STUFFology 101 Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter book by Brenda Avadian MA Eric Riddle

STUFFology 101 Two Year Anniversary Giveaway!

Our baby girl, STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter will be two years old, today!

STUFFology 101 book - Get Your Mind out of the Clutter

Our Special Anniversary Amazon Giveaway promotion begins now and runs through April 12th. NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. This STUFFology 101 Two-Year Anniversary Giveaway ends the earlier of 4/12/15 11:59PM, or when all prizes are claimed. See Official Rules. The official rules for Amazon Giveaway can be found at

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ENCORE of an Unexpected Gift – A Deep-Fried Thanksgiving

Turkey Deep Fryer for an Unexpected Gift


ENCORE of an UNEXPECTED GIFT – A Deep-Fried Thanksgiving

When one of our possessions is not used, over time it distracts us and creates a feeling of clutter. When curiosity got the better of me and I just had to try a deep fried turkey, Eric let me use it and four families gathered to ENJOY a FUN ADVENTURE.

This unexpected gift inspired Eric and I to write the following poem:

It’s on clearance, what a deal!
A turkey deep fryer to cook our Thanksgiving meal.

Just season to taste with spices and such
A pinch here and there, not too much.
But it says some assembly required
How to do it? I’m too tired.
Years go by and it sits on the shelf
Taunting me like an underutilized elf
Waiting to be used for the big holiday feast
Bothering my wife not in the least.
We should use it when the family’s in town
But it’s still not assembled, I feel so down.

Brenda asks how a deep fried turkey might cook
I’m eager to try it, let’s have a look.
She says, “I have a smoker to offer in trade
For your turkey deep fryer unused for a decade
“No, the fryer is mine.”
“But if you wanna use it, I guess that’s fine.”
Plans are made to break it in right
With special oil and a bird that won’t fight.
The big day draws near, how will it go?
Without some experience, there is no way to know.

Family and friends arrive to see
How a Thanksgiving bird is cooked for free.
The oil is hot, ready at last
Keep the temperature steady to cook it fast.
Anticipation and laughter fill the air
As we wait anxiously for our Thanksgiving fare.
The turkey is cooked and ready to eat.
The glorious meal is crispy and neat.
Making for a mouth-watering display
A great way to spend Thanksgiving Day!

We invite you to view the one-minute YouTube video clips of HOW TO Safely Prepare and ENJOY A Deep Fried Turkey from START to FINISH.



Have Fun With S.T.U.F.F.

Knowing and doing are NOT the same thing. We know we should take time to relax, but often don’t. We know we should spend more time with family and friends, but let work and other obligations get in the way. Clutter is not always black and white.

Step back, take a deep breath, and have fun with S.T.U.F.F.

Our own cluttergories overlap one another, but we can work on more than one at a time. This is where the S.T.U.F.F. acronym comes in handy. START by defining what clutter is for you. For me it has been mental and temporal clutter. Like many of you, I have too much stuff going on! The family and I needed a break, so we went to the California Poppy Festival over the weekend.

I learned some things about clutter at this event, especially in the petting zoo area of the children’s section. The camels reminded me to get over the hump of my mental clutter. I had to TRUST in the process and myself to de-clutter. STUFF-Camel

There was a rainforest animal section too, that contained all kinds of exotic critters. The giant spider made me think about how clutter builds up slowly, just like a web. UNDERSTAND that clutter builds up over time and its removal is a process not an event.

Enjoy the moment and be present. Kids seem to do this naturally. Follow their example and FOCUS on where you are and what you are doing.

And last, but not least, FINISH the area of clutter you are working on. My day of fun with the family reduced the mental and temporal clutter holding me back.

S.T.U.F.F. is a tool you can use to process whatever cluttergories are impacting your life. Try it today!

Pomegranates budding - Avadian photo

Is it Time for Spring Cleaning?

Spring is a season of renewal. We plant the seeds we’ll sow in fall.Corn fields in Wisconsin-Avadian-photo

It’s time to take a serious look around and do some spring-cleaning in the areas we define as clutter. Clear out the weeds so the fruits of summer can grow to their full potential.

