Dr. Gail Steketee Shares Her Insights into Hoarding

Gail Stekette 2

Dr. Gail Steketee is Dean and Professor at the Boston University School of Social Work. Her work on hoarding is a corollary to her work on obsessive compulsive spectrum disorders. She has published over 200 articles and more than a dozen books on these topics. With colleague Dr. Randy Frost, she co-authored the best-selling book Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things (Houghton-Mifflin Harcourt, 2010) and the first edited scholarly volume on hoarding disorder, the Oxford Handbook of Hoarding and Acquiring (Oxford, 2014). With Dr. David Tolin and Dr. Randy Frost, she co-authored Buried in Treasure: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving and Hoarding (Oxford, 2013). Dr. Steketee received the Outstanding Career Achievement Award from the International OCD Foundation in 2013. She a gives frequent lectures and workshops on hoarding and related conditions to professional and public audiences in the United States and abroad. Dr. Steketee graciously accepted our invitation to be interviewed for this post.

~ What led you choose to study the subject of hoarding?

I was working closely with colleague Dr. Randy Frost on research on obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) when he indicated that some of the students in his course on OCD had decided to study hoarding symptoms and had sought information from people contacted through their local paper.  They got scores of responses to an ad for “pack rats.” Gradually it became clear that this was a serious condition that merited our attention as researchers.

~ Do you think there is a continuum of behavior from cluttering to hoarding and, if so, what are the signs people can look for in themselves to help them stop sliding down that slope?

Yes, certainly this spans a range from very mild to very severe and impairing. A red flag is when the person is reluctant to invite people over because they are embarrassed by the clutter in their home.  If it would be hard to find a place for a visitor to sit down comfortably, the problem has probably gone over the edge into the realm of a psychological disorder. But the true hallmark of hoarding is difficulty parting with objects that most people would throw out – this symptom begins early and does not necessarily produce serious clutter for some years.  So it is not simply a matter of the amount of clutter which can accumulate for a variety of reasons.  Rather, the crux of the problem is inability to discard or remove items that are no longer needed.

~ In the introduction to Buried in Treasure: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving and Hoarding, you say “This book is for and about people who have trouble managing their possessions.” What a wonderful description of people who have too much clutter! Is there one thing that you can recommend for people to do to improve their relationship with their stuff?

Know your own goals and values.  What really matters to you in your life?  Be sure to follow those goals and question whether the objects around you are serving those purposes.  If not, it’s time to bite the bullet and learn to part with things that are in the way of attaining what you truly believe in.

~ You have said in Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things that among the top reasons that people hoard are “to avoid wasting things that might have value” and “that the object has emotional meaning.” This is true for people with too much clutter, too. Can you give us your advice for addressing the wish to avoid wasting things?

This is not a simple matter, but in general, concerns about wasting and emotional meaning are really about our identity – who we are.  For fears of wasting, it’s worth asking how big a “sin” is wasting this thing versus the benefit of getting rid of an object that is not serving your main goals and values.  If you want people to visit your home, or if you want to enjoy reading in your living room, talking to your friend over tea in your kitchen, or cooking a meal for your family, is that a more important goal than suffering the guilt of not “wasting” this by discarding it? These are hard choices, to be sure, but essential ones.

~ And advice for dealing with the pull of emotional meaning?

Emotional attachment is similar.  It is worth asking what each of us would save in the 5 minutes before a fire consumed our home. Those items are likely to be the most emotionally important items, and the rest are nice, comforting even, but not essential to our being. Again, this returns to our own values – what is most important in our lives and is that truly represented by objects or does it lie within ourselves and our remembered experiences? But even for truly sentimental items, we can still ask – If we lost the photos of our father who has passed away, does that erase our memory of him and his influence on our lives?

~ What is the best way for people with a friend or family member who has a hoarding problem to approach the situation? What should they do or not do?

