The exception to every rule by Doodle



Those of us who have been decluttering for a while, know the general principles laid out below:

1)If you haven’t worn it for a year, then it possibly needs to go.

2)Don’t buy clothes you need to lose weight to look good in.  Don’t keep clothes there isn’t a realistic chance of fitting into in the next year.

3)If you haven’t touched an unfinished creative project for 2 years, it’s fair to say you probably never will.

I think these are great principles but of course, there are always exceptions to the rule and I’ve just experienced 2 of them, so I shall confess…


Here’s a picture I embroidered 23 years ago and it’s been stuck in a bag ever since waiting to be framed. I’ve dithered over whether to get it done many times, and then back in the attic it has gone.

Don’t these indecisions hang over you eh?

But last month I finally got it done and it now hangs on my mantle piece.  And the relief of that decision being done and dusted is immense.

So what was the dithering about? I guess for a long time I had little money to spare for such luxuries as framing. And then some of the time I wasn’t sure how much I liked it and then there was a slight problem with the embroidered mount that wasn’t easy to resolve and put me off trying. And finally, I could never face the decision making process of what sort of frame would look good. All this took up TWENTY THREE YEARS!

And now it is done and I so love it and it is giving me much pleasure every time I walk into the room. It is the only embroidery I have ever done, as like my mother, me and needle work are not natural bedfellows. But I was very poorly at the time I did it and there wasn’t much else I could find to occupy my time that I could actually do. It represents one of the first times in my life I took an irrational fancy to doing something unfamiliar and let myself do it with finding a 100 reasons to not just follow my feeling. That was the start of the road to recovery.

My other experience is that last year I fell in love with a dress in a nearly new shop and bought it even though it was a size too small. Now we know that breaks the cardinal rule don’t we. Buy clothes for now, not some never never time in the future when we think we will lose weight like we’ve been promising ourselves for  along time…

Then, very unexpectedly, given various health issues I have had over a number of years, I took up running in the Autumn, following a marvellous beginners program called C25k (couch to 5k) which gets complete couch potatoes running 5K (3.1 miles) in 9 ish weeks.  Yesterday I tried on the dress. It fits and really suits me.

I guess that’s why we have the saying ‘exceptions to the rule’.  I shall ensure it remains an exception though!

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter a décor item. Anything from curtaining to floral arrangements to cushions or figurines.

Eco Tip for the Day

Stop using fabric softener some experts say that it is a waste of money and not that good for your clothes. Try using white vinegar instead. Not only will it remove chemical residue in your fabrics but will also help control mould and mildew in your washing machine. If you like to add a nice scent to your wash load add a few drops of essential oil.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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Continue reading with these posts:

  • Mini Mission ~ Friday 22Dec2017 Declutter a couple of old shabby shoes that you no long choose to use.
  • Mini Mission ~ Wednesday 20Dec2017 Declutter by recycling some items. That mound ofused takeout containers, old newspapers and magazines, paperwork that needs shredding, glass jars you set aside in case you have a use for […]
  • Mini Mission ~ Tuesday 19Dec2017 Start a trial separation on an item or two that you are on the fence about letting go. Put this/these items in a out of the way place where you won't encounter them on a daily basis and […]


  1. 23 years!! Wow Doodle, that is a long time. But you finally did something with it. Good on you. My mom has a couple of things like that. I need to give her a little encouragement to decide to do something with them.

  2. I know!! I don’t know where the time has gone but that has to be the definition of procrastination right?

  3. I love your embroidery Doodle. I can completely see why you are enjoying it so much now that you have it framed and on display. Well done for finally getting that done! I think there is sometimes some anxiety when a project is almost complete and you don’t quite know if it will be worth all the time and effort that has gone into it, if it will quite live up to expectations. However, yours really is lovely, and the fact that it was significant in your recovery makes it even more meaningful. And congratulations on doing the running program and seeing great results!! A success story all around!

    • Thanks Christine. And I think you’ve hit on something there – I think I did have an underlying anxiety that the expense of the framing wouldn’t justify the result. In the end I found a framer wit a real gift for picking the right frame material etc – took 5 mins and barely any decision making in the end.

