Out With The Old

There still some celebrating left to do, but Nora’s getting a jump on 2015.  Is this something you do as well?  ~Laura 

Holidays bring the bright and shiny, whether it’s tangible things or spirit. Hopefully, some of both. We had plenty around here this past week. Happy faces, friends and family, excited kids–and shiny gifts. We all have our traditions, and in our house this involves food, pajamas, a couple hours of chaos, a family picture in front of the tree, and a massive cleanup — eventually.

one more room
Top to Bottom, drawer by drawer.

I have my own tradition following the big day, and that’s the start of my full-house purge. I think of it as Reclaiming My House. Starting Christmas week — with a break for the preparations for our annual New Year’s Day open house — I start a room-by-room purge. Every closet, every drawer, every space where we’ve stuffed things through the year gets the treatment. I mean top to bottom — no space is safe from me once I get going. Which tends to make my husband a little nervous. He’s a Keeper. I’m a Get It Out Of Here-er.

There’s a lot of “how did that end up there?”, or “why am I keeping that??” I try to shovel out my office after finishing a book to clear the way for the next–mentally and physically. This is shoveling on a bigger scale to clear the way for a new year.

I’m always amazed by the amount of absolute trash that ends up pushed into a drawer. Out it goes. Some things no longer belong here, but will suit someone else — out go those things, too, to be offered to someone.

first cut
First round

Before long I’ll have bags and bags, boxes and boxes. How did it all FIT in here in the first place? A question I ask myself every year.

I’ve already started on my closet, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. (And I have many friends who’ll be happy my closet got The Treatment as what was in there will now be in THEIR closets!) The Big Purge is a weekend task for me, so it’ll run through January. But when it’s done, ahhhh–my house can breathe again, and the pretty shiny things that came into it over the holidays will have their time in the sun.

As the new year approaches, I try to do the same thing with myself. Clean out the trash, Nora, in your head, in your heart. Make room for the new and shiny. It’s not as easy as tossing expired Banana Republic coupons in a Hefty bag, or letting girlfriends go through a bag of clothes, but it’s worth the effort to clear a clean path for the new year.



52 thoughts on “Out With The Old”

  1. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing today Nora! My husband doesn’t come near me during my clean out. But right now I wish I was a girlfriend of yours so that I could go through your closet! Happy New Year to you and your family.

    1. I have been cleaning out also but not just in January, its too big of a job for me. I get too tired to do it all at once, baby steps. A drawer at a time, a closet in sections, nothing too drastic. Recently while using my six Air Bake cookie sheets and three cooling racks I decided to really clean them well as I just normally hand wash as they are large. Since my dishwasher was empty thanks to the dh just putting all the dishes away I decided to put those sheets and racks in the bottom and wash them with the teapots and cups I collect, that live on the top of My server and china closet. It was amazing how clean they came out. I decided I couldn’t put them back into that skinny, tall cupboard that is next to the oven where they are stored unless I cleaned out and rearranged the baking pans, muffin tins, etc tossing a few old things I never use, it is actually neat and everything now fits in there perfectly.

  2. So very true! I like the idea of clearing the head and the heart. Early happy and blessed New Year to you!

  3. How do you let go of family. How do you clear Your head and heart of the pain they have caused and what you allowed to be . I don’t know how to let go of .

    1. Gail,

      Unfortunately family doesn’t get swept away in a clean out. In my experience it takes a lot of time and practice to create compassionate distance from other people’s drama. I hope you can get to an emotional place from which you can send them blessings, but is completely removed from their drama. Good luck~ Laura

    2. I have the same feelings you have. Fortunately for me, I’ve gotten to the point where I can say that it’s the way they are going to be and nothing I do or say is going to change that. It’s hard to do that. I’ve had 57 years and sometimes it still hurts.

    3. Gail, my sympathies. Though it sounds cliched, I really believe all we can do is try to fill that empty place hurt leaves behind with something that brings us peace, and maybe some joy. Maybe it’s not so much letting go of those who hurt us–and no one can hurt us more than family–but stepping back enough to find that peace.

