wings and things

“Chaos to Clear”

on February 3, 2015

“Chaos to Clear” is the name of a local organisation I discovered last week. The lovely woman, Dina, who is the boss/instigator of this innovative organisation, came out to the farm last week for a preliminary glimpse of the chaos and, much to my relief, told me that she had ‘seen worse’ which I found very reassuring!

In order to give Dina a bit of context, I described to her what I think must have happened over the last three years since Anthony moved to the nursing home in December, 2011, just after Ming finished high school. The first part of 2012 was consumed with Ming’s spinal surgery, blurry memories of adjusting to Ants being in a nursing home, enormously difficult efforts to bring Ants home as much as possible, and the decision to resign from my job as a university lecturer of nearly 20 years.

So, in retrospect, that first year was a blur of sorrow during which I probably just functioned in a low-ebb kind of way. During the second year, I began to lose control of the heartbroken house because I just didn’t love it anymore. I stopped winding Anthony’s beautiful chiming clocks; I stopped watering his ancient rose trees; I stopped ordering kerosene for the Aga, stopped getting wood for the fireplace, stopped many of the rituals we had in place (like polishing the silver and brass) because Ants wasn’t here anymore so nothing seemed to matter much. I think that those two years when I lost the plot in terms of organisation of the house was further problematised by my reluctance to get rid of Anthony’s hoard!

And now we are into the fourth year of Anthony’s life in the nursing home, my life out here on a farm he adored, and Ming (just turned 21 and managing the upkeep of the farm to some extent and employed full-time at a popular restaurant in our closest city/town), has become a life I don’t want any more.

I only told Dina little bits of this sob story as she and I decluttered the pantry (and that was a fantastic experience of culling!) But, in telling her these bits and pieces, it made me realise how the fact that Anthony no longer lives here in his own house, with his own things, has prevented me from de-cluttering his hoarded goods.

This morning, I got up really early to clear the floor of the pantry, vacuum and mop it before Dina even arrived! I got the impression from her that she had wanted to de-clutter the floor – haha too late – and I told her she had inspired me! We then worked together – Dina, Ming and me – to classify everything as either (1) rubbish; (2) to be given away; and (3) to be valued by an antique person.

In just three hours, a pantry was transformed from a kind of chaotic junk room into a place of organisational bliss! There were a few glitches, of course, because Ming wanted to check every single bag/box of rubbish I had thrown onto the ute to take to the dump tomorrow. To his credit, he did find two unopened toothbrushes and a brass toast rack, but he also dumped things like banana holders, a multitude of rags, crappy old boxes of crappy old crap, and and some cracked china.

We also found a magnum of unopened Bollinger from before I was born!

Thanks so much, Dina, for helping us sort things out!

38 responses to ““Chaos to Clear”

  1. susanpoozan says:

    Well done for taking action, you must feel so very much better.

  2. KDKH says:

    Doesn’t it feel better? Good job! My husband and I need to do the same thing in our garage.

  3. cecilia says:

    What a find! can you email me? I would love you to do a little easy going guest post for the kitchens garden. Just about your wee farm, or maybe even Mings dairy farm, whichever suits.. tell us a little of rural life in australia.. what do you think?


  4. bulldog says:

    I can understand the chaotic turn of things… difficult to keep up enthusiasm when the future has so many unknowns in it… but it sounds as though you have your urge back and that must be a good feeling…. is it your intention to keep the farm? Will Ming want to farm full time in the future?? Must be difficult to make decisions at this stage, but probably a reality that you have to face in the future…

    • jmgoyder says:

      We lease the farm to our wonderful dairy farmer neighbours so we ourselves aren’t farming as such and Ming (who was milking for the neighbours) can’t do so anymore due to his back, so, yes, some decisions to make down the track.

  5. What a great organisation.

  6. Rhonda says:

    After the years of storms, this must have felt like a vacation. Almost? Even I felt lighter as the pantry floor became visible Jules. What you have done is no small thing…I didn’t think I could admire you more than I already did…but there you go. xoxo

    • jmgoyder says:

      Dina is coming back tomorrow and I still haven’t decluttered the veranda enough for us to even get in there – yikes!

