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January Success Stories

What started out as a personal decision to try and sort out my junk has grown into something much bigger than I could imagine. A couple of ‘before and after’ photos placed on my personal Facebook page resulted in lots of positive comments and a small Facebook group for fellow hoarders trying to sort out their lives…

Then my daughter suggested I do a blog to write about my journey. Knowing nothing about how to do a Blog I did some research and set out on this exciting adventure. Since then so many people have contacted me privately and told me of their own journeys, their successes and failures. I am quite humbled by how my very simple story has inspired others….

So today I thought I would honour and applaud some great achievements.

My Gold Star of the month has to go to Pam. In about a month she has transformed her entire home!!! It makes me feel exhausted just looking at her progress! While I wouldn’t  usually recommend such a full-on attack on a whole house it clearly worked for Pam. I know I would go mad for a couple of days, get tired, and the rest of the house would be left untouched. Here are some of her photos…

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laundry after

 

 

 

 

Laundry Before and after

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Living after

Living area before and after

bedroom before

bedroom after

Bedroom before and after…

I asked Pam what she felt was her biggest achievements and if she had any hints or dos and don’ts..

Pam said – I would say my bedroom was my biggest achievement. The biggest don’t is don’t do this for someone else, it has to be done for you. This I found saved me resenting people as I cleaned up. Don’t put too much pressure.on yourself. Set small goals. Pick a corner of a room and start there. When deciding what to keep and what to get rid of is ask yourself can you 1. Use it 2. Find a home for it without it being shoved somewhere and 3. Can you be bothered dusting it.
Paperwork only needs to be kept for 2 years unless it is legal documents or initial contracts such as insurance.
These days everything is stored electronically.
Make use of hard rubbish collections.
Also take photos of everything that way if you do get rid of stuff you will always have a picture of it.
Take lots of photos as you clean up from start during and to finish. Sometimes you get overwhelmed and it feels like you are getting no where. These photos help you to see you are making.progress.

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I think these are all great tips – especially about having to do it yourself!! I would hate someone going thru my stuff and telling me what to get rid of…I think you need the control of what stays and what goes…. even if you only throw a few things out it is still a great step forward…

A couple of other special mentions are Mich with a couple of completed rooms..no before photos I’m afraid…

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Mich tells me that hidden in this room are two overlockers, 3 sewing machines and a cover stitch hidden on that table area. And that in the kitchen is another sewing machine plus there is the new industrial, currently parked in the middle of the family area. And a new one in the laundry…so perhaps I have an addiction!!

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Mich’s laundry with the aforementioned sewing machine…

And the last special mention is another friend of mine who has started to sort out their wardrobe….

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So I hope these people’s success stories inspire you! They have certainly inspired me!

And always remember that it doesn’t matter how small or large your goal is, or even whether you reach your goal or not – it is all about doing the best you can and achieving what you can – and then start again and not giving up…

Well done to all the achievers….

Lists

So I did my list at the start of the week…

I had already decided that I might work better with lists than allocating specific times to do different chores. I made up three different lists – what I hope to do that month, what I hope to do this week, and what I hope to achieve each day. The daily list is fairly informal. I try and write the night before and really just include the specific things that need to be done being mindful of what I want to achieve for that week…
So I have established that I am pretty good at writing lists. I downloaded this natty little program called Evernote ( you may remember I love all these little organising and filing programs – always more fun to organise than to actually “do”!!) I have it on my Laptop, iPad and phone…. and it immediately syncs everything which is great for lists. It has a reminder section but not a calendar which is disappointing. and it also has a great note section and a Webclipper and a searchable tag thingy – I can see it is actually pretty useful program. But back to my lists…
As I say I am pretty good at writing lists. I can do lovely lists that I can tick things off as I do them and I can have these lists in my phone to remind me what I should be doing.. But I am not so great at crossing off things on my lists…. I would say I have been 50% successful on both my daily lists and my weekly list. But I can see where I am going wrong…
I allocated a certain amount of time to do certain things. I wanted to do 5 hours  week of family history and 5 hours of other Club related paperwork. I started on the Club paperwork promising myself that when completed I would reward myself by doing the Family History…but of course I did as I always do and spent many hours doing Club paperwork (it is never ever up to date)  and didn’t do any family history. So altho I achieved a lot in one area I neglected others that I enjoy – and that is not the object of the exercise. I need to learn to do the allocated time and then do some family history… all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy – and wont get my Family History book written.
I also failed dismally with my walking. I planned to walk at least twice this week and didnt do it once. I have plenty of excuses – doing four nights night duty, extremely hot temperatures, other things to do – but I need to be more disciplined about it. My hubby tells me my walking poles are going to get rusty!!lol And I wont be fit for my holiday.
So thats my first week of list writing…Varying degrees of success. I will write another list for next week understanding where I went wrong this week….lets see how I go…..

