DE JUNKING and allowing a place for everything and everything in its place
I have been motivated and inspired to write this blog about making some priorities. Maybe triggered by listening to Steve Jobs commencement speech at Stanford university talk about his terminal illness and being told to get his affairs in order, or that somehow I am reaching the big 5-0 and that there are just some things that need to be let go of and some things that need to be seized as if life depended on it. This is a life-changing experience and how I want to reinvent myself again to make way for this new decade, or passage in my life, and create the real sense that l can be the best I can be in promoting health, happiness, success and continued joy.
I have been a major hoarder. The Oxford English Dictionary’s definition of ‘to hoard’ is : ‘to collect and hide or store for preservation, security or future use’. For me having things had become a source of comfort and pleasure, it seemed to represent a desire to re-create warm feelings of connection to family and friends to compensate for the austerity of times past with being part of a large family of eight where there simply was only just enough to go around, with tight belt measures, budgeting and living on a shoestring. My type of hoarding seemed to be saving things for a rainy day, anxiously hoarding in case there was ever any threat of going without, and mostly a nesting hoarder, ensuring that I had the comforts I needed for any given circumstance. Clinging on to this endless stuff from the past, and my addiction to excess. These soft addictions were really all about comforting items of clothing, cashmere, soft textures indulging my kinaesthetic preferences to the ‘touchy feely’ and sensual pleasures that might nurture me like pashminas, cashmere, silk and loving the variety of colour to increase choice. Bags…lots of different bags in all colours, shapes and sizes…the covetous feeling of having my personal belongings close to me. Make-up, perfumes…offers, freebies…like a magpie loving the little handbag size products. And what about my library of books, on many subjects, that might inspire me to increase my knowledge base, understanding and expertise? It occurred to me that having, self-sufficiency and choice were obvious emotional connections to some of these compulsions around excess.
So what makes me wake up one morning and then decide that I want to free myself from all that stuff? Is it that one day I am aware that I am beginning to drown in some chaos, no longer knowing what there is or where to find something. Might it be significant life events that cause this shift in getting into action? I believe that I was set in motion on may occasions of change, like expecting a baby, moving house, a landmark birthday, moving in with my partner, pressure from others, reaching the end of my tether, or simply wanting to free up space for something new and different to happen. Clearly holding on to endless stuff from the past and saving for the future can rob me of enjoying today. What will the next ten years mean for me? Menopause? Empty nest? Aging? Retirement? Whilst it sounds potentially all about necessary loss, there are definite gains of more freedoms, opening up new possibilities and more opportunities to do the things that one has always wanted to do. What would it be like if I was asked to get my affairs in order? In how much time? The realisation is that my soft addictions to excess now was becoming more of a burden. My squirrel behaviours of gathering was now creating some degree of overload.
So a quick audit on my life and all my stuff. Whilst I am not currently moving house, or have been given notice of anything to anticipate other than the season to sort, if someone else was to be required to rifle through my personal possessions, I would at least like to know what there is and to have some say in the matter.
So what if I only had a year to live? Or 6 months? Where would I start? What would my priorities be? Perhaps honing things down, and making decisions on what really matters in the big picture, and continuing to prioritise until I finally get rid of stuff that no longer holds any important place in my life. Well it has required starting with acknowledging my own chaos and reflecting how to simplify my life more. I needed to accept this responsibility by choosing the simpler life and to also enjoy the simpler life. What do I need less of and what would I like more of? I’ve heard it said that ‘less is more’.
So letting go of the old in order to make room for the new? Sounds like the story of birth and death. What clearing do I need to make way for? And where would holding on to my past hold me back? Yet this seems to be quite an emotional decision where I have so many emotional attachments to my past. I love my clothes. I love the masses of books that is big enough for a complete library, lovingly chosen and brought. Yet needing to recognise those things or objects that represent parts of my life that need upgrading, out of date technology, music and P.A equipment that represented my singing career that I have no intention of ever needing now. What kind of grief reaction do I anticipate if I permanently let them go? My relationship to loss is often melancholic. It opens up some insecurity as to deprivation or regret. Might there be envy of others who seem to possess more? Haven’t I spent years taking care of and nurturing myself so that material need was never a place I visited too often?