There is no simple answer except that an accusatory, critical and hostile tone won’t lead to change and is likely only to provoke anger and refusal to change. Calm, quiet, honest questions about what the loved one needs in order to reduce clutter is a great approach, but still might not yield any movement if the person is not convinced they need to change. If the situation is dangerous – the home is unsanitary, the clutter could easily cause a serious fall or a fire – the family member must seek help from authorities who are familiar with hoarding and can be thoughtful in requiring specific changes for safety’s sake.  The goal here is harm reduction first. If there is no major safety risk but the clutter is unacceptable to the family member, she or he will need to ask for specific actions and reasonable timeframes and indicate the benefits and the consequences of making or not making the change. This process may well require help from a professional, as it is not easy to decide what’s fair and reasonable in such situations.  I highly recommend Tompkins and Hartl’s book Digging Out intended for family members with a loved one who is very reluctant to change hoarding behaviors.

Thank you, Dr. Steketee, for sharing your insights into hoarding with us.

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home designcrafts, and food, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

Downsizing the Family Home: Can We Talk?

MO gold seal

“The holiday season presents families with an excellent opportunity to have “the conversation.” The one no one really wants to have, but everyone needs to have sooner or later. The conversation that starts with: “What are we going do with all this stuff?!…” Read more here:

 

The Paper Chase: Decluttering

paper cartoonhttp://www.digitalbloggers.com

Having too much paper is a common complaint. It’s something that we all have too much of.

I have a pile of papers next to my computer that needs to be sorted and I decided it would be helpful to take a look at this paper in a somewhat different way: by hierarchy, subject matter, and filing system.

We all impose a hierarchy on paper, often without realizing it. When we buy groceries with cash, the receipt goes in the trash. When we use a credit card, we save the receipt until the end of the month to reconcile it with the credit card statement. When we sort mail, the junk mail goes in the trash but the bills get top priority. How can I create a hierarchy for the items in my pile of papers?

It may sound like a no-brainer that we need to divide our paper by subject matter to make the pile more approachable and the sorting more doable. Yes, it’s easier to sort through and prioritize the papers, if we separate them by subject: health, financial, credit cards, insurance. How many categories and subcategories do I need?

Filing systems are good. But everyone’s brain, their memory, the intuitive way we understand things, works differently. A system that works for a professional organizer might not be right for me, my system might not work for you, your system might not work for your sister. How do I create a system that works for me (so I’ll be more likely to actually use it)?

Here are a few articles that offer help for paper clutter.

Curb Paper Clutter at Home This article has a very helpful way of going about curbing the buildup of paper clutter in your home, depending on whether you are a “filer” or a “piler.”

How To: 4 Steps to Less Paper Clutter Here organizing expert Carol Keller shares her four-step plan for having less paper: analyze, sort and purge, classify and label, create a regular decluttering routine.

10 Best Tips for Organizing Paper Clutter This article has some good suggestions for how to approach the problem proactively by choosing to go paperless for bills, and getting yourself off the junk mail lists.

What Documents to Keep, What You Can Toss This is a helpful list of what household papers to keep and for how long and, most importantly, when you can toss them.

The takeaway:

* Get rid of as much paper as possible (don’t bring it into your home at all, toss before you enter, go paperless).

* Create a system for keeping the papers that works for you.

* Declutter regularly.

* Revisit your system, as needed.

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home designcrafts, and food, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

Letting Go of Some Favorite Things

theater

As I began to write this post I thought of it as another in our occasional series “Getting Rid of…” but with a twist. But then I realized it’s more than that. It’s not about finding places to donate usable items we no longer need, rather it’s a look at the process I went through to get to the point where I could get rid of things that were important to me. And the items seemed dear to me partly because they helped define who I am.

I was prompted to embark on this bit of soul searching by an essay I had read about one woman’s journey to let go of mementos from a failed marriage, or more accurately, mementos from the good times in a relationship that ended with a split. At first, I thought she held onto things that brought her pain and that seemed counterintuitive to me. Then I realized that she held onto things that reminded her of the good parts of the relationship but when she looked at them, lived with them over the years, they brought her, not joy, but sorrow. And she decided that she needed to move on from those feelings.

My exploration was less dramatic that the essay-writer’s journey but significant to me. Here’s what I got rid of.

My collection of Playbills. I have always loved going to the theater, starting when I was a teenager, and I go as often as I can, more often to off-Broadway than to Broadway shows because the tickets are more affordable. When I was in my early twenties, I saw an apartment where the bathroom was papered with Playbill covers. It was a small guest bathroom but, still, I was so impressed that someone had been to see so many plays. I never papered my walls with Playbills; I kept them on a shelf. A couple of years ago, when they started to overrun the shelf, I put them in shopping bags, a first step, perhaps, to moving them out.

