April 12, 2012

Tricycle Talk with Professional Organizer Andrew Mellen

Spring for me is always the same. Come March, the flowers are blossoming, the birds are chirping, and the grumpy New Yorkers around me are glaring with slightly less menace. Everything is a little brighter and a little warmer. With the feeling of newness wafting in the air, I finally drudge up enough courage to look around at the mess I've made all winter long and clean.

Spring cleaning! It always starts so well. But in an hour I'm quite like the Mole in the first page of Kenneth Grahame's book The Wind in the Willows:

The Mole had been working very hard all the morning, spring cleaning his little home. First with brooms, then with dusters; then on ladders and steps and chairs, with a brush and a pail of whitewash; till he had dust in his throat and eyes, and splashes of whitewash all over his black fur, and an aching back and weary arms. Spring was moving in the air above and in the earth below and around him, penetrating even his dark and lowly little house with its spirit of divine discontent and longing. It was small wonder, then, that he suddenly flung down his brush on the floor, said 'Bother!' and 'O blow!' and also 'Hang spring-cleaning!' and bolted out of the house without even waiting to put on his coat.

Something tells me I'm not alone in this. There's something about cleaning that's so dreary, so difficult, so bothersome. Which is why Tricycle has decided to call in the experts on this one: Andrew Mellen, a professional organizer and author of the book UnStuff Your Life. You might recognize his name from our Spring 2012 issue, which featured an article by him about how we can use Buddhist ideas to clear out our physical clutter. 

But sometimes even the most Buddhist of Buddhists needs a little help cleaning, which is why Mellen came to my apartment last week to show me just how the "most organized man in America" gets his organization on. Best part is, we filmed the whole thing—the video will be here on the Tricycle blog next week—so check back to watch what happens after Mellen works his magic on a desk this tragically messy...

In the meantime, enjoy our Tricycle Talk with Mellen, available below!

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amarrop's picture

I just listened to this Tricycle Talk and it hit me square in my heart...I have come to the truth about myself that I am a hoarder---not just the clutterer I had formerly been willing to own up to...sounds like a 12-step meeting...looks like another quite large area of practice for me to concentrate on, and I am very grateful to see it through the eyes of Andrew Mellen---such a gentle spirit...thank you for your service...

crbradf's picture

My life is an historic accumulation! And somehow I have acquired the lifetime accumulation of my parents and great aunts. Talk about dependent arising! Too much stuff! I love the idea of separating the story from the objects. Applying Buddhist philosophy to my personal home environment feels right and timely. Thank you for the suggestions and encouragement. Namaste'

midassyd's picture

I have a decent sized home with excellent basement storage. I have accumulated a vast amount of clothing, jewelry, books, bric-a-brac, music, and so on. I am very organized with it, so there is no mess and generally no problem finding things. For the most part, these are all things I use or intend to use at some point, although the quantity seems to impair my ability to remember what it is I want to use. I find this somehow troubling, and frequently give things away or store them in the basement if I am not using them at the present time but think that I might change my mind. (A few years later, I review the storage and either pass the items on or put them back into active service.) I keep accumulating things, although I have managed to slow that process somewhat recently. Can you give me some suggestions to curb my greed?

Emma Varvaloucas's picture

Hi midassyd, thanks for your comment. I've sent your question to Andrew Mellen and he will respond in the next few days. Until then, best of luck with your basement!

wspring2's picture

Ah...So clear now...this broken cup my grandmother used to use and I have inherited is not my grandmother; it's a broken cup that I can release into another form because I no longer have a purpose for it. I practice noticing emotional reactivity in relation to people, finding and releasing the stories, coming back to the 'isness' of it. This talk connected the dot to 'objects', possessions...lovely. Thanks.