Where do I start? Room by room? Cupboard by cupboard? I decided to start with a home inventory, by going through each room and making an assessment of how the room seemed to me, and what I had in each room, some of which was clearly functional and usable. I took notes and then took photos of everything. It was clear that I enjoy and value beauty and quality and have a good sense of mood and spirit around a home, loving enjoying lightness and a home that embraces me immediately with comfort and nurturing after some stresses and strains of the day. Certainly me reaching this stage of my life has opened up the desire for me to enter into a wonderful spiritual phase of my life where my home represents the true me. Where there is soul.
So it seems like a good time to move on. Just needing to address the issues of over-spill where things are just things and no longer pass the smile test. As I wish to get and stay fit. Eat healthily and stay healthy, we are always impacted by the yesterday, today and tomorrow. My home also needs to reflect some home health also. Acknowledging that my hot-spots are bedroom and office clutter, my action plan was to first deal with my feelings. Walking around the room and assessing how I feel, whether it is relaxed, in control and surrounded by things I love and that reflect my life today? This is the easy bit to check in on how I feel. What do I see? Where have I run out of storage space for some of these essential items?
According to Jane Alexander in ‘Spirit of the home’, she describes clutter as blocking the home’s lifeblood’. Another variant of this is ‘clotter’. Imagine your home as a body. In our bodies blood runs through arteries, veins, and capillaries. If for any reason eg smoking, bad diet, too little exercise, these blood vessels become furred and blood cannot pump through effectively. Sluggish blood is a major cause of clots and the home is the same. If the energy in the house cannot circulate easily, it becomes stagnant and sluggish.
This was a very powerful metaphor for me to understand. So that’s it!
The big clear out. I recognise it as essential like housework for the soul. Downstairs feels comfortable. We get on top of the kitchen every evening after a meal. We keep the hallway mainly clear of shoes with the occasionally things that are on their way out just for reminding. We could greet people happily.
Upstairs? My girlie addictions declare themselves, hats, gloves, books, paper excess. This is where I would like my home to reflect my soul? I want to get my home ready for moving, for my new career, for beautiful places to write in for all seasons. Letting go of the myth that the more things I have in the nest, the more secure and successful I feel. Maintaining beauty is a value, and a physical environment that nurtures. Each room to have a definite function. Needing to sort out the rubbish first, to be binned and open up some space. Addressing the side of my bed, where there are five books on the go, for decadent bedtime reading. Instead of squeezing everything into its girdle, finding out how to put my house on a diet? Getting comfortable, taking a leaf out of the feng shui philosophy.
The benefits of reducing clutter are saving on the cost of storing things where it’s hard to maintain it all. I could use it or lose it and reduce the clutter to make housecleaning easier. I could be more efficient and store things accordingly, handle some things once, or recycle it and enjoy the prospect of finding a place for everything and everything in its place. Examine the items displayed in the house and have them pass a test. Not do things later, label things, if you bring stuff into a room, take it back when finished out of the room. Take things upstairs and downstairs if you are going anyway. Empty the car after each trip. Pick things up when they drop. Wipe up spills when they happen. These are all rules that I could apply to discipline myself behaviourally?
Imagine feeling out of control with your life. So what is the psychology of clutter? The landscape of my house often represents the landscapes of my thoughts and feelings. In the past it was clear that clutter had become clutteritis? When it was creating depression, anxiety, or desperation. When I feel like I’m not master of your own life and controlled by my possessions. Ashamed to have friends round. It’s obvious that the real roots of security and affection are within me. Clutter is the end result of procrastination, sentimentalism, sadness, are feelings associated with decluttering.
There is a famous declutterers mantra, which is, ‘if it’s not useful or beautiful, throw it out’.
So with dejunking my life and my environment and simplified my life, there would be obvious benefits like decreasing the amount of time I spend maintaining my home by 40%. Organising your wardrobe can decrease the time it takes me to get ready in the morning by 50%. So going through possessions if it is broken and no good for anyone, throw it away, if it’s good for jumble or charity give it away, if there is indecision about something, it might be worth boxing it up in store for a year in the loft and then review it. What about the nostalgic things? Maybe take photos or notes of them, to reduce.