What are some of the cluttergories in your life?

  • Physical – accumulated possessions that take up space.
  • Mental – mind clutter, such as worries and even too many thoughts.
  • Digital – excessive files to wade through in order to get to the good stuff on our computers, tablets, smartphones, and portable media.
  • Temporal – resulting in “I-was-busy-all-day, but-what-did-I-get-done?” syndrome.
  • Sensual – overloading our senses until sounds, smells, tastes, and more not pleasurable, any longer.

Remember, one of the key tenets of STUFFology 101 is that YOU define the clutter in your life.

Lately, my husband, David, and I have been spending about two to three hours each Sunday, reducing our tax files from 2006 to 1986. We got a bit behind in clearing our clutter.

Because I have a need to reflect, we’ve spent more time decluttering. David would simply toss the old files. Instead, I persuaded him to join me in reflecting on our past as we review our income and expense files of our various endeavors during a twenty-year period of our thirty-seven plus years, together.

Given that I work with family and professional caregivers for people with dementia, I am acutely aware and feel fortunate that we can recall what we did some twenty years ago when we retrieve a receipt from 1995.

More importantly, I am gaining a greater sense of urgency in not putting things off–whether it is as small as keeping up with the filing or as big as prioritizing my dreams instead of investing so much time and energy helping others build theirs. Besides, I’m older. If I don’t follow my dreams now, there might not be enough time left to dream!  🙂

Fawn comes down from the hills to graze during The Station Fire - photo by AvadianNo one would notice our progress, yet we feel better about getting rid of these records. Besides, we learned firsthand during the 2009 Station Fire of what really matters.

The ripples of clearing the clutter have moved to my desktop and worktable as well. Plus, we’re even making time to clear the excess brush on our property in preparation for fire season.

Again, it’s important to remember; only YOU can decide what is the clutter in your life. I’m not talking about hoarding, which is a different issue.

Part IV of STUFFology 101 Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter offers clear guidelines to help you clear the cluttergories in your life.

After you have taken the steps to clear your clutter, be available to help others clear areas they define as the clutter, too. You wouldn’t want someone else defining what’s clutter in your life, would you? We’ve made it easy with the Bonus STUFFologist’s Guide included in your copy of STUFFology 101.

Grand Piano_Avadian

To Master the Art of Decluttering, Ask Magic Question 2

The art of de-cluttering is similar to any other skill or talent worth developing. If you want to play better piano, you need to practice, Practice, PRACTICE. If you want to be a better basketball player, you need to shoot hoops and practice moves on the court.

Whatever talent you wish to master, you need to respond vividly to the second of two magic questions.

The great masters, whether in music, sport, or any other talent, practice and use visualization to mentally finger the keys or take hoop shots.

Grand Piano_Avadian

We take it a step further.

Visualization is not enough when we have access to five senses.

Master the art of decluttering so that you may join us as STUFFologists.

In over 45 years of clearing the clutter throughout my life, I have found when I clear a physical space; it has a profound effect on how I think. For example, clearing a square foot area of clutter clears my mind and opens me up to unexpected possibilities. It goes deeper than this but I’m limited by two-dimensional expression.

Imagine what we can accomplish room by room in an entire home or office!

Clutter will never totally disappear. It’s part of our natural cycle of life. Just as you eat to digest the nutrients in your food, and then eliminate, there will always be a cycle of clutter in our lives. We accept this as the natural course of life; especially, while we’re focused on other tasks leaving clutter to accumulate.

We can control our clutter by answering the two Magic Questions.    

In Chapter 22 of STUFFology 101, we address the Two Magic Questions.

Eric Riddle wrote about the first Magic Question in Why do I have this?

This article invites you to step up the challenge of answering Magic Question 2: What would the area I am focusing on look, feel, smell, or sound like if I cleared the clutter? 

Your ability to feel the answer deeply will yield lasting success. In other words, visualize the area but go beyond to imagine using your other senses.

