A Modern Viewpoint

January 18, 2018

Clutter—Let me free associate for a moment:

  • Stuff not being used, but someday I’ll need it;
  • Things once considered valuable because my parents treasured them;
  • Something someone could use but since I don’t know who, I’ll postpone doing anything about it;
  • Something I could get money for, but trying to navigate E-bay is way too much trouble;
  • My children’s toys saved for my grandchildren, except my children are too busy building their careers to build a family;
  • Clothes that no longer fit, but someday I am going to lose that weight;
  • Clothes no longer in style, but I paid a lot of money for that suit (I can’t just donate it!);
  • Papers I might need to prove who I am, what I’ve achieved or what is due me but are really of no value;
  • A hodgepodge of items I need to put into order, but, gosh, I just don’t have the time to do that…

You get the idea. Note the rationales used with each one.

Recently I had the pleasure of seeing Arthur Miller’s play “The Price” at Arena Stage in Washington, DC. So moved, I borrowed a copy from the library so I could delve into Miller’s deep-felt, profound yet simple words. Here’s one quotation that hit home for me:

Setting the Scene

Victor in his late forties is responsible for emptying his father’s brownstone apartment because the building is going to be demolished. Time is of the essence. The house must be emptied within the next day or so. His father died years ago, but Victor chose not to deal with the apartment or anything in it until the moment the play begins. The curtain opens to the living area filled with furniture and artifacts that represent his father and mother when they were alive. Victor is joined by 89-year old appraiser Solomon, whom he found in the Yellow Pages of the phone book (circa 1968). We learn as the play progresses that Solomon’s career in estate sales was over until Victor called him to buy his father’s estate.

At one point, Victor is afraid Solomon is going to cheat him. Solomon explains why much of the furniture probably won’t sell:

“I’m giving you the architectural facts! Listen—wiping his face, he seizes on the library table, going to it—You got there, for instance, a library table. That’s a solid beauty. But go find me a modern apartment with a library. If they would build old hotels, I could sell this, but they only build new hotels. People don’t live like this no more. This stuff is from another world. So I’m trying to give you a modern viewpoint, and if you wouldn’t understand the viewpoint, it’s impossible to understand the price.”

Old Hotels

Solomon makes a good point: They’re not building old hotels anymore, yet so many of us are attracted to “old hotels” and what filled them. Old hotels are our rosy memories—the romantic ideal that we aspire to recreate. The not-so-rosy memories attached to those items we’ve more than likely repressed and forgotten.

But guess what? If we take a moment to examine the items that evoke a rosy glow, we discover a dark side to them as well. For example, the exquisite wedding dress that symbolizes a marriage ended in divorce or the outrageously gorgeous and expensive Stuart Weitzman shoes that are a killer to walk in for more than five minutes.

We want to sit in the lobby of those old hotels, sipping tea and savoring the grandeur of it all, but how long can we sit there? How does sitting in that lobby enhance our present life? The same is true for those items and the rosy memories we attach to them. We  might be able to recreate the happy memory for a moment, but not for long.

It’s All about Viewpoint

Those memories are ephemeral, but the items are real. We can’t bring back your father sitting in his Lazy-Boy chair or your mother wearing her mink stole, yet we’ve decided to hold onto both the chair and the stole because we’re able to slip into a rosy reverie whenever we see them. Meanwhile your wife or roommate can’t stand the stodgy old Lazy-Boy and we discover the skin of the mink stole is dry and cracked. That dark side I mentioned above keeps popping up!

Perhaps we need to let go of our illusions—things that are or are likely to be wrongly perceived or interpreted by the senses. We perceive the items we are holding onto as valuable for whatever rationale we ascribe to them. When we crack the illusion, the items are just things—a dress, a pair of shoes, a chair or a mink stole. Do these items enhance our present life? If we were unabashedly honest, we would say, “No!”

It all comes back to viewpoint. Why hold onto something passed its prime? Why keep straddling the past and present? Our life is here now. Our power is in the present. We need a modern viewpoint.

The thrust of this story is that a woman committed to sign up for one of my classes. The fact is she ghosted me. So, what happened?

