Archives for Celebrities
My friend Brittany (whom I’ve mentioned so many times on this site that I’m starting to think I need to add her to our About page) sent me a link to the following video, which I’ve found to be incredibly inspiring. As an unclutterer, there are numerous things that caught my attention with this piece and I want you to see it, too. This is a video that fashion icon Anna Dello Russo recently made for the clothing store H&M:
Dello Russo’s home is a perfect example of what I refer to when I say, “it’s important to clear the clutter so you can focus on what is important to you.” What is important to Anna Dello Russo? Fashion and, specifically accessories. Her place has a lot of accessories — more than I’ve ever seen in an individual collection — yet her home is completely uncluttered, simple, elegant. She doesn’t have anything in her home that detracts from her passion for accessories. Even the books on her bookshelf exist to provide her inspiration for new accessories and outfits. And, she is truly organized. Everything has a place, and everything is in its place.
Did you notice the descriptions she has written on her shoe boxes? Did you see how she keeps the packaging for her tights and carefully returns each pair to that packaging when she’s finished wearing them? Did you see how few clothes she actually owns? My guess is that she is a loyal follower of the one-in-one-out rule for her garments. Her purses and clutches are lined up in beautiful rows, and it’s obvious she knows exactly where each piece of jewelry is located in her home.
My favorite thing about this space is how it represents her love for accessories and that love is directly reflected in the decor of each room. She has some artwork on the walls, but mostly she lets the bracelets and hats and other items be the artwork. This is a woman who knows exactly what matters to her and doesn’t let anything distract her from her passion.
What matters most to you? Have you made room in your life for whatever it is you love? Have you cleared the clutter, the distractions, so you can spend more time focused on what matters to you? Do your spaces reflect who you are and what you love as well as Anna Dello Russo’s do?
Back on September 1, 2009, the ABC News program Nightline aired the segment “Antivirus Software Pioneer John McAfee Gets Dose of Reality.” The segment discussed how McAfee lost close to $90 million that year, and how it changed his understanding of possessions.
McAfee’s net worth dropped from within the ballpark of $100 million to less than $10 million, he told ABC News. But instead of feeling a sense of loss, he says he feels free.
“I feel a sense of freedom,” he said. “People think that it’s a joy to own things. But it really isn’t.”
The article continues:
“I feel freer. I have less responsibility and obligations. And I have enough money left to feed myself,” he said.
After 65 years, his attitude about money, he says, is forever changed.
“I think most people don’t sit down and ask, ‘What do I need?” not “What do I want?” Because we all want everything,” he explained. “But what do we need? We don’t need very much. We really don’t … The things we want and the things we need are two different things.”
The perspective is a good one, even for a man with $10 million still left in his pockets. Knowing what you need is an essential component of an uncluttered life. When you can tell the difference between the things that are important, and those that are not, you can clear the clutter and pursue a life focused on what really matters to you.
The full article.
Image from Quorumex, McAfee’s new company based in Belize.
I’m not one to usually pass along casting calls for television shows, but this one is so much fun I couldn’t resist. If you live in the Los Angeles area and want your home organized for FREE by Peter Walsh, check this out:
Enough Already! with Peter Walsh — a series for OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network — is looking for participants who are finally ready to say goodbye to chaos and clutter, and hello to an organized and healthy way of living.
APPLICANTS MUST MEET THE FOLLOWING CRITERIA:
- Live within a 30 mile radius of the Los Angeles area.
- Available to participate for one week sometime between mid-April to late June 2011.
To be considered, please provide the following information.
- Contact information
- Description of your clutter and situation (250 words or less)
- Please email everything to: email@example.com
All information is confidential and will only be shared with the program producers.
Like me, if you don’t live in the Los Angeles area, feel welcome to pass this information along to someone who does. Those of us in other parts of the country and world will just have to watch his organizing and uncluttering genius on season two.
Many months ago, reader John directed me to re-read the Alice adventure Through the Looking Glass. John said there was a terrific example of a pack rat contained in the book, and I discovered it exactly as he said I would. In chapter eight of the tale “It’s My Own Invention,” Alice encounters the White Knight, a man with a nasty manifestation of Just-in Case syndrome.