Planning my life

So I have now got all these resolutions how on earth am I going to achieve them? It’s all very well to say take one bite at a time but now I have to organise myself so I can do all the bites I have undertaken to do!! And it’s a scary thought…

It’s very easy to say I am going to do this and this. But if I am going to be more successful this year with my resolutions I need to have a plan and I need to stick to it. So the plan has to be practical and it needs to not be overwhelming. Because I know the way that I am, and if it is too easy for me to make excuses I will.

So how do I make a plan that I will stick to? I clearly need to try and allocate some time each week or day to do different tasks. Even the thought of doing that scares me. I’m not sure why.. perhaps because if I make a plan I need to stick to it. And I am not good at sticking to plans.

I notice one of the reasons they say people procrastinate is the fear of failure. When I read that I thought that was an odd reason to procrastinate – surely achieving a goal would give you a sense of achievement? But just now when I am trying to create a plan to do all the things I want to do I understand that fear of failure.

If I make a plan or a list then to succeed I need to follow the plan or cross things off the list. I know the overwhelming feeling I get when I make a list and it weighs heavily on me all the time because I am not making the list any shorter. It is the same with my cluttered house. Just looking at the mess makes me feel a failure. And yet I procrastinate about doing something about it. Why is that? Perhaps it is easier to want to do it and plan to do it than it is to start something and fail, or plan to do something and not do it.

So instead I procrastinate about making a plan. I have spent the day researching personal organisers and online organisers. Should I just buy a paper diary or use my phone calendar? Should I create a spreadsheet and allocate time to certain tasks? Or download a digital organiser and see if that works? It is easier for me to think about how I will make a plan than it is to do the actual planning. Thinking about how I am going to plan my schedule isn’t a stressful thing and so I am happy to spend hours doing it. And when I do decide on what method I am going to use I will spend a lot of time setting it all up. But I will still eventually have to do a plan!

So I have actually learnt a lot about myself today – and even writing this article – has helped me see things that I hadn’t seen before. I see now how the fear of failure can stop you doing things, that it is so easy to set yourself up for failure (I will make a list but I know I’m not going to do it) and that for a procrastinator planning is a very scary thought!!

But it has achieved something practical as well. I can see that actually allocating times to do things for me would be fatal. So much better for me to make a list for each day, week and month. That gives me the flexibility to still achieve my goals over a period of time but not have the 2 hours on a Tuesday afternoon set down for cleaning, not achieve that, and then instantly abandon all other plans because I have failed to achieve one. A bit like someone trying to lose weight abandoning their diet entirely due to weakening and having a donut!

So this article has changed from what I originally planned it to be. I was going to write about my research for finding the best organisers…but I think I have learnt a much more valuable lesson about myself instead….. We have to try and understand why we procrastinate, what motivates us and what works best for us to help us become more organised. I think I will work better on lists that need to be completed than set time slots for activities…what do you think works best for you?

Decluttering Tips

My daughter sent me a website address she thought might help with my Blog….. it has lots of ideas about storage and decluttering but there were a few I thought I would find useful

Enlist the Rule of Five every time you clean!

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Whenever you’re cleaning a room, get rid of at least five items, whether it’s a piece of trash, an old magazine, or just something you haven’t used in ages. You could also change this rule slightly and try to tidy up just five minutes every say in your allocated room.

Simplify your clothes shopping to this simple question.