A woman I didn’t know called asking about the services my business ALIGN offers. She wanted help with clearing her clutter—not her physical clutter, but the mental, emotional and spiritual clutter she has been grappling with. I offer a class called “Consciously Clearing Your Clutter, Uncovering the Subconscious Reasons for Your Clutter.” Although the focus of this class is ultimately on clearing physical clutter, much of the class helps people identify their intangible attachments to it.

For the past several weeks preceding the call, my attention had been and continues to be focused on re-branding my business. ALIGN currently works with three different tools: clutter, tarot and essential oils. It had been 12 years since I launched ALIGN. I was in the process of clarifying what aspects of my business are important to me.

During this re-branding process I rediscovered my passion for clearing clutter. Physical clutter is an important issue, because it literally covers a host of feelings no one wants to look at. But the more insidious clutter is the mental, emotional and spiritual clutter that we contend with day in and day out.

For the most part, we go about our days unaware of the stuff that fills our minds and hearts. The woman who called, we’ll call her Judy, wanted help with this kind of clutter. She was in town for only a few weeks. Could I help her now? Yes!

What One Phone Call Will Do

This one call was all I needed to create a class that would address the issue of intangible clutter. I was on it! In one week I gathered my thoughts and resources. I developed a four-session agenda, the class objectives and the handouts for the first session. The class is called “It’s an Inside Job! Consciously Clearing the Clutter within You.” I was ready!

Judy said she would call me back a few days after the initial call. She didn’t. I called her. She answered the call and said she couldn’t meet on the upcoming weekend because she had a friend coming to visit her from out of town.

She promised to call me Saturday morning to set a meeting time. No call Saturday morning. When I called her the next day, she agreed to meeting Thursday at 5:00 pm. Subsequently I sent her an e-mail asking her to consider a few questions before coming to class.

Thursday at 5:00 pm came and went. No Judy. The next morning I discovered she had sent me an e-mail a few hours before our agreed-upon time telling me she couldn’t make it. She indicated she had time to meet during the next few days. I responded using both e-mail and phone and asked her to call or text me. No text. No call. No response during the following 24 hours.

I finally got the message. Judy wasn’t coming.

Once I Knew I Was Ghosted

First, I was ticked off! Why string me along? She could have said, “I’ve decided I don’t want to take the class.” Instead, her cat-and-mouse approach drew me in and pushed me away several times until I finally figured out she wasn’t coming.

I confess I stewed on this awhile—a couple days, until I stumbled across a segment of the book I am currently reading, The Spontaneous Healing of Belief by Gregg Braden. Substantial information precedes the following quotation, but you’ll get the gist:

“Unresolved negative feelings that underlie chronic hurt—our beliefs—have the power to create the physical conditions that we recognize as cardiovascular disease: tension, inflammation, high blood pressure and clogged arteries.”

Braden goes on to cite researcher Tim Laurence from the Hoffman Institute in England, whose research shows that the potential impact of our failure to heal and forgive old hurts and disappointments cuts us off from good health. Laurence’s research indicated that “teaching people to ‘tone down’ their emotional responses to life situations could prevent heart attacks.”

This segment by Braden gave me pause. I needed to let go of the negative feelings I was harboring by being ghosted. I needed to move on. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Her behavior taps into memories and feelings of being ghosted in the past. It became imminently apparent I had to forgive Judy and forgive her now! Staying healthy is my priority.

The Bigger Picture

Braden’s words helped me to understand the bigger picture of this interchange between Judy and me. I believe Judy sincerely wanted to let go of her internal clutter. Otherwise, why would she have called me? Unfortunately she just wasn’t ready to do the work it required.

The few questions I sent her in advance of the class tipped her off and triggered her fearful “I’m in” and “I’m out” response. I suspect she wasn’t totally conscious of her handling of the situation, let alone the impact it had on me. Still I would have liked to have helped her.

The Bonus

Judy was the impetus for me to develop this class—a class I will launch within the next couple of months. I have her to thank for galvanizing me into action. This is the bonus of having had this brief encounter with her. I am grateful for it.

“They” say that you teach what you need to learn. Healing myself of the internal clutter that blocks me from living a happy and love-filled life is the work I must do. If I can do it, then I can help others do it, too.

