Archive for Clutter Posts

Purge, Toss, Recycle, Reflect: Is This What Happens At 50?


“I hope you will remove the clutter that prevents more from coming into your life.”

– Suze Orman

Purge, Toss, Recycle

As I ever so slowly continue to unpack my 200+ boxes from the move, I am purging, tossing and recycling like a mad-woman…not crazy-mad (although some would argue that) but a MAD WOMAN. As in, I am furious with myself for accumulating so much damn stuff over the years, never mind holding on to it for so long.

Upon reflection, here’s what I’m noticing…

The actual decisions as to what to keep and what to toss are easy. As I enter my sixth decade on the planet, I know what I want, need and love. As Marie Kondo would say, I know what “sparks joy.”

Making the decision is simple. Executing the decision is fast (put the item in the recycling bin, the thrift store box, the garbage or place it where it needs to go in the house). Where I am struggling is dealing with the psychological fall-out of purging all the old files in my office.

For it’s not just papers I’m getting rid of. I am also having to let go of an awful lot of goals, hopes and expectations I had set for myself as a writer. Not that I’m dying…I’m sure I still have plenty of time left to write. But I AM having to face the fact fact that despite my best intentions, I have not achieved anywhere near what I had hoped to, in the writing-department, by this point in my life.

Perhaps even more disconcerting is the fact that it’s not like I’ve been sitting around for the past 20 years, thinking about writing instead of actually writing (like the old days, before John’s death when I was 32 and got the wake-up call of all wake-up calls about the importance of working towards our dreams instead of just talking about them).

No. I have been writing…like a mad-woman. And yet I have not accomplished anywhere near what I had set out to. This is an extremely uncomfortable conclusion to arrive at.

And yet, I think it’s healthy. As such, I am trying to embrace this discomfort (rather like hugging a cactus) instead of denying it or running from it.

The fact of the matter is: time IS passing very quickly. And I’m hoping that the sooner I can shed that which I no longer want or need (or is no longer serving me), the more time and energy I will have to focus on what really matters to me – the relationships, projects, causes & activities – in the years that remains.

Is this what happens in our 50’s? We reach some sort of…point of reckoning? 

I would love to hear your perspective!

In the meantime, here are some photos from the past few weeks of purging, tossing & recycling:

Boxes of stuff headed to the thrift store 🙂


My wood nymph dress from ballet, complete with adorable cat pin (this did NOT get tossed)


My Nan Nan’s telephone table fits perfectly in the foyer


A cozy nook by the fire a.k.a. the reflection chair


My assistant on yet another backyard break

And here comes the new…

Of course, now that I am shedding stuff left, right & center, this is creating a vacuum in which to receive new stuff – but believe me, I am being VERY selective as to what new items make their way into my home and life.

Case in point is a BBQ.

I had left my old, rusted, beast of a BBQ behind in Sidney so was going to have to get a new one. But I looked out my living room window a few weeks ago and low and behold, right across the street a BBQ had appeared on the curb overnight – with with a big FREE sign stuck to it.

I raced out my front door lickity-split, dashed across the street and pounced on that BBQ like a fat kid on a Smartie. I had just opened the lid to inspect inside when the home owner came out her front door and greeted me with a big smile.

“It’s older but it’s barely been used,” she said. “Can you use it?”

Beaming, I rolled that puppy back across the street, parked it in my backyard and have been using it almost daily every since 🙂

Slow Motion Multi-Tasking

Interestingly, shortly after beating myself up about not getting enough writing projects completed yet, I heard on the radio about a concept called “Slow Motion Multi-Tasking.” Apparently it is a creative process that many geniuses (such as Einstein) have utilized to their advantage over the years.

Basically slow motion multi-tasking refers to the practice of working for a significant period of time on a single project then putting it aside, working on another large project then putting that aside and returning to the first project with a fresh perspective. I have been doing this for years with multiple projects and I DO see the benefit. I just get freaked out sometimes that nothing will ever get finished and sent out into the world.

Apparently, however, I am in good company with this practice of slow motion multi tasking, so I shall continue to persevere with patience and passion!

But I reckon a little self-reflection now and then is not a bad thing.

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here. As a thank you, you’ll receive a short but saucy e-book entitled, Dive into this Chicago Deep Dish – Ten Bite-Sized Steps for a Yummier Slice of Life.


published in Change, Clutter, Home, Inspiration by Maryanne | July 5, 2017 | 8 Comments

When Opportunity Knocks on the Door – Literally


“When opportunity knocks, answer the door.”


Let’s start with the rats…

As you may know, we have a bit of a rat problem here on Vancouver Island.