Why were the Playbills so important to me? I’ve always been a reader – there are family stories about my reading at the age of four, I have several degrees in English literature, I’ve worked in publishing for most of my career, and I love reading books and going to plays. Having tangible evidence of my love of literature helps define the reader and playgoer part of me.

I came to the realization that I have the memories (or maybe not so much now as I age since sometimes I have to ask a friend to remind me what a particular play was about!) but could get rid of the items. So I sent the Playbills on to paper recycling…to serve, one hopes, some better purpose.

The response cards and envelopes from my wedding. I’ve been married a long time and for years I have kept a sturdy box from the printer filled with the extra response cards and the matching small envelopes addressed to me. I’m not sure why we had so many extras and I’m not sure why I kept them, except it felt somehow sacrilegious to just discard them.

Certainly the wedding was a seminal event in my life and the marriage helped define me as a wife, and later as a mother. The marriage has been a good one, or to paraphrase Jim Dale’s comment in his one-man show, we often have opposing points of view but end up seeing eye to eye. Do these seemingly useless items enhance the relationship in any way? Someone, a good organizer and declutterer I’m sure, once said that all you need to keep as a memento is one invitation, complete with all its parts if you like. So the cards and envelopes went out to paper recycling…perhaps to become the recycled paper that a current, environmentally aware bride will choose for her invitations.

Old videotapes. I have several shelves of old videotapes of movies and children’s shows, films my children enjoyed or videotapes of popular movies they were given as birthday gifts. (Although it may seem odd given today’s media, a videotape of a favorite movie or an old classic was an enjoyable gift when my kids were young.)

Even though the tapes do not speak to me in any particular way, the fact that I kept them helps define me as a clutterer because clutter is, as someone once defined it, postponed decisions. So I sorted through the tapes. I donated still good ones to a local thrift shop, sent damaged ones to electronic recycling, and put aside the tapes of my children’s performances, plays, and concerts to be converted to DVDs…a task that is now high up on my to-do list.

All of these things brought back happy memories for me. And I know that I can remember the pleasures without having the objects to look at, which is another way of expressing the mantra of our book and blog: “Keeping the memories, getting rid of the stuff…”

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home designcrafts, and food, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

“Get Organized Month” Helps Jumpstart the New Year

Get Organized illo

January always holds the promise of a new beginning, the power of possibility. That’s why so many people make or, at least, begin to make a list of New Year’s resolutions.

One resolution that many of us home in on is to be more organized, to get a handle on all the chaos (the papers, the people, the perspectives) in our lives. And many of us need some help with that.

Well, help is on the way. January is National Get Organized (GO) Month, which is a public awareness campaign that promotes the benefits of getting organized that is sponsored by the National Association Of Professional Organizers (NAPO). Its members celebrate the month by offering “tips, tricks, advice, and information so you can make 2014 your best year ever.”

With that great push forward from NAPO, what else can we do to make the process of decluttering a little less onerous, a little more pleasant perhaps, and definitely something doable? Here are some tips and advice that have appeared online in the first weeks of January.

“It’s important to acknowledge that we all have too much stuff.” So says a newspaper columnist who was writing about the plethora of new gadgets out this year but who could just as easily have been writing about books or clothes or kitchen utensils. So the first step for all of us is accept the fact that we have too much stuff, whichever categories of stuff we might have.

“If I keep everything, then nothing I save is important.” says Jennifer Nice in her article Cut Clutter by Staging a Virtual Move in OregonLive. She offers a dozen tips to clear clutter and create more order but her number one tip is to repeat the mantra: “If I keep everything, then nothing I save is important.”  She challenges us to prioritize our stuff.

“Choose one word that basically sums up your overall vision for the year.” suggests Janet Barclay in a New Year post for Your Organizing Business. She was intrigued by the “one word” strategy mentioned by a number of fellow bloggers, and she chose the word Maximize. What word would you choose? To learn more about this approach, choosing one word to provide clarity, you can check out the My One Word website.