    4. Dear Gail,
      Sometimes you have to stop flogging a dead horse. This year my sister decided that she was going to stop trying to force connections that were not connecting and to instead do other things that would make her happy. She adopted a child for Christmas instead of buying for a multitude of little relatives in our lives who have too much stuff anyway. We have never once had a thank you from any of them. She visited a friend in the nursing home and went out with other friends. We did not host the family party. In the end, she was not so depressed this holiday season. I think we will continue to look for ways outside the family to make some holidays bright. I pray that you will prevail and take charge of your happiness. As they say-don’t let the #*%# get you down. God Bless and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year.

  4. I was a Keeper for a long time, now I’m swaying the other direction, so I have a lot of WHY DID I WANT THIS? I hope that lovely glass dragon piece on your desk survived the purge! Happy New Year!

      1. Darn, Nora, I was going to offer to give it a home (with all my other dragons) if it needed one. Guess I should be glad that it still has a home.

        I try to purge, but can only go for about half an hour, then I start second-guessing myself. I take after dad, who is a keep it all; might find a use for it someday, where my sister takes after mom; have touched it in a bit; get rid of it! Good-will can use it! My book collection drives her crazy sometimes! Very little purging gets done there!

  5. I thought I was the only one who has to constantly purge. You’ve made me feel so good that it’s something you need to attack also. Thanks so much for all the hours of relaxing reading that you have given me over the years. Happy New Year!

  6. That is such a good idea! I think I’ll try and do that. I get in these “gotta get all this extra stuff outta here” moods several times a year, but the beginning of a new year sounds like a great time to start with a clean slate!

  7. Nora, I love this; it is my philosophy also. Undecorate a room, pack decorations away, then houseclean the room!

  8. I am in the middle of my purge..
    I also wonder how i ammculate so much junk!

  9. I clean out stuff all year long, but I try to do the head and heart exercise the first Sunday after Christmas (my favorite Mass of the year because of all the carols we sing). Happy New Year, Nora!

  10. I do this too, much to my husband and son’s dismay. They grumbles and tell i’m nuts. My 15 year old son posts a big sign stating that we cleaned out his room before school started so I cant go in a do it again. Hubby sucks it up and helps me every step of they. Now I can tell them that Nora does it, so it must be okay. Clean/uncluttered house clean/uncluttered mind and sprite I say.

  11. My daughter and I did this last year, right after Christmas, with all the Christmas decorations, dishes, and other season related paraphernalia. This year, we never did find the porcelain nativity set or the tree top angel. Surely they survived the purge, somewhere in the basement.

    1. I can definitely relate, Heather! If I move anything from where it has lived in the past, I never see it again!

  12. Our Christmas cleanup happened way too fast this year. My new fake tree – the lights failed two days before Christmas, very sad. Thankfully we’d already had our early family celebration the weekend before. And my very handy hubby managed to work some sort of bypass magic on the cord so the tree was temporarily lit for the 24th and 25th. But the box came down from the attic on the 26th and off to UPS we went to return it. Looking forward to that refund on my credit card. But with no tree in the house the rest of the decorations feel strange being up. My big cleanup will be pulling all the ornament boxes down and really doing a big sort of them. Time for all 5 kids, who live away from home, to have their own ornaments given to them. Perhaps I can get from 6 boxes of Christmas things down to one or two! Okay, 3 or 4 seems good too. 🙂

  13. Oh this is an Irish thing my Mom taught me. I try but I’m not great at parting with things. I do try to make sure the house in clean, laundry done, bills paid, groceries stored, and writing schedule is set because Mom always said if it was done on New Year’s Eve, it would be done all year.