The White Knight’s character description begins on page 122 of the book — a book you can access for free on Google Books, since the book is in the public domain. An example of his pack-rat ways:
“You see,” [the White Knight] went on after a pause, “it’s as well to be provided for everything. That’s the reason the horse has all those anklets round his feet.”
“But what are they for?” Alice asked in a tone of great curiosity.
“To guard against the bites of sharks,” the Knight replied. “It’s an invention of my own. And now help me on. I’ll go with you to the end of the wood — What’s that dish for?”
“It’s meant for plum-cake,” said Alice.
“We’d better take it with us,” the Knight said. “It’ll come in handy if we find any plum-cake. Help me to get it into this bag.”
This took a long time to manage, though Alice held the bag open very carefully, because the Knight was so very awkward in putting in the dish; the first two or three times that he tried he fell in himself instead. “It’s rather a tight fit, you see,” he said, as they got it in at last; “there are so many candlesticks in the bag.” And he hung it to the saddle, which was already loaded with bunches of carrots, and fire-irons, and many other things.
The White Knight has “so many things hung round the horse” that he falls off the horse every few feet. Most every time he falls from the horse he hits his head on the ground. His clutter and irrational collection of Just-in Case items keeps him from living the life he desires (certainly one where he is an amazing horse rider).
Are you keeping things you don’t need, like the White Knight, just in case you might one day need them? You probably aren’t falling or hitting your head because of these items, but is storing them causing problems in other ways? Are you wasting money on a self-storage unit? Are you sacrificing storage space in your home or office that could be used in other ways for purposes you value more? Would letting some of these items go improve the quality of your space? Only you know if you would see the White Knight if you looked in a mirror.
Los Angeles-based professional organizer John Trosko tipped us off to an interview with actress Angelina Jolie in the December issue of Vogue. In the article, “The Other Angelina,” Jolie talks about the monochromatic nature of her wardrobe and how this helps to keep it small:
“As Brad’ll tell you — and my kids — apparently Mommy only wears black,” [Jolie] says. Because she was a Goth, right? No, she says, it’s utilitarian, it’s practical: “I like to get up so every pair of pants goes with every top, every dress goes with every shoe. I’ve a very tiny closet. Brad’s always laughing at me. Some days, yes, I have the nightgown that looks like a dress that I can sleep in and pick the kids up at school. And maybe take a meeting if I switch into heels.”
I don’t know if all four of her closets are small (the article mentions she has four homes around the world), or just the one in L.A., but knowing at least one female celebrity is capable of keeping clutter out of her closet is inspiring. I also don’t know what nightgown can be worn around town without people knowing you’re wearing a nightgown in public, but I think it’s a wonderfully minimalistic idea if it does exist.
Regardless of how many small closets she has or what designer has created a day-to-nightgown, Jolie’s overall strategy for keeping clutter out of your closet makes sense: A wardrobe of all coordinating, multi-functioning pieces is helpful when maintaining a small wardrobe.
Scott Adams, the artist behind the Dilbert cartoon, wrote on his blog back in August about his desire to live in a more simple world — a world without so many options that he can stop wasting time and energy trying to make a decision. He rants about too many choices when booking travel reservations, too many features on his digital watch, and movie theaters with special seats and meals. From his post “The Less Feature,” discussing his travel preparations:
Over the next several hours [trying to find an airline ticket on Orbitz] I tried sorting by flight time, shortest route, and price. Then I tried JetBlue’s site because it’s not included in Orbitz. Then I tried United Airlines’ site because I didn’t know if they would have extra options, and I needed to check my miles. The flight I picked had all sorts of seating options and levels of travel that I needed to research. Then I needed to arrange the rental car, the hotel, and the airport pickup. Then I took all of the information and reformatted it in a way I could read. At some point in the process I crossed a line: The time to plan and book the trip took longer than it will take to fly across the entire country.
Adams continues on to talk about Apple, and how he believes they’re one company that is more in-line with his “Less Feature” desire:
Apple often gets the less features thing right. The iPad didn’t add a fast boot-up speed, it subtracted a hard disk. It didn’t add a touch screen, it subtracted a keyboard. You want to print? Forget it. The iPad is awesome precisely because it has fewer options. If I want more complexity I can purchase apps.
With an endless supply of applications you can download from their app store and the numerous models of computers, I’m not so certain Apple has the “Less Feature” perfected. However, I agree that they’re better at uncluttering their product lines than many other companies.