      • Rhonda says:

        Relax…I’m sure she’s fully aware of just how full your life is right now, and that’s her job isn’t it? To declutter to make your life easier. πŸ™‚

  7. What a great organization. I imagine so many find themselves in the ‘clutter’ situation not really knowing where to start…. Diane

  8. clearing clutter clears the mind–or so I imagine–some day I may take the step–until then I am vying for a spot on the television program Hoarders.

  9. It’s amazing how one can feel way less stressed when their home – for me home is a sanctuary – is organized. What a journey you’ve been, and continue to be on Julie. *Hugs* ❀
    Diana xo

  10. Judy says:

    I love how you are clearing your mind as you organize your home. Clutter definitely can add chaos and you acknowledged (gently) the reasons why it became overwhelming. Letting go of junk leads to choices – you can choose the items that jog pleasant memories. The other stuff represents a heavy load you are lifting off your back. Great job, Julie!
    After my divorce, I moved into my parents’ old place and everything here was in disrepair. Emptying out this apartment required 10 dumpsters due to my father’s hoarding. My first step was to be ruthlessly discard. But all the sweet memorabilia I found was such a treasure! Recently, I did a lot of remodeling. It now feels more like my own home and it’s such a nice feeling. Whether you stay on the farm or relocate – it sounds like you are back in the sunshine again and empowered.

  11. Wow! I didn’t realize it was that long. Going into the fourth year!

    • jmgoyder says:

      I’m surprised too because apart from his PD he has advanced prostate cancer which was supposed to have killed him years ago. He is definitely a survivor!

  12. tootlepedal says:

    I hope that the physical decluttering does help with some spiritual decluttering too as you have had a lot bottled up inside you

  13. Having a stranger who has no emotional attachment help sort through stuff is a good idea,also as you discovered knowing they are coming back to make a start on something may motivate you to get off your bum and make a start before they arrive

  14. I stood in my basement earlier tonight wishing…..then I read this ….now I continue to wish…..

  15. Yvonne says:

    What!? A magnum of Bollinger! What a find in the clutter!

  16. Vicki says:

    Well done, Julie.

    I have to admire this positive action.

    We all accumulate things over the years, but when our beloved has permanently moved away, it takes a clear mind and a clear heart to be able to ‘Let Go’ and move on to the next phase in one’s life. To cling to memories is positive and heart-warming, but to cling to junk or objects of no further use, is pointless and only complicates our new life.

    I only wish my Father could read your post.

    I’ve cleared out hundreds of fiction books which I can no longer read and have no interest in. I think I have about 6-7 fiction books left and my local library and Salvation Army charity shop have scored books to sell to raise money OR books to keep to feed the minds of thousands (in the case of the local library).

    I don’t ‘throw away’ good stuff. I re-home and replenish the shelves of a whole community.

    (I did the same for furniture and kitchen crockery etc last year).

    • jmgoyder says:

      Dina is great at categorising. She brings boxes and labels them so that we put rubbish in one, uncertain items of value in another, and to-give-away in another etc. She is back tomorrow! I too have gotten rid of most of my books – very weird but lovely to have space again!

  17. Sounds like all the organizing is very cathartic. We had to clean out the homes of three elderly family members after they passed. They all were pack rats! It was overwhelming and mentally exhausting. We are still trying to rehome some items that were antiques. On the plus side it has reinforced my conviction that “things” are time consuming. I now evaluate things not on want, but whether I want to spend my time caring for it properly. I am now decluttering my own home!

    • jmgoyder says:

      I could not have even begun this task without the services of Dina and it has been wonderful to have her objective, pragmatic point of view. I have booked her for the next few weeks! Thanks Linda!

  18. Lisa Rest says:

    You are an inspiration. I have been longing to clear out my own stuff and the task seems insurmountable, but maybe what I need to do is hire some help. Soon. πŸ™‚

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