Since moving to Sidney, BC from Calgary, Alberta 7 years ago, I have learned to accept that rats are here to stay, so I best get used to them. And for the most part, I had learned to accept them…at least when it came to them living under my sun room and in my sheds. But when they moved INTO my crawlspace this past winter, I laid down the law and called in the big guns (again) a.k.a. Patrick, The Rat Guy.

Unfortunately, I’ve seen my new pest control friend an awful lot over the past few months. Patrick pops by on a regular basis to…you know, remove the remains ☹ in discreet little black body bags. Sigh…

Patrick has done his darndest to figure out WHERE the rats are getting in. Just when he think he’s sealed off the last possible port of entry, low and behold another rat shows up in one of his traps.

He’s puzzled; I’m frustrated…and the body-count continues to grow.

So in addition to dealing with the problem, I referred to my handy-dandy book about animal spirit guides – given to me by my friend, Jackie. This is what it said under “Rat”:

“If rat shows up, it means…take an inventory of the material goods you have and recycle or throw out what is no longer purposeful.”

– Steven D. Farmer, PH.D., Animal Spirit Guides; An Easy-to-Use Handbook for Identifying and Understanding Your Power Animals and Animal Spirit Helpers


Then Patrick gave me homework

As you may know, rats themselves aren’t just a problem – so is what they leave behind. Rats can transmit the viral disease, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome. This disease can be spread by inhaling dust that is contaminated with rat urine or droppings as well as direct contact with the feces or urine.

Once Patrick was reasonably confident that he’d dealt with the rat problem, he disinfected the entire crawl space (and the sheds) and cleaned up the droppings as best he could…considering he had to work around multiple stacks of boxes stored in said crawlspace.

My homework was to go THROUGH those boxes and get rid of as much as I could.

So that is exactly what I did. Many of those boxes hadn’t been opened since I moved in 7 years ago. There was no room upstairs to put more stuff, so I saw no reason to open the boxes.

And besides, as perhaps you may have gleaned from my blog a few weeks ago, Anger in the Garden – Pruning Back for New Growth, I suspected a move from my Sidney bungalow was likely in my near-future. Getting rid of as much extra stuff as possible, in preparation for that, was probably not a bad idea. Little did I know what tremendous opportunity was just around the corner 😊

Decluttering is a process…

An item we might “need” to hold on to at one point in our lives, we are more than ready to toss the next time we see the damn thing.

Sure enough, as I worked my way through the boxes, I was able to get rid of some items. As a heart-breaking example, when I came upon the banker’s box from the Calgary Police Service’s Property Room (flagged with an orange biohazard sticker), I knew damn well what was in there ☹

I also knew the time had come to say farewell to those particular items: the uniform shirt John was wearing the night he died (ripped open by the K-9 officer so he could perform CPR) the K-9 officer’s shirt (used to roll up as a pillow and placed under the back of John’s head), a broken piece of ceiling tile (from the false ceiling he fell through because there was no safety railing in place) and his boots (the impetus behind the JPMF’s Put Yourself in Our Boots safety campaign).

But truth be told, other than THAT box of dreadful memories, more often than not I smiled at all the great memories (so far) from a pretty awesome life.

In fact, I’m really glad I hadn’t tossed some of my favourite childhood things when I was moving from my Calgary home 7 years ago. Going through them again now, I had a profound appreciation for all my Mom did for me when I was growing up…all the incredible experiences and opportunities she gave me.

Here are just a few childhood treasures I discovered in some of the boxes in my crawlspace:

My little red downhill ski boots from 1974 (when I was 6).

My Brownies outfit, complete with (this probably won’t surprise you) an awful lot of badges sewn on 😊

My BATON and a few of my costumes I remember my Mom sewing (especially the little daisy sequins on the blue bodysuit).

The hat I wore at summer camp with all sorts of different pins on it (so geeky and yet rather cute).

My blue soccer jacket the year we won the city championships (grade 8).

My favourite record – the soundtrack of the movie, Grease – and matching trading cards (remember John Travolta and Olivia Newton John!)

And then the knock on the door came

And then wouldn’t you know it, a few weeks ago I got the proverbial knock on the door. Sometimes opportunity does, literally, knock at the door!

My neighbour (the annoying one who I’ve blogged far too much about) had finally put his house on the market – and the realtor representing him wanted to see if I was interested in selling my home to a developer, who was interested in purchasing both our properties.


Yup, that’s right…the neighbour who pissed me off so much over the years turned out to be very handy in ensuring I got a heck of a lot more money for my home than if I’d sold on the open market to an individual buyer.

Oh, the irony!

And there you have it. Life is just one big paradoxical mash-up of joy, laughter, sorrow, tears, anger, frustration, memories, experiences, dreams…and sometimes a rat or two (or more) scurrying our way to get things rolling.

