Unfettered: unrestricted, unrestrained, no longer tied down.

A Guest Post by ~ Deb J

As I have been following Colleen’s blog and the comments we make I realized something very pivotal for me. By decluttering my home, my clothes, my lifestyle my computer and my mind I am becoming unfettered.

I used to be restricted to having company only when we had time and energy to get out all the china and silver, and put on our “company best.” Everything had to be a production of monumental proportions. The house had to be spotless and so clean you could eat off the floor. This was a leftover from my upbringing, a result of being raised that everything had to be perfect. After all, everyone would be making an inspection and giving points. Right? At least that was what my mother thought. We no longer have the china and the silver. We realize that clean is fine and perfection is something that is never achieved because each person has their own idea of what perfection entails. Entertaining is now based on providing a place of relaxation and fun with a bit of good food thrown in. It can be spur of the moment because all a friend wants is time with you. They don’t care about the accoutrements.

I was restrained by a lifestyle based on what I thought others expected. The 
“Others” were everyone from my parents to people I had never met. Society has a way of making us feel that there is a standard to keep. I always chafed at this idea but felt I had to conform. I was an organized, minimalistic, introverted type person living a cluttered, unordered, noisy life. Everyone had an opinion of how I should live and what I should have. Life was a schedule of long work hours, assorted “must have” devices, assorted “must do” activities, and “must have” contacts. I now soar unfettered. My world is now made up of the work I love to do, the devices that actually make my life easier, the activities I want to be involved in and the friends I enjoy being with. A good walk down the streets of my neighborhood is just as beneficial as an hour at the gym and it has no cost. I don’t have to have a sculptured figure and be able to participate in a triathlon. I don’t have to have a job that pays $100,000 but requires putting in 60 hour weeks with a 24/7 pager and a title. I can be happier with a $50,000 job that requires only 40 hour weeks, has no title, has no pager and doesn’t require me to sell my soul for the company. I don’t need the money so much if I learn to live within my means and I stop thinking I have to measure up to some mythical person.

I am no longer tied down to the expectations set by Martha Stewart or Oprah or “Good Housekeeping Magazine” or my mother or my friends. I can spend my evening quietly with a good book. I no longer find myself involved in an activity every night in order to keep up with the myth. I don’t have to scrapbook every day of my life, take pictures of everyone in attendance at an event, attend every event, maintain a blog, text and instant message, follow every blog about every interest, keep up with the news 24 hours a day, listen to the radio or music all day long, and on and on and on. I’m free to be me not you or you or you.

I used to have a to-do list that never seemed to end. For every item I completed two to three more would crop up. I still keep a few lists. I have a list of things I’d like to have done to the house when we have the money. I have a list of chores I need to complete. I have a list of things I would like to do sometime just for fun. But those lists are just lists. Life can often get in the way of lists. I’ve stopped letting it bug me. I don’t let them tie me down. I’m learning to welcome interruptions because I have learned interruptions can disguise Heaven sent opportunities I would have never thought of.

I’m enjoying being unfettered. Life is so much better.

Today’s Mini Mission

Declutter one vessel that can contain fluid ~ drinking glass, fish tank, bottle, jar…

Today’s Declutter Item

Here are another set of slide clamps, 12 inch ones this time, also sold on ebay. Not every mans garage has to be full of tools regardless of what society might think. I’m with you Deb J to heck with the “rules” we’re doing things our way.

12inch Slide Clamps

Eco Tip for the Day

Be very selective about what you buy so that you are so satisfied with the product that you will use it until it wears out and not trade it in for something else soon after.

“In daily life we must see that it is not happiness that makes us grateful, but gratefulness that makes us happy.” Brother David Steindl-Rast

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.
  • The endless to-do list Isn't it baffling that no matter how much you reduce your belongings and simplify your life, there still seems to always be an endless to-do list. I think it is highly possible, at least […]
  • Clutter Calamity! by Claire I received this story from Claire at the bottom of a long list of comments to Wednesday's post. It is a cautionary tale of a near catastrophe all in the attempt to save some meaningless […]
About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. I couldn’t agree with you more! The more I start to live, the less I care about I ‘should’ do as told by society.

  2. Deb J, Excellent post. I think you sum up minimalism perfectly. It’s having and doing just enough for you. Also, I agree with you about the lists. I have a few ongoing lists myself, but I’ve also come to the realization that a persons to do list is never, ever done until you’re dead! And that’s probably not a bad thing.

    • Jennifer L, I like your statement, “I’ve also come to the realization that a persons to do list is never, ever done until you’re dead! And that’s probably not a bad thing.” The problem isn’t the lists it’s letting them drive you crazy because you aren’t getting them done “fast enough.”

  3. My husband has two pretty large empty fish tanks that I would love to declutter. Since they do not belong to me I’ll restrain myself. 🙂 I did declutter 2 vases.