“The point isn’t the number of things I end up with… [The point] is about finding a balanced value in each thing that takes up space in my life.” So says Emily Theis in a thoughtful article about stuff management in the Boston Globe. Her wake-up call came when she was packing for a trip. She realized that stuff didn’t solve anything, it only distracted her. She started a journey toward minimalism, a journey she describes as “a continual commitment to saying, ‘I will only invest my time and money in things that add value to my life.’” Do the things we invest time and money in add value to our lives?

“Toss the item; keep the memory.” That’s what we say in our new updated e-book Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home. We offer suggestions for ways to approach the difficulty of getting rid of stuff, suggestions we have received from professional organizers, senior move managers, and other people just like us who work each day at balancing our desire to have less stuff with the emotions attached to the things we have.

And a final word from Paul Coelho: “Once you make a decision the universe conspires to make it happen.”  Here’s to the universe helping us in our quest to “Get Organized.”

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home designcrafts, and food, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

Where Do You Start?

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Last week, I participated in a downsizing roundtable for seniors and the question everyone asked was, “Where do you start?” From my experience in writing our book Moving On and our blog, here’s what I’ve learned.

Whether you are moving to a smaller place, straightening up because your apartment is going to be painted, or simply have that feeling that your possessions have taken over, the first question – and sometimes the one that stops you in your tracks – is always how do you get started. Here are some suggestions.

Start now. You can think about this, you can lament having to do it, but at some point you simply have to plunge in – even if “starting” simply means beginning to think about what you want to get rid of and talking to people about the best way to do that. The longer you put it off, the more difficult it will become. If you’re older, the sooner you start, the more you’ll be able to be actively involved in the process of sorting through your things. And whether you’re old or young, that means that the changes you’re about to make will be on your terms, not someone else’s.

Take your time. The best way not become overwhelmed with the process of downsizing is to take your time. Schedule regular sessions, maybe just a half hour at a time, adding a few 2- to 3-hour sessions when needed. Doing too much at once may exhaust you and make you postpone starting another session. Keep your sessions short but make them a regular habit.

Start with the easy things. Begin with the areas that have the least emotional impact for you because it will be easier to part with those things. For some, that might be getting rid of old towels (a welcome donation at most animal shelters). For others it might be that pile of unread magazines or the kitchen utensils in that overstuffed kitchen drawer. Start with whatever area works best for you.

Start small. Don’t try to do too much at one time. If it took you 20 or 30 years to accumulate all that clutter, it will take you more than a couple of weeks to sort through it all. And any job that seems overwhelming can be broken down into smaller parts. If going through your clothes is too big a job to contemplate, divide the clothes into smaller groups: office clothes, casual wear, shoes, coats, accessories, and tackle each group separately.

Communicate. Talk over your plans with your family and friends; let them know that you want to get your home in order. Seek out people who have been through the experience of downsizing to find out what they did right—as well as what they did wrong. After the fact, people often have some insight as to what needs to be saved and what can be tossed. And ask for advice from friends and colleagues who are particularly well organized. The more you talk about getting organized and the more you embrace this as your project, the more likely you will be to get it done.

Get help. Nobody has to do this alone. When you are sorting through personal mementos like family photos or going through your income tax files, you’ll want to work alone. But if you need help deciding which clothes to keep and which to give away, you could ask a friend whose taste you admire to give you a helping hand. And anyone can help with carting things away; you could ask a teenage neighbor for help.

Think beyond. What this means is that for some of us, it’s easier to get rid of things when we know that the items will have a life beyond our needs. There are many places, well-known charities, schools, community groups, and businesses, that accept all kinds of household items from used roller skates to nearly new business suits, from college textbooks to sports equipment.

Enjoy the process. You can decide that this process has its upsides, that it’s not all onerous, and to do that you may have to adjust your attitude somewhat. You can also realize that this is an opportunity to be generous. People we interviewed found great joy in giving things away, whether to friends or to those in need. With the right attitude and an awareness of the needs of others, you can make this a positive experience.

Remember that one drawer emptied of its clutter or a couple of shelves in a closet that are organized and easier to use is a great accomplishment. Give yourself permission to feel good about the first small step you take; that will make it easier for you to go on to the next step. And downsizing is a process of many small steps.

So let’s get started.

