I am by no means a “fan” or even a dedicated or avid reader of Heather Armstrong’s blog Dooce, but when she posted pictures of her newly-decorated study, I wanted to travel to Utah for the sole purpose of kicking her in the shins–and then running away as fast as possible because I know she works out regularly and I do not. This is not a poor reflection of Heather Armstrong, or her miraculously-decorated study that I can only hope was completely trashed within 10 minutes after taking those pictures. This is within me and I have very much the same reaction every time I dare to go to HGTV’s website or sucked into any one of their television shows. Instinctively, my mind reverts to “Why doesn’t my house look like that?” Then I go and get all down on myself while at the same time flying off into fits of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder-fueled housekeeping and organization.
I refuse to believe I’m alone here. In fact, I know I’m not after reading “Pretty Neat: The Buttoned-Up Way to Get Organized and Let Go of Perfection”, a book full of stories, anecdotes and flat-out confessions from a myriad of women who have known the feeling of domestic inferiority.
“Pretty Neat” comes from Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch, creators of Buttoned Up, a website full of tips and tools for getting imperfectly organized, and line of organizational products. The entire concept of the book is to throw away the expectations you have for your home in terms of perfection and more importantly, in terms of the expectations you have put on yourself because of outside influences.
I was able to apply a lot of aspects of this book to my daily, personal life, starting with the introduction which talks about “org porn.” Yes, org porn, something defined by the authors as “that glossy, airbrushed fantasy world where everything is pristine, serene, and perfectly in order, sort of like Playboy, but with chore charts and name-plated cubbyholes.” My first thought was just about every single show you (and I) have seen thousands of times on HGTV and other, like-minded, make you feel bad about your home and your housekeeping and organizational skills programming. See, I’m not the only one who thinks those television shows are a reincarnated version of the devil!
Another great, big aspect I immediately identified with personally was putting tremendous pressure on myself in terms of housekeeping, organization and the overall presentation of my home while always seeing my grandmother’s face when I notice something happening in my home that she wouldn’t stand in hers. Things like even one dish being left in the kitchen sink until the next morning, an unmade bed and a spotless bathroom. Yes, my grandmother’s bathroom is completely and utterly spotless and it has always been that way. Growing up, me, my father and younger sister lived right next door in a half double home to my grandmother and aunt. I was in her house every single day, multiple times a day and I have never, not once in my life, entered her bathroom to see one thing out of place. With a 33-year-old man, two cats, a litter box that always, always has a small amount of litter at the entrance from the two cats jumping in and out of it, and way too many bath and body products, I cannot imagine my bathroom even remotely resembling a space without something out of place. This in itself has always been enough to send me off into a wild fit of cleaning and organizing, but never following through until the next time I go off into another fit of cleaning and organizing. Maybe that’s the trick. Follow through. Or, as I picked up from this book, simply realizing that every single thing being in place in my bathroom is not something that truly bothers me because it is a personal preference that came solely from me, but from the way my grandmother kept her bathroom, and therefore not something that is worthy of driving myself out of my mind over.
“Pretty Neat” is full of stories, anecdotes and interviews from such a wide variety of (mostly) women who may work in completely different fields, have completely different families and lifestyles, but all have clutter and the feeling of domestic inferiority. It is also full of tips to take control over your home, your clutter and your life. It’s like showing you inside the lives of many different women who aren’t so much unlike yourself and then presenting you with some clarity and helpful tricks to combat each and every clutter-filled aspect of your life. Some of these tricks are even complete shortcuts, giving those who may visit you at your home the illusion of a polished, un-cluttered and completely clean and organized space, but don’t know that you have a pile of mail three weeks old that you still haven’t sifted through inside a desk that you are completely okay with having there. Just as some interviews within the book with women focus on the disorganization in their lives, there are much more that offer helpful tricks to steal and use yourself to create just organized enough spaces.
The entire concept here is to get your home–and yourself–in order to create a space that you can be happy with on your own terms because it is what you truly want and not something that someone else may want for you. That is one sentiment that I could not agree with more, not just when it comes to finding peace in your home and tackling clutter whether it’s in the kitchen, the living room, or even in your work area (you’ll also find an entire section within this book dedicated to helping your organize your workspace, desk and even your inbox!), but also when it comes to the choices we make for our lives. Finding peace and happiness in who we are is an amazing and radical step in practicing self-acceptance and that is something that no one can ever take away from you once you have it.
So now that you’ve heard me go on and on about “Pretty Neat”, I should probably tell you that we are also giving away a copy of the book to one lucky Woman Tribune reader.
To enter for a chance to win a copy of “Pretty Neat: The Buttoned-Up Way to Get Organized and Let Go of Perfection” by Alicia Rockmore and Sarah Welch, leave a comment on this post telling us what area of your home or life that has become the biggest source of organizational stress.
Please leave a comment for each additional entry.
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Win a copy of “Pretty Neat”, a practical organization book for the masses from @WomanTribune http://ow.ly/4c6M2 ends 3/20
This giveaway ends Sunday, March 20th at 11:59PM EST. This giveaway is open to all U.S. residents over the age of 18 at the time of entry. The winner will be chosen via random.org and contacted by email; they then have 48 hours (2 days) to respond to that email or another winner will be chosen.
Full Contest Disclaimer
This giveaway is now closed, and the winner is:
Disclosure: I was provided with a copy of “Pretty Neat: The Buttoned-Up Way to Get Organized and Let Go of Perfection” in return for my review, as well as the opportunity to host this giveaway. All opinions expressed throughout this post are 100% mine. This review and giveaway was made possible through the Global Influence Network.