CLUTTER: A confused or disordered state or collection.
So now that we have the exact definition of clutter, relax I am not about to insist you throw away all of Grandmas china. We are going to dive into the mountains or mole hills of other “stuff” you always say you will get to another day but never do. Let’s open up those closets people and see exactly what falls out! There are plenty of clinical articles that will give you step by step ways to de-clutter your closet, but I work a little differently. So here goes some real world advice. You see, whether we are talking about how to lose weight, become a better parent, or eat more healthy, we fall into a pattern of trying to do what everyone else is doing. Oh but wait, this one says if you buy a four weeks supply of essential oils and vitamins, two pairs of lotus leggings and one yoga mat, you too will be twelve pounds lighter in thirty days. One after another we fall into these social traps of how to fix ourselves without realizing one very important fault. You are set up to fail because we are all unique individuals and these fixes are geared to the masses. Simply put, what works for one does not work for all. So please put down the step by step guide to fix your clutter…or anything else about yourself for that matter.
Here is what I know for sure. Your surroundings are a reflection of your mind. At times in our life chaos ensues or we simply get busy. Things and “stuff” can pile up and before we know it we simply cannot fit one more thing in that closet. You know, stuffed way in the back next to the eight packs of Christmas wrap we got on sale or the boxes of our children’s artwork we decided to keep. I am a mom of three and once upon a time I had three totes for each kid until my adult daughter professed she was never going to take that with her when she moved out. How could I possible throw out her macaroni wreaths and turkey hand prints? Simple, I made a book for each of them with a few oh so precious pieces and pitched the rest. I heard a few of you gasp but seriously I got zero mom of the year awards of toting these gems around for 22 years. I am still a great mom because I live in the moment and realize our memories are today, not stuffed in those musty boxes. We all love when hints of Spring emerge after months of cold air smacking against our cheeks and stinging our hands. The way we smile when we see a bright green sprout poke its head out through the snow as if to say “hang on its almost over.” It usually sparks us to do a little spring cleaning of our own. That rush we feel on that first warm day, windows cracked open and furnaces off. I can close my eyes now and smell it. At times it can spark me to rip into my entire basement, crisp clean labelled totes…look at me go!! Other times it may just be lifting out the silverware tray to discover just how many crumbs can accumulate there, same sense of accomplishment! You see, we are not all the same person and each day we are different in our needs as well.
We must always be gentle on ourselves and gentle on our expectations while still making forward movement in our lives. I do see you there, stuffing one more thing into that closet before forcing it shut. Buying just a few more totes to store things you may need “just in case” one day heaven forbid. I see that closet of yours filled with clothes you haven’t worn (yes even in two sizes smaller and larger to suit your fluctuations) in fifteen years. Every possible shelf space occupied with punch bowls, serving dishes, rice steamers, juicers, and yes even Grandmas china that is never used. As you read that last sentence you are beginning your argument with “Oh no we use all of those when we have large family dinners.” Then you brush off the 4 inches of dust and drag them from the back of the basement closet every five years. How do I know this to be true? I currently have a juicer sitting on the top of my fridge, used a total of five times because my wonderful husband watched a documentary on juicing and wanted to give it a try. I am pretty sure I couldn’t reach those serving trays buried in my fruit cellar.
Here is another thing I have learned. There can be times that we take comfort being surrounded by things. These material items do not have to be of great value. For me, it was simply because as a child we moved a lot and many things were misplaced along the way. As I became an adult I never wanted to let go of the simplest of objects. I still remember receiving a pair of cow oven mitts as a gift more than twenty years ago (my apologies to the gift giver). I thought why on earth would this person think I would enjoy these? I was raised to be polite, so I gushed over them in the moment. Do you think I parted with them? No, they remained in my kitchen for ten years until a friend was having a garage sale. For me, having familiar items around made me feel safe and offered stability. It took time and working through it to realize I was creating physical and mental clutter.
I promised you some real honest to goodness advice. If you find yourself really overwhelmed with clutter just take baby steps. If you are one of those people who is always saying you really want to get rid of some “stuff”, simply start with one bag or box. Take it to your bedroom closet and think to yourself, if I went shopping today at my favourite store what in here would I NOT buy. Place those items in the bag and while doing so consider donating them to people who could really use them. If you start feeling overwhelmed, truly focus on those you will be helping. If all you can manage are a few things in that bag, it is okay to celebrate that because it is more than you did yesterday. Please keep in mind that de-cluttering does not mean opening space for new clutter. Allow yourself to feel the openness. It is proven that our brains have a hard time relaxing when looking around a cluttered or disorganized home because even subconsciously we may feel there is still work to be done. Do yourself the favour and resist the urge to fill those empty spaces back up.
For now, try not to overwhelm yourself by taking mental note of all the things you would like to purge. Even small steps forward will feel like a breath of spring air. Tomorrow I will start with that juicer 🙂