    Thanks for the reminder. I have a lot to do this weekend. LOL

  14. Great idea. Wish I had the initiative to do the same. Happy New Year!

  15. Started my purging this weekend, as I started spring cleaning my place from top to bottom. It’s totally mag to learn you have got the same going on!
    What’s your New Year’s open house about, if I may ask?

    1. It’s about a lot of food, drink and people celebrating the first day of the year together. We’ve been doing it for more years than I can remember. So I spend the last day of the year in the kitchen, cooking, chopping, stirring.

      1. It sounds like great fun and I just bet it’s all that and more. Good luck with the preparation still ahead of you.

  16. I love your philosophy, Nora. Now, to convince my husband that a purge in OUR house would do us both good 😉 Happy New Year!

  17. Thanks so much for sharing and your motivation. This past year has been one of stress (breast cancer surgery, a diagnosis of congestive heart failure, and a bad hip). It would be easy to wallow in it all, but I’ve decided to try and take the high road and do as you suggest for 2015 and purge the trash in my heart and mind and be grateful for all the blessings I have in my life; husband, sons, their wives, and five grandkids, with one on the way! As for the trash in my home, that may have to wait until the spring. My daughter-in-law, who has four kids, and is the queen of cleaning out junk on a regular basis has offered to help me and I will take her up on her offer. In the down times, I’ll keep
    reading your stories, as they lift my spirits with the knowledge there are always ‘happily ever afters’ out there. Thank you! Have a wonderful New Year and blessings to you and your family.

  18. Happy holidays everyone!
    Yes I do this and I sort of enjoy it. I whine a lot while I’m doing it, but then I just tell myself to shut up. I’m a craft person, with Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas my busiest time of year, so not my house so much, but my work room begins disaster area status around September. Added to my flotsam is the fact that a portion of what I make is from recycled things and I’m usually handed a “can you do anything with this?” box. Of course I can! – so I have lots of mysterious little containers with who knows what in them. I have 3 boxes helping me purge: “Fix me”, “Put me back where I belong” and “finish me”…and my trusty trash can and recycling bin right next to them. The nice thing is that I’m really pooped at the end of the day (so I sleep well) and there are those “that’s where that went” or “why do I have this?” moments where I can actually put something where I can find it when I need it, pass things along to a school art department or put them in a special box I’ll use in a kid’s art class that in the summer. Or just throw it out. I started yesterday with cat assistance and background from marathon “In Death” novellas on audio books and I’m about 1/3 way through. But then I was at it until 3am – I’m a bit of a night owl. Then I plan on re-arranging the work room. (insert maniacal laughter here) I have to keep busy while I wait for “Possession in Death”.
    Well, back to the boxes & bins and stuff.
    Happy New Year everybody!

  19. I hope things that are still useable go to Goodwill or to some charity that can use them. I hate to think of useable things in the landfill.

  20. Traditionally I have been a great keeper of “stuff”. I would associate things with memories of course after 27 years of marriage and two children the stuff is grown to the point where now it is an ongoing process of making decisions to rid myself of stuff. In addition I have happily lost 50 pounds and found that now my closet needs a complete overhaul so recycling,donating has almost become a weekly process. PS A Nora Roberts book on CD makes this process entirely more enjoyable ! Happy New Year’s everyone!

  21. So much work, but so much better feeling when it’s done! 🙂 I need to get on the ball too! 🙂

  22. My ‘clean out’ usually waits until January, when things finally slow down a bit…hopefully. I’m also a keeper, a crafter & a retired art teacher, so it makes it difficult. I keep thinking of ways to use things! It gets done, though. I put music on, make a nice mug of tea & get to work. A pile to keep, a pile to give & a pile to recycle. All the while dreaming of warmer weather & getting out on our boat. Alice, sending healing strength your way. I’ve been dealing with OvCa. Hang in there, we need to be here for Nora’s next book!! May everyone have a happy & healthy New Year

  23. My yearly purge waits for spring, the cold here in Vermont makes me wait for a warm (40 degree) day in March or April so I can open the windows and purge the old air as well.