    • Hope your husband soon declutters the fish tanks. Good on you about the vases.

      • Hi Lisa, time to put your communication skills to use and have a conversation with your husband about those fish tanks. If he understands that their presence is an irritation to you he may come to the conclusion that he wants them less than you want them gone.

  4. Oh my gosh! This is *exactly* what I need right now. I see myself as Deb J before and need to become Deb J after. I am going to begin TODAY to take my life back.

    • Connie, good luck to you. You will be so excited about the difference. Every little step feel huge in freedom.

      • Good for you Connie and thank you Deb J for saying just the right things to inspire Connie to take her life back.

        Good luck Connie and just remember Deb did this one thing at a time one step at a time. Don’t look at the big picture just revel in the joy you receive in every little thing you set aside to declutter. That is what I have done from the start and to this day I still get a buzz every time I chose that one little thing and send it on its way.

  5. Loved every single part of this, Deb. I’ve come to the realization that Martha Stewart, housekeeping magazines, catalogues, etc can be just as toxic to the female psyche as advertisements featuring stick thin fashion models. Both are unrealistic pursuits that can bring about anxiety, insecurity, and the sacrifice of your true self in order to meet some expectation of “accomplishment.” Doesn’t it feel wonderful to break free?

    • Melissa, I so agree with you. Not only can the magazines, catalogs and even some books be toxic but so can many TV programs. Yes, it is wonderful to break free.

  6. Deb J, loved your post today. It is wonderful to live life based on what is important to you, not based on what others expect or think. We all could learn from that. Just slowing down and de-cluttering all aspects of our lives, gives us time to pursue what matters in our life, not based on what society has taught us that is important.

  7. I’m so happy for you! Living for yourself and no one else is important. Although I try to keep it up as much as I can, I’m still a student. Unfortunately that means following the “rules” of the school and doing every little whim of the professors, even if they are completely unnecessary or ridiculous. I’m very glad you’re able to live like you want to now though, it provides the much needed reminder that “now” is not the “future,” nor is it “forever.” We can all get to that part of our life as well.

    • Amanda, I remember back when I was a student in university. It seemed like my life was not my own in so many ways. One thing that I was able to have some control over was where I lived and that was so nice. I was working full-time and going to school full-time. I had little time of my own so when I was on “MY” time I sure didn’t want to spend it cleaing house and dusting nic nacs. That’s when I started to learn to declutter.

  8. I loved the post today, Deb. Decluttering your life really brings freedom and happiness. I try to keep up the home by going through things every 6 months. For example, some of our kids no longer come home in the winter. The just want to come in the summer when it is nice outside. So, I am going through our winter clothing and just keeping what we need for the people who live here now. I will take the rest to a consignment shop and save the money towards Christmas. I am trying to only spend $100 out of pocket and the rest has to come from selling stuff, etc. So, I will declutter my home and have a little extra for Christmas. Don’t worry, I am buying mostly gift cards or buying/making consumable things like jam, etc. It will be a real change for me, but we are going to enjoy it and just enjoy spending time doing THINGS together instead of having the gifts be a big part of it. I love it when things are organized and clean!

    • Spendwisemom, I think your idea of decluttering all the winter things is a great idea. This is one of the things that can be a real big change. So many people hang on to things “in case.” It took me almost 4 years to convince my mom that we could get rid of our winter coats. I don’t see us ever leaving this area to go visit places that have real winters. I’d rather visit during the good weather.

  9. Deb, this was an excellent post, and I enjoyed it.

    One of my problems is being too much of a “newshound”, and these days, too much news either make’s one blood boil or frightens one about the future. Neither of those are conducive to a well-lived life.

    Cutting back on keeping up with the news is hard though.

    • Becky, I recently told a friend that I no longer have a TV. She wondered how I could do without one especially when it came to the news. I told her that the news seemed to be a lot like I was told soap operas are. If you watch on Friday you can pretty well figure out what happened during the week. I have discovered that by keeping an eye on things on the internet I can see when something of real interest happens and I don’t have to hear the same story repeated time after time with that particular networks slant. I was a news junkie too but finally realized that most of what I heard was repitition or stuff like that.

    • Hi Becky, I find that the news these days, be that television, radio, or Newspaper, is bases on sensationalism. All these media outlets are vying for superiority in the market and in order to achieve that they tend to only give you the parts of the story that will attract viewers, listener or readership hence one never gets the full story. The more incensed, saddened, amused or joyful we are the more likely we will be back to see, hear or read more. There are usually at least two sides to every story but for the most part we are only given one and that isn’t very informative as far as I am concerned. In fact it only creates division, racism, hatred, ignorance…

      I personally don’t pay attention any more. I would rather spend my time doing things to improve the world than listening or reading about what a mess it is in.

  10. Well done Deb J – I have been looking forward to your post and well done on getting your life under control. It must have been a big step to change jobs etc. Can I ask what came first? Changing jobs or changing lifestyle?