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home designcrafts, and food, and coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

Where Have All Your Shoes Gone?

shoes

Gone to landfills everywhere. Each year more than 350 million pairs of shoes are discarded, according to the statistics on one charity’s website. Why? Probably because most people do not know what to do with used shoes.

The first thing to know: All shoes are recyclable.

When shoes are discarded, they are incinerated, releasing harmful dioxins into the atmosphere. So donating them is kinder to the environment.

Shoes can be donated to most large charities that collect clothing, they can be donated to non-profit organizations that specialize in sending shoes to those in need, or they can be given to companies that recycle the materials to create new products.

Here is a list of charities and organizations that accept donations of shoes and either send them to people in need or recycle their component parts.

CrocsCares http://crocscares.com/donate-your-crocs/

Many of the Crocs stores will accept donations of gently used Crocs and send to Souls4Souls to be cleaned and donated to those in need.

Donate Your Old Shoes http://donateyouroldshoes.org/

This non-profit collects shoes (that are dropped off or mailed in) and puts them “on the shoeless worldwide” by including them in shipments made by other humanitarian organizations.

Nike Reuse-A-Shoe http://www.nikereuseashoe.com/

Since 1990, Nike’s reuse program takes worn out athletic shoes from any manufacturer, separates the components and turns the materials into new sports surfaces.

Okabashi Recycling Program http://www.okabashi.com/Recycle/b/2493603011

This manufacturer of flip flops and other plastic footwear welcomes returns of its used footwear, which it grinds up and uses in producing new products, in a closed-loop recycling process.

One World Running http://oneworldrunning.com/drop-off-locations/

An international program that provides running shoes to those in need in the U.S. and around the world.

Pick Up Please http://www.pickupplease.org/donate-clothing?gclid=CJat8MeK5bkCFZCd4AodkQwAfA

A service that will pick up shoes and clothes (and household goods), generating funds for programs provided by the Vietnam Veterans of America.

Recycled Runners http://www.recycledrunners.com/

This program has an online recycling and donation directory for local and international recycling programs. Fill in a city or town and find nearby drop-off sites.

Run the Planet Shoes Recycling Program http://www.runtheplanet.com/shoes/selection/recycle.asp

This online running shoe store has compiled a list of more than a dozen shoe recycling programs around the world.

Share Your Soles http://shareyoursoles.org/

This charity gives away shoes in a way that respects and honors the dignity of those who receive them. The gently used shoes are sanitized and polished before donation. Drop off locations are mostly in the Chicago area.

Shoes for the Cure http://shoesforthecure.com/

A professional recycling company specializing in recycling shoes sets up bins, reconditions the shoes for those in need or recycles the materials, and donates the proceeds to local hospitals.

Soles4Souls http://www.soles4souls.org/

This charity collects used shoes and donates them to those in need around the world, from homeless shelters in the U.S. to orphanages in Africa.

Let’s keep our shoes out of the landfill and where they belong – on people’s feet.

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home designcrafts, and foodand coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

Keeping America Beautiful

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Happy 4th of July!

As we celebrate the founding of our country with picnics, parades, and fireworks, let’s also give some thought to the future of our country, specifically the land we live on.

If you are moving, trying to declutter your home, or emptying a home after the owners have left, you have many decisions to make. If deciding on how to dispose of each and very item in the house is just too much, there is help out there. Here’s a look at some companies that will lend a hand.

Junk removal companies ensure that, for a fee, what you don’t want or can’t use any longer is recycled, donated, or disposed of responsibly.

The list of items they pick up and dispose of includes clothing, linens, old furniture, mattresses, appliances, electronics, sports equipment, tires, construction debris, yard waste, and can also include garage, attic, and basement cleanup.

The following two nationwide junk removal companies have received great feedback on the job they do.

 1-800-Got-Junk?

http://www.1800gotjunk.com/

Since 1989, they have saved over 1.5 billion pounds of junk from being dumped in landfills. Their credo: We believe that together we can make a difference for future generations by focusing on responsible environmental practices today. We are committed to improving our environmental performance by measuring the amount of junk collected and reporting where it goes.

College Hunks Hauling Junk

http://www.collegehunkshaulingjunk.com/

“Hunks” stands for honest, uniformed, nice, knowledgeable, students. Their mission is to move the world, one community, one home, one family at a time. They will sort, load, haul, recycle, donate and dispose of every last item that needs to go.