It’s definitely worth doing a whole audit, regarding clothes that don’t fit or out of fashion. Reviewing your body: harmful habits, salt, sugar, caffeine and what you put into your body, and noticing toxic symptoms. How much exercise you take. What’s the quality of sleep like? One can look at dejunking your time and finances. Dejunking your money, by dramatically changing your standard of living do you don’t have to earn so much money. Decrease amount of money you expend for instance, shifting priorities or increasing the amount of money coming in. Dejunk your work, which can be stressful if its affecting our health and our minds.
Dejunk your stress levels and dejunking your mind. Dejunk your relationships, which may be spending less time with people who have the effect of getting you down, or draining you. Dejunk your social life, in fact the total review of life and keeping everything fit and healthy.
What would it be like to have no more clutter? To clear the space and free my life?
To liberate myself from the tyranny of surplus stuff and live a more harmonious life.
So what is my decluttering journey. It is a process. Things you can do with a piece of paper? Action it, bin it, file important documents, store in your memory box, archive old records, make a reading pile, keep your desk clear, open up the flow in the office, clutter free, doing it straight away. Could my home be my sanctuary, a place to relax, socialise, a place to work from and bring up the family, rather than a home taken over by possessions. Clutter is things I no longer use or love or un-filed paperwork. This has a profound experience about making choices about what I keep, and what I let go of.
A kind of stock-taking, when you are cluttered you lose touch with what you actually own. As I rediscover my possessions I can stream line my things, reconnect with what I have and where it is stored in my home. I can let go of stuff I don’t need, use or love. Keep the edited highlights of my life and the reward is a home that is relaxing, feels fantastic and organised. My comfort shopping has had some price, although it might represent the thrill of the childhood comics that gave away free stuff, everything I own demands something of me to look after it, clean it, insure it, maintain it and it takes up mental space. So the feeling of gain of confidence and control, saving time, feeling more relaxed and clear-headed, saving money, feeling energised has to be good.
There are necessary losses and ways to create simple living. This quest for simplicity.
Keep it or toss it? Now I prefer comfort to fashion mostly. I will confront the piles in my life. As they by their nature represent complexity represent unfinished business. I can create clearings in my life. In Ecclesiastes 3:1
‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven’.
So finally, as I look to address my belongings, attempting to flock birds of a feather together, make seasonal adjustments, dealing with first things first, I would like to share what I can across in the laws of mental prosperity. These 10 principles that were identified by Tom Kubistant, Ed.D., an executive retreat specialist and an expert on individual performance and organisational productivity based in Reno, Nevada-drive professional satisfaction.
10 Laws of Mental Prosperity
by Tom Kubistant, Ed.D
1. The Law of Self Determination
You become what you think about, if you improve the quality of your thinking, you will improve the quality of your life.
2. The Law Dynamism
There is no neutral gear: Either you are progressing or you are regressing. If you aren’t actively choosing to be positive, you are actually choosing to be negative.
3. The Law of Belief
Your beliefs define you realities. Focus on that which you can control.
4. The Law of Attraction
You are a living magnet. You attract that which you are. You also attract that which you need to become.
5. The Law of Correspondence
Your outer world is a mirror of your inner world – as within, so without. There are no crises, only gifts and opportunities.
6. The Law of Prosperous
Prosperity and spiritual awareness are intrinsically linked. Purity of purpose is both the beginning and the end. Ethics before economics: Do the right thing at the right time.
7. The Law of Action
Whatever can be conceived and believed can be achieved. Do instead of try. Persistence is the hallmark of belief.
8. The Law of Work
Do what you love, and the money will follow. Every task is a test of your character. Going the extra distance is the only shortcut to success.
9. The Law of Service
The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others. Giving something back is putting it back there for others. Service is the essence of humanity.
10. The Law of Accumulation
Little things build up to become big things. Everything you do counts. How you do everything matters.
Can cats be clutter? I am reaching over one of mine to write this comment. I love your blog, so much of it resonates for me. Pragmatically I really liked the idea of photographing things before you get rid of them. Spiritually I enjoyed the concept of maintaining beauty and a nourishing physical environment. A delicious insight …
now … where did I put that camera?
Thanks for your comment Jill…..I will take you on a tour sometime soon…..