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I have so many clothes that look lovely in the shop but when I get home they dont look as nice, or I dont have anything to wear with it or just arent comfortable to wear…so they hang in the wardrobe and are never worn…

When you buy a new shirt get rid of one.

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This would actually work for everything you buy – one in, one out! Go thru your wardrobe at the end of each season and throw out all the clothes you didnt wear for no good reason – and all those skinny clothes that you know realistically you are not going to ever fit into again.

Use compartmentalised boxes for those little things that you need to keep organsised.

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This is a great idea but you also need to have an organised place to keep the boxes where you can quickly find what you are looking for!!! I would have a wonderful time putting stuff in boxes – and labelling them (love labelling things!) – and then never remember where I put the box or forget to restock it….

Fold your bedsheets up and put them in matching pillowcase

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I thought this sounded good but I can also see disaster here…for starters my fitted sheets never fold up that neatly! But it would be good not to have to hunt thru the entire linen cupboard to find matching pillowcases!

Keep your discount cards virtually on your phone.clutter6

And if you don’t have a smartphone, hole-punching your discount and gift cards and adding them to a single key ring can keep your purse organized.

I actually did this over Christmas – I have an App on my phone (I am trying Stocard at the moment) and put all my Loyalty cards on the phone. It was simple and easy to set up and now instead of looking thru my purse for my card I have them all in my phone.

There are lots of other suggestions on this website but some of them I couldnt see myself doing and some I thought were a bit silly…but if you want to see them all go to

http://www.buzzfeed.com/peggy/how-to-de-clutter-your-entire-life#.ahmoGQgP1

Exercise Blues

I realise that I have forgotten to mention one of my New Year Resolutions! Not sure how I forgot it…perhaps it could be that I have been procrastinating about it for so long that my mind has shut it out of my consciousness!!

The problem is that this particular resolution needs to be commenced soon or it can’t be completed in time – and it probably isn’t something that you can take short cuts with…

In July this year I am going on a holiday to Europe. I have never been to Europe – but my friends that have, tell me it could involve a lot of walking…now that’s the problem…

I have never understood people that love exercising… I am just one of those really unco people that are hopeless at any form of sport… so I learnt at a very early age that any form of sport was a bad (read humiliating) thing to do… … I have often sort of envied those motivated souls that regularly go to the gym or get up for brisk morning walks in the morning… I am not one of them! I have wondered why some of us are less motivated.. I guess not being good at it is a disincentive, also I tend to be a bit of a stumblebum… I have been to classes where the teacher and all the other folk follow the steps and do the moves so easily. I just work out where to put my arms and legs and they are already onto the next movement. Embarrassing. On New Year’s eve a couple of days ago, as I was sitting by the river having tea with friends I saw so many people run past with intent in their eyes, ear plugs in the ears and sweat pouring off them….I pondered their insanity while I sipped my wine….

My idea of sport is watching it on TV – or maybe something like 10 pin bowling. I do a reasonable amount of exercise in my job and I am not a complete sloth -just an unfit one. And anything that requires getting up early in the morning is doomed from the start (I am a night person and work at night).

So back to my New Year resolution… When we booked our holiday it was more than a year from when we were leaving. So I resolved that I would get fitter so that I could walk all day and see all the sights to be seen… I had a whole year to gradually get fit…and I figured that getting fit was a good thing to do even if I wasn’t going on holidays… One of my friends that does a lot of walking (serious Bibbulmun Track walking) was very keen. You need walking poles he said – they help your balance and save your knees and back. So I did some research and found that Dr Google agreed….walking poles were the thing to have…. My hubby said he didn’t think poles were very cool!!

So of course you can’t start exercising until you have walking poles can you? I didn’t feel guilty at all about not starting my exercise regime as I needed to get walking poles first – and some good sensible walking shoes. My serious walking friend kept asking me if I had started walking yet and I kept telling him I needed to get the poles first….

So finally in November I bought the walking poles. Cute purple ones that telescope down so they can fit in our case. And some good walking shoes.

Just after I bought the poles I went away with my girlfriends. I made the mistake of saying I had bought some walking poles. They had a lot of fun at my expense! They know I am a procrastinator and so they also gave me a hard time about the time I had taken to start my exercising..

