handy girl

Changing tires, changing diapers and changing minds all over town...


useless clutter: what’s really lurking in that junk drawer?

I need help.
I loose things, I loose things daily.
Big things little things:, phone, car keys, car, money, friends.
I'm not kidding, I need advice.
Help handy girl.

* * *

dear confused,
in the 1800’s, some people lived in a frenzied world of thrown-up, mass-produced, overly-decorated objects. oh, the horrorvacue of it all, such fear of empty spaces. you see, with the industrial revolution came all kinds of new materials and new technologies and new processes for making things.

with a population explosion of middle class humans who wanted to have stuff, lots of objects of material culture were made and bought and sold and traded and stolen and consumed by many people and it was all about making money, and having, at the very least, the appearance of wealth.

and then this guy, william morris, was like, this sucks man, and so he fathered the arts and crafts movement, a design reform movement in england that believed in handcrafting, among other things, like education, or how decoration must never be used to cover up shoddy work. william said, “have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful”, ('the beauty of life', 1880). i wonder, can the same be said for the mind?

we have yard sales to let go of physical clutter. there is always crap that doesn’t sell, so we give it away or leave it out for people to pick through until garbage day. working through our physical space forces us to deal with those pesky mental and emotional attachments we have to stuff, and makes us look at our shit.

every object we own and every thought we possess, comes from somewhere and defines who we are. do we really want to characterize ourselves as useless crap that nobody wants, that sits in the rain until some stinky old honking truck comes by and takes it to the dump?

in our modern world, there are way too many useless objects. capitalism and habitual consumerism cross through all of the genders, races and classes. objects of distraction take us away from obtaining what we really need, or finding what we have lost. forgetfulness happens when our minds go wading off through the streams of useless clutter.

if a desk of a hundred papers had ninety nine useless ones, how much time would we spend looking for the only one we need? committing to letting go of useless clutter is a lifestyle change that takes courage and effort, and it opens us up to growing and changing and welcoming the new.

so what about our thoughts? how many suitcases could we fill up with useless, crappy thoughts, and why can’t our psychological and emotional baggage go missing the next time we’re at the airport? the emotional bomb squad would have a field day sorting through some of our unattended suspicious packages.

when we lose something, it could mean that we really aren’t meant to have it, that we need to slow down or that we are too distracted by physical, emotional and psychological clutter to focus. drugs, alcohol, diet and brain things can affect our memory, but if these don’t apply, then distraction is likely the culprit.
disclaimer: i do not by any means discount the possibility of the odd guardian angel throwing a delay our way in order to help us avoid a catastrophe.
to really let go of the negative and distracting things and thoughts, we have to change the way we think. as we go through physical possessions, we can look at each object and ask, is this beautiful, is this useful, is this something that i really want to help identify who i am? if the answer to any of these is no, we can let it go. the same process applies to thoughts. why even hold on to useless, crappy thoughts for even one more nanosecond?

losing friends is another thing altogether. sometimes, we need to look within and re-evaluate our contributions and then change, and other times, a blessing in disguise leads to its demise or a self-preservation mechanism kicks in, with or without the assistance of guardian angels.

one time, in a land far, far away, i was the editor of a newspaper, and in my fastidious pursuit of perfection, i stiffened up just enough to lose a friend. being able to let go has loosened me up so much that imperfection is no longer bothersome. in fact, it doesn’t even really exist. imperfection, serving its function perfectly, is perfect.

so now to some handy advice: clear out the crap. create uncluttered, open space. in uncluttered, open space, it’s very easy to see the telephone or the keys, and to remember where the car is parked. if you’re not ready for something so radical, then put your mittens on strings, make little notes, ‘hook for purse’ and ‘keys go here’, and tape them to the place where the things belong. have a notebook handy to write things down, like ‘car on hollis street between duke and george, meter expires at 12:15’. and finally, take a few minutes at the end of every day to empty your mind, and the recycle bin that lives inside it.
* * *


Blogger LJ said...