Where do you stand? Do you believe that too many options clutters up your daily experience? Would you prefer fewer options, or do more options mean you are able to find exactly what you need for your clutter-free life?
Thanks to MinimalMac for leading us to this interesting Scott Adams blog post.
Interesting articles and services relating to uncluttering, organizing, and simple living:
- Patrick at Minimal Mac asks “A Most Important Question.” If you don’t know where something belongs, it may “… not have a place in your home, in your relationships, in your job, or or in your life,” and, “perhaps it should not be there.”
- Alton Brown, the celebrity chef who is the inspiration behind our Unitasker Wednesday posts, wrote a diary about his (bizarre?) minimalist eating practices when he travels in last week’s New York magazine: “Alton Brown Makes His Own Avocado Ice Cream, Does Shots With John Hodgman.”
- Learning Express Library is an online resource for practice tests on hundreds of topics. The free and digital tests range from the U.S. Citizenship exam to college entrance tests. Save your money and some trees with these helpful resources.
- Lose the equipment and your gym membership, and get an uncluttered workout using only your body weight. From Nerd Fitness, “Beginner Body Weight Workout.”
- The Art of Manliness has a tribute to all things minimalist in “Go Small Or Go Home: In Praise of Minimalism.”
- Clean up your iTunes digital music collection with Tagalicious — a simple and easy to use application that gets rid of all of those “Track 01″ files you have in your directory.
- Are you on Twitter? Does it bother you when someone attends a conference and floods your stream with messages that don’t interest you in the least? Use DeClutter to remove specific keywords from your timeline. (via Swiss-Miss)
A handful of interesting links related to uncluttering, organizing, and simple living from this week’s news:
- From today’s New York Times, “When Possessions Lead to Paralysis” about how the elderly can be prevented from taking care of themselves because they’re overwhelmed by their stuff.
- Jamie Lee Curtis shares her organizing and simple living tips in “Jamie Lee Curtis Comes Clean” in this month’s Good Housekeeping magazine.
- Rolf Potts travels around the world with no luggage in his no baggage challenge.
- Gretchen Rubin has a fun photo post on The Huffington Post today about “7 Ways to Avoid Procrastinating.”
The September issue of Outside magazine has an inspiring interview with author-documentarian-bar-owner Sebastian Junger that speaks directly to an uncluttered pursuit of a remarkable life. Junger, most famous for The Perfect Storm, was once an extreme minimalist who slept on the floor until he was 40, and he continues to live quite simply in New York City with his wife.
A few highlights from Junger’s interview “The Path of Most Resistance,” which will be online when the October issue hits newsstands:
The things in life that aren’t exciting, if they’re a hassle, I just don’t do ‘em. Like, I could go out and buy a shaving mirror, or I could use the back of a CD.
Everything I do, I just assume I’m going to fail. It all seems impossible. But I’m very scared of failure — you know, everyone is — and that sense of impossibility gets me to crank up the turbines. Everything mentally and physically at my disposal I pour into a project.
The people I know personally who cannot sit down and chill out for a while are people who have not really come to terms with their emotional, inner story. They’re staying a step ahead of it. I did that through my twenties and thirties. In my forties, I stopped working so hard for a bit and confronted a certain amount of stuff about myself. I think that one of the impetuses for working outrageously hard and traveling constantly and always being on deadline is that your personality can’t catch up with you.
Also in the magazine, tangentially related to Junger’s interview, is advice from Eric Greitens about how he manages to get everything done. Greitens is a former Navy SEAL commander, Rhodes scholar, has a Ph.D., and a laundry list of additional accomplishments and activities. Speaking about how he does it all, from page 24:
It’s all about energy. Whether you’re leading a nonprofit organization, running a private company, doing something outdoors, or conducting military operations — you have to build habits that keep your energy high. This is my formula: (1) Vigorous exercise: Six days a week, I walk out of a gym, a dojo, or off a track pouring with sweat … (2) Good fuel: When I eat clean, quality food during the day, my energy never sags. (3) Good partners: Working with a team of positive people keeps your spirits up. (4) Balance: I pray every day, and I also laugh, a lot. You won’t have focus without balance. (5) A goal: A worthy challenge will take care of your motivation for you.
