Purging email subscriptions: an update

I tend to sign up for email lists, and most of the time it works okay, since people and companies are getting smarter about not selling their lists. But after a while I start to notice more and more unsolicited emails. Then I go on a purge, unsubscribing from every list that is starting to annoy me. The political ones are especially bad. Fortunately the unsubscribe process has become much easier than it used to be. At the bottom of every email is an Unsubscribe link, sometimes in very tiny font, admittedly. It only takes a minute to go through the process, though some lists make you enter the email address you’re unsubscribing and some don’t.

Afterwards I feel as if I’d lost 10 mental pounds.

Update: in IOS 10, the Mail app shows an Unsubscribe button. Click on it and IOS does the rest.

Communicate Clean

I have been deeply influenced by “Work Clean” by Dan Charnas. one of the chapters in his book is about how chefs communicate. He says:

“The heartbeat of the kitchen has always been the call and callback between a chef and her cooks”

He applies it to communications between any persons:

“Specific communication has been a part of the professional culinary heritage for more than a hundred years, and in military cultures for longer than that, but it came relatively recently to other disciplines. Now often used in psychotherapy and counseling and well represented in the teachings of corporate communications consultants, the technique is called active listening, or sometimes mirroring: the process of repeating or paraphrasing communication from someone else, be it a partner or colleague. Active listening verifies to the sender that his message has been received; it gives him the opportunity to catch an error or omission early; and it helps the receiver retain that information better, taking the words “into the body.” As a result, active listening builds trust, important in battle, whether during war or dinner.”

My husband and I don’t communicate very well. It seems half of what we say is not understood correctly, or even heard at all. So I’ve decided to apply Charnas’ concept to our communications.

Here’s what I’m planning:

* Listen clean. When my husband speaks I will listen with all my attention. I will look up from my iPad, stop what I’m doing and listen.
* Without sounding like a parrot, I will repeat back to him what I understood him to say.
* If the conversation pertains to a series of actions that one of us has to take, I may even send him a confirming email.

I’m going to try this for a week and report back.


I never thought of myself as a hoarder. But after reading Everything That Remains, I looked at my possessions with a fresh eye. And I started purging. Every piece of clothing that didn’t fit my body or my lifestyle, or that I simply did not wear, went to the thrift shop. My entire wardrobe now fits in about 6 feet of space.

Next was the home office. Every piece of paper was scanned, and many were shredded. All my paper now fits in two lateral file drawers. Desk drawers were emptied and purged. Books disappeared from the shelves.

I feel peaceful. Now the trick is to keep stuff from even coming in the door.

In Praise of Clutter

I’m something of a minimalist, or at least getting there. I adore The Minimalists and the KonMari method. All my pants are black (in the city) or beige (in the country). My husband is decidedly not. He’s not a hoarder but …

But if you’re tired of minimalism, take a look at a new book by Jennifer McCartney called The Joy of Leaving Your Sh*t All Over the Place: The Art of Being Messy. Countryman Press, 2016, which I first ran into at Apartment Therapy.

McCartney says things like this:

“Break free from the bonds of tidiness and triumph over the boring forces of uniformity and predictability. Every tidy home looks the same—particularly when there’s nothing left in it—but a messy home, now that’s a better way to live. Better, more honorable, and truer to the American Dream in so many ways.”

She disposes of Marie Kondo thusly:

“Reject the KonMari mindset; it will only bring shame and guilt upon your household when you ultimately fail.”

She offers up some support from folks you may know:

“If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?”—ALBERT EINSTEIN”

“A house is just a pile of stuff with a cover on it. . . . That’s what your house is, a place to keep your stuff while you go out and get more stuff.”—GEORGE CARLIN”

“Buying is a profound pleasure.”—SIMONE DE BEAUVOIR”

She said something that helps me deal with my hubbie’s habits:

“Being mad about clutter is a waste of time. Being happy about it is pretty weird. Acceptance is key.”

McCartney does draw a line between clutter, which she enjoys, and hoarding:

“Once you’ve tipped the scales from messiness and clutter into hoarding, though, you’ve go t a problem …hoarding is a serious thing that could signify some bigger issues and also get you on television. Hopefully while you’re still alive, but maybe after you’re dead.”

I highly recommend the book. One word of warning: McCartney likes to cuss. Nothing too horrible, but if it bothers you, this is not the book for you.

I got a good laugh our of it, but at the end of the day, my movement towards minimalism is the right direction for me. My capsule wardrobe, my paperless desk, my lovely drawers, truly do bring me joy, as Marie Kondo would say.


Marie Kondo

Memory Almost Full

I like the title of the Paul McCartney song because it gives me an excuse for my fading memory. Let’s face it, folks, old age is not for sissies, and a fading memory is part of the new reality.

So is it time for the assisted living center? No! “Rage against the dying of the light,” as Dylan Thomas said. Grab your iPhone or iPad, tap on your favorite notes app (mine is Notebooks, but Reminders or Drafts work fine) and write down whatever you’re trying to remember. If you’re driving, yell “Hey Siri.” Or repeat it to yourself until you get home and then write it down. Whatever. Just. Write. It. Down.

A Corner of Your Own

Virginia Woolf famously said “a woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction.” We all need a place to call our own, be it a whole room or simply a desk and computer that is completely our own, not shared with anyone. When I was younger and had kids at home it was a hard boundary to guard. The kids knew that my desk was the place where there was always clean paper, scissors, everything they needed and couldn’t find in their messy rooms. Even my husband would give in to temptation sometimes, with regrettable results. I now have one pristine area in each home.

David Allen, of Getting Things Done fame, says:

Random lists strewn everywhere, meeting notes, vague to-dos on Post-its on their refrigerator or computer screens …

Most homemakers won’t necessarily need a large area to manage their workflow, but having enough of a discrete space dedicated to the processing of notes, mail, home and family projects and activities, finances, and the like is critical.

Traditionally it was harder for a homemaker to have a corner of her own. Many women’s desks were placed by designers in the kitchen, as if that was the only room of our own. And I guess it often was.

But now retirees, male or female, who have been used to having all their tools in the office, feel disorganized at home, because the tools are not gathered together in a private space.

What he says about homemakers applies to retirees as well.

So I suggest, nay, I demand, that you get your own space and set serious boundaries around it. Just like in an office, where co-workers would never presume to use your desk.