One cannot go wrong listening to William, I say
nice line breaks.

7:16 p.m.  
Blogger HandyGirl said...

yes, william had some handy thoughts about stuff....his personal artistic struggles, though, will require a separate post....thanks for the handy line break tip...duly noted!

10:06 p.m.  
Blogger .francesca said...

handy girl! email me right away: i have an invite for you for tonight! canada day!


love francesca!

1:12 p.m.  
Blogger HandyGirl said...


5:50 p.m.  
Blogger blog author said...

awesome post. thank you.

8:33 p.m.  
Blogger blog author said...

and by the way... love your blog. you go, girl!

8:39 p.m.  
Blogger HandyGirl said...

yer welcome...hg

8:40 p.m.  
Blogger phlegmfatale said...

forgive me in advance, for I know this will probably be the lenghtiest, most cluttered comment you ever have received.
This post could not be more timely. When you first were talking about William Morris I started thinking of how nice an uncluttered mind would be.

Incidentally, I've had a pile of 100s of useless papers on my dining table for MONTHS, and I spent 4 hours today, sorting, tossing out (mostly), shredding and filing, the table is clear, and I will have my evening meal seated there again for the first time since March.

Big changes are in order for me and to that end I have been pulling out things to take to Goodwill, and I've vowed to list 5 things from my house per week on ebay so the letting go will have a positive impact on my bottom line. It's not about making money but about applying those proceeds to reducing debt and uncluttering the financial landscape for myself.
It's so funny and ironic and fitting and wonderful that I came across this post today, because it's the second of the day which speaks directly to the issue I'm working through. Thanks, super post - LOVE your blog! You're a peach.

4:49 p.m.  
Blogger HandyGirl said...

it couldn't please me more, knowing my words have reached you during this very positive period of change...timeliness? perhaps. synchronicity? absolutely. you are so ready for change that the universe gave you two posts of reinforcment. methinks mayhaps you are the ripest, peachiest, peach! william would be proud.

5:53 p.m.  
Anonymous xx-ema said...

I'm going to cut my bangs, and am looking for help on finding a good place to get it done so that I look Chique for HighSchool
I'm also thinking about Hi-Lights also. Help you be muy... muy... Helpfull! YAY

8:52 p.m.  
Blogger JoAnn Braheny said...

Handy Girl,
Thank you for your kind comment on my blog, Goosing Your Muse. Likewise to you! Your writing is excellent and very useful, especially with your slant on natural, whole foods plus promoting a clean environment. Bravo & best of luck to you! JoAnn Braheny

11:34 a.m.  
Blogger HandyGirl said...

hi joann, glad you are enjoying the food for thought and hope you come back again....love your site too! i see you've been working in vancouver...my old stomping ground for ten years. good luck with everything. hg

11:47 a.m.  
Blogger Slinky Redfoot said...

handy girl, i like your pics. Not bad for a canadian!

12:16 p.m.  
Blogger HandyGirl said...

ha, ha...i like your pics too...not bad for an earthling!

12:37 p.m.  
Blogger Mary said...

Ah .... such a good post. Thanks for visting me and pointing me here. I'll be back.

1:41 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So here I am in Peterborough, Ontario where the humidity has caused a mold problem in my friends' basement to such a degree that all contents had to be emptied last Monday evening into the dining room. Thirty minutes later, an enormous storm lasting just 10 minutes blew across the land knocking out power for a day and killing a tree which landed directly in the centre of the back yard blocking the way to the storage shed (to which we thought we might move basement contents in the day light). I and my host family have spent the past three days sorting through all varieties of moldy winter gear, tools, toys, baskets, small and rarely used electric appliances, and decor from decades gone by. And let me just say, there is some cartharsis to be felt even when getting rid of other people's stuff. We've let go of most of the crap, and everyone's happier for it. Plus I scored a really cool kimono unscathed by mold. Can't WAIT to show it to you.


2:45 p.m.  

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