Clutter, Clutter Everywhere

September 28, 2015

Everyone has clutter. For some it’s not visible, but the mental residue of unwanted thoughts and worries rests in their mind. For others, a pile here and a pile there are periodically swept away and then a new pile is born.

But what about the person who feels the need to cover every flat surface in her home with a multitude of crystals, knickknacks, and tchotchkes? Or the person who has so many clothes, she cannot fit them all into her closets and bureaus? Or the person who cannot get through the endless stacks of paper that confront him in his home office, on his kitchen counter or covering his coffee table?

Why does clutter exist?

What I’ve learned during the past 10 years of helping people de-clutter is to listen to each client’s back-story, because in that story lie the reasons why the clutter exists and persists. In most cases there is loss or trauma hidden underneath all the stuff. How much clutter there is at the present time and how it is handled depends on the degree to which the trauma has been dealt with.

Those who have undergone a loss or a trauma have a critical need to feel safe. Job loss, death of a loved one, a sudden disability, or a violation of any sort is an example of such trauma. Tangible, physical items, like clothes, shoes, cars, or even paper, can give the illusion of safety and control. Since most of us determine what we bring into our home, the single act of buying an item we want but don’t need can give us a sense of control—control that didn’t exist when or after the trauma occurred.

Why is there such resistance to addressing clutter?

Most people don’t realize there is a whole lot more to clutter than just stuff. Having possessions is a wonderful distraction. Anything you own means you have to manage it, store it, maintain it, repair it, use it, clean it, or display it. When you have too much of it, it becomes clutter. We Americans have the wherewithal to buy lots of stuff we don’t need. Why do we do it? Because we can and because it soothes us temporarily. I suspect, though, there are other reasons.

If we were to probe more deeply, we might discover the feelings that propel us to acquire unnecessary, excess stuff. If we were to face these feelings squarely, we might call a halt to the endless influx of stuff we allow and usually welcome into our homes. This is not easy to do. In fact, this is a profound realization, and when people get it, they are willing to start dealing with their clutter in a deep and lasting way.

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.

Do you have a junk drawer?  Most Americans do.  If I were standing in front of you right now, could you tell me the items that are in it?  You would probably give me a general listing of things, but I suspect if you were to go there right now, you would find something you’ve forgotten you had put there and haven’t used in years.  And I hesitate to ask how long ago that was.  Perhaps it’s time to peek inside that drawer you rarely open and review its contents. 

And if I were you, I’d have a little trash bag by my side, just in case you discover a tidbit of clutter. 

Sarah Ban Breathnach’s words on simplicity from her book Simple Abundance, A Daybook of Comfort and Joy gave me pause, especially when it comes to junk drawers.  Perhaps they will do the same for you. 

“I began to search for the common thread in the lives of the world’s great spiritual teachers and traditions:  Jesus Christ, Mohammed, Buddha, Lao-Tzu, the Hebrew prophets, the Moslem Sufis, the Catholic saints, the Hindu rishis, the Shakers, the Quakers, the Amish.  None of them had junk drawers.  That’s because they all embraced simplicity.  Spirituality, simplicity, and serenity seem to be a sacred trinity; three divine qualities of the orderly soul.” 

My Possessions, My Self

August 21, 2014

De-cluttering is not a callous stripping away of our possessions.  Rather, it needs to be a thoughtful assessment of what is meaningful and useful.  The items we possess are integral to our personality.  Here are two opinions I agree with:

“We need to project ourselves into the things around us.  My self is not confined to my body.  It extends into all the things I have made and all the things around me.  Without these things, I would not be myself.”  — Carl Jung, C.G.Jung Speaking

 

“Objects, like people, come in and out of our lives and awareness, not in some random, meaningless pattern ordained by Fate, but in a clearly patterned framework that sets the stage for greater and greater self-understanding.  To continue the theatrical analogy, a play or drama also needs a set and props.  In our own lives, we select the sets and props of different ‘acts’ (or periods of life) in order–often unconsciously–to display images of ourselves and to learn by reflection of the environment around us.”   —Clare Cooper Marcus, House as a Mirror of Self

 

Develop a Good Forgettery

August 11, 2014

My friend Lynn (not her real name) is strong-willed and whatever she sets her mind to, she does.  I have known her for 30 years.  About six years ago she had a fall, which confined her to a wheelchair.  In and out of assisted living and rehabilitation residences, she had had enough of residential living and set her sights on the house where she lived before the fall as her next and last destination.