  • Do you notice how clean an area smells after you’re finished dusting?
  • Do you remember feeling a more open mind after clearing an area of a stack of papers?
  • Have you noticed after emptying a room of stacks of boxes, that you are able to hear sound more clearly?

Where do you begin?

Click to Start with S.T.U.F.F. Define an area you want to clear of clutter and get started. Focus on how you feel, what you smell, hear, touch, or see.

The more senses you involve, the greater your success.

Over time, like a virtuoso pianist or a star basketball player, you will master the art of decluttering.

And who knows?

In the physical, mental, digital, temporal, and even sensual space created, you may find an unexpected gift. There is no telling what it will be. That’s what makes it unexpected. I have found if I observe closely and keep an open mind, I usually find the answer to a question I’ve been mulling around awhile or a find a solution to a challenge I’ve encountered.

Processing POOP - our Tax Papers - Avadian

Getting rid of POOP flows through other Cluttergories

Processing POOP - our Tax Papers - AvadianIt’s amazing what happens when we take steps to de-clutter.

With tax season coming, we’ve run out of space to file our paperwork.

My husband had removed older records from the filing cabinet, which made it so much easier to file current paperwork.

Now, the IRS requires us to save the last seven years of records. For some of us entrepreneurs, who file Schedule C’s, that means lots of documentation.

What to do?

Store the papers in plastic containers or bankers boxes.

But there’s no more room!

Okay, just buy another container.

Wait, that means MORE STUFF!

The time has come for us to do something about all this POOP—Piles of Overwhelming Paperwork.

Our once-every-three-year approach has resulted in a backlog of POOP.

Surprisingly, hubby agreed to sit down with me for two hours every Sunday, until we clear up more space. Hubby usually doesn’t agree to such things; especially, when I want to take the time to reflect on our past, together. You may remember from the book, he’s a “toss-it-all” kinda guy!

Yet, it’s amazing what two people can accomplish by setting aside a little time each weekend, until we get the job done. The photo at the top of this article is one-week’s carefully digested POOP that’s now ready for the shredder. Imagine how much space we’re creating in our storage container after several weeks of this!

What has happened so far has been unexpected.

I feel the relief in other areas of my life—in those other cluttergories that encroach on our daily functioning, without our knowing (or admitting) it.

I feel lighter.  I’m losing a few winter pounds, too. More importantly, I feel lighter, mentally (mental clutter).

Maybe that lightheadedness is a warning of something else!

Seriously, I feel less burdened by those nagging thoughts, like: When will I have time and the energy to get to it?

We’re gettin’ it done!

And I have the energy to move on.Walk in the Angeles National Forest -Brenda Avadian

I’ve made the time to take more walks in nature.

Next, is the bankers box full of stock and options trades from years past. I actually, look forward to revisiting these records. Although, trading in today’s market is vastly different (more speculative); I expect a goldmine of hindsight within those records—learnings that I may apply, today.

Maybe an article or two… or even a book! 😉

Tax season is here. What will you do differently?

To help you without adding to your paperwork, LISTEN to an audio edition of STUFFology 101.  🙂

For a related article click on: We need to declutter and archive statements more often.



START (again)

Does an area you like to keep clean and tidy suffer from clutter creep?

My home office desk area suffers from clutter creep as it is the repository for all household paperwork, and assorted other items. Even a dedicated STUFFologist has a hard time keeping it free of clutter!
I share this because I like to keep it neat and tidy as much as possible. When it accumulates like this, I define that as physical clutter in my living space. If I let it pile up, it becomes mental clutter weighing me down!

Often we forget to take our own advice when we get busy with life. I am no different. In the book we advise people to START small and ”…define clutter in one area at a time to avoid being overwhelmed.” It is time for me to START in my home office (again).

I also consider clutter removal to be an ongoing process, not an event. Don’t beat yourself up if clutter reappears. Take a deep breath and START again in that area.

Some stuff takes longer to complete than other stuff. Digital clutter is a hit or miss issue for me. The same advice applies to de-clutter what is weighing you down in the digital realm.

