Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Are You a Clutterer?

What the heck IS a clutterer? That wasn't my first question when I was given an opportunity to review Pesi Dinnerstein's book, A CLUTTERED LIFE, but it quickly became the second one. 

I thought the book was going to be about a woman who suddenly realized her mind was cluttered (like me). Or her circumstances (like mine). Or something but I did not realize it was about being a clutterer until I got into the book. 

Not that being a clutterer doesn't infiltrate one's entire life. It does. And Pesi does a fabulous job of giving her readers an insider look at the life of a clutterer. 

Did this book lead to me to realize that I am a clutterer? No. But I did recognize Hubs on those pages. And pretty much everyone in his immediate family as well. AND a couple of people in my family. 

Holy Crap! 

So I did a very little bit of research (read I googled clutterer) and found a couple of websites devoting to identifying and helping clutterers. 

Clutterless even offered a list of questions to ask yourself in an effort to determine whether or not you are a clutterer. Which I answered for myself and discovered that I am not a clutterer. (So I guess that just leaves unorganized and lazy for me.).

Being the sweet person I am, I also answered it for Hubs. Who does, come to find out, resemble a clutterer. 

And it drives me NUTS. Absolutely NUTS. 

I think one thing I'm supposed to get from Pesi's book though is that no matter how crazy it makes me (did I mention it DRIVES ME NUTS?) it's much worse for the clutterer.

Most clutterers are NOT hoarders. Clutterers don't obsess about their stuff and feel compelled to get more and more. Their stuff just piles up. While they might have some emotional attachments to some items, they do not collect trash and so on.

So we are now embarking on the declutterization of Hubs' stuff. It's not that he doesn't want to. It's just overwhelming and that makes it hard to find a starting place.

Once we get everything down to manageable piles, I can help him organize. And keep him organized. 

It's going to have to be a team effort. But, that's what we are. A team.

Only one problem. What am I going to do when all his clutter is cleaned up and makes my stuff stick out?

AND NOW, a word from Pesi herself!!!

My Manuscript and My Life
by Pesi Dinnerstein

            “Peretz, I’m drowning!” I said to my old friend as soon as he picked up the phone.
            “What are you drowning in today?” he asked—familiar, as he was, with my tendency to become overwhelmed by the details of life.
            “Well, my manuscript needs revision, and I’ve been ignoring everything else  while I’m working on it, so now my entire life feels out of control.  I have such a mess around me that I can’t concentrate on my writing; but I have no patience to deal with the mess because I really want to work on the manuscript.  And, meanwhile, the piles are growing higher every day.”
            “It sounds like you need a good editor,” he said.
            “You mean, for the book?” I asked.
            “No, I mean for your whole life.”
            I had never thought of it in quite that way, but he definitely had a point.
            “It’s really one and the same,” he went on to explain.  “Too many things, too many words, too much input—it all creates clutter.  But instead of trying to decide whether you should be organizing, filing, recycling, getting rid of, or revising—why not think of it all as editing?  Edit your clothing; edit the back seat of your car; edit that stack of unread mail; and edit your manuscript.  Then, it will feel like one big project instead of all these little fragmented activities competing for your attention.  It’ll be much more efficient that way—and a lot more fun.”
            I wasn’t totally convinced.  I mean, using a wrap-around metaphor like that was very creative, and it definitely raised the mundane tasks of daily living to a higher level—but, in the end, they were still what they were.  A pile of dirty laundry—no matter what I chose to call it—remained a pile of dirty laundry. 
            On the other hand, I had no plan of my own, so I decided to give Peretz’s approach a try.  I woke up early the next morning, determined to begin editing my life.  Instead of cleaning out closets, sorting through bulging drawers, and filling bags for Goodwill, I told myself that I was now about to create new chapters, combine sections, eliminate redundancy, delete, cut and paste.  Of course, at first, it all felt like a rather silly game of semantics; but, then, something unexpected began to happen.
            My life and my writing started to mirror each other.  As I uncluttered the space in one area, new space seemed to open in the other; and, little by little, a sense of order came to prevail on both sides.
            Of course, it wasn’t all that noticeable at first; but, as the process unfolded, there was a definite shift.  My desire to keep things simple flowed back and forth between my writing and my daily life with increasing ease.  Using fewer words somehow translated into wanting fewer things; and thinning out my closet seemed to create a desire for leaner prose.  Soon, both my manuscript and the mess in my house were growing considerably lighter.
            For me as a writer, the awareness that language has the power to change my life was hardly a revelation.  But as a cluttered person, discovering that words could transform my chaos into order felt like nothing less than a little miracle.  

GUESS WHAT I HAVE? A copy of Pesi's book, A CLUTTERED LIFE to giveaway! 
Y'all know how it goes here- just comment that you want in and I will enter you in the drawing. I'll announce the winner by the weekend!


  1. okay I would like to be entered in this giveaway. I have never thought of myself as a clutterer, but I think I might be turning into one. I always threw everything a way and now, it seems I find uses for things I never thought I would. I can't function with clutter but maybe I need to take some tests in that book to find out what changed. It sounds good.

  2. Kim- Ok, you're in! The test is on the website I found- clutterless.org. Try that out and see what's what. Good luck!

  3. Definitely add me to the giveaway list. I have a feeling myself, hubby, and teenage daughter would benefit from reading it.

  4. Stormy- You're in! It was amazingly revealing! Good luck!

  5. Hi Pam, Happy Valentines Day! I would like to be entered into the give away. Looks like an interesting book ^_^

    Have a great day!


  6. Eva- It is an interesting book. I loved reading it AND the discoveries that were made in my own life! You're entered! Good luck!

  7. Oh me Pam, I am working so hard to unclutter all of us. It's not easy but I want things to be a bit easier once Mike is gone.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and ideas and a chance to win this book. YEAH!!!
    Have a blessed evening.

  8. Julie- I was the same way about getting things in order after DoodleBug left for college. I was so busy for a few months but then it was done. And now it's a mess again. LOL You are entered!

  9. The book sounds interesting. I am somewhat of a clutterer, but only in certain areas - like my sewing room, and a teeny bit in my bedroom.
    My husband isn't so I try to keep the other part of the house uncluttered (or he will throw it away!)
    My sewing room is MINE so he CAN'T touch it! Not until I'm too old and blind to know any better!!

  10. Shirley- Hubs is terrible with his stuff. Just terrible. I don't bother it because I know that he needs some of it but it's past time to stop the madness! LOL

  11. Thank you for the review. I like her first words "I'm Drowning" because that is how it feels to me. I don't have much clutter but what I have stops me in tracks yet I don't want to face it.

  12. Debby- That's exactly the way Hubs feels too. And me. But because of his clutter, not mine. It's crazy around here!

  13. I am definitely not a clutterer ,I have the tidy mind of a librarian, too much so sometimes I am told by my family!
    I hope you are keeping well, still reading your posts in my reader but apologies for not calling by to comment very often, time just seems to get swallowed up by real life!

  14. Thank you all for your comments. It's great to discover that there are so many of us out there! And even though we may all be dealing with clutter in one form or another, it's really interesting to see how each of us creates and copes with it in a slightly different way.
    Pam, thanks so much for inviting me to be part of your wonderful blog. Thanks too for the suggestion about checking out Clutterless. Not that I need confirmation about my obvious tendencies, but it should be fun to see just how cluttered I really am!


Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! It makes me feel connected to everyone even though we may live far apart! Have a wonderful day!

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