Her house is the one where she returned to live with her parents after her second divorce, approximately 40 years ago.  Not long after her return, her father was killed walking down a neighborhood street by a hit-and-run driver.  Years later, her mother battled cancer in a hospital bed in the dining room.  She later succumbed in a nearby hospital.  The house held a lot of sad energy.

It was not conducive for a wheelchair-bound person.  So, before she moved in, she had an extensive ramp installed at her back door and a lift from the first floor to the second floor.  There is no bathroom on the first floor and the washer and dryer are located in the basement, accessible only by stairs.  It is essential for her to have help if she is to live in a clean, healthy environment.

Welded to the Past

I know Lynn better than most.  We have shared our victories and vulnerabilities consistently throughout the years.  She listens with great understanding to the questions I grapple with. I listen to hers.  I respect her opinion and find comfort in the constancy of our friendship.  Lately, though, I am frustrated, at times even angry, with Lynn.  She has forgotten how powerful she is.  Instead of moving forward with life, she seems to be making a “too comfortable niche” for herself in the past.

During the past few months she requested my help by going through her papers, photos and clothes and advising her on what to keep.  I have worked with her for more than 20 hours, and in my estimation we’ve made little progress.  She remains firm in her choices:  Ten-year-old bank statements must be kept.  Books that haven’t been read in 20 years and more than likely never will be must be kept.  Gizmos and tchotchkes she doesn’t know what to do with must be kept.  The dining room has become a warehouse of bags and containers storing memorabilia she feels she must keep but doesn’t look at.  From my perspective, it feels like she has welded herself to the past.  To hell with the present!  The future be damned!

The Conundrum:  To Hold On or To Let Go?

I have thought long and hard about this conundrum:  Her hiring me to de-clutter and her vice-like grip on her clutter.  It’s not easy living in a wheelchair, and I have the utmost respect for her determination to live independently.  Working with another disabled client helped me understand Lynn better.  I started noticing his references to the past when we talked.  It gave me pause.

Both clients are in their eighties.  Both had successful careers.  Both were more able-bodied in the past.  Lynn traveled the world.  Even with “bad” knees, she climbed the Egyptian pyramids.  She ducked to safety when terrorists bombed the Rome airport.  She’s been in every state in the union except two.  She found great joy, excitement and freedom in her travels.  From today’s wheelchair perspective, the past looks rosy and the present grim.

What about Now?

If Lynn wanted, she could still travel.  She would need an aide and it would take an amazing amount of effort, but she could do it.  She keeps thinking someday she will make it to those two states she missed.  In the meantime, she chooses to surround herself with stuff of the past–her very own composition of clutter.

Clutter is dense, sticky energy–filled with memories that cloud the mind, fog our vision and suffocate our energy.  It slows us down.  It blocks our way.  It keeps us glued to those memories and averts our gaze away from the present moment, the only moment where our power resides.  Eric Butterworth in his book Spiritual Economics nailed it:

We should not try to get fulfillment from past successes nor be bound by past failures.  Consider people such as Lincoln, Churchill and Edison.  They respected their minds too much to clutter them with thoughts of failure or bitterness.  They had good ‘forgetteries.’  So if there be any virtue or praise, think on these things, file them in the memory mind and forget the rest.  Develop a good forgettery and you will find yourself with an amazingly good memory too, for the two conditions are indissolubly linked.

Our Power is in the Present

Lynn has forgotten her power is in the present–in her choices of how she spends her time, who she hangs out with, and where she chooses to go.  It’s not in all that dusty, musty stuff.  It’s not in those bittersweet memories she clings to.  What keeps her in this mode of stuckness?  Fear.  Fear of letting go of things she believes constitute her identity.  Fear of breaking the boundaries of her disabled life.  Fear of no longer claiming she is a victim.  Fear that she will be more alone than she is with all her clutter.