So it’s about 6weeks since I have bought the poles. I have practiced opening them out and worked out how long they need to be to suit my height. I also got the shoes out of their box the other day. But no walking yet.

So that’s my other resolution. I must start walking at least 2 times a week. Otherwise I will get to Europe and be restricted by my own lack of fitness. That thought should provide plenty of motivation but I know I will have to be really firm with myself and get fit. It’s just too easy to put it off until tomorrow – when it is less hot, when I have more time, when I am less tired, when the cricket isn’t on the TV….

New Year Resolutions

Nothing like declaring publically online for all to see – I will have so many people being able to call me on them if I fail to achieve them – or worse still not even begin them.

So what am I planning to achieve in 2015?

I would like to finish de cluttering my house if possible. At the rate of one room a month I should be able to almost make it! However I feel some rooms (like my September room which took 3 months) may take longer, and I am going away on a European holiday for 6 weeks… see what  good procrastinator I am? I am already making excuses!!

So what I will promise is that I will pick a room each month and try to complete it within the time – but if not I will still do a few minutes every day in that room and aim to finish it in the time allocated. So even if I fail to complete a room a month my house should be well on the way to being completed by the end of the year..

I will also promise to keep the rooms I have completed tidy and not start sneaking stuff back in there!!

The most important thing I will do is not to be too hard on myself if I don’t reach my goals – so long as I have moved towards them in some way. And I will enjoy my achievements when I reach them. Give myself a few hearty pats on my back and indulge in just a little smugness that I have achieved my goals!!

As far as other goals go?

In my Family History posting I set a goal to work on my Family history and try to write-up a family a month towards my family book. I am already working on my first family and researching Birmingham in the early 1800’s towards that goal.

I also set a goal to write a personal story each month about my own life. I have already done my first story. I was so inspired that I sent the same challenge to my brothers and sisters. I asked them to write their story each month as well and at the end of the year I told them I would turn it into a book for them. I havent heard back from any of them since so that might not be achievable!

So apart from the usual resolutions to be a better person, to appreciate what I have and give myself time to stop to smell the roses that’s about it.

So what are you all hoping to achieve? Remember to set yourself small goals and enjoy achieving these smaller goals on the way to achieving the bigger goals. And don’t be too harsh on yourself.

Have a safe and Happy New Year and a wonderful 2015….

Family History

I always spend a couple of weeks over the Christmas break buried in my genealogy research. It seems like it is the only time of the year that I can sit spending hours doing research and not feel guilty! And it is something I never procrastinate because I love doing it!

I can spend 15 hours of the day (and thinking about it the other hours) sitting in front of my computer chasing elusive family ancestors and get totally absorbed in it. In fact I get so absorbed in it I find it hard to do anything else – it is lucky we usually have so much food left over from Christmas that I don’t even have to worry about feeding the family.

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Doing family history these days is so much easier than when I began 30 years ago. Nowadays I can look at microfilm on my laptop in my own home instead of having to order the film in and going to view it – or spending hours searching microfiche in the library. I have heard that Family History is the second biggest use for the internet after porn – but that may no longer be true these days now you can play games and view movies on your computer.

I started my Family History comparatively young. I was interested and my Aunty who had been doing some research handed it all to me – including a magnificent old leather photo album of many ancestors – a treasured possession. When she began research it was a case of writing many letters or hiring someone to look for you if your ancestors where in other countries. She would be staggered about how much easier it is today!

So from the comfort of my own home I can research family in the 1700’s in Birmingham. I can see the actual church registers and census forms, the wills and court proceedings. One family I was chasing yesterday I havent looked at for a year or so and there is now new stuff online that wasnt there before that I can use to break down some brick walls I had. Yesterday I also found the first divorce in my ancestors – back in 1880 for adultery. That must have been quite a scandal!

The entire extended family recognise me as the family historian and archivist. When my Mum passed away and we were sorting out her house, my siblings just kept putting any paperwork in my boxes in case it was useful. Some of it certainly was – but much of it I have had to throw out as even my hoarding mind could see it was useless.