  11. Moni, I started changing my lifestyle before jobs. I began to see that part of the reason I was hanging onto my well paying job (that was so stressful it eventually put me on disability) was because I was trying to maintain a lifestyle that I didn’t need. So I began to pare down in many ways with the thought of eventually getting a much different job. While I dind’t get to do that because the stress took me out of the job before I was fully ready to quit it, the end result was much the same and I’m glad I was working toward that end.

  12. Hi Deb, great post! So true that living a simpler life stops the need for the excesses of work and seeking the almighty dollar! I work part time, hubs is retired but we manage to do what we need and to save because we don’t need or even want stuff. I managed to totally revamp my bedroom the other day by switching the accessories (throws, cushions, knick knacks – yes I do still have some knick knacks :)) from the guest room. So nice to have a change and not spend any money!
    I still need to work on my entertaining skills. I’m not a natural hostess so I need to feel that everything is done to the nth degree whenever we are having people over, I would like to simplify that area in my life, but we don’t entertain often so it’s not a huge part of my life to be concerned about. The house itself is not an issue as it’s easy to be ready for visitors now that I have decluttered so much unnecessary stuff!
    Colleen, I am loving the eco tips. We’ve just started filling a jug (vintage, claimed from ma in law’s house) when we wash our dishes and this is used to fill the kettle during the day. Such a simple but good idea!
    Cheers Judy

    • Judy, I like the idea of switching things between bedrooms and it makes you feel things are new. Great idea. I’m not a natural hostess either. That made having to do all of that fancying up that much harder. I’m just more of a natural, find the easiest way kind of girl. I want to enjoy my guests and that is hard to do when I’m all uptight about getting things right, etc. You will get there at some point.

    • Thank you Judy I am so glad you are enjoying the eco tips. You are the first person to say so. The jug idea is something the I copied from my mum and I am loving it. I haven’t used the tap to fill the kettle for weeks now.

      There is a link in tomorrows Favourite Five to a site that I love that is full of great eco tips.

  13. Thank you Deb J, I am going to print this off and give it to my kids to read.
    It says everything I would try to say to them myself.
    Thank you so much. Cheers

  14. Excellent post Deb J!

  15. “News decluttering” is something I actually did years ago. Every morning as I got ready for work, I would follow one of the morning shows. After attending a lecture by Deepak Chopra, I came to realize how much stress it was bringing into my life. It really made a difference.

    • Shari, one thing I have learned since being diagnosed with Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue is that while some stress is good a lot isn’t. Stress costs me energy of which I have little. I have learned to carefully pick what I use my energy on and watching the news isn’t on my list. I have learned that watching it takes lots of energy while reading it takes a lot, lot less.

  16. Whilst some see ‘keeping up with the stewarts’ as toxic, I help it to keep uncluttered. I keep up with the ‘for sale’ pages – keeping my house sparse enough that it’s easy to keep straight, just like in the real estate pages. Although, let me assure you, today is not the day for a (imaginary) showing – bed’s not made, planned project laid on the kitchen table, dishes not washed, things out to de-stain… It’s ok, it’s the weekend tomorrow, I’ll get onto it all.

  17. My husband is a news junkie. He begins watching the news at 4 pm and watches until the last show ends at 7:30 pm. I sometimes get home from work early and watch a little with him but after I heard the same story three times, decided that my time was more valuable. I don’t watch TV news at all. I sometimes read the newspaper online if something strikes my fancy but not often. I decided that if it were a dire emergency, my husband would tell me. There is no red phone on my desk that the President will use to ask my opinion so I figure I have more important things (personal) that I need to focus on.
    Also, wanted to comment on having people over. We have some dear friends who wanted to come to our house for a cook-out. My husband has been working on our yard for some time and he wanted to show it off but the inside of our house needs some renovation. So, I kept putting it off. Finally, I decided to vacuum and dust and tidy up the space and just invite them. We had such a wonderful time that I wished we had done it sooner. Real friends want to see you not your house. It’s really tough to forgo the “what will the neighbors think” attitude but I’ll be having more parties and the house will be a work in progress.
    I have to say my house right now feels like it will never be decluttered. I have been in the hospital for about 8 days and still recovering here at home. I have missed all of you and have lots of entries to catch up on. I figure, every day, still toss something, even if it is just one pencil. Soon, I will be on the mend and can get back to the “job”.

    • Maggie, glad you are out of the hospital. Hope your recovery goes well. Don’t worry about the “job” but remember one thing at a time works. My father was like your husband. The minute he was in the door from work the TV was on and the news started. It drove Mom and I nuts. I was glad when I moved out and didn’t have to hear that. I have some friends and family who play a news chanel ALL day. I’d literally lose my mind. I’m glad you decided to just go ahead and have the friends over. I think we make way too much of the idea of “what will ?? think.”