Stripping away the clutter makes her feel vulnerable.  The protection it gives her is an illusion.  She wants it because it’s tangible.  It’s something she can hold and tell herself, “Look, I accomplished this.  I had these friends.  My mother loved this ring.”  In contrast, what if she chose to make new friends by joining a group at her church?  What if she found a place where she could exercise with professional help?  What if she arranged for a drive in the country?  Her power is in the now–not in the paper, gizmos or clothes.  Only Lynn can decide what’s best for her.  Only Lynn can change how she sees her stuff and ultimately herself–a powerful woman who happens to use a wheelchair to get around.  Only Lynn can make these changes now.

One of my clients was stuck in her clutter. It wouldn’t move, or more precisely, she felt paralyzed by it…until she decided to register for my class “Consciously Clearing Clutter.” She knew she needed help. Once she accepted the fact she needed assistance, things started happening:

  • She altered the boundaries between her and her husband. Initially he couldn’t understand why she needed to take a class to help her with her clutter and discouraged her from doing so. Now he applauds her decision.
  • She cleared the clutter from her home office. Before the class it was a room she shuttered to enter. Now she feels energized and eager to work there.
  • She felt hopeless before taking the class. She kept telling herself she was a failure. Now she sees the results of her initial efforts and is committed to keep going. Failure is not an option.

You’ve heard this story before, but what happened? Why the change? Some will say it’s serendipity; her need and the class converged at the right and perfect time. Yes, I agree, but before that could happen she reached a critical point. I suspect her thinking went like this: “Things are so bad. I’ll never get out of this hole alone. If I want to clear my clutter, I’ve got to approach this differently. Since I don’t know how, I’ve got to get some fresh ideas.”

Looking at the Shadow

‘Resistance’ is a dirty word when we’re confronted with an issue we believe we need to overcome but seemingly cannot. My client couldn’t address her clutter. Resistance blocked her way. Every time, I suspect, she felt resistance, she beat herself emotionally and issued repeated “Stop Work” orders.

Her resistance, however, served a purpose. It kept her from addressing the issue until she was ready. It was highly unlikely any substantive work could have been done until she was ready to confront it squarely. At first blush, clutter seems like such a straightforward commodity to address, yet anyone who organizes and de-clutters without investigating its deeper issues will probably be mystified by its inevitable recurrence.

In her book The Dark Side of the Light Chasers shadow expert Debbie Ford wrote, “Most of us are driven by the eight-year old within us. That child who didn’t get his needs met is begging for acceptance.” Ford goes on to say that if we delve into our memory as far back as possible, we’ll remember the trigger for a particular unmet need. Because it is so far in the past, we are more likely to remember it with compassion and better able to identify the origin of its power.

“If we don’t shift our perceptions of our true selves,” Ford asserts, “we’ll be stuck repeating our past behaviors.” My client began my class seeing herself as a failure and ashamed of not being able to clear her clutter independently. By the third class her self-perception had shifted. She had completed class assignments, shared her victories with work colleagues, and recreated greater balance with her husband. More importantly, she was committed to continuing the process. She wanted to deal with her clutter once and for all.

Shifting Out of Resistance

Ford claims we can tell what work is left unfinished by identifying our sub-personalities. Sounds psychotherapeutic and probably is, but stay with me for a moment. Ford believes you can find out what you need to do to resolve any recurring patterns of behavior (e.g. habitual clutter).

She suggests you get quiet and go within. Call forth any person in your subconscious (i.e. unresolved relationships, lovers, family, friends, heroes and spiritual leaders) and let that person appear. You can access anyone you know by going within. Start a dialogue with him. Ask advice on what to do about a particular issue. Listen to what that person has to say. Give him time to respond. You’ll get the answers you are looking for.

These so-called sub-personalities await your call. They want attention and acceptance, and if you give them that, they will return it with love and compassion. Ford writes, “If you befriend yourself, you’ll break the continuing cycle of loss of self or loss of others…By reclaiming everything you hate about yourself, you open up a world within where you have access to the entire universe.”