So this is why I have so many boxes of papers, letters and photos. Storing them safely is always a concern and as I live in a fire zone I do worry about that. So this is another reason why I need to sort it all so that I am saving only the really important stuff. It is also why I am scanning all my photos so that I can keep digital copies in other places.

So doing the research is something I love doing – and I find no hardship in doing it and so don’t procrastinate about starting it. In fact 10 days of family history is my reward to myself for completing the September room! What I do procrastinate about is writing the family story! So this is my project for 2015!

Every year I say I am going to start it, and at the end of every year nothing has progressed. Last year, over Christmas, I did start writing about one branch of the family. On reflection I actually started doing then what is now my tag line – One Bite at a Time! To say you are going to write you family story is such a huge task it immediately puts you off starting!How do I set it out?  Where do I start? What do I include? How do I make it interesting? Another excuse I have used is that I will write the story when I have finished researching it! Of course that is a very silly idea as you never finish your family story. Not only is there more and more information about so that you can find more of your ancestors – but of course you also grow forward with new members being added over time.

So applying my basic principle One Bite at a Time this coming year I am going to make progress on my book. I am going to break it up into small bite sizes and not try to take on too much with each bite. I am going to try to tackle one family at a time and write about them and the times that they lived in. The family that I started with last year will be a good springboard. Then start another family group.

I also realise that it is important to write my own personal story. When my Mum was alive she told such wonderful stories about my ancestors. I always thought I would remember them – and I mostly do. But I wish I had written them down or recorded Mum telling them. I also asked my Mum to write about her life – and she would say it was too boring. When she passed away I got her Laptop and found she had indeed started writing. She was a writer and so she wrote beautifully. She had written about 5 pages about her Mum – my granny. Such lovely stories and so interesting. How I wish she had done more and written about her early life. I would not have found it boring!

So I have downloaded a list of topics to write about my own life. Lots of small bites – about growing up on the farm, about school, about my travels, even the technology I didn’t grow up with like mobile phones. I might think it is boring but I hope my grandchildren find it interesting and marvel at a life growing up without computers and mobiles!

So this is my second New Year Resolution. Not only to keep tidying one room at a time – but also to take small bites at writing my own personal story and that of my ancestors. Perhaps you need to do the same….

Letters

Sorting out my clutter has caused me to muse on many things…not only why some of us keep things that mean something to us and others don’t, but also what we tend to keep….. take letters for example…

Perhaps for younger folk a written letter posted by snail mail is a quaint old idea…every one wants instant answers, instant contact, instant photos. The idea of writing a letter in your best writing whilst trying not to make too many mistakes lest you had to start again, finding an address, posting it, waiting some time for the letter to arrive – and even longer for an answer to come back – must seem a silly idea to the younger generations!

But these letters, especially old ones are a reminder of our past, an insight into what (and who!) we were interested in, what we did with our time and our thoughts. In this centenary of the first world war, letters from the soldiers and nurses at the front lines tell us what the people were thinking and what they were going thru. But letters from less historic times also tell us so much more than what we read in history books.

I have a large collection of letters, some very old, some not so old. I keep them because I can’t throw them out. They tell of past times and connects us to our ancestors in a different way than the spoken word might.

Some people throw out clutter – like old letters – without a moments thought. In the generations to follow there will be very few written letters to keep I imagine. Email and texting is the way we communicate – and who keeps a copy of those for posterity? Future generations may wish that their parents and grandparents kept some of those things for them to treasure…to read and reflect on, to keep in a safe place for no other reason than that they are something from our past which connects us to generations before we were even alive.

All the letters I have lovely stories to tell. I think the most surprising one I have is from my Mum to her granny. So my great grandma – it must be 100 years old. Written in my mum’s childish hand it is just a short note to her granny as it appears the granny had been ill and so my Mum had written her a note. A simple little note but clearly kept by my great-grandmother, my mother and then finally handed down to me. How could I throw that tender piece of writing in the bin?

