Archive for January, 2011

Storage VS Mental Clarity

What do you do once you have cleared your clutter? There is always more to do, right? At what point do we call it good enough? Maybe collecting glass frogs is okay, but is it still okay when it takes up half a room? What do we do when we have cleaned everything, but we need to take it to the next level of cleanliness? We have cleaned the extra clothing out of our closet, but are left with the dust around the corners.

I have a lot of clothing. There is a big charity yard sale coming up and it seemed like a good opportunity to downsize my emotional attachment to fabric. I went though my clothing three times, even the back-up old sentimental clothing. I looked around and realized I still had too much clothing. There were memories holding me to fabric -the most difficult being a ratty old shirt owned by a friend who passed away. But what good is this stuff doing for me in a box? Some day I’m going to pull it out of the box and think ‘oh this’ and then put it back into the box for safekeeping. So many people these days have storage units. I just don’t believe in them. We start to forget what is actually in storage and it becomes a waste of space and mental energy.

So I asked my mom to help me throw away some of the old clothing. Some was my father’s. I so didn’t want to let go, but actually felt strong relief once it was gone. She pointed out that I was saving loved clothing that does not fit me anymore. I don’t believe in saving clothing “because it will fit again someday”. It might be true, but it’s again a huge mental drain. And, truth be told, styles have changed.

Ask a friend to help. Hire me to come be your wingman. But let go of the mental stress that comes along with this stuff. Maybe once you do, the dust in the corners will disappear, or will be more noticeable to your cleaning lady (I’m a big fan of the cleaning lady). And move on. We live in the past and we live in the future. Why is it so hard to live in the present? A clean home helps us have a clean mind, focusing on positive stuff that is relevant to this week.

Our brain makes neuronal connections that can be good or bad. For every bad thought we need a good one if we are to strengthen our state of mind. So try this: every day come up with three positive things that happened that day. See if six months down the line it helps how you feel. And take your vitamins.

We Already Have it All!

Dolphins tackle their clutter head on. The smart creatures make their own toys. Using bubbles they make rings into playful toys. Then the bubble rings disappear into nothing and they have the beautiful space of clear water.

I have seen a baby entertain herself for hours using a vitamin bottle as a rattle. These days we buy babies mountains of toys; we also buy endless plastic containers to help us organize our clutter. I tell my clients to pack the stuff they are unsure of keeping into a box. Hide it away for six months. If they still miss the stuff in the box, they can keep it. If they have forgotten what’s inside it, then it goes away.

I own about fifty dog toys and too many plastic boxes. So I’m not saying that it’s really bad to do these things. But it is good to think about what we have before we get more stuff. I find that people looking for storage answers often already have them in their home. Buying new stuff will only lead to furniture in the yard with a ‘free’ sign on it. It pains me when people say, “I just need a bigger house”. The truth is, no matter what, you can make it work. You can have a beautiful house with clean energy. You just have to start looking at your stuff in a different way.

The key is to train our mind to see clutter and identify it. This is not something that happens overnight, which is why I work with people. Over time we start to see that some of the things we hold on to are not useful and even bring us down. Something might have sentimental value, but if you associate it with something negative (like a fight with a relative) it’s probably time to find it a new home.

Things that once had great value may now be dolphin bubbles. We have to let them go. Bask in the element of water and peace of mind. It’s easier said than done, but a clutter free life is liberating.

Shopping is a Killer Hobby

I need to get out of the house so I go to the mall. The only thing to do at the mall is spend money. It’s the same thing everywhere. But what would happen if we saved this money – didn’t get the Jamba Juice, and the dress that was on sale? The word ‘sale’ is trouble. I’ve always been troubled by it. If it’s on ‘sale’ then it must be a good deal. Half the time it’s still marked up way too high, but with the bright red sale sign staring at me, I am sold.

This is relevant because buying stuff is what creates clutter. We don’t think about what we have, what is good in our life. We think about what we need and what will make life better. We enjoy taking things out of their wrappers, but then have the disappointment of what to do next. Sometimes we even go and buy more. It’s our culture.

This is where we have to think a lot. Think about what we have. Think about what in life really makes us happy. When we buy a lot of stuff we are happy leaving the store but we can also be followed by guilt. And what happens when we need gas in the car or want to take a friend out to lunch? These are important, but require extra money. When we consider all of our money extra, we spend it, and then we don’t have money for the important things. That’s what brings us into debt. As they say, a penny saved is a penny earned. This could not be truer. The best way to have money is to not spend it. However, if you are anything like me you are good at justifying every purchase.

This is a painful subject. It comes down to what happens when you find a great deal on something… but it’s something you already have. What do you do? The average person would buy it just because it’s a great deal. Maybe they can give it to a friend or re-sell it. But the chances are we end up keeping it. It becomes clutter.

It’s one thing to learn how to let go. However if we can learn to not gather stuff we are set for life. Buying stuff is built into many peoples systems. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, but it’s something to think about. When you go to the store, fill your cart with whatever you want. But when it’s time to go to the check stand, challenge yourself to see how much of it can go back on the shelf.

Color and the New Year

I’m drawing a blank when it comes to this new year. I feel like I should write something inspirational. I guess get ready for spring cleaning! It’s really dark outside in Olympia, Washington. The best advice I have is to eat good food, take care of yourself, and enjoy the color that we do have. Put colors in your home that make you happy and uplift you.