Sunday, 7 January 2018

Clutter Bust into the New Year – by Ruth Bonetti

Do you embrace or resist making resolutions as you pass that annual threshold? My goal is to declutter. Not just the old year, but past decades.

It's not easy. Mess with closets and mere muddles inflate into chaos.
Breathe. Do it. Breathe.
Believe that beyond the pain threshold lies freedom, lightness of being.

Biff the business cards from superficial network functions, whose goal was to spam victims with PR. Switching computer systems messed my contacts database. So it's time to delete people I met 30 years ago for three minutes and now wouldn’t recognise.


Bin early book drafts and failed Varuna Residency applications, online publisher Manuscript Monday and Friday Pitch submissions. Rejection led to resignation led to self-publishing with the cover, content and style I chose.  

Bury those dead manuscripts in the bin. That children’s book Pipi the Pirate Parrot never found wings. What about a How-To-Get-Healthy? An early vent called Mothers Can Stay Human! Life’s caravan moved on. Now, jigsaw pieces must be hidden from crawling grandsons. Good riddance to a puzzle untouched since last Christmas holidays whose fiddly trees wasted table space. Send it to Lifeline for a retired person with time to fill. 
With boxes of dusty books and colleagues’ unplayed handwritten compositions. Decades of writing and of Clarinet and Saxophone magazines. Will I keep photocopied cut-and-paste “The Squeaker Speaks” volumes that I edited back in the 80’s? No.


  • How to use that fiddly appliance?
  • Will I ever find time to bake bread?
  • Crammed cupboards invite cockroaches, weevils and mould. Look on use-by dates and despair!
  • What healing did the medication and vitamin supplements promise?
  • Might I bake Christmas cakes to use evil white sugar packets left by a jam-making son years ago? Aldi is easier.


Because I commute across two venues for work and for occasional recreation, I need gear for all seasons. Clothes, shoes, handbags. Last time I vowed “I’ll never wear that style again!” it came back into fashion. So my closet jumble repels.

Do I need so many multi-skilling hats? Or do they make me look harried, worn? 
I draw a tree of my life. Erase a branch that flags effort for little gain. Why push through holiday heat and lethargy to organise and deliver that pencilled seminar? Later, when the time is right.

I enjoy pulling weeds and “farmer’s friends” that clog my garden.
What of those in my head? My heart?
Let it go. Even though pruning can hurt, and empty spaces feel vulnerable.
But how else to move forward?

Every branch that does not bear fruit he prunes so it may become more fruitful. Those that do not bear fruit wither, are thrown in the fire and burned.

This cleansing process opens space for a new thing, that way out of a wilderness of fizzled plans and failure wastelands.
Wait and hope for rivers in the desert.
Trust that new shoots will spring up. In due season, the green blade will rise from the buried grain. Rest in the Lord of the harvest.

What have you found hardest to let go of? Did declutter free you for your next ventures?

Author-wise, Ruth Bonetti is (largely) resting after her decade’s effort to publish her Midnight Sun to Southern Cross saga. The first book of the series, Burn My Letters was Nonfiction winner of 2017 CALEB Prize. She is decluttering old research for her earlier published books that help people present confident Words and Music. Available via Book Depository,  Amazon and her website
Thanks to author colleagues for reviews
Facebook: @RuthBonetti @ruthbonettimusic 
Ruth founded Omega Writers in 1992.


  1. Enjoyed your post Ruth and very well said. Love all the points you mention on all the evils that too much clutter generates. Smiled at some of it too. The verse from John 15 is one that God used to encourage me several years ago during a spiritual de-cluttering season. Thank you for reminding me of it... perhaps a great time to mull over it again as we face a New Year. Thanks for all your thoughts which I will ponder on and apply as led. A Very Happy New Year to you Ruth and God bless.

  2. It’s still a work in all too messy progress! Thanks for understanding, encouragement and reinforcing, Anusha and bless you.

  3. I need some of your ruthlessness (pun not intended). Books, children’s mementos and old lecture notes are my downfall. But maybe it is time for the box loads of gathered research and gathered notes for my uncompleted Doctorate of theology and old lecture notes to go. Thanks for an invigorating post, Ruth - though Pippi the Pirate Parot does intrigue.

  4. Thanks for the encouragement, Ruth. I'm going through all this right now, as we'll be moving house this year. In the past, we've always carried the clutter from one house to another, but this time I'm determined to get rid of as much un-necessary stuff as I can. We've been living in a tiny 2-bedroom cottage for almost ten years, and most of the time I feel like I'm drowning in belongings. Can be quite suffocating. The newer house will be a little bigger, but we'll still have the same problems unless we reduce.

    Making good progress so far.

    1. I so understand how you feel, Adam, and that suffocation under stuff. Keep on with it (as must I!) and may you breathe more free for this!

  5. Your words are so powerful, Ruth, and they have touched me deeply. Can I do it ... bury the dead (hopes? dreams? unrealised/unrealistic expectations? failures?) ... prune the dead wood (can I finally, accurately identify those branches?) ... open the space (in a bruised and battered, weed-strewn heart?), wait (how much longer? do I wait in vain?), hope (have I the strength? do I dare? again?), trust (when the current of struggle is dragging me under?), wonder ... will the Lord of the Harvest water those new shoots (perhaps, with the very tears He has bottled?) ... take the risk for the rest? Perhaps ... leaning on the One who is Faithful and True. Inspired by friends and fellow travellers ... like you. Thank you.

    1. My dear, thank you for your affirmation of my words and efforts. I admit it's hard to let go of STUFF and even harder of dreams, hopes, ventures. Today I enlisted a friend to help me face the wardrobe and have bags of shoes and clothes for Lifeline. But a weed-strewn heart and failed aspirations are way harder.
      My little bamboo plant now has another offshoot sprouting. For years I've reminded myself that for the first 5 years a Chinese bamboo needs to be watered while showing nil growth. Then suddenly in 5 weeks it grows 30 metres. Trust in the Lord's timing. Keep looking up. Love and blessings xx

  6. LOL - I so relate to that, Ruth. I was going to start working on a client's job today, but spent the day decluttering my work space so I could see what I was doing. I fell off the decluttering wagon last year, but have resolved to get back on it. Packed a box of clothes last week to take to the op shop. Must keep going. Thanks for the encouragement.

    Some of the hardest things for me to get rid of are the nostalgia things (the photo of that girl I haven't seen since Grade 11; the program from that concert I enjoyed in 1984) and the things that I may use one day (but one day never comes). God has been speaking to me lately about making room for new things, so your post came at the right time. Good luck with yours, Ruth. Onwards and upwards :)

    1. Do I remember you posted about a book on the topic, but I forget the title? It gave me the idea you were Queen of Declutter!

  7. Enjoyed your post, thanks Ruth. Even after two house moves with all that culling and giving away of 'stuff', my cupboards are jammed and my desk has numerous piles. I do try to declutter my mind and heart at the beginning of each year. Not always easy but I must not look back and say - Oh, that was my big opportunity but I was so busy I missed it. Have a great year.

    1. And perhaps the hardest areas to clear out are mind and heart, aren't they, Jeanette? Hope you manage that before the year gets into gear, and have a positive fulfilling year.

  8. Thanks for your blog, Ruth. I too, have been going through every room of our home and getting rid of excess junk. I've not been too well since 2015, with first one thing and then another. Now, thanks to the Lord, I'm much better and am currently tidying my own work room. I've filled countless bins and have taken so many trips to Vinnies. See you soon.

    1. Hope you are feeling better now Hazel, and keep up the strength for the clutter bust and further books and PR. Love xx