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.

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.

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.

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

Three thousand pounds of paper—yep, that’s how much paper my brother shredded before he moved to his new office.  That’s 1.5 tons!

As a tax accountant for 37 years, he was obligated by law to keep clients’ returns for six years before destroying them.  I have a hunch he kept them for many more than that.  Then, two years ago he sold his tax accounting business and hung his shingle as a wealth management specialist. 

My Brother and His Paper

Earlier this year he decided to move his business from a spacious building he owned to a suite of offices near his home.  It became imperative to downsize.  Unable to join him, I heard about the move from both him and his assistant.  What they found could be called, dare I say it, “CLUTTER!”  Forty-year old accounting textbooks, IRS tax manuals from the ‘70s and ‘80s, and Wall Street Journal newspaper articles from the late ‘90s might not seem outlandish for an accountant-historian to keep—but for an accountant-turned-wealth management specialist—I don’t think so!

Perhaps the most interesting item found among the reams of paper was a life insurance policy belonging to our mother who died in 1990.  The policy was purchased in 1915, a year after she was born, for a whopping ten cents.  The annual premium was $1.40.  He’s now checking to see if he can cash it in—21 years after her death.  Good luck!

Me and My Stuff

If you’ve read my website (www.alignyourlife.net) or previous blogs, you know I held onto my mother’s stuff for nine years after she died before I could let it all go.  That was a pivotal experience because five years later I went into business as a professional de-clutterer.  Although I still hold onto more books, photos and paper than I need or can appreciate, I have refined my taste for clutter. 

But what is it that keeps me tied to my stuff?  Just yesterday I was reviewing a box of old photos, many of which were taken when I was a baby.  All the members of the previous generations—my mother, father, grandmother, aunts and uncles—are gone.  It was easy to dispense with all the duplicates and poorly focused pictures, but the majority was put back into the box and placed on a high shelf in my closet.  That constitutes CLUTTER in my book!

Is It a Matter of Identity?

It just might be.  In both cases, my brother’s and mine, the stuff we held or are holding onto represents the past.  For him it is his livelihood.  He was an accountant for 37 years, will always have the CPA credential behind his name, but is now a financial management expert.  For me, it is my family.  I was a baby long ago, had parents and extended family that loved me, and now am a parent-less middle-aged adult. 

Our focus on the past assures us we mattered and fuels us to believe we still matter.  In a convoluted way our clutter substantiates and symbolizes our past successes.  It’s tangible proof.  My brother had a thriving accounting business.  I had family who cared what I did and how I thought.  He is now in the midst of starting a new business, and I continue my quest for greater self-awareness.

Beware of Illusions

Lest you think my rationalization is a good excuse to hold onto clutter, it isn’t.  It is an illusion.  I know deep down clutter is a deterrent to living a life fully in the present.  I’ll admit I still struggle with unraveling its complex threads and their sticky nature of holding me back. 

In contrast, my brother has just freed himself of literally tons of clutter.  He has opened space in his business for new clients and new successes to enter.  He’s lifted the monumental weight of the past—past clients, projects, history—from his shoulders.  He’s launched a new chapter in his business and his life.

So, let me ask you:  Do you have clutter?  How much of it symbolizes your success?  Why do you believe you need it now?  If you answer “Yes” to the first question, then it might be worthwhile to probe the deeper answers to the other two.  So much of the stuff of our past doesn’t matter anymore.  We don’t need it and it doesn’t help us.  Dissecting our illusions may be our ticket to freedom—feeling fully free to create and enjoy our successes of the present.

Bev Hitchins © 2011

This is the second of three articles discussing the use of essential oils when clearing clutter.  I diffuse Young Living Essential Oil blends when working with my clients.  To understand the context of this blog, you may wish to refer to my blog entry on September 27, 2010, an introduction to this series.

To clear clutter takes commitment.  When approaching the task, some folks whimsically think, “Wouldn’t it be nice if I cleaned up my place?” but clearing clutter is more than just organizing things.  It is a letting-go process with an emotional component that can surprise the best of us.  If you are not serious in making your commitment, you could get derailed at the first juncture—to keep or not to keep?   Overwhelm, emotional attachment, or the “I may use it some day” syndrome grabs you by the neck and stops you in your tracks!

Young Living's Home Diffuser

That’s why I advise diffusing certain Young Living Essential Oil blends as you begin the process.  In particular, I lean toward three blends to start:  Valor, Clarity and Forgiveness.  If you don’t have a diffuser, you will need one.  Young Living offers a variety of them.  I recommend  their Home diffuser (Code #4468) because it is quiet and not as expensive as some of the others.