I have my granny’s little writing bureau – a small wooden box that ladies of that generation had that they kept their writing paper and pen and ink in. When my Mum gave the bureau to me she had a queer look on her face and she said “Granny has some letters in here that are love letters. I found them in there but I can’t throw them out”. Her look was enough to stop me asking any questions. I forgot about the letters until years later. I took out a random letter and read it and realised that these were letters from another man to my granny before she had met and married my grandpa.

I then got all the letters out and read them in date order. It was like reading a Mills and Boon romance where you only got the gentleman’s words and could only guess what was in my grannys’ replies. However it was also strange as it was like you had read the end of the book and knew how things turned out but didn’t know how it happened. I knew that my granny ended up with grandpa and so you knew that this romance was doomed. They were such sweet earnest words from a young suitor to my granny. But also quite proper – and it was clear they did not see each other very often. The last letter had  been written after they had decided (altho I think it was granny that had decided) to end the courtship. The young man told granny of his eternal love but that he respected her decision. So sad!

But sadder still if these letters had been lost. They must have meant a lot to my granny to keep them, and then pass them onto my Mum. My Mum kept them, even tho I sensed that she felt it wasn’t quite proper that Granny had kept them! So now I have them.

They cover events that happened over 100 years ago. They reveal a different world of courtship. My granny had moved to Australia with her family as a young woman – she was used to painting classes with her young friends in middle class England – and here she was in the dry, flat wheatbelt of Australia. Perhaps very homesick. Getting courted by a besotted young man. I can only remember my granny as a frail, unwell woman. Very elegant very proper. But these letters told of another granny! A beautiful, vivacious, proper young lady, used to riding to the hunt being courted (quite possibly) by a number of young men. What a time she must have been having! These letters helped me see my granny as she must have been not as I remember her. Surely that is a wonderful reason to keep these letters….

My Mum had also kept all of the letters from us kids when we were at boarding school. I am a lot younger than my brothers and sisters and I found the letters from my brothers after I was born. Excited letters about their new little sister who they wouldn’t get to meet until the next school holidays. I also found the letters after my younger brother was born. Boys being boys there were not a lot of letters from them. But my Mum had kept them all.

I was away at boarding school for five years. I hated it! Every Sunday evening was letter writing night when we all had to write our letters. I suppose that was to ensure that the parents DID get letters. My letters are all there – written in my best writing. Usually only a couple of pages of boring school life. I note I never said anything to make my parents worry and so they didn’t know how much I hated it. I was a book-worm and pretty nerdy – and just got swallowed up by boarding school tsunami. So my letters sound pretty happy – when I know that I wasnt!

Letters from home were so important at boarding school. It was the only way you had any contact with your parents. You couldnt ring them unless it was something extremely important – and you needed to go to the Office and they would ring the number and would be in the room while you spoke to your parents. So letters were the lifeline to home. When I read my letters home I thought they sounded pretty boring – but I guess my Mums’ letters were only full of farm activities – but it was the receiving of the letter that was the important thing. That my Mum would have to sit down and write a letter amongst everything else she was doing on the farm, get it down to the mailbox in time to be picked up by the mailman or take it into town.

Mail was given out after tea at boarding school. The big calico bags would sit beside the door to be collected by the house prefect as you left the dining hall. Sometimes there would be a huge bag, filled with parcels, if there was a birthday happening. You used to look at the bags and really hope there was a letter in there for you – and be bitterly disappointed if there wasnt! So letters when you were in boarding school were so important. They didn’t need to say anything important – they were just a physical sign that you were loved and being thought of. My Mum kept all these letters that we wrote back to the farm. It must have been very hard to send the kids off to boarding school when they were only 11 – and she must have missed us and looked forward to our little letters!

Fast forward another 20 years and I have my own letters. Ones that I sent to my boyfriend (now husband) as he was travelling around Europe with some mates. The fact that I have them in my letter box is surprising considering they were young men travelling with very little gear and the letters were sent to Post Offices across Europe for them to pick up when they reached that town. What does it say about me, that altho he kept my letters, I havent kept his? My box of treasured did get wet many years ago and I think they might have been lost at that time. Shame tho. Ironically I do have the letters from my first boyfriend! Perhaps they are the only ones that should be binned!!