I had the amazing pleasure to interview the beautiful, funny, and Emmy-award-winning Niecy Nash on Friday about the latest season of Clean House and the work she’s doing with Clorox and the World Toilet Organization’s Ode to the Commode campaign. She’s a woman who takes time management to a new level — she was on the Clean House set when we spoke — and had a great deal to share in just a few minutes of her time.
Here is the inside scoop she gave me about Clean House:
Clean House has been on the air since the fall of 2003, and the ninth season of the show started in July with The Nelson Family. When new episodes of the season air, they’re on Wednesday nights at 10:00 p.m. ET/9:00 p.m. CT on the Style Network. (I don’t believe there is a new episode this week, but there are numerous reruns. Next week looks to have a new episode with The Ryan Family.)
The crew will be at a house for a week, and cameras roll with Niecy typically three of those days. There are between 50 to 100 people responsible for producing a single episode — from writing scripts, lighting the rooms, filming, and helping with the uncluttering, garage sale, designing, decorating, and organizing.
I asked Niecy what is the most valuable thing she has learned while hosting the show. She said, “We have a responsibility to each other. I’ve learned that I’m my brother’s keeper.” When she said this, it was obvious that she takes her work on the show very seriously. Although she’s all laughs and smiles in front of the camera, she genuinely feels committed to helping the people who have been selected to appear on the show.
The inside scoop on her work with Dancing with the Stars:
In addition to her work on Clean House and her daily appearances on CBS’ The Insider, Niecy was also a contestant last season on Dancing with the Stars. She ended up in an impressive fifth place and said that dancing live in front of more than 20 million viewers while wearing a leotard was the hardest thing she’s ever done, “definitely harder than taking on the messiest homes in America.”
The inside scoop on her work with the World Toilet Organization:
Niecy is also the national spokesperson for Clorox’s Ode to the Commode campaign, which supports the World Toilet Organization. “Nearly 2 billion of the world’s population does not have access to clean toilets and basic sanitation,” Niecy said. She went on to explain that every day water-related diseases claim the lives of 5,000 children under the age of five.
She said that on Clean House she and the crew work to improve the lives of people who need help, but not the kind of severe help others in the world need. This campaign helps the WTO make toilets accessible and affordable for people who need basic and working sanitation.
Niecy said that you can help, too, by going online to OdetotheCommode.com and flush the virtual toilet for free. For every flush, Clorox donates $1.00 to the WTO.
The inside scoop on all things Niecy Nash:
As I was wrapping up the interview, I asked Niecy, who is also a mother of three, how she manages all of her commitments. She laughed, paused for a moment, and then recited the famous Warren Zevon line, “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
Creative personalities have the stereotype of being messy, disorganized people. When, in reality, the incredibly successful creative people of the world are often profoundly organized — they have to be to manage their work and schedules, so they can be ready when inspiration strikes.
Reader Sarah sent us a clip from the Joan Rivers documentary that illustrates one comedian’s method for organizing the jokes of her decades-long career:
Sarah went on to say, “Organization is in part about being prepared for the moment when insight strikes. It’s about creating the conditions for creativity to flourish, so that when you enter into creation mode, your physical world is set up to support you.”
I think of this organized preparation every time I watch the Olympics. The five minute gymnastic routine or the less than 30 second speed-skating race took decades of daily practices, workouts, proper nutrition, sacrifice, and emotional turmoil to make happen. Success doesn’t happen overnight, and it certainly doesn’t happen surrounded by clutter. To be at the top of any profession requires commitment and structure — even for artists.
The Canadian newspaper The Globe and Mail ran an article last week about artist and writer Douglas Coupland. Irrespective of if you are familiar with Coupland’s work, “A Generation X pack rat forfeits his treasures” is a thought-provoking article that explores the fanfare surrounding Coupland’s recent donation of his home’s vast collection of clutter to a university’s library.
On Thursday, the library at the University of British Columbia announced it had acquired Mr. Coupland’s papers, a voluminous and fascinating collection now available to researchers.
Among the treasures is the first draft of the novel Generation X, the title of which became a catchphrase for those who, like the 48-year-old author, were born in the shadow of self-obsessed baby boomers. The opening page of the draft, written in tidy cursive in blue ink, includes the author’s annotations and revisions.