For example, we like to share the eBook version of STUFFology 101 on different social media platforms and book websites to help people get their minds out of the clutter. We recently STARTed to use a feature called BookShop from our eBook distributor as part of that sharing process. Once we have it finished, you’ll be able to purchase the eBook from multiple platforms (like iBooks) from one location. We will share that on the blog in News and Views when it is completed.

If clutter creep happens to you, remember to START small and focus on one area to avoid being overwhelmed. Doing so will get your mind out of the clutter.


Are Pets Messier Than Kids?

Pets are like kids in many ways. We love and take care of them. We buy clothes and toys for them. They make a mess and do not clean up after themselves!

Thanks to their owners (us), our pets tend to accumulate too much stuff. Toys, clothes, beds, and blankets are scattered about the house.


Eventually, our beloved pet passes on. What do you do when you no longer have that pet?

Take a hard look at each item and decide to keep it, toss it, or donate it. Your choice might depend on what kind of pet you have. For example, we have cats and dogs.

For dogs, items to donate might include a leash, harness, bed, toy, or kennel. Even food or treats might be appropriate. When our large outdoor dog Little Bear passed away a few years ago, we gave her food and biscuits to our neighbor, who also had a large dog.


For cats, items to donate might include a litter box, cat litter, scratching post, or cat tower.

Think about how much your local animal rescue or shelter can benefit from you donation. You can make a positive difference!

In (Click on) STUFFology 101: Get Your Mind Out of the Clutter, we talk about donations:

“When donating things in a meaningful way, two people benefit. By helping others with a donation or a gift, you affect someone else’s life. Sometimes the unexpected gift you receive is learning just how much the thing you don’t use any more means to someone else.”

I am not sure if pets are messier than kids. I am sure their gently used items can make a difference to someone else who has a pet.

Armenian-Rose-Parade-Float-Brenda-Avadian - sm

Photos, PHOTOS Everywhere!

Photos, PHOTOS, when do they become Digital Clutter?

Armenian-Rose-Parade-Float-Brenda-Avadian - sm

Brenda Avadian standing in front of the first-ever Armenian float in the 126th Rose Parade

In STUFFology 101, we write about digital clutter the kind that harmlessly takes up residence on your smartphone, tablet, or hard or external drive. On the cluttergories page, we define digital clutter as anything in virtual form—such as photos stored in our computers, a backlog of emails, or too many social media accounts.

When do digital files turn into clutter?

  • When they’re on your mind in the wee hours of the morning and late at night.
  • When you realize after saving all this STUFF you can’t find what you need when you need it.
  • When you don’t even remember having some of this stuff!
  • When you decide you need to do something about them.
  • When you keep saying, I’ll download this stuff off my smartphone onto my computer so I can finally write about it.

WOW, sounds a lot like mental clutter!

AHA! There’s no better reason right now, to download these digital photos off my smartphone. This article is scheduled to be published the following day and I want to add some of my post-parade float photos. Also, I like to organize my smartphone photos in labeled folders on my computer.

#20150102_Happy-Hippo-Rose-Parade-Float - sm

Happy Hippo Rose Parade Float
Isn’t he cuuute?

Lucky you! You’re in for a treat.

Remember when I wrote the article about the (click on) Rose Parade Float Decorating – No Clutter? Well, the reality is you won’t care about the Rose Parade Floats in July. But you may still want to read about digital clutter and enjoy a few of the post-parade float photos I took. Right?  Please say, YES.

I came upon the following. Although, my initial source at The CHIVE didn’t cite its source of information, this is entirely plausible.

Every two minutes, we take as many photos
as all of humanity took during the 1800s.
In 2014 alone, humanity will take 880 billion photos.
That’s 123 photos for every single human on earth.

#20150102_America-Eagle-Flag-Rose-Parade-Float - sm As with any kind of procrastinating, which also leads to clutter, the actual deed took less time than I thought the task would require. Five minutes was all the time needed to download 38 photos and 3 videos; plus, another five minutes to download a few other photos and file them. I was on a roll.