  24. My purge starts next weekend, I always begin with the first weekend of the New Year. The closets are getting a major purge. This year a friend of ours is a Deacon at a church in a poor area of the city so we are not just cleaning out our closets [and all those shirts that still have price tags on them and have never been worn] but also cleaning out our pantry. It feels so good to know that while I will have a really clean and organized house we can be helping out others at the same time. Glad for a chance to pay forward the kindness shown to me many years ago when I was living in really hard times. A win-win situation of the best kind.

  25. I am a keeper. It is so hard for me to go through things and give them away or throw them away. I am hoping that reading this will inspire me because I really need to do this. There is way to much clutter in my small apartment. Lots of things I do not use, some because I can’t because there is no place to put them to use and some because I never will. I will have to work hard on figuring out which is which and get rid of the excess.

    1. Try putting a few things you rarely use in a box, start small. Give it to a friend, co worker or family member. Them tell them if you do not come asking for something from the box in a specified amount of time, ie a month, they are to donate/ throw the contents away. this might help you get started without panicking. my sister has a had time with this so I kind of get it even if I am a get it out of here person.

      1. Lisa, Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately all my friends live in small apartments so they don’t have room for my stuff. I will try putting things in a box and if I don’t use it give it away. Now if I can only get myself to take the stuff to the thrift store that I already set aside for them – sigh – I keep putting it off. I think I will set a day/time to do that and put it on my calendar.

  26. i try to do this a couple of times a year. it is amazing how much junk accumulates in nooks and crannies! my kids tremble and shake when they see me taking my closet apart, that means they are next! hahaha. and we always have a nice box or two of things to donate to the homeless shelter. we have tried not buying anything new until after we clean out the closets, that way we only buy what we really need to replace – outgrown clothes or shoes. Merry Christmas to all and a Happy New Year!

  27. This is so funny! My Mom hates when I get into my purge mode. She thinks I am ruthless, she is not wrong lol. I just can only stand the mess so long. Christmas morning I didn’t even have to say anything and my mom and sister knew that I needed to clean up the paper mess before it drove me crazy. On boxing day I did a ton of laundry, all the new stuff we got, and cleaned out a bunch of old sweaters, jackets and stuff. Then I reorganized my new desk so I could fit stuff in all of the drawers. I feel like I am not crazy anymore because some one else does the same thing :).

  28. I apologize in advance if this is not the appropriate forum for this, but I have tried other avenues and am just trying to get an e-mail to Nora. A few of your books have sincerely inspired my LIFE. I hail from a 100% Irish family. The Quigley’s were some of the first pioneers of Montana and my grandfather built what was the cornerstone of Montana tourism back in the day:(http://www.helenahistory.org/frontier_town.htm).

    Partially because of your Bride’s Quartet , I was inspired to start chasing a HUGE dream of mine – to reclaim Frontier Town and run a “Vow’s”-like business. My husband took a leap of faith on my dream, took a major pay cut and moved me home to Montana two and a half years ago.

    I’ve always loved your books: The Irish lore and legacy, the mystical angles, the magic and the romance. I’m a big fan of yours for sure. Obviously, you inspired a pretty major life decision. So, when I had a dream the night before last, that you were in for a few moments – chatting with me like we were friends by my grandfather’s roaring fireplace.. It was so vivid I couldn’t shake it. It just felt SO “real”. So, imagine my surprise when I went to go start my newest book that I had received for Christmas: “The Dark Witch” today and one of the first character’s name is almost mine.

    Well, I took it as a sign… and I am very much an Irish superstitious woman, and go with my gut and chase what my heart tells me to. I KNOW you would be very much inspired by my families Irish legacy and perhaps what I am trying to accomplish. If you have time and want to please check out the link to Frontier Town. I’d love to talk to you if this does prick your imagination.

    Thank you for all of the countless hours of escapes I have been able to take because of your wonderful stories. I hope my dream of coffee by the my grandfather’s fireplace comes true one day too!

