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  • Writer's pictureGwen Pollara

The Mess is the Beginning: Start where you are

Once upon a time, I was a little girl living between two houses, both with really messy rooms. I was often criticized by my both my parents as being untidy. Indeed my bedroom floor would pile up with clothes tried on and discarded there. There would be an accumulation of dishes, an assortment of games and toys strewn about, and books open to pages of interest discarded willy-nilly onto the floor.

The interesting thing about me was that I actually loved #organizing. I had a secretary desk with an attached book shelf. There I would spend hours playing “library”. I even had a card catalogue with all the book titles and authors. The books were lined up neatly on the shelves by author. Did anyone ever notice my propensity for organizing and patterns? I'm sure I had undiagnosed ADHD, but I also must have an undiagnosed gift for patterning and spacial awareness. These two “conditions” have proved time and time again to be in direct conflict with each other when it cam to tidiness and organization.

Fast forward to the present. After many years of accumulating (I also have a gift for collecting possibilities and oddities, like animal skulls, antique findings, magazines, family heirlooms, keepsakes), I decided to start purging in a big way. My husband and I had decided that we wanted to move to a new house. It was my magical thinking that if I purged a great deal of unwanted belongings, a new space would open up that would attract a new house. Indeed, that is what did happen. We found just the right house after two years of looking. Moving into the new house, I could concentrate on getting everything into its new place because I didn't have to deal with unwanted or unneeded stuff.

After about four such big purges, I decided to turn my skill of purging, patterning, spacial awareness toward helping others do the same. I am fully aware of what it is like to have a great deal of distraction that leads to untidiness and disorganization. I understand that it can take years to overcome the old habitual patterns that lead to clutter.

For me, I discovered that ADHD is greatly helped by lightening the load. If I only have one purse, for example, I do not have to search through bags and bags for my keys, sunglasses, water bottle, or important piece of paper. I love shoes, but since I wanted a tidy closet, I limited myself to fewer pairs of shoes that I could rely on: a pair of dressy shoes, hiking shoes, winter boots, sandals, tennis shoes, and one pair of booties. They all got worn over and over again. After I purged all the shoes that did not fit nor did I favor, I spent a great many months living with less. Then when I did purchase something new, it filled a niche rather than an impulse. For example, I wanted a pair of sandals that would elevate my wardrobe but were also comfy.

I wish for all disorganized and overwhelmed people to find their way toward a spacious environment. Our brains are brilliant and I firmly believe that we need space free from unnecessary clutter in order for our ideas to be birthed into fruition. Or perhaps it is peace that we long for, then we can #declutter our way toward a more simple living situation. Here's a little exercise to get you going in that direction:


What do you want? What do you really want? What is your ideal living environment? What does it look like? What does it feel like to be in that space? What is one small thing in your space that you no longer serves you well? Are you ready to start letting go?

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