Embracing Acceptance

Here’s the exciting news: By embracing a seemingly insurmountable situation, you position yourself for personal transformation. You gain an awareness of self you didn’t have before. You not only discover but release powerful energy, knowledge and resources you never knew you had. All that pain was simply a catalyst to move you to a higher spiritual plane, where freedom, happiness and calm reside.

When you find yourself being resistant, acknowledge and honor your feelings. They are real and deserve attention, but when you are ready, seek to accept whatever situation you confront. Look for its blessings because that will lead you to a better place—to your own personal transformation. You’ll discover acceptance is a mighty motivator.

Bev Hitchins © 2012

I have lots of intentions.  Don’t you?  For example, Ive set the intention to visit the Iguazu Falls in Argentina.  Guess what?  I am no closer to manifesting this intention than I was when I stated it for the first time two years ago.  What happened?  I got distracted and put it on the back burner.  Did you put yours there, too?

It turns out that everything has a certain electrical frequency, even intentions.  Not only do our bodies have a frequency that changes due to a multitude of internal and external factors, but our thoughts and intentions have one, too.  The higher the frequency, the healthier and happier we are.  The lower, the more prone we are to being depressed and immobile.

In her memoir Grand Obsession, Perri Knitze asks Graves, “So do we each have our own frequency?”  Graves is one of the piano tuning experts she hires to regain the perfect sound her piano had when she bought it in New York City before it was shipped to her home in Montana.  Here’s what he replies,

“We have a full spectrum of frequencies.  We have to watch how we treat our frequencies.  What we image, ingest, taste—we have a lot more to learn about biochemistry.  We do things that don’t let us grow, like watch degraded stuff on TV, eat depleted food, listen to music with a ‘heavy’ frequency.  We don’t vibrate like no sine wave.  The way we vibrate is deep.  We have to understand what biological waves are all about.” 

Wow!  I suspect I have unconsciously imagined, ingested and tasted a lot of degraded, depleted, heavy stuff.  I didn’t even know it.  It’s too easy to digress about the shoot-em up television shows, MacDonald’s hamburgers, and heavy metal music of which our American culture boasts.  Let’s focus on intentions for now. 

Change Causes Resistance—Even if it’s for Our Own Good!

Even if we have an intention, it’s sometimes tough to get beyond the first step of setting it.  Here’s an example.  During the first session of my most recent “Consciously Clearing Clutter” class, I asked participants to declare an intention for the next three weeks while the class occurs.  They identify a particular area they plan to de-clutter and commit to working on it for a minimum of five minutes every day.  No more than five minutes is required.  The class meets four times. 

At the second session, one week after the first class, only one out of four participants had honored her intention.  At first I was surprised.  These participants had paid good money to work on their clutter.  They are expecting to see results by the last class.  Staying where we are, stuck and unhappy, holds a frequency we are familiar with.  Our long-term discomfort turns comfortable.  To raise our frequency to a higher, healthier level takes effort, in most cases, a concerted one. 

One participant in my class had decided to focus on the poorly designed laundry area in her home as her assignment; this same area also serves as a pass-through to the garage.  Due to a number of factors, laundry for her family of five piles up and often clogs the passageway.  She rarely sees the floor.  Her report after the first week was discouraging.  She couldn’t do her five-minutes-a-day de-cluttering.  Only a load or two of laundry was washed, in spite of her family’s average 13 loads a week.  

When the Frequency Shifts—Look Out!

At the end of the second week, however, things started to shift.  She reported having done many loads of laundry and was beginning to see the floor again.  Even more amazing was the problem-solving that occurred during the third class. 

She herself is an engineer and had asked movers to change the location of the washer and dryer before her family moved into the house.  Months later, it became clear the new location of the appliances wasn’t working.  Mentally she has been feverishly reconfiguring the space ever since they moved in.  Nothing seemed to feel right.

During the class we discovered that it took two hours for the dryer to dry a load of clothes—way too long, especially for a 13-load a week family.  A new dryer was in order.  This discussion spurred more ideas from others in the class:

  • Why not get a professional consultant’s opinion on how to redesign the space?
  • What if she delegated laundry duty, or at least a portion of it, to the two oldest children?
  • How about using a Wash and Fold Service, that takes dirty laundry and returns it washed and folded a couple days later?