The archive is stored in 122 boxes featuring 30 metres of text and graphic material. It includes 30 objects, 40 audio and videocassettes, and 1,425 photographs, among them a Polaroid snapshot of Terry Fox’s artificial leg. (The prolific author’s credits include a non-fiction book about Mr. Fox’s aborted cross-Canada run.)
Articles such as this always make me uncomfortable with their choice of words like “treasures” and “archives” when discussing someone’s clutter. And, I’m not the one calling the 122 boxes clutter, Coupland is:
“I was feeling like I was on that TV show Hoarders,” Mr. Coupland said Thursday. “The excuses people gave for keeping an old empty Styrofoam cup were the same reasons I was using for holding on to stuff. It was a wake-up moment.
“The moment it was out the door, I felt a thousand pounds lighter.”
Coupland admits that keeping all these things was unfulfilling and he was happy to see all of the clutter go — but the article treats his things like an archeological discovery “now available to researchers.” And, based on a paragraph in the middle of the article, it sounds like the library may have paid for the donation:
The library received the archive 18 months ago after several years of gentle entreaties and, finally, serious negotiations.
Reality is that the majority of us and our things will end up in landfills and recycling centers. We are not Douglas Couplands. No one is interested in our clutter. We do not need to be curators or purveyors of stuff for future generations. But articles like this one seem to promote collecting or hoarding random things on the chance that we might become famous and that someone might be interested in our stuff and they might pay us for it.
What do you think? What came to your mind while you were reading this article? Were you as conflicted about the message of the article as I was? I’m interested in reading your reactions to this thought-provoking piece, and I’m glad Coupland is now living clutter free.
(Thanks to all the readers who sent this news story our way.)
Canadian singer Jane Siberry, who briefly went by the name Issa, decided a few years ago to get rid of almost all of her possessions — and recently decided to free her music, too. She had been using a “pay what you think it’s worth” price structure since 2005, but recently ended that method because of her frustrations with the payment system. From her website:
i have let paypal go. old-fashioned wheezy paranoid beast. and i can’t find a simple enough new solution. so, all music is pay-it-forward.
All 16 of Siberry’s albums can be downloaded for free from her website, if you’re interested. What interests me, however, is the unique story behind the woman and her dedication to simple and minimalist living.
From “Jane Siberry makes real lounge music” in the London Times:
Siberry travels lightly through life. In 2006 she closed her office and gave away almost all her possessions. Insofar as she has a home now, it is a log cabin in northern Ontario that’s inaccessible in the winter. “It was about removing everything that was at odds with my concept of music,” she says.”
More about her minimalist life from a May 3 article about her in The Scotsman:
There is, arguably, no performer in the world quite like Jane Siberry. Kate Bush, Joanna Newsom and PJ Harvey all show a similar fearlessness, individuality, and defiance of the usual rules in the way they approach what they do. But what other Western performer has gone quite as far as Siberry in paring back their creativity to its absolute essentials? Most people, as they get older, cling on to material possessions – letters, photos, clothes – for dear life. It’s proof that you’ve lived, that you’ve had relationships, that you’ve had some success, that you exist. Siberry, now 54, has discarded it all, in a bid “to find a new way of doing things”.
Some people, of course, may cynically regard all this as rather self-indulgent and hippyish, and may feel like repeating John Travolta’s quip in Pulp Fiction, after Samuel L Jackson tells him he’s going to give up his hitman ways to “walk the earth”. “So you decided to be a bum?” says Travolta dismissively. It’s a good joke, but an easy, cheap shot, the kind designed to keep someone in their place. Siberry, though, has never seemed very interested in doing what’s expected of her. In a society obsessed by material things, in which art has become a commodity, a lifestyle statement or just background noise, she embodies a different approach to living.
Learn more about her in her eye on jane section of her website.
Actor Vincent Kartheiser plays the loathsome Pete Campbell on the hit television show Mad Men, and he does it extremely well. (In fact, he does it so well, I can’t watch the show because I truly disdain his character.) In addition to being a great actor, he also appears to be in the running for the most extreme minimalist celebrity in Hollywood. From an April 25 interview with the actor in The Guardian/Observer by Tim Adams:
Some of the ways that Kartheiser has chosen to [search for who he is] are unconventional, at least among Hollywood TV stars. He has, for example, in the city of cheap gas and freeways, given up on a car.
