A Drawer Full of Bracelets

September 26, 2014

I had been working with a client for two days when we gathered all her bracelets together and put them into one drawer.  It measured about 14″ long, 10″ wide and 6″ deep.  One drawer with these dimensions would surely hold all her bracelets, but it didn’t.  We had to move to the drawer below it to handle the overflow.

How man bracelets are we talking about?  Maybe 200, 300, I don’t know.  What kind of bracelets?  Bangles, charm, ones with elastic, plastic, glass, semi-precious stones, gold, silver, oh, so many!  Delicate, clunky, colorful, tasteful, quiet and tinkling.  If the bracelets were candy, you could satiate your sweet tooth for years to come.

The Excess Made Me Ponder

I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I left my client.  In fact, it’s troubled me.  If those were my bracelets, I wouldn’t be able to remember what I had.  They would have to be in some order for me to see them and to choose which one(s) I would wear.

We had simply consolidated them.  They had been scattered throughout her bedroom.  Because they were now jumbled into two drawers, my client would have to “paw” through them to find the bracelet she was looking for.  In the process, she might come across one she had forgotten and probably pull that one from the pile, losing interest in her first choice.  If she were determined to find a particular one, I suspect it would take precious time to find it.

The excess made me sad, and, please forgive me, but I have made a judgment. No one needs this many bracelets, not even Lady Gaga.  Jewelry is an easy thing to purchase.  Earrings, bracelets and necklaces are portable.  You don’t need a truck to cart them home.  Once you’ve paid for the merchandise, you can slip these pieces into your purse or pocket and off you go.  What, I wonder, inspires my client to buy so many and so often?  Perhaps it is that sense of instant gratification.  Or the fun of feeding her “guilty pleasure” to have a new piece of jewelry to “jazz up” her outfits.

There is More to This Picture

My client told me she likes to dress up when she goes to work.  Her clothes, jewelry and shoes are all part of a picture she enjoys composing every workday morning.  For her, putting together outfits is like artwork, and the fact she can create a unique and different picture every day is important to her.  I respect her desire to look good and her ability to tap into her creativity.  Still no one needs this many bracelets to feel as creative as Picasso.

Jewelry and all the other materials we clothe ourselves with are—in a word—a cover.  These external items, some of which are beautiful, can distract us from something more important—our inner self.  When we preoccupy ourselves with stuff, be it jewelry, clothing, cars, or stacks of paper, we lose sight of this inner self and the balance required to lead a healthy life.  We choose to look outside ourselves, where our ego’s voice can be heard loud and clear.  We compare ourselves with others, coveting what others have and judging ourselves, which causes unrest and anxiety.

My client lives in a state of distress.  How do I know?  I’ve worked in her home.  Home is a reflection of one’s inner spirit.  When clutter litters the home, it sends the message that something is out of balance.  In my client’s case, something is seriously out of balance.  It wasn’t just an abundance of bracelets, but also clothes, shoes, purses, and books.

In her seminal book Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, Karen Kingston lists the many ways clutter can affect us.  Here are a few:

  • Clutter can congest your body.  My client has digestive issues.
  • Clutter can cause disharmony.  My client’s husband wants the clutter gone as soon as possible.  He openly criticizes her and finds her clutter intolerable.
  • Clutter can make you feel ashamed.  My client never invites friends over to socialize.  There’s just no room to do so.
  • Clutter can cost you.  My client does little, if any, cooking.  Most meals are eaten out.

Why Does My Client Have Clutter?

I don’t know and I cannot guess.  What I do know is that something deep within is troubling her, something that requires a cover-up.  Kingston writes, “Usually it is loneliness, fear of intimacy or some other buried emotion which feels easier to submerge in clutter than to cope with.”

Whether we ignore all the stuff we acquire, neglect taking good care of it, or immerse ourselves in the maintenance or orderliness of our stuff, we are choosing not to deal with our own inner issues.  All this stuff becomes a shield, which blocks our way to facing our fears and living a balanced, healthy life.

Life in my client’s apartment had become intolerable.  She could no longer see the way out of her clutter.  It took courage to invite me to cross her threshold.  All that stuff she considers valuable was strangling her most precious possession–her inner self.  If she didn’t get help, she would succumb.

My working with her was an important first step.  If she continues, and that is a critical part of this de-cluttering work, she will transform her life.  I’ve witnessed life-changing transformation in clients who were committed to releasing their clutter.  They literally create space for new and wonderful changes to present themselves in their life.  Job promotions, improved health, revitalized marriages, and even an art exhibition that was years in the making are examples of those changes.

It is my clients’ personal transformation that keeps me doing this work.  If you need or someone you know who needs help creating a home for the heart, and if you live in the greater Washington, DC, area, consider taking my Consciously Clearing Clutter class.  The fall session is starting on October 8, 2014.  It can open doors you never thought would open for you.

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