Tag Archives: de-clutter

Out of the Closet: Unwanted Makeover

Your mom’s just trying to be helpful but she’s messing with your closet/your head. De-cluttering how to tell her to stop before it becomes your dirty laundry. — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GWBW — I come home and my moms “reorganized” my entire closet Now there’s one shoe downstairs and one upstairs. She turned my whole closet upside down like that! That was 3 weeks ago, and I’m still searching for my things every day. What can I do about this?  — Closet Case


Dear Closet Case,

What a great question about setting appropriate boundaries. And whether you’re 13 and your mom is all up in your grill, or you’re 45 and living with a senior mom who requires your assistance — doesn’t matter. Same relationship dynamic thing, different time. Moms who need to do your thing their way, is…classic.

You know your BadWitch wants you to tell her like it is (but keep in mind that for you, her action was annoyingly intrusive, while to her, just helpful), but I understand that this may be both difficult for you to say, and for her to actually hear (whether because of big ego or legit cognitive reasons — if the latter (which your searching up and downstairs for stuff alerts me to), immediately get her under a geriatric physician’s care). Still, together you should set down some rules for happy co-existing in this house.

Whatever your age, calm the heck waaay down and then ask you mom why she felt she needed to help you get organized. Ask questions to hear past “it was messy”-type responses to what her perception is about your organizational skills, how you live. If any of it resonates with you, think then act to improve yourself. Thank her! If it doesn’t feel true for you, then try substituting her “you” statements with your proper name and repeat them out loud. If most or all of it still doesn’t feel true to you, then consider what is actually important to you a la values, and then calmly set enforceable boundaries. Remember, one huge lesson living with people we love can teach us is how to reasonably compromise.

Setting boundaries: Let your mother know clearly that you respect her, but that you and your territory must have her reciprocal respect, too. Just because it works for her, deosn’t mean it does (or has to!) work for everyone on the planet. Find the most effective way to say it so your mom can hear it. Find a way to enforce it (expectations > consequences). If you don’t, you can expect that she will repeat this closet makeover episode (in one form or another) and that will be on you, later. In the worst (and last case) scenario, put a lock on your door.

Lights on in that closet,



Dear Closet Case,

OMG!!! And I mean that! I don’t know what’s more horrifying, the idea of your mother seeing every nook and cranny of your inner wardrobe or the idea of someone else reorganizing the items that should very specifically be categorized by the wearer. Shocking.

Well, first and foremost you must sit down with your mother to discuss this fiasco. In a loving (which means practice A LOT before the face-to-face), calm voice (A LOT) let her know in no uncertain terms that though you believe her “helpfulness” in regards to your closet was born from the most loving thoughts and ideas, in truth it felt like a disrespect for your privacy. You know that was not how it was intended (see why you have to practice?), but in fact reorganizing someone else’s closet without their prior notice and consent is best left to parents of small children not yet capable of organizing sweaters together, etc.

Let her know that you are still searching for some much need items. In truth, though you two are so similar, your organizational styles are very different….and, well, it makes life more difficulty when getting ready for (school/work/obligations).

Be clear before your bathroom cabinets are reorganized and those much needed daily products disappear! This is an important opportunity for you to set boundaries like an adult. Show her what you’re working with. But show it with love and respect. She birthed you. She deserves heaping helpings of both.

Also, your mom may be somewhat bored. Is she older and needing to get out to the local centers to play with people her own age while you are at work? Or maybe the stay at home mom is discovering a latent passion for interior design. Whatever the root cause remember compassion—not anger—will get you the respect you crave.

Good luck (sincerely),



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Dude, Where’s My Car?…Supposed to Fit?

garage_orig1Not all downsizing is negative. If you’re bloated and unhealthily overweight, you want to lose some. If your endangered plane is low on fuel, you want to dump some useless mass that burdens and could hamper your very survival. Today’s supposedly personal question stumps business people, too, and could even occupy that great live-work loft space in your heart and mind…    — BadWitch

Readers Are Spellbound & Perplexed…

Dear GW/BW — What do you think about (lifestyle) downsizing whether a person needs to (financially) or not?  — Overloaded Oliver


Dear Overloaded Oliver,

Lighten your load! You’ll feel better for it on so many levels—mental, physical and financial. Lifestyle downsizing does not mean doing without. It also has absolutely NOTHING to do with how others perceive you. Lifestyle downsizing is about cutting out the clutter with which we have learned to fill our lives.

Affluenza, “the bloated, sluggish feeling that results from efforts to keep up with the joneses,” somehow replaced the simple values of the original American Dream. We went from wanting our own little piece of land to needing to have bigger lots, more rooms, multiple car garages and all the appropriate labels to show the world we have achieved. In this day and age, we can clearly see that’s not working out too well.

Many years ago my sister, a bankruptcy attorney, gave me a book that changed my life. The Millionaire Next Door cites how most millionaires live below their means. They drive older vehicles and live in modest homes and are worth over $1million. They do not live the Dynasty lifestyle. They do not drive luxury vehicles and they do not live paycheck to paycheck. The average “fabulous” American consumer lives paycheck to paycheck, carries at least $10,000 in credit card debt and carries a whole lot more stress over finances. Lifestyle downsizing is good for your health, mental wellness, financial wellness and the ecosystem.

Suze Orman, whose mantra is live on less, offers some tips to downsizing from her January 2009 appearance on Oprah. The idea is to decide what you need vs. what you want vs. what you think you are suppose to want. Downsizing allows you to reevaluate what you are spending your money on. It is a chance to review your lifestyle and cut out all the detritus. Who wins? YOU!

I, myself, have discovered home manicure/pedicures make for some fun evenings with my girls. Cutting out most eating out has allowed me to rediscovered my love of cooking (which I lost in the divorce). Now, my daughters are asking for cooking lessons too. I win in time spent nurturing myself (instead of paying someone else to do it). I win in my relationships and my pocketbook.

Geting back to basics—priceless,



Dear Overloaded Oliver,

Darlin’, I’m still working on lightening up the inside of my designer purse. Serendipitously, I received your question as I was reading a business article, immediately after thinking, “I need to streamline get back to basics.” My basics, sure, but — my basics in question here: “values.”

“Downsizing” is not automatically synonymous with people or things, there’s the overlooked awesomeness of downsizing clutter (of mind, auto-pilot living which sure, often shows up as plain old accumulated crap! But that’s just a symptom) to get back to one’s values. Quiet to detox (see our post on Fasting) to distill to essence (maybe even, again) what’s genuinely important to you. While I’m not in debt nor care what the Joneses think — my self-inventory surprisingly uncovered some dogmas and Must Haves I lived with all my adult life, that I realized have evolved over the years to not being the deal breakers they had been — the majority of it had nothing to do with “things.” Then, here’s that BusinessWeek article about leather goods company Coach’s mission to re-adjust itself for the long haul while supporting its own core values. It’s about how little things shape and reflect one’s Big Picture (values living). I found this supposed business article to be extremely spiritual. What a cosmic underscore for me!

Downsizing. To adapt to prevailing (or in my case, advanced-to) conditions toward evolving to a new “normal” to thrive. Quiet the noise (the jumbled, persistent sound inside your head usually manifests at your next garage sale!), stop claiming an insatiable “boredom” and start listening to what you’re really saying to yourself in there…Lighten up to grow more.

Happy unblocking,



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