All of us engaged in solving her problem, and she was open to hearing our ideas.  From hopeless and overwhelmed to ready for action, this participant left the third class with options she hadn’t considered before. 

At the beginning of the class everyone had set an intention and agreed to support each another in realizing it.  By the third class a noticeable alignment had occurred.  From there the problem-solving ideas gushed out, one right after another. 

Intention is Everything

Let’s return to Perri Knitze and her piano, which she calls Marlene.  In her memoir, she writes, “I tell Graves about my first encounter with Marlene, how I resonated deeply with her, how I fell hard for her.  What was it I experienced?”

This is how Graves responds:  “You experienced the intention of every person who ever worked on that piano,” he says.  “The person who tuned it, the person who built it.  That piano carries their intentions.  Intention is everything.”

It’s the same with us.  Who are we hanging out with?  Have we defined our intention?  What is the intention of those folks we choose to be with?  That’s why a class or a like-minded group is so helpful.  If we set the intention and commit to it with the added benefit of being with like-minded people, the likelihood is great we will see it happen.  And if it’s clutter you are struggling with, consider setting an intention with my “Consciously Clearing Clutter” class! 

Hey, want to visit the Iguazu Falls?  Together we can support each other’s intention, raise each other’s frequency, and see what solutions percolate to the surface.  Together we’ll experience the mysterious unfolding of an amazing Argentinian adventure.

Bev Hitchins © 2011

Imagine a beautiful wedding dress—a floor-length ivory silk organza gown with sweet pink rosettes dotting the skirt here and there, a lovely soft scooped neckline with a finely gathered bodice, and beaded capped sleeves.  One of my students brought this awesome item to my “Consciously Clearing Clutter” class.  I ask all my students to bring an item they consider clutter but can’t let go of.  This exercise allows them to dig at the deeper reasons for holding onto a particularly troublesome piece of clutter.

After doing the exercise this student carried the dress sans carrying bag to the front of the class to share what she discovered.  We all gasped at its magnificence, yet she carried it haphazardly—bunched in her arms, like a pile of clothes you would give to charity or take to the dry cleaners.  It seemed heretical to treat such an awesome item with such nonchalance.  Here is what she told us:

A Storybook Wedding

She wore this gown to her first wedding.  She was on her third marriage when she stood before us.  When she married for the first time, she thought she was on her way to becoming a princess.  Husband #1 was undoubtedly her prince.  The dress represented the fantasy she had been nurturing as she prepared for marriage and probably well before that.  It was a storybook dress for a storybook wedding.

For a brief moment in time her fantasy seemed real.  The gown symbolized how she would live—happily ever after—pampered, taken care of, tended to.  Somewhere along the way the fantasy cracked and shattered.  Poof!  The prince went off to seek his fortune.  The princess vanished.  Real life set in.  

I can’t imagine how heartbroken she must have been once she discovered that marriage, and life for that matter, are no tea party.  Owning the gown allowed her to hold onto that fantasy—if only when she goes to the back of her closet to find it.  Now a remnant of her past, it evoked ambivalence.  In one moment it could whisk her away to that storybook life and in the next slap her in the face with the pain of a shattered dream—a marriage that couldn’t continue. 

Clutter:  A Catalyst for Clarity

She stood in front of all of us that night and told us the gown was a symbol of what she imagined her marriage would be.  Her insight was more magnificent than the gown itself.  What mattered more than this gown or any gown was how she saw herself.  Being a princess wasn’t going to get her very far.  It comes with so many expectations along with an equal number of disappointments.   Seeing herself for who she really was—a young woman learning about and experiencing her own growth—would take her much farther.   

She could have chosen to bring anything other than the gown that night, but she knew on some level she was poised to let it go.  Her princess fantasy seemed to evaporate before us.   She couldn’t give me an unequivocal yes when I asked if she would let it go, but we all knew she saw herself differently.  We had witnessed her transformation, and she had gotten clarity from an item she called “clutter.”

Bev Hitchins © 2011