Skittish or Unsure—You May Need a Dose of Courage

I have had several clients who enthusiastically sign me up to help them clear their clutter, but when the moment of truth arrives, they feel skittish and unsure.  “What have I done?  Why did I hire a professional organizer in the first place?”  When I arrive, they profess their wariness and tentatively show me the space we plan to address.  If they are open to my diffusing oils, and not all clients are, I start with Valor.  

Valor helps overcome fear and opposition.  By reviewing the four oils it comprises, you will understand why I choose it for beginning the de-cluttering process:  Spruce, Rosewood, Blue Tansy and Frankincense.  Please note:  Each oil has many physical, mental, emotional and spiritual qualities.  I am focusing primarily on the emotional and spiritual benefits as they relate to the de-cluttering process.

Colorado Spruces

Spruce brings energy in from the universe.  Animals in the wild lie down at night under spruce trees for protection, recharging and rejuvenation that the trees bring them.  Humans employ it for similar reasons.  Spruce grounds the body, while at the same time creates the emotional balance necessary to receive and give.  Some clients have difficulty receiving help at first; spruce allows the release of emotional blocks so help can be received.  And if you are clearing your clutter by yourself, the help you are asking for can come from within.

Valor’s remaining three oils ensure confidence and courage.  Even though each has a physiological impact, what I find captivating is their influence on the emotions.  Rosewood calms the mind and creates a feeling of peace and gentleness.  Blue Tansy helps rid anger and promotes a feeling of self-control.  Frankincense inspires a positive attitude.  All of these qualities are required if we want to be successful in clearing clutter. 

Clearing Clutter is Not for the Fuzzy-Minded

Jasmine Flower

Clarity, a combination of 12 oils, is my second choice because the oils it comprises are known for their ability to increase mental alertness.  Too many to list, let me highlight three:  Ylang ylang, Bergamot, and Jasmine.  Ylang ylang evokes feelings of self-love, confidence, joy and peace.  Bergamot uplifts and calms emotions to help relieve anxiety, stress and tension.  Jasmine produces feelings of confidence, energy, and optimism.  Wow! 

Don’t we all need clarity when going through our stuff?  We are obliged to be discerning:  What is valuable?  What no longer serves me?  Do I toss or donate?  If we linger over each object, we probably won’t get the job done.  The decision-making process can be enhanced using Clarity, and the dreaded sense of overwhelm is kept at bay.  I use it often with clients.

Let’s Forgive, Forget and Let Go       

For some, forgiveness is the one step needed in order to let go of stuff.  Whether it is forgiving oneself for not addressing certain issues when they came up or forgiving others for a perceived trespass or wound, freeing oneself of past hurts allows one to open the door to the present.  When that happens, the past evaporates and the de-cluttering process begins.  That’s why the Forgiveness blend is a good one to start with.

The 14 oils in Forgiveness all have powerful emotional effects that help people move past life’s barriers and bring them into a higher spiritual awareness.  They create an electrical frequency that affects the soul to a point where people are almost compelled to forgive, forget and get on with their lives.  Isn’t that why we are de-cluttering in the first place?

Sandalwood Tree

Like Clarity, the Forgiveness blend contains Ylang Ylang, Bergamont and Jasmine; however, the oil that may make the difference in this blend is Sandalwood.  This oil alleviates depression and can remove negative programming from the cells of the body.  It allows us to accept others with an open heart while diminishing our own egocentricity.  Helichrysum, another powerful ingredient, serves as a catalyst for letting go of angry feelings.  Diffusing this highly spiritual blend can help us chisel away at the crusty emotions that cake our heart and keep us stuck in clutter.  

The Power of Essential Oils is Unknown to Many

Essential oils can give you the necessary boost when facing clutter and feeling stymied or paralyzed.  Most people don’t know about them; yet those who do use them with regularity for almost any need they have.  If they are new to you and you haven’t tried them, I encourage you to make the investment in a diffuser and one or more of the oils I have mentioned. 

See how you think and feel before, during and after diffusing.  A subtle change in attitude may occur at first.  In fact, you may end up diffusing oils several times before you recognize a change in how you approach your clutter.  I suspect, however, when you do recognize it, you will be pleasantly surprised and will see the results of what you only before imagined. 

I used Connie and Alan Higley’s Reference Guide for Essential Oils to list ingredients in the oil blends discussed and to describe their qualities.  To order, click on Young Living Essential Oils’ website at www.youngliving.com.  To sign up, please use my member number #303970 as your sponsor and enroller.