To find local organizations that do the same or similar work, search online under ‘junk removal services.’ There are also free services for special items, such as scrap metal.

Keep America beautiful; recycle your waste.

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home designcrafts, and foodand coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

The Dilemma of Too Many Books

bookPilewww.ffmu.org

I recently bought a new bookcase, or new to me at least. It’s actually a used one I got from neighbors who were moving. The bookcase is teak with three sections, wide center shelves flanked by two narrower sections.

The bookcase was meant to replace two well-worn white Ikea bookshelves on one wall of my dining room. Well, ostensibly to replace the old ones, and therein lies the dilemma.

I removed all the books from the old bookcases, most shelves had double and triple rows of books, and moved the bookcases to another wall in the room temporarily so we could put the new bookcase in place. After sorting through the books and grouping them by subject, I set aside stacks of books to be donated and then put the ones I wanted to keep back on the shelves. They filled the new bookcase and one of the old bookcases.

Do I get rid of my old Ikea bookshelves as I had planned? If I do, I will have to sort through the books again and donate more of them.

What I had thought of as the dilemma of the bookcase has become, really, the dilemma of having too many books.

Now I’m not new to donating books. Last year I sorted through two large bookcases in my bedroom (Does it sound like I have too many bookcases in my home? I think that’s a topic for another post!) and donated more than a dozen cartons of books. The cartons were small of course, we had to be able to lift them, but we did pass along many, many books.

So in my quest to have fewer books in my home – not a quest I’m wholeheartedly behind, by the way, because I would like to keep all the books I have – I decided to find more places to donate my books.

A look online for some suggestions led to the list below of places that welcome donations of books; some are old favorites, ones we’ve mentioned in a previous post, and some are new to me.

Better World Books

Recycles books to raise money for global literacy.

BookEnds

Recycles children’s books and gives them to children in need.

BookMooch

Give books away. Get books you want.

Books for Africa

Education is the great equalizer in the world.

Books for Soldiers

For direct donation of books to soldiers serving overseas.

Global Literacy Project

Committed to helping people become literate.

Green Textbooks

Recycles textbooks, DVDs, CDs.

International Book Project 

Changing lives through books.

Having too many books is, as some say, a high-class problem. Being able to pass them along to people in need through these wonderful organizations is green living at its best.

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home design, crafts, and foodand coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

Ten Thoughts for 2013

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Here are some things to think about as we approach the new year. They aren’t really resolutions since we all know how difficult it is to keep our resolutions. Rather they are thoughts to guide us through the holiday season and beyond.

1. Give yourself credit for everything that you did this year.

Too often we lament what we didn’t accomplish rather than honor what we did get done. Celebrate yourself.

2. Cry less and laugh more.

With the horrifying events in the news lately, finding joy and laughter in the world is one intention we all need to work on.

3. Clean up e-clutter.

Clean out your email inbox, get rid of outdated documents, unsubscribe to blogs and websites that sap your energy, pare down your friends list.

4. Remember the small things.

Put aside the big milestones for the moment and be thankful for the many tiny advances you’ve made.

5. Use less plastic and more recycled paper.

Every ton of 100 percent post-consumer waste recycled paper products you buy saves 12 trees.

6. Use natural cleaning ingredients.

Have a positive impact on the environment by cleaning with common household items like vinegar, baking soda, lemon juice, and salt.

7. Talk less. Listen more.

Let’s tamp down our natural instinct to comment on everything and listen to what others have to say, listen to what the universe is telling us.

8. Create a list of what’s important to you.

List what you love, what you would like more of, which places you want to visit, which friends you treasure – and work on allowing time in your life for everything on your list.

9. Spend five minutes every day in total silence.

Be alone. Ground yourself. Turn off all electronic devices. Meditate.

10. Be kind.

Is there anything else you think should be on my list? What can you suggest? Send in your best thoughts for 2013 and the most intriguing one will win a year-end gift – a copy of our book Moving On.

Wishing you peace and love and joy in everything.

Linda Hetzer is an editor and author of books on home design, crafts, and foodand coauthor of Moving On: A Practical Guide to Downsizing the Family Home

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