There are other random letters…. letters my Dad wrote to Mum when he was in hospital in the city and we were all still home on the farm. My Dad had very little schooling and his letters are simple and short. But they show he is hating being in hospital and is missing his wife and family. There are other letters from my elderly granny and grandpa to my Mum. They are difficult to read as granny had Parkinsons and so her writing was very shaky. Finally when Granny was no longer able to write them, Grandpa took over that role.

Even more recently, when my daughter was living in the USA for six months, we used to chat via email and occasionally by chat online (much harder to do that even 10 years ago!). The other day when sorting out a box I found that I had printed out pages and pages of emails and also some of our chats. Perhaps not the same as a letter, but still a record of what she was doing and what we chatted about as she did Camp America and went on Uni Exchange. This was very shortly after 9/11 so is perhaps why I printed and kept those conversations – it made me feel as tho I had something to hold onto and to reread.

So these letters give us insight into our lives and those of our ancestors. They show a devoted grandchild writing to her sick granny, a lovesick young man writing to his girl, children writing to their parents home on the farm, parents missing their kids a long way from home, a father missing his wife and children and a daughter writing to elderly parents of her life on the farm. All of them give glimpses of the people behind the pictures, behind the family stories. We are reminded that old people were once young, that parents always miss their children…

So without these letters we would be missing out on so much. If a granny hadn’t saved the note from her young grand-daughter, if a young woman hadn’t saved the letters from her first love, if a Mum hadn’t saved her children’s letters from boarding school our world would be poorer without them. We would not miss them, as we weren’t aware that these insights existed – but we are richer now for reading them.

So perhaps being sentimental and keeping these links to the past is more important than having a clutter free house. Having a box of special treasures is important to following generations. Will our grandchildren be sad that there are no letters from the past for them to read? No sweet love letters from sweethearts, no cherished letters from grannies or parents, no voices from the past telling us about their lives….

So perhaps next time you will think before you throw out a box of old papers – pause a moment. You may not read them very often, they may just be sentimental links to the past – but perhaps the world of the future will be richer for them. I know I am glad to be the holder and protector of my precious letters…. are you?

Back to Basics – Lesson learnt!

I started my decluttering project in August determined to do one room a month…that way I figured that it would take me about a year to work thru my house. It is only quite a small house (2 1/2 bedrooms and one bathroom) but there is a lot of stuff in here!

August went well and the first room completed on time. However here it is in December and I am still doing the September room! I do have some valid excuses (procrastinators always do dont they?) but mainly I have just become sidetracked doing other things.

It was always going to be a time consuming room. I have boxes of family history archives, photo albums and all my scrapbooking albums in the room.

I think my problems arose by not defining what needed to be done to tidy the room and what could be done later as another project. For example I had lots of completed scrapping pages sitting around needing to be placed in Albums – a perfectly legitimate thing that needed to be done to tidy up the room. So I did that. However I also had books and books of photo albums that I had started to scan, remove the photos and archive them elsewhere. That was where I went wrong! I thought I will finish scanning the photos (a massive job) so that I can pack them all away tidily. WRONG!

So I have spent weeks slowly scanning, sorting and backing up photos whilst not even touching anything else in the room when I should have tidied it all up, thrown out the empty albums, packed up the scanned ones in archive boxes and then moved on to tidy the rest of the room. So 3 months on my room is still untidy and I have many albums to go!

So with Christmas coming upon me and wanting to have the room tidy for Christmas (so I can put up my Christmas Tree for the first time in about 8 years) I decided a new approach was needed! So I have done what I should have done to start with. I have packed up and labelled all the photos I have scanned. I have sorted out all the albums and put them back in the cupboard. And now as a small mini project I will go back to basics and set myself a small goal each month of scanning a certain number of photos!!! And continue tidying up and decluttering my September room.

So in one day I have achieved more than I have over three months by not biting off more than I can chew and overwhelming myself with a massive job instead of setting myself small reachable goals! Lesson learnt!

So my suggestions? Always set yourself small goals. Dont allow yourself to be sidetracked into other jobs that actually need to be made a separate goal to achieve. It is too easy to be overwhelmed. And as soon as you feel overwhelmed it is so easy to procrastinate or get sidetracked.