“I’ve been looking for that!” Almost every client I work with utters these words sometime during our time together.  Finding a long-lost favorite blouse, an uncashed check, or even a torn-out, tantalizing recipe hidden in a stack of magazines evokes instant relief and a joyful moment.

Last week eight participants in my “Clutter Clearing is Spiritual Business!” course came together to share what had transpired during the month since our last class.  They had been clearing their clutter for two months.  Their stories not only inspired me but illustrated what a prospering act clutter clearing can be.

Prosperity is Taking Care of Yourself & Your Family 

One man had been working with mounds of stuff in his garage.  During the last month his neighborhood suffered a several-day power-outage.  If he hadn’t begun the clutter clearing process when he did, he wouldn’t have known where to look or, if he did, how to retrieve his generator that provided him and his family the power they needed.  Can you imagine how victorious he must have felt to know exactly where his generator was located and then to use it?   That’s prosperity! 

Photo by Explorer Bjorn

The same man got inspired to work outside behind his garage.  He found a multitude of scrap metal.  Expecting to sell it for $100, he walked away from the transaction $400 richer.  Wow!  The stuff we own and don’t use is worth something to someone else.  Freeing yourself from clutter like this man did can put a smile on your face, lighten your gait, and put money in your pocket.  Every time he looks behind the garage, he will not only see a clean space but remember the cash transaction he initiated by clearing his clutter. 

Prosper Yourself with Peace of Mind

Another form of prosperity is peace of mind.  One woman had been harboring bad feelings toward certain family members.  In the midst of her de-cluttering she found photos that caused her to stop and reflect on those feelings.  Was it helpful for her to hold onto those emotions even though whatever happened happened in the past?  She thought not and, thus, relieved herself of those sticky, stale feelings with forgiveness.  Forgiving others is a wonderful way to de-clutter and, in turn, prosper yourself. 

Seeing Things Differently

Photo by soulsurf

The exciting part of my work is helping people to see their stuff—and then—themselves differently.  During the course of the class a married woman started seeing her home differently.  She was feeling squeezed by her husband’s stuff; anger and resentment bubbled to the surface.  A demanding work schedule for months on end had allowed her to ignore the state of her home and, more importantly, the state of her spirit.   She began to clear her clutter, reclaim her own space, and realize she mattered.  

After six hours of concentrated de-cluttering, another client began seeing her situation differently, too.  A recent college graduate, she works in town and lives rent-free with her widowed aunt in a house conveniently not far from work.  It seems like an ideal situation until we learn the aunt keeps her clothes in a bureau and closet in my client’s bedroom and has daily access to them.  Strong feelings of wanting privacy surfaced within my client.  The clutter clearing process lanced those suppressed feelings.  She is now garnering courage to set necessary boundaries—a prospering act for sure!

Yes, Prosperity Includes Money!

 

Photo by fragglerawker

Whenever I see lots of coins scattered on the floor of clients’ homes, I know my clients are unaware of how prosperous they truly are.

That was the case with a client I worked with for three consecutive days.  Everywhere we turned we found money—on the closet floor, behind the television, under the bed.  By the time we were done we had filled a coffee can with coins probably worth $100.  We also discovered three fifty-dollar savings bonds tucked in an envelope and a fifty dollar bill in a Christmas card from her mother who had died three years ago. 

The simple act of de-cluttering and organizing allows us to see what we have.  In many cases, we are stunned at what we have amassed unconsciously.  Being able to take stock of it all, we make wiser decisions when spending our hard-earned money.  We see we already have five white blouses, 10 rolls of toilet paper, and three cases of Coke Cola.  We can hold off buying more unnecessary stuff. 

A Final Plug for Clearing Your Clutter

Photo by viSHal

So, if you are feeling you don’t have the time to de-clutter or money to get the help to do it, think twice.  Each one of the examples I’ve cited shows the different ways people prosper themselves.  It is a wholistic act.  It doesn’t just affect your pocketbook; it affects your heart and spirit.  It allows your spirit—one that’s been weighted down by clutter—to float to the top.  Whenever that happens, we rejoice—about ourselves, others and life itself.

Are You Ready?

March 1, 2010

Have you set an intention to clear your clutter?  Many people do, but I suggest you take one more step and ask yourself whether you are ready to deal with it—touch it, think about it, and then take action with it. 

