Dull women have immaculate homes (at least that is what I’m telling myself).

I have spent a lot of the last week looking for things. A marionette’s jacket for a White Rabbit costume (from world book day), gold pens (eldest’s Roman project) and my summer shorts (because where have I stored them?).

I am not a very organised person.


Much improved from my youth, but still pretty chaotic.

A friend and I started a Book Club in January (yes, I know we are 10 years behind the times). The first book we read had two central female characters. One, a Mum to two small children, is messy, disorganised and not in control of her life. The other is calm, collected and streamlined, living in a minimalist house where her artistic endeavours shone on a background of natural fibres and monochrome fittings. As it happens she was also the villain of the piece.

(of course, I’m making no judgement here about people who are able to keep their counter tops scrupulously clear.)

I want to be focussed, organised and clear from clutter, but my life seems to conspire against me. I read articles about storage ideas and top tips to living in a more systematic, ordered fashion. But that is as far as it goes.

My pinterest and instagram feed are streamlined. It’s just my real life that isn’t.

My friend LP has a phrase which sees my chaos clutter junk stuff in a positive light. She calls it ‘happy mess’, the mess created by a full life.

The stacks of paper on the side, which if I sorted through would include reminder letters that we are overdue a visit to the dentist, a recipe I used last week, some (very important) drawings my 5 year old won’t let me part with (“it’s a map, and X marks the spot – don’t throw it away”), take away menus, my daughter’s invite to her friend’s birthday party, a hastily scribbled shopping list, a list of plants to buy for the garden – happy mess.


But sometimes I long for clarity. To have everything in the right place and to know where it is.

I wonder if this is because I want to be that kind of person. The kind of person who knows their own mind without talking it through with other people. Who never suffers from the Fear Of Missing Out because she is self assured and is using her time the way she chooses to. Who makes a plan for her week and accomplishes what is on it. Who has a to-do list and methodically crosses things off it.

Who owns and uses her diary.

But I am not. I am a scatter brain, easily distracted, a magpie of ideas and opinions. I process through my mouth, warning people, ‘Sorry – thinking and talking at the same time’ on a regular basis.

I want to do everything, be friends with lots of people, be involved, join in.

I want to go for that drink, and see that play, and be on that committee, and not let you down.

I want to throw parties and have quiet times of reflection with close friends, all at the same time.

One of the things I find difficult with writing is – it is just me and a screen. My ideas unfiltered. I’m alone with my brain. It is painful at times and involves concentration and discipline.

I have a few things, I am trying to write at the moment. Bigger things, which take investment and longer processes. I struggle to just sit down and get on with it. There is washing to be done, a friend to meet.

And perhaps, occasionally, I use the all-the-time chaos of my days and weeks to give me a way to avoid these bigger thoughts…

But when it comes to it, if I want to actually produce something, I have to sit in the quiet and type some words. And when this is going well it feel glorious. It feels like taking the knotted ball of string and unravelling it. Taking my jumble of thoughts and impressions and figuring out why I am thinking about them. Writing whatever I want and then asking myself ‘why?’. Why this thread? Why this idea? And through doing so maybe bringing some calm out of the chaos. Some clarity out of the confusion.

I am never going to be someone who is naturally tidy and ordered. I am going to waste time looking for things I have put in safe places. I am going to forget why I entered a room and not file my stuff in a systematic manner. I will occasionally miss appointments and will often have made too many plans, leaving me without enough time to get everything done.

But whilst I am being frenetic and frantic, in the disorganised day to day, if I stay alive to the present moment, maybe I will stumble over something I had forgotten to remember, maybe I will create something new.

Maybe the things that connect my writings would be harder to find if I was better at compartmentalising. Maybe I would miss the nuance, the delicate thread that connects and leads the way through my cacophony of thoughts.

Maybe it is time to accept that this is who I am, and how I was made to function.

And it is good.


  • thethingsnotsaid
    Posted at 01:39h, 22 June Reply

    “Happy Mess” is right. And let’s face it, you may not be the one that looks all “put together and tidy” but you achieve so much through your chaos (I’m sure it’s nowhere near the top end of chaos!). It’s not what our life looks like, it’s what is in our life that matters, plus if all our lives looked the same – how bored we all would be!!

  • Sumati V
    Posted at 17:27h, 01 October Reply

    Have you ever thought (and I have because I’m like you) but – have you ever thought that you are keeping things in order that are not physical? That your mind is ordering and working with more abstract patterns – like relationships, emotions, ideas and it is doing the incredibly intelligent work of creating. Perhaps creating and preserving are two different powers. Two different directions for the brain to go, for the personality to go in. That someone may use up much needed brain space ordering mundane things and repeating the same tasks again and again rather than thinking of creative ways and new ideas and bigger links. The ordered person’s power comes from efficiency – from honing the skills and systems needed to run something repeatedly with less and less effort. unfortunately the household is not a source of great new ideas (most of the time) the crushing boredom of repeating tasks that have been worked on by hundreds of other humans for thousands of years is not inspiring and the effort and will power it takes to repeat those tasks which are not brain food for you keeps on increasing the more you you force yourself to do it. The same systems in your brain that organise material objects in your home are being used to organise thoughts, ideas, patterns, concepts, relationships and more – which are a lot more interesting to you!

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