    1. Hi Taegan,

      How fun that your name is in Dark Witch! I just wanted to let you know that Nora doesn’t use ideas from other people (in fact she did a blog post about it here).


      1. Thank you so much Laura! TOTALLY understand. I just thought she would appreciate the history and ancestry of the Quigley family, and maybe like the idea that her Bride’s quartet inspired me so much. I believe my dream means that maybe one day she will come visit me at Frontier Town and be inspired with her own story there! Thanks for taking the time to respond!

  29. I have enjoyed books penned by Nora Roberts and as JD Robb. They have provided me many hours of reading enjoyment. Those books will stay with me as I get rid of the old and on with the new. I look foward to all future books you will write. And I thank you and wish to the best in 2015. Happy and Safe New Year!

  30. I, too, am going through every room in the house – purging and organizing. I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions anymore. I get myself ready to step into the new year by way of “out with the old”. My rule of thumb is – if I haven’t seen it or used it with in the past year – it’s gone. I also give my friends first dibs on clothes and shoes and stuff before it goes to the thrift shop run by our church. Also – if I haven’t acted on or resolved issues that were bothering me from the past year – those, also are out and gone. I hit the reset button. Looking forward to new stories in 2015 from Nora and in between those times – I will just revisit fiends and places in the land of Nora.

  31. oh my gosh
    i REALLY need to do this! i am like your husband- a keeper/collector – and i always Wish – that at-least- a part of me- would be more like you- a ‘get it outta here’ girl!
    i have begun- the Huge task- of doing what you’ve outlined— little by little by little (teeny tiny) bit! – – Wish me good luck with it– ‘cuz, am gonna need it!! – Reading what you’ve written above- is already- a much needed inspiration- so – thanks already, for that Nora!
    BEST wishes, and love
    Nikki xo

  32. I need to purge! I’m a keeper though but the urge to purge has been nagging me lately. It’s just so overwhelming and I love my stuff! Thanks for the inspiration maybe it will help me get my act together and start the process. I still have all my ‘In Death” books though. I can’t bear to toss them! I do love ready other’s comments and how ruthless they become about tossing stuff out. Just gotta put my big girl panties on and deal! Thanks for the inspiration. If you can do it with your schedule and workload, I should be able too!

  33. I just read this to my husband in a “See? It’s not just me!” kind of way. I am on a similar mania and nothing is sacrosanct. I try to be gentle with my keeper husband and try to emphasize the newly found space in his closet rather than the letting go of the raggedy t-shirts from his 30’s which no longer fit him. I’m particularly proud of the job I did on my kitchen. We’re retirees on a fixed income. I have a kitchen reno dream that will probably go mostly unfulfilled but thanks to my purging/organizing/re-shelving efforts yesterday I was able to shift the shiny things around so that with a little bit of hubby deconstruction (a bulky pantry making our kitchen dark and tiny), I’ll at least have 25% of my kitchen dream. I must go now. There’s a bathroom cabinet calling to me. 😉

    1. I’ve always been a “keeper”…when my husbands parents passed away, we accumulated so many items. Then both sets of his grandparents passed…more stuff. While some of these things are treasures..I have boxes and containers of items we were thinking we just coulnd’t part with. My brother ..he is a hoarder,,court ordered to clean up the grounds around the home, then was jailed because of it and then lost his home 2 years ago… (could I have the same tendencies? I call it collecting, but is it really hoarding??)…it drove his children crazy. I looked around my own home and what do I see…stuff I could live without, Stuff that always needs dusting, stuff that someone else less fortunate could use. I don’t want to drive my children crazy so I will start purging. While my children are in their transitional stages-finishing college, starting new jobs, getting their first appartments-I will keep some things for them because I don’t want them to have to pay monthly for a storage unit (my brother had 3), But now there will be a timeline. My husband will be elated to reclaim some space…I just don’t want him to turn those spaces into a man cave or sports room…LOL!!!

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