“Discovering and understanding what’s important to you leads to life decisions that are easier to make.”

– Kelley Keehn, The Woman’s Guide to Money

Life inevitably brings change – and the older I get, the more I realize the benefits of both preparing for it AND embracing it, when it comes 😊

And get this: I don’t have to move out till the end of October.

Related blogs by Maryanne

Anger in the Garden – Pruning Back for Future Growth

Sometimes Things Have to Go Springer Before They Settle

Trundling Through the Treasure Trove with My Tallest Friend

Say WHAT? Sorting Other People’s Stuff

Fallen Officer’s Items Returned to Widow After Decade in Property Room

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her regular weekly blog, please sign up here.

published in Change, Clutter, Home, Inspiration by Maryanne | October 11, 2016 | 4 Comments

Trundling Through the Treasure Trove…With My Tallest Friend



Jackie working in MA’s basement, Oct 2016

“Get rid of clutter and you may just find that it was blocking the door you’ve been looking for.”

– Katrina Mayer

The plan to spend a weekend going through the boxes in my basement was hatched last spring, when my friend Jackie and I were traveling in San Diego together. However, at the time, I failed to clarify that my “basement” wasn’t really a basement – but rather a crawl space.

And when a person is damn near six feet tall, the difference, I’ve since learned, is significant 🙂


Jac loading goodies into the bureau full of gifts

Thankfully, when Jackie came to my home this past Thanksgiving weekend to help me sort through all the boxes from my Mom’s place, she was a very good sport – both in regards to the rather cramped working conditions AND having to deal with yours truly and my propensity to hang to…everything.


Case in point: the above photo is me fondly remembering a baby sweater worn when I would have technically been far too young to remember having worn it. In fact, said sweater could very well have been my Mom’s. Either way, it’s old and cute, so back into the box it went – alongside my Mom’s wedding dress and veil from 1958. Not sure when I’m going to find a use for THAT but…

Oh and can you see the little white with green tulle number on the hanger behind my head? That was one of my favourite ballet outfits – made by my Mom. And I do remember wearing that. Sort of. Actually, come to think of it, I got kicked out of ballet class…or politely asked to leave, at any rate. The instructor didn’t feel I had what it takes. I was, what, six? Seriously. Allen Cuzubo was his name and I remember not thinking too highly of him either.

But I digress…

Which is precisely the point of this blog. When we take the time – and are perhaps even lucky enough to have a friend willing to help us with the task – to begin to go through the, er, treasures in our basement, we don’t just sort and purge physical items. We also have to contend with all the memories those physical items often bring to the surface.

But you know what? Spending Thanksgiving weekend with Jackie, sorting through the boxes from my Mom’s place was actually a lot of fun! I didn’t shed a single tear. The vast majority of the memories were good ones – and having a friend to keep me focused was a huge help.

We also had some fabulous chats during our breaks and in the evenings. Of course, all that hard work required much fuel and I dare not reveal how many homemade Nanaimo bars were consumed in the de-cluttering process.

Sadie, however, wasn’t always impressed with the weekend activities:


Sadie in a Russian-style hat…tres chic

We did send about 10 boxes to the thrift store and filled an entire bureau with cute items that will be fun to give away as gifts. The rest of the stuff is slowly making it’s way into my home and life (and onto my dog’s head).


Oddly enough, my feet seem to be the biggest winner from the weekend. I now have enough socks to sink a battleship. My Mother was a great purchaser and giver of socks as presents. Correction. She loved to purchase socks with the intention of giving them away but for some reason, never quite got around to doing so. Until now.

So thanks for all the socks and other stuff, Mom!

And a big thanks to Jackie for taking time away from her family and traveling half way across the country to help me trundle through the treasure trove…in a crawlspace built for significantly shorter people.

Here’s a great shot of Jackie & Sadie during one of our weekend walks:


It’s too soon to tell what effect this weekend will have on me but I suspect that releasing all that stuff from the boxes – and putting it to use myself or passing it on to someone who can – will free up some sort of energy.

Take care and I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving, too!

“Our true home is inside each of us, and it is your love of life that transforms your house into a home.”

– Alexandra Stoddard

Related Blogs by Maryanne

San Diego with My Amigo

Why Mothering Matters – Thirteen Things My Momma Taught Me

Letting Go of Always Letting Go

Say WHAT? Sorting Other People’s Stuff

Maryanne Pope is the author of A Widow’s Awakening, the playwright of Saviour and the screenwriter of God’s Country. Maryanne is the CEO of Pink Gazelle Productions and the Chair of the John Petropoulos Memorial Fund. If you would like to receive her weekly blog, please sign up here.