3.The garden has been cleared

I walked through the front door and straightaway Stella led me to the back door to show off the garden.

The jungle of weeds was gone. We looked at each other with big smiles on our faces.

Stella said: ‘The gardener was very energetic and we worked jolly hard. I was exhausted but it wasn't emotionally tiring because I didn't have to make any difficult choices. Weeds are weeds and we just pulled them up. We filled 12 bags of rubbish!’

Beverly had sent Stella the most recent newsletter with the offer of a packing list. Stella had replied:

‘Thank you for the packing list. I do not plan to go ‘on holiday’ yet perhaps a short break, given all the encouragement I am getting from working with Chrystine, may be possible sometime later in the year so a copy of the checklist would be welcome. All down to something shifting...along with the bags Chrystine and I have put out!’

‘What do you want to do today?’ I asked.

Stella replied, ‘I like the sense of movement. Can we unstick the front hall today?’

We'd been making piles of 'like' things around the house. Stella loves doing this is this because it doesn't require any thought; nothing is being thrown away. As we did the front hall, we added to the piles.

Part of decluttering is finding a place for everything. The basic sort piles are the first step on this path. Initially one is simply 'putting things away' into the piles. Looking at the volume of a pile enables us to plan how big a shelf, drawer or closet that will be needed to house them in the end.

The front hall bookcase became the home for programmes and leaflets. Coats moved from a sitting room chair to the hall. I found the box of the things cleared from Stella's desk by her colleagues when she didn’t return to work.

Stella said, ‘I'm glad you found that and not me. I can face the stuff from a distance in your hands and I know what I want to keep’

After the sorting and reorganising, we hoovered the now open floor space.

When we finished for the day, Stella’s voice had a new excited squeak. She could now open her front door to the outside world and her hallway looked ‘normal’.

The process with Stella was proving to be very educational for me. I decided to start keeping a diary of our visits and went home to write down the first three.

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