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Friday 26 October 2012

Decluttering - from a client's perspective

Recently I was invited to give my first ever decluttering workshop at the Leatherhead Institute in Surrey, so I asked some of my hoarder clients for comments to share with the workshop attendees.  My clients did not disappoint.

Client #1 said:  "(on the decluttering process) - "it was nail-biting"; Afterwards: "it was a Revelation!"

Client #2 said:  "Allow plenty of time - decluttering takes longer than you'd think....."

Client #3 was more forthcoming than I could ever have hoped for, and has kindly allowed me to publish in full what he sent me.  He talks candidly about how he came to declutter, how we met and his progress - I am eternally grateful and flattered for his contribution and candour.

Are you sitting comfortably?  Then he'll begin.....

"An eremitical existence and a tendency to hoard do not conduce to an uncluttered living-space. Possessions tend to take over; it becomes difficult to move around; and even basic cleaning grows difficult and is eventually abandoned. But one’s possessions have a way of becoming one’s family. One knows where all of them came from; each has its associations pleasant or poignant. So it was only when self-consciousness about the state of my house turned to self-disgust that I began decluttering. I did not know that that was what it was called, but even I could see that I did not need five of everything. An enormous amount went via Freecycle and Freegle; one young woman left with sixty-four items of kitchenware on a single occasion. Three step-ladders went, leaving me with only two. One man took away a hundred and fifty engineering bricks in the boot of a saloon car. (I hope he got home safely.)
I have since realized that freecycling is the slowway to clear a house, but it was the way in which I met Cherry Rudge, who came to collect a four-hole punch. I confess that when I later learned that Cherry was a member of the Association of Professional Declutterers and Organisers, I thought she was pulling my leg, or that APDO was an association of one. Now I know better. By that stage my decluttering had slowed down. An enormous amount remained to be done; it still does. I was awed by the scale of what I had to do, and I still am. But Cherry inspired me to keep going. With her occasional (but invaluable) practical help and never-failing encouragement, I am still going, even though an unexpected return to daily commuting has robbed me of time and energy. 

There have been real dividends already. For example, I am able to sit down to a meal for the first time in years (though I still sometimes forget to), and I am close to being able to empty the kitchen completely, ready for rewiring and replastering. Then I shall be able to install the bespoke kitchen units that were made for me years ago and have remained flat-packed in the sitting-room ever since. I can even look forward to the day when I shall be able to cook for friends. By that time, I can believe, the process of purging the Augean stables will have become positively cathartic.
As I say, despite disbelief at the beginning, I have come to know that there are such people as professional declutterers, and that they do really valuable work. I know too that they do more than just help people to declutter: they can provide balm for a troubled soul and help one back to a measure of self-esteem. For that alone I salute Cherry and her colleagues, and wish today’s convocation every success."
Anonymous client, Hersham, Surrey UK
Well, I was delighted to report to my client that the feedback on the decluttering workshop that we received afterwards via the Evaluation Forms proved that the event was indeed a success.  

Unfortunately I'd only had time to read out a small part of his piece - the bit about self-consciousness, bricks and step ladders.  It featured during the section on motivation and procrastination and was certainly well received, with some people expressing shock, others seemingly able to relate to some of what he'd said.

I hope to be able to read out more of the piece at future workshops.  I feel incredibly proud that my fellow professional organising colleagues and I are able to provide help and inspiration which drive people to write with such passion. 

I thank and salute my client - and all decluttering clients.  You inspire us too you know.

Explanation of terminology above shown in bold italics

1.      Eremitical existence - Living the life of a recluse or hermit

2.      Augean stables: Greek myth - the stables (where King Augeas kept 3,000 oxen) hadn't been cleaned for 30 years. Hercules diverted the River Alpheus through them, and cleaned them in a day.

3.      Convocation: A gathering for an event


Decluttering Workshop - 20th October - Leatherhead Institute

On Saturday 20th October, Lynda Wylie of Tidy Rooms and Cherry Rudge of Rainbow Red gave a hugely successful decluttering workshop in Leatherhead. 
The event was hosted by local environmental campaigning Groups from the Transition Network(Ashtead and Bookham) - plus Leatherhead Residents' Association

A packed house of around 80 people learned useful hints tips about on how to declutter their homes, upcycling, repurposing, recycling, and other environmentally friendly ways to get rid of unwanted items.

Guest speaker Barbara Unsworth - Manager of the QEF Charity Shop in Shepperton - explained about the wide variety of things that the shops can recycle if they can't be sold in the shop.

Everyone took home a Useful Information Sheet which Cherry and Lynda created, and which is now available on the Transition Ashtead Website.

Delicious refreshments were served, and proceeds from the afternoon were donated to Leatherhead-based group the Friends of Teazle Wood.

Lynda and Cherry are Members of The Association of Professional Decluttererers & Organisers UK (apdo-uk), whose Members are required to abide by a strict Code of Conduct.  Cherry is also apdo-uk's Marketing Officer. 
Further decluttering workshops are planned in the North West Surrey and South West London area - to make an enquiry or a booking please contact Cherry on 07931 303310.
To find a professional declutterer near you, check out the apdo-uk website, or call 020 8123 4591(leave a message and someone will call you back).



Thursday 4 October 2012

National Poetry Day - the power of feeling organised!

"Roses & Grapes" painting by Ruth Alder, 2005
Roses are red,
Clutter makes me feel blue,
Being organised makes me feel better,
You should try it too!