A client recently invited me to help her de-clutter.  When we approached her bed linen-covered dining table, I was unaware of her feelings about what lay under those sheets.  Because I had been asked to help her de-clutter, I approached the table ready to address whatever was before us.  As I helped her unveil the hidden contents, I sensed her reluctance to start the process.  Mounds of disparate papers confronted us—booklets, brochures, junk mail, catalogues, and files. 

“What is the System?”

“What is the ‘system’ for dealing with this?” she asked.  Perhaps it is a matter of semantics, but I don’t have a “system” per se.  Instead, my approach is this:  sort one item at a time into like-piles (e.g., junk mail with junk mail, bills with bills).  Once everything is sorted, you can see how many duplicates you have, what magazine issues are missing, or what bills have to be paid.  You can then begin to determine which items need immediate action, which can be filed or archived, and which are to be tossed or recycled. 

In the end everything must leave the dining room table and reside in its proper home, be it a filing cabinet, a bills-to-be-paid file, a reading pile, or in the trash.  Every item must be picked up, looked at and dealt with.  Decisions have to be made.  Once I described the process, my client concluded she could do this herself.  Our session ended shortly thereafter. 

Taken aback and feeling dismissed, I wondered why I had been invited to help.  What had just happened?  My client thought she was ready to de-clutter her dining room table, but in the end, she wasn’t.  What could she have done to spare herself the expense of a failed session with a de-cluttering consultant?  Below are my suggestions:

A Step-by-Step Approach

Step 1:  Assess your clutter 

  • What is it (e.g., papers, clothes, household items, artwork, vehicles)?
  • How big is it (e.g., in one room, throughout your home or backyard)? 
  • Where is it (e.g., outside, in your attic, in your home office)? 

Take time see how widespread it is and how you feel about it.  If it seems overwhelming, ask yourself if it is because of the amount of clutter you have, the large size of the objects you consider clutter, or the location of where your clutter resides that deters you.  Does one or more of these factors cause you to resist handling your clutter?   

Step 2:  Assess your willingness to address it

  • Why now?  Is there a catalytic event that causes you to deal with it?  One of my clients was confronted with inviting her daughter’s future in-laws for dinner before the wedding date.  Frantically she had to clear the dining and living rooms of all their clutter before her guests arrived.  She later described her preparation as “traumatic.”

 

  • Are you willing and able to devote time to de-cluttering?  So many of my prospective clients want to clear their clutter, but they devote the majority of their waking time to their work or their jobs.  They don’t, and claim they cannot, find time for de-cluttering.  They proclaim, “I’m just too tired to deal with my clutter after work.  I need to veg.”  That may be true, but if you can see that de-cluttering is a form of self-care, you may then make space in your schedule to de-clutter a small area to make more space in your home and in your life for YOU. 

 

  • Can you make a commitment to do the work?  The work I am referring to is setting a goal of clearing your clutter, breaking the task into small steps, and beginning the process.  Many people who express a desire to clear their clutter want to believe they can do so with the wave of a wand.  They forget it took months or maybe even years to accumulate all this stuff.  The hardest work is making decisions—to keep or not to keep, that is the question.  If you decide to keep something, then you must ask yourself, “Why?” and “Where does it go?”  There are other questions, too, but these are the most pressing.  Answering honestly is a must, because holding onto to something for bogus reasons will not serve you well. 

Step 3:  Getting help, if you need it

Shame, embarrassment, and depression can be deterrents to your moving forward.  If you find you cannot make the necessary decisions mentioned above then help may be required.  Is there someone you know and trust who can help you?  Perhaps a friend or family member can support you throughout this de-cluttering process. 

If you can’t identify someone in your own circle, consider hiring a professional.  Professionals are objective, know how to approach your situation, and can accelerate your work.  They have seen a multitude of clutter situations, so yours will not surprise them.  If you go this route, know that it will be an investment in time and money, and will probably take more than one session to get the job done.  Budget yourself and your resources.

Final Note

I advised my client who decided she could handle the clutter on her dining room table by herself to spend time looking at her clutter.  Up to this point she admitted ignoring it.  If she were to make a commitment to look at that table and all that covered it for an extended period of time (5 minutes a day for 21 days), lots feelings inevitably would surface.  Those feelings, if respected, could galvanize her into action.  She would at last be ready. 

So, whenever you set an intention to clear your clutter, take a moment to assess your readiness.  Sometimes we think we’re ready, but we aren’t.  Review my three steps.  If your answer is “No!” then give yourself more time.  If your answer is “Yes!” then go for it!

If you decide you need a professional to help you de-clutter, call me at 703.998.0880 or send me an e-mail at bev@alignyourlife.net.