Nathalie's Notes

Raising the Hardy Boys

The unbearable lightness of decluttering

Jun 19, 2015

By NATHALIE HARDY | Yamhill Valley News-Register

Behind the Picket Fence


Whenever I embark on a decluttering odyssey on the home front, people are all like: “You’ll feel great! Free! Lighter! Relieved!” 

Lies. All lies. 

What I actually feel is overwhelmed, sad, stressed, guilty. And wishing I had my bed back, but more on that in a minute.

On the other hand, I’m determined to push on this time, for once. I’m not alone in that, either.

A glance at any magazine display proves many are searching for The Answer to getting things organized once and for all. Also, apparently, for tips on how to lose 10 pounds fast, right after you bake the delicious cake featured beside the model who doesn’t look as if she’s had a bite of cake since toddlerhood. But I digress.

If such projects were simple, everyone would promptly set out to accomplish them. In that event, there would be no billion-dollar industry based on our collective desire to neatly contain our chaos. 

I’m still toward the starting line of my mission: Organizing Everything 2.0. But I’ve picked up some things that might be helpful to those considering such a task. Adopting these concepts makes me feel both inspired and confident that this is the year.

I’ve said it so many times, I’m not even mentioning it to my family members anymore.

So far, the only thing they’ve noticed is that when they don’t put their own stuff away, it seems to disappear. Soon, I trust they’ll connect the dots. They’ll realize that when I say, “Feel free to pick up the stuff you want to keep,” I mean it.

As for your own stuff, if you’re going to the trouble of sorting through a collection of decades and hauling much of it away, it’s worth asking yourself: What’s the point? What’s the goal? To feel great? Lighter? Free? Relieved?

Once you’ve done that, and you’ve found a worthy answer, step two is to commit to making decisions quickly.

My friend is a professional organizer. One of the many things she taught me is to realize the biggest hurdle is simply an inability, or unwillingness, to make decisions. 

As a result, I’ve been living buried in an avalanche of good intentions, unrealistic expectations and unfulfilled wishes. 

My closet is literally stuffed with clothing. And yet, frequently, I lament I have nothing to wear.

By that, I mean nothing fits. Or a button is missing. Or some other action needs to be taken, but hasn’t been taken in approximately five years. 

The first decision I made is to make my spaces reflect my current, actual reality. So, in this life, at this moment, my reality is that I have two small kids and I got a C in home economics.

That means, it’s time to free myself from the pile of things needing mending, because that’s not happening.

Goodbye, good intentions. Hello, space. And freedom!

Then, there’s the fact that I seem to have a lot of three-dimensional memorabilia. For example, I’m hanging onto some clothes because I want to be the person I was when I wore them last.

The truth is, that girl is gone. Today’s me doesn’t dress like that.

So, goodbye, overalls. I don’t care how much fun I had wearing you. I don’t even care if you’re coming back into fashion. For me, you either belong on the farm or in the early ’90s.

Asking myself “What is my attachment to this?” has been helpful in this process.

One of my first tasks was weeding the boys’ closets. They tend to wear whatever’s on top in the drawer. So why are those drawers overflowing with stuff, much of which is several sizes too small?

There are two reasons, really: First, managing children’s clothing is the bane of my existence. Second, quite honestly, I don’t want to confront the reality that they have long since outgrown their footie pajamas.

It helps to keep in mind that sometimes things look way, way worse than actually turns out to be the case.

I thought I would motivate myself by piling everything on my bed, reasoning that I would have to move it before going to sleep. But I got distracted with a lot of other things, like work and meals, and discovered the couch is a cozy size for me.

Still, a mess in motion — one headed toward resolution, at least in my mind — is much more tolerable than a mess at hopeless rest.

As I tackle this challenge, I have designated an “action area,” with boxes for the obvious: recycling, rummage sale, return and the refuse heap. You can call it the garbage pile, but I’m attracted to alliteration.

I also have boxes for things requiring an action, like being fixed. But as that pile grows, it becomes ever clearer I’m not going to take any action on it in this lifetime. That makes it easier to put a picture frame I bought but never used into one of the other piles. 

Pro tip: If you have kids at home, keep this area off limits to them. I have to smuggle broken toys out of the boys’ rooms, as if I were trying to get black-tar heroin across the border. Nothing sparks a child’s interest in a long-forgotten toy like seeing it in the “donate” pile. 

OK, so maybe people who’ve successfully completed a decluttering mission aren’t lying about how awesome they feel afterward. It’s just that it takes going through some harder stuff to get there. 

The more I learn to let stuff go — including regrets about wasting money or failing to ever follow through on good intentions, in addition to actual belongings — the more I begin feeling lighter. Relieved even.

To see the original article go here:

Summer Roots to RoofsRoots clip June


Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons,” which is available at local bookstores and online. To contact her, visit

Nathalie Hardy recently published her first book, “Raising the Hardy Boys: They Said There Would Be Bon-Bons” available at local bookstores and online. Hardy writes in the margins of her life with two little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting. To contact her, visit Hardy writes in the margins of her life with t
wo little boys and a husband who understands deadlines come before dusting.

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