The next morning, I opened my Rose Parade Floats file and began choosing which ones I wanted to share with you. While working on this, I also labeled the photos while choosing my top picks. #20150102_Flower-Rose-Parade-Float - sm There are too many to share; so, I further limited my initial selection to four, which include the completely decorated flower the float decorators were working on in my earlier post.

The deed is done.

No longer do I concern myself with downloading my float photos. I’ve labeled them so I may use them later as appropriate. And I feel better about eliminating this one cause of mental clutter.

Before I close, I want you to know that next week, the second Monday of the year, is National Clean off your Desk Day. Getting rid of the potential for digital clutter, gives me a head start on my virtual mobile desk. I’ve cleared part of the gallery of photos on my smartphone, filed them in appropriate folders on my computer, and now feel the momentum to keep going… while the clutter waits and WAITS.

How about you? What kinds of clutter are you dealing with? 


How Does Fire Relate to Clutter?

Now that winter is here I like to have a fire going each night in the fireplace of my home. I find that it not only produces warmth, but that it also relaxes me. I like watching how the flames dance in random patterns and the crackle sounds that the fire makes.

How does fire relate to clutter?

Let’s start with a definition of fire from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

Fire is the rapid oxidation of a material in the exothermic chemical process of combustion, releasing heat, light, and various reaction products.[1] Slower oxidative processes like rusting or digestion are not included by this definition.

The flame is the visible portion of the fire. If hot enough, the gases may become ionized to produce plasma.[2] Depending on the substances alight, and any impurities outside, the color of the flame and the fire’s intensity will be different.

Fire in its most common form can result in conflagration, which has the potential to cause physical damage through burning. Fire is an important process that affects ecological systems around the globe. The positive effects of fire include stimulating growth and maintaining various ecological systems. Fire has been used by humans for cooking, generating heat, light, signaling, and propulsion purposes. The negative effects of fire include hazard to life and property, atmospheric pollution, and water contamination.[3] If fire removes protective vegetation, heavy rainfall may lead to an increase in soil erosion by water.[4] Also, when vegetation is burned, the nitrogen it contains is released into the atmosphere, unlike elements such as potassium and phosphorus which remain in the ash and are quickly recycled into the soil. This loss of nitrogen caused by a fire produces a long-term reduction in the fertility of the soil, which only slowly recovers as nitrogen is “fixed” from the atmosphere by lightning and by leguminous plants such as clover.


Fire, like the clutter in our lives, is a process that causes various reactions.

The flame, like physical clutter in the home, is the visible portion of the fire. The intensity of the fire is determined by the substances in it. Likewise, the severity of our clutter is determined by the type and intensity of the cluttergories (physical, mental, digital, temporal, and sensual) in our lives.

Finally, fire can cause physical damage but is also an important part of the ecological systems around the globe; fire stimulates growth and helps maintain those systems. Clutter can also cause damage, especially when it reaches the level of hoarding. Getting rid of the clutter is an important part of stimulating growth in ourselves, as well as giving us a clean environment in which to live.

Now that we see how fire relates to clutter, let’s return to the fireplace in my home.


As I said, the fire helps me relax, which helps me better process the mental clutter in my life. I have also been known to fall asleep on the couch in front of the fire. A nap also helps me process the mental clutter!

How do you process the mental clutter in your life?

Our fireplace is double sided, facing both the family room and my home office. This actually helps me keep the physical clutter at bay in my home. For safety sake we have to keep the area around the fireplace clear of anything flammable. This also acts a trigger for me to keep the family room and home office clear of clutter so that we can better enjoy the fire, a mental trick of sorts.

Do you have any tips or tricks for managing the physical clutter in your life?

Winter is enjoyable for me because it tends to be a slower time of year. It is a time of reflection and goal setting with the new calendar year; a time to examine the cluttergories that might be affecting me. The fire is a cozy way to encourage that process and de-clutter my life.

I invite you to use fire as a tool, as I do, to help you process the clutter in life.