Clearing my (psychic) clutter, Day 4: Brooks Palmer, decluttering catalyst


If you had told me even a week ago that one night in the frighteningly-not-distant future I’d be standing in the showroom of an El Segundo boutique, letting a stand-up comic talk me into heaving photographs of my parents into the trash can, I’d have laughed in your face. As politely as I could, but seriously, family photos? I would no more throw away the blurriest, crappiest, surliest-faced of them than I would mark or cut up a book. Some things are sacred, if you grew up a middle-class child of the 1960s.

That’s just what I did, though, along with about 400 attendant lbs. of psychic baggage. Brooks Palmer, former actor/retailer/what-have-you, current author and clutter-buster to the stars, has a way about him that removes the threat of…doom? Death? Plain old fear itself?

I’m not exactly sure, to tell you the truth. It’s way too close to the actual event to have the proper kind of perspective on it. But I feel like I’ve had a gigantic cork pulled out of me and stuff has just started flowing again. I mean, I started this salute with the thought that, “oh, good, I’m doing this workshop; there will probably be some fodder there for the blog.” Or, I knew I was going to a thing; I had no idea that this was going to be an Event.

For the similarly crippled by clutter who need help, here’s the deal:

Brooks Palmer, who’s been doing what he calls “clutter busting” for about 15 years professionally (and longer than that, just noodling around) is based in Chicago but travels extensively to work one-on-one with private clients in their homes and offices, and leading workshops for small groups. (Ours was especially small, at just seven messy ladies.) He’s in Los Angeles four times per year for two weeks at a time, and usually does a Northern Cali stop on those trips; so far, he’s done U.S. workshops exclusively, although after an interesting interview with the London stringer for Paris Match, he’s setting up a workshop there soon, and open to visiting other nearby places on that trip.

He’ll also work via the phone. I lucked out and got the in-person experience, but as someone who does 99.99% of my own consulting work over the phone (and has been coached, consulted and shrunk via the phone as well), I’m guessing it’s pretty effective or he wouldn’t offer it. Dude is the soul of integrity and kindness from what I’ve seen so far.

He also has a terrific book I’ll do a full report on this Tuesday. If you’re a highly motivated DIYer, and/or you’ve been on the decluttering warpath for a stretch, it might do you fine alone. But to me, the killer combo would be to do what I did: warm up with the book, then get a session or hit a workshop. You, too, will soon be hurling out dead plants and dead relatives like the freewheeling, unattached, pre-buddhic spirit you are meant to be!


P.S. His excellent clutter-busting blog has tons of great tips, insights and inspiring stories you can read for free. See if you recognize the, uh, “workshop participant” in this recap post. Not that you need to be a clairvoyant to read me like a book with attached Cliff’s Notes.

Photo of Brooks Palmer & yours truly @ 2009 Dyana Valentine.


  1. So. Proud. Of. You.
    (Doesn’t it feel good?)

    Give me a jingle if you’re looking for a nice set of archival boxes (in black to go with everything, natch) to keep the “keeper” photos safe and snug…yet still close at hand.

    P.S. I gotta look up this Mr. Palmer. He sounds dreamy. Is he from Chicagoland originally like you and me?

  2. Decluttering family photos, eh? That’s really something. Congrats!

    I’ve been steadily and gradually working on decluttering since the beginning of summer, not ready to give any photos the heave-ho though. I’m OK with that for now.

  3. Sally J – It’s been a long time coming, sister—I thank you for laying some of the groundwork.

    And in case it’s not clear, that’s a big, fat, glorious, “YESSSS!!!” It feels fucking awesome.

    Deidre – Thanks, lady. I think you must have done this already, pre-transatlantic move. Someday, you must share your secrets!

    Claire – See note to Sally, above. This was a loooooong time coming. And really, if you love and use and enjoy them all, why toss? But for me, it was stacks of crap, with a few beauties nestled in there. WTF? Now at least I have a chance of mining the gold!

  4. Oh wow oh wow. Brooks’ website is fantastic! I’m reading it really slowly, with breaks in between posts, the way you eat the most delicious chocolate because you want it to last and last and savor every moment.


  5. Hey, Colleen, just busting in here to say that I did it. About 30 T-shirts, gone. And don’t it feel good? On the other hand, I stuck them in the church collection box, and that worries me on two counts. I am destroying the local economy somewhere? And what’s the polite thing to do if I see someone wearing my T shirt?

  6. OMG! I hired Gabriel and he got me to throw away things I could not believe. After a few months (I am a tough case) of working together, I went out of town, and my *catsitter* left me a voicemail saying “Your apartment looks so….neat!”

    If you live in the Big Apple…Gabriel is your man.

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