Free yourself by jettisoning junk, Ceres seminar advises

CERES – It seems like an old-fashioned idea: A group of women gather in a church meeting room to learn how to organize their homes.

But Sunday’s free seminar, titled “Get Organized,” had modern-day appeal. More than 60 people — many of them young women — attended the event, held at the Seventh-day Adventist Church on North Central Avenue.

“Even if it is old-fashioned, it’s still needed,” said Sharon Snarr of Modesto, who brought her 10-year-old daughter, Kendra.

“It’s a problem in every home,” she said. “Who doesn’t watch those HGTV programs and say, ‘Please come to my house?’ ”

Conducted by Fresno author Nancy Van Pelt, the event was based on her book “Get Organized — 7 Secrets to Sanity for Stressed Women.”

Van Pelt’s secrets? She didn’t give all seven away, but she did say an important step is purging. Throw away that watch that doesn’t work, clothes that don’t fit, books you don’t read, pots from the plants that died last summer.

“Why do we keep so much stuff?” Van Pelt asked.

That stuff, she said, can affect us in ways we never thought of. Take the man who once asked Van Pelt — who also gives relationship workshops — about his cluttered home.

“He said, ‘I’d really like to romance my wife. But I’d have to find her first,’ ” she said.

Van Pelt gave hints on how to declutter your home, room by room. Start at the front door, she said, and move clockwise until every room is done.

“Every room, every closet, every drawer,” she said.

Spend one week — or even longer — on each room.

“It doesn’t matter how long you take,” she said, “as long as you are progressing.”

Some more tips from Van Pelt:

• When purging, separate items into four boxes or bags labeled “throw away,” “give away,” “put away” and “store.”

• Empty drawers on plastic tablecloths to minimize mess.

• Have a pad and pencil handy. Jot down notes about minor repairs that might be needed to a cabinet, for example, or cleaning supplies you’re about to run out of.

• Have a filing system and use it. One file should be for personal items, one for receipts, one for bills. Give each child a file and tell them to put their school papers there.

• Get rid of toy boxes. Have children learn to group like items in small bins instead.

Audience members asked plenty of questions.

What do you do if you have too many framed photos? Take the pictures out of the frames and put them in a file folder.

What do you do with your mail? Van Pelt said she walks through the garage after collecting her mail, making sure to throw junk mail in the trash before it hits the house.

It’s those ideas, audience members said, that made the talk appealing.

“Clutter bothers me,” said Shila Russell, a 31-year-old from Turlock. “Learning how to organize more effectively … I like that.”

Bee staff writer Kerry McCray can be reached at [email protected] or (209) 578-2358.

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