“I go on the bus, I walk. A friend left his car recently at my house and I took it out one day just for 15 minutes and it was terrible. You know why? I felt like I was back in LA again. Four or five years ago, when I had a car and I had been out of the city I wouldn’t feel I was back until I got in the car, you know. But now I feel off the grid. I feel that I am not part of the culture. And because I don’t have a car I don’t really go anywhere to buy things. In fact, I have been in a slow process of selling and giving away everything I own.”
He has? Like what?
“Like, I don’t have a toilet at the moment. My house is just a wooden box. I mean I am planning to get a toilet at some point. But for now I have to go to the neighbours. I threw it all out.”
(As he says this, I’m wondering whether this is just another of the parts Kartheiser might be trying on for size, but to prove the point he later takes me back to his house, which really is an empty wooden box, a small one-room bungalow on a nondescript Hollywood street and indeed it has no lavatory.) Is that a Buddhist thing, I wonder, or an early midlife crisis thing?
“It started a couple of years ago,” he says. “It was in response to going to these Golden Globe type events and they just give you stuff. You don’t want it. You don’t use it. And then Mad Men started to become a success on a popular level and people started sending me stuff, just boxes of shit. Gifts for every holiday, clothes. One day, I looked around and thought ‘I don’t want this stuff, I didn’t ask for it’. So I started giving it to friends or charity stores, or if it is still in its box I might sell it for a hundred bucks. I liked it so I didn’t stop.”
Does he have a bed?
“I do,” he concedes, “but that might go…”
“Actually, that was the big discussion today, when a friend came over: I was wondering, should I have a screen in my home? It seems like the next step. I haven’t had a mirror for six or seven years, though I admit that causes a lot of problems when I have to tie a bow tie. Or if I have to, you know, comb my hair for something. I’m forever looking in the mirrors of parked cars.”
It sounds a bit like an extreme reaction to the venal material desire of Mad Men (and Money [a forth-coming movie on BBC Two in Britain]). He’s not worried about this tendency at all?
He laughs. “I probably should be worried. Sometimes, I look around my house and think: is this normal, Vinny? I mean it’s a bit more than just a remodel…”
Giving up most everything you own — especially your bathroom — isn’t my preferred uncluttered style. (And, can you imagine how annoying it would be to be his neighbor?) However, I like knowing that there is at least one celebrity out there embracing the minimalist life (even if he seems a little wacky) and turning his back on the consumer-obsessed image of the celebrity that most often is represented in the media.
Thanks to all of the readers who sent us the article from the The Guardian/Observer. The image with this article is by Barry J. Holmes for The Observer.
Yesterday, I had the pleasure of interviewing Oprah’s go-to organizer, the organizing star of Clean Sweep, and all-around fantastic gentleman Peter Walsh. We talked about office organizing and his new line of products he designed for Office Max — you.organized. At the end of the interview, I posed him a question from Unclutterer readers Klyla, Jackie Pettus, and Lose That Girl (their questions were on a similar theme, so I merged them into one mega question). As always, his tips and answers were insightful and incredibly helpful:
After the interview, he e-mailed MORE organizing tips:
- To-Do Lists: When writing a to-do list, group alike tasks together such as making calls or running errands to increase efficiency. But avoid getting overwhelmed with your workload by breaking it into small, manageable tasks. Write to-do list items on individual sticky notes and put them on a wall calendar. Rearrange them as your priorities change. At the end of the day, review your checklist and cross off completed items. Move any pending items to a fresh list for tomorrow.
- Calendars: You might feel like multiple schedules lead to more confusion. For a little planning relief, combine home and work calendars. Simply choose various colors to mark important dates: one for professional tasks and meetings, one for personal appointments, one for social engagements, one for your children’s activities, and so on.
- Closing Thoughts: Remember that your desk sends a clear signal about who you are and how you approach your work. You should have an organized desk at the start and finish of every day.
He also included an closeup image of the vertical storage system from the video:
Thanks again to Peter for taking time out of his busy schedule to talk with Unclutterer, Office Max for setting up the interview, and Klyla, Jackie Pettus, and Lose That Girl for asking such a terrific question. I must admit, it was nice to know that his systems fall apart from time-to-time, too! A great reminder that we’re all human.