I have toured 8,723 great houses, castles, country houses, and palaces – give or take ten or twelve. Well, maybe not 8,723, but you get my point: LOTS. We’ve observed some things along the way. Actually, it’s pretty much the same concept – repeated over and over.

Collecting

For hundreds of years – even before William the Conqueror crashed the party – the British aristocracy has been intent on adding to their acreage, square footage, art collections, furniture collections, wall-sized portraits of themselves, titles, status, yadda, yadda, yadda. In fact, each generation viewed their job as not just hanging onto what their ancestors had accumulated, but substantially adding to it.

photo of 17 chests lining the walls of Dunham Massey's Stamford Gallery

17 chests in this long gallery!

Do you know anyone in your family who just kept buying and collecting and then left it all for the next generation – who didn’t like it and didn’t want it – to deal with? Ah ha. See what I mean? When we go through life thinking our job is to pile up stuff for the next generation, we very likely are creating an unsustainable liability, instead of an asset, for our heirs.

Maintaining

Many factors combined to deprive the aristocracy of the armies of servants needed to farm the acreage, scour the great house, gussy up ALL the property, and wait on them hand and foot. (More about that in the post, Sustainability.) Their aristocratic lifestyle simply was not and is not sustainable. When you own A LOT of stuff, you must have A LOT of servants, period.

Do you know anyone who has need of so many servants (read: electronic or electric devices, machines, tools, hired help) that when something breaks down, it’s a serious problem? If several break down one right after the other, is there a cash-flow problem? See? If we need a lot of “servants” (gadgets and widgets and tradesmen) to maintain our lifestyle, we have the same problem as those British blue bloods.

Here’s the pay-attention bit.

1. Don’t make getting more and more – of anything – your life’s work. Decide what’s enough for you, and stick with your decision – regardless of what your peers say.
2. Don’t assume your heirs will like what you like or want what you want. Limit your purchases to what you can fully appreciate, then STOP accumulating.
3. Don’t create such a complicated lifestyle that you need hordes of “servants.” Learn to live more simply than most members of the American middle class.

Living a sustainable life is a goal worth striving for. We’ve talked with owners of some of these estates, and they don’t sound very happy or content. In fact, they looked and sounded more than a little burdened to us.

Do you know anyone who seems weighed down by all the stuff he’s accumulated that he now has to care for, maintain, dust, store, insure, etc.?

Are you that person?


© 2013 Teresa Layne Bennett

red box with white text of Luke 12:25: ". . .life does not consist in an abundance of possessions."

Jesus correctly nailed it over 2,000 years ago!

 

Process 2: Personal and Household Clutter

photo of garage filled with household clutter and no room for cars

A garage filled with 50¢ garage-sale fodder

Confession time: household clutter is where I’m most ambushed by the principle of process. Your parents and grandparents are right there with me, I’m guessing. We all got caught by the slow process of accumulating life’s necessities – and truckloads of stuff which couldn’t possibly be labeled as necessities. You have only to look in any middle-class family’s two- or three-car garage to see that we pile boxes of 50¢ garage-sale fodder to the rafters while we park our $50,000 vehicles in the driveway as hail fodder.

What would make us
do something so silly?

Well, to be fair, we don’t intend to be silly. Clutter just sneaks up on us. It’s a process, I’m telling you. Most young couples start out with their cars where they’re meant to be – in the garage. Then they buy a snowblower, which needs way more room than they estimated. Then children come along, and with them come boxes of outgrown clothes and toys, hockey sticks, portable basketball goals, skis, and so on.

Then there’s the box of their first set of everyday dishes, booted out by a sparkling new set on their tenth anniversary. Soon the dead food processor joins the party (because “handy” Uncle Eric might get it to work again). Then there are the boxes of books they never quite got ’round to building a bookcase to house. We don’t mean to fill the garage with garage-sale fodder. Clutter just sort of happens. Duh. It’s a process.

But what about
when people give me stuff?

Okay, let’s say Aunt Lisa offers you her salt-and-pepper-shaker collection. Do you really want it? No? Then say so! Ever so politely, of course, but ever so firmly and deftly. “No, no, I really couldn’t. But, you know, Aunt Lisa, I think Cousin _____ has always thought they were cool. I’ll bet she’d love them!” (Um, I think it’s worth mentioning at this point that you don’t finger someone whom you know good and well thinks little 1940s salt-and-pepper sets are tacky.)

Pay attention. Stop the clutter process – before it begins – of accumulating more personal goods than you have need or room for, especially those of no real interest to you.

But what about when I want to buy
something that I truly will use?

When you’re tempted to buy something, STOP. Do you really need to OWN it? Let’s say it’s that latest best-seller. Do you intend to read and re-read it? Pay attention to that last part. You’ll truly REread it? Really?? Okay then. By all means, buy it as a hard-copy book or, if available, as an e-book.

No? You admit you won’t reread it? Then take advantage of Andrew Carnegie’s largess. You know – the whole library scene. Why let a book you’ll read once take up valuable space in your home for years? Why dust it, move it, insure it, store it?

If your local library doesn’t have it, ask for it on inter-library loan. After reading it, decide if you’ll indeed refer to it and use it as a reference book – or not. Check the Net. Is your prey there in its entirety for your free usage? (Obviously, this applies to the video and audio scene, as well.) Pay attention: stop the process of material clutter in its tracks.

While we’re at it, let’s talk about the process of reference books being added to the Internet. Isn’t the Net absolutely wonderful – a constantly growing world-library of reference material at your fingertips? The process of bookmarking reference sites you use most often saves you from the process of accumulating books you don’t need to own and then having to do what I did not so very long ago. I decluttered my office by boxing up 68 books for a charity pickup. Some of them – 18 dictionaries of various sorts – I had read and re-read until the Net made them obsolete.

Well, some of them. I confess that, silly woman that I am, I wasn’t paying attention. While these reference resources were proliferating on the Net, I was still plunking down my money for hard-copy dictionaries. The other 50 were books I truly thought I would reread and reuse. The truth? I never opened them twice, in spite of how well-written they were and how many notes my Type-A self made in the margins.

Too late for you?
Nah.

Already buried by stuff? If, in addition to the garage and attic, the clutter has piled up in every corner, in your car’s trunk, and under the beds, start carting it back out. Start now, TODAY – a little at a time. Don’t kid yourself; it’s most unlikely you’ll ever have an entire weekend to devote to decluttering your home.

  • Two boxes of VHS tapes and books this week for the charity truck that lumbers through your neighborhood weekly.
  • A couple of bags of clothes to the consignment shop near your office next week.
  • The CD your friend thinks is cool and you’ve grown tired of? Have it in your hand – tomorrow – when you ask him if he wants it. (How can he refuse?)
  • The salt-and-pepper collection you couldn’t turn down from Aunt Lisa? Put it on eBay. (She’ll never know, trust me.)

Unconvinced?

There are plenty of books on undoing this cluttering-process trap we fall into. Get one. In fact, here’s a concise one – Getting Rid of It – by a husband-and-wife team who decluttered an entire suburban home down to two backpacks so that they could travel the world.

Pump yourself up with good advice from books like this one and then get rid of a little (or A LOT, if you can stand it) at a time. Accumulating things is a process; getting rid of stuff is a process – an incredibly worthwhile process.

Already started? Good for you! Why not share some of your best decluttering tips and help the rest of us in our decluttering process?

red box with white text of Wendell Berry's quote: "Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire."

Ouch – a very, very good warning to heed.

Now would be a good time to move on to Process 3: Personal Habits.

© 2013 Teresa Layne Bennett

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