  4. First, I want to say how much I love your picture and that it is very finely done – and as Christine referred to above, it is a tangible reminder that when you were unable to do much of anything else, you still did something so productive and beautiful. But all on its own, it stands as a lovely piece of work; no wonder you enjoy it so much now!

    Second, congratulations on your accomplishments in the physical activity field! It must be a wonderful feeling to have come so far! (and fit into a dress you love!)

    Third, great post – I believe our decluttering rules are good, but there are those times when we can deviate from them and it enriches our lives.

    • Thanks Jo. Embroidery pictures aren’t to everyone’s taste, so I don’t expect everyone to like it. It really was so unusual I got in to it this so much just the once. The leaves are a beautiful orangy wool done in a sort of loop stitch and are my favourite bit.
      Thanks re the running – another of life’s little surprises, I am such a natural couch potato and I’m loving feeling fitter.
      When I work with clients helping them declutter, it is so important that it is they who decide what stays and goes. The ‘rules’ are great guidelines, but I never show (or feel) any disapproval of any decision to keep anything. Yes, I might check with them again what there end goals are and does this tie in with that and help them clarify why they are hanging on to any given item. But I make it ok if they aren’t sure. I always say, there’s plenty of easier stuff to work on so let’s look for that.

  5. I have a similar story with the opposite ending Doodle. I sewed a cross-stitch sampler for my daughter when she was a baby with her birth date on it and cute little baby things. We were young and not so financially comfortable at the time and I never got around to framing it. As years went by I would happen upon the cylinder containing it in the keepsake box but did nothing. Eventually last year when bridget moved out at the age of 24 I asked her if she wanted it I would have it framed for her. She didn’t so I sent it to the thrift shop. I was over it. So well done you.

    And well done with the running and slimming down into the lovely dress. Perhaps the dress was the inspiration you need to bring success with the running. So as you say there is the exception to the rule.

  6. Hi Doodle, you got me thinking……
    There are no rules to decluttering , there are guidelines . Guidelines are more forgiving and less stressful. Success is more important than rule following in the declutter world.
    Success is measured by your own happiness and well being . I know the 2 kgs of extra luggage was hotel shampoos and soaps. 🙂 but I can deal with it.
    I am happier with less, I understand a lot more now. No one is perfect and no one is judging us. Enjoy what makes you happy even if it takes 24 years to accomplish 🙂

    • Wendy, I like that: there are guidelines.
      And Doodle–23 years and you still love it! That embroidery piece is meant to be on your mantle.

    • You’re right Wendy – guidelines is a much gentler and therefore better word. I guess I just wanted to use the well known phrase ‘the exception to the rule’ 😀
      I certainly work with the term ‘guidelines rather than rules in my head.
      I’ve got one item of clothing I’ve had for 25 years that is timeless. Haven’t been able to fit into it for years (that might be about to change 😉 ), but I love it. So it stays. It doesn’t take up much room. As for the rest of my wardrobe, I own about 30 pieces in total, so I’m ruthless there. So it is about using guidelines and your own happiness/intuition.

  7. I think sometimes the decluttering is just the push we need to go ahead and do something. Since you felt the need to decide, you did. And I like your decision–it looks great and to see it–in the flesh?–can’t think of the right expression–must be very enjoyable for you. Going through things I found some I loved but had never displayed and others I had displayed but was now tired of, so donated the oldies and hung up the new ones. Love looking at the wall now. Like they say, there aren’t any declutter police, everyone just needs to do what they are comfortable with at the time. It will gradually melt away. And if donated, reappear somewhere to brighten someone else’s life.

    • Interestingly Nana, many of the clients I work with have become so paralysed by stuff and not knowing how to take decisions with it (like myself when I started) they aren’t able to make simple connections with it being ok to let go of some stuff and keep other bits. Sometimes all it takes is helping them learn how to make decisions to get the ball rolling and then they get rid of loads and keep a few things they now enjoy with fresh eyes. This gives them the confidence to carry on doing it on their own.