Art Studio and Life #20 featuring artworks and painting

Hello lovely family and friends

Tell me, are you a messy person or a neat person, or a mixture?

I think it is possible to be an innie or an outie (like bellybuttons). An innie keeps their mess hidden away in cupboards and such, while an outie spreads it out for all to see, but keeps their drawers and shelves tidy. I’m an innie, I carefully tidy things away, but for the life of me, I cannot keep the inside of drawers and cupboard shelves tidy. I try to carefully remove one T-shirt from a neatly folded pile, and it ends up looking like a racoon rolled about in there. But it’s fine, because I can close the door and it all looks neat. What the eye does not see…

I suppose there are people who are able to keep both the inside and the outside tidy? Respect and awe. And a bit of fear…

One of my dear relatives grew up with a pile of mess in the living room, in a corner, I think? The pile came to be referred to as “the corpse,” and if one was looking for a missing tennis racket, shoe, small child etc, one was referred to “the corpse” as a probable location. When company was expected, the corpse was tastefully hidden under a sheet.

One of my teenagers tends to build up a pile in the corner where he likes to sit, a leg, rather than a whole body, and if it builds up too much and he is absent, I carry it to his bedroom and leave it on his bed. Order is restored to our living space, and I can relax.

I find clutter really tiring and now I know why, it stresses our brain because it has to continually work hard to sift what is important from what is unimportant. Perhaps it is because our brain keeps continually checking that there is not some life-threatening thing, such as a leopard or snake hiding in the pile of things next to the sofa. And in Africa and other wild places, you may well have some interesting wildlife sharing your living space, which is why, in Botswana, houses are surrounded by bare, swept earth, not nice, snake-friendly shrubbery.,have%20to%20clean%20up

I think that one of the reasons that minimalism is gaining ground is because we have so much stuff. Multiples of each item too. We surround ourselves with things, and then feel exhausted. I like reading articles about home décor and I was influenced by one that said, if you want to create a luxury spa effect in your bathroom – remove 95% of the stuff. Put everything away in draws, display only a couple of items, and add a nice pot plant – voila, spa vibes.

Teenager bathroom before and after (even keeping beloved rubber duckie on display)

RE: Rubber Duckie: My older son Sam belongs to a young adult’s group, who like to pay surreptitious visits each other’s homes to hide rubber ducks in each other’s bedrooms and living spaces. Or driveways, if the mood takes them. They hid 100 ducks in the Youth Pastor’s house on one occasion. They also seem to like to put a pool noodle with a smiley face drawn on it into the visitee’s bed. At one stage, Sam had one large glittery duck (as shown in photo), one small pink duck and nineteen small yellow ducks. He relocated the small ducks, but is quite fond of the glittery duck.

Adult bathroom before and after. Spa vibes

I went though a depressed patch, and my bedroom got increasingly messy. It’s a vicious circle – depression leads to mess, mess leads to depression, round and round. I put in some effort and tidied my bedside table, and sorted the pile of clothes on my dresser, and felt much better. When I walk into my bedroom now, I give a sigh of pleasure, rather than the previous sigh of dismay.

And when I paint, I make mess! But I try to clean up at the end of the day, lest I walk in the next day, see mess, do an about turn and march straight out again….

SO this weekend, a challenge! I throw down the gauntlet!

The challenge is to work on tidying one area this weekend for 20 minutes!

The bathroom counter, your bedside table, the bedroom chair… The choice is yours!

And may you have a delightful bath/shower and be blessed with peaceful sleep.

XX Barbie


  1. Daniel Button

    I’ve probably become overly tidy as the years go by – I find if something’s untidy I use it as a means of procrastination for any other important work I should be doing. ‘I can’t work on this until I get this house tidied!’ The problem is, my son is the opposite. He is physically and mentally incapable of putting anything away. And he doesn’t mind of course – he doesn’t even see it.

    I gather up piles of his things and put them on the stairway going up to his loft bedroom. Weeks later, the pile is still on the stairway, mouldering away. I take it up for him. because I can’t bear it. I bring down all the plates, mugs and dishes that have stacked up in his room. Nagging has no effect. I realise I’m enabling his bad habits, but then I also think, well, we’re just different people. I shouldn’t be so concerned about conforming him to my image. (But I do pray for his wife, and I will have strong words with any female who seems to be taken with him. But then, love is blind, right? At least until the romance wears off…

    • Barbara Podmore

      I do remember you tidying your entire flat in Zim, pre-children, before feeling ready to tackle some academic task, so that hasn’t changed…

      I’m like you in that the mess really bothers me and sometimes, for my sanity’s sake, I tidy it away. I do find that putting it on their bed does help a bit, and then I can close the door and not see the mess. I do ask that shared spaces be clear, but if they want to sleep in a pig sty, so be it. Perhaps that wouldn’t make any difference to him, he will just push all the things all on the floor, or just sleep on top of it all, which is fine, because you won’t see it.
      Perhaps he will only grow out of it if he lives by himself? Or perhaps he will just re-wear his clothing and reuse his dirty dishes rather than actually washing anything…
      And if I know anything about human nature, he will probably be attracted to a neat freak. God bless and help them both…

  2. Kere Bennett

    I’ve been thinking of and trying to declutter, but I like the idea of a simple life rather than a minimalist life. Minimalism seems very impersonal to me. I’m terrible at both. Barbie hold me accountable.

    • Barbara Podmore

      Emigrating helps one to declutter, but since that is not on the cards, simple is good. I find storing things out of sight really helps. Kere, you need to get Mark over and lock him in the house for a day. He’ll tidy for you!

  3. Helena Hatty

    Great blog, almost like I can hear you talking to me..convicted by clutter! Am now considering shedding 90% of our possessions and downsizing to a tinyhome. But wait, are books clutter? What about BOOKS. I mean, I’m not reading them all right now but I might someday. And pets. And the drawers full of kids art. And the hubbys toy car collection. Think I’ll take your tip about just tidying for 20 mins instead. Yeah. I can do that : )

    • Barbara Podmore

      Books are NOT clutter!! They can be art. I have seen a bookcase where the books are arranged by colour, and it was fab. But maybe they popped to the flea market to collect the missing colours? “I’ll have those 3 pink ones, 2 yellows and 4 orange ones…”
      Cats are living ornaments, of course.
      Kids art is tricky – perhaps take photos of them and keep them digitally? Cars can be arranged decoratively, or filed in a deep drawer.
      I find it’s the things we use all the time that tend to pile up messily… So maybe a minimalist home crossed with a library? One can dream…