From the blog: How Clearing Clutter Changed My Life.
The underlying belief of my life is that I need to be willing to do the work to love my daily life. No, my life isn’t perfect. Yet I can tell you even on the challenging days, I experience at least a moment of happiness. Folks often ask me for the secret to make that happen for them. One of the most important things I’ve done? Learning to manage all kinds of clutter. That’s why I thought it was time to share with you how clearing clutter changed my life.
Though that seems like a bold statement, I can trace major growth and personal advancements in my life to shedding clutter of some sort.
Now, I make no bones around the fact that I am not a naturally neat person. No, darling, I am creative force of nature. That means that I often leave a trail of stuff behind me no matter where I go. Especially when I’ve been in a creative bubble. Or life is especially stressful or overwhelming.
Like anyone, when my house is a mess? I begin to feel overwhelmed. And drained. Man, oh, man does clutter drain me! And I know that it drains you, too, darling. Clutter also makes it hard to think!
So how did clearing clutter change my life at different times in my life?
To be honest, I never got a handle on clutter when I was a kid. It was a constant battle of stuff under my bed and a disaster zone in my closet. As a young bride and home owner at nineteen, I was in over my head when it came to managing being in college and being a dutiful housekeeper.
Then I found a magic book: Sidetracked Home Executives. The core of the book was that with block scheduling and note cards, you could learn to manage your house with more ease. And that’s part of how clearing clutter changed my life: having a system to help me.
After I had children, I just had too much in my head and on my plate to be dutiful to the system. I felt overwhelmed by life. And all the moving pieces.
One of the contributing factors to my marriage failing was the constant criticism by my ex-husband around the tidiness of the house. Despite the fact that we both worked full time. And he was not at home during the evening to help manage the flurry of managing two kids, their homework, dinner, baths, and bedtime. He expected me to keep an immaculate house.
And let’s be honest: I had too much stuff to organize. That’s because I used stuff as a way to fill the lack of love and affection in my marriage.
How Clearing Clutter Changed My Life As a Recent Divorcée
After my ex and I separated, I decided I’d had enough. And something needed to change. A girlfriend came over, and at the end of a dizzying weekend, I found hope. We’d stripped the house of every piece of furniture that felt joyless and oppressing. Out went the broken bookcase,the tattered recliners, and the chipped end tables.
We dragged everything to the curb. Oh, wow. Seeing the detritus of my marriage strewn in the front of my house was embarrassing. And life changing. Every item on the curb held negative energy.
And for the first time in years, the air in my house felt welcoming and loving.
Over the coming weeks and months, I continued to transform the energy of my home. If I didn’t love something, it was either tossed or donated. I got rid of plates and plastic cups. I finally began to allow myself enjoy small luxuries. Flowers in my kitchen. Finding a favorite mug for my morning coffee. A new bedspread that felt lush and feminine.
So how did clearing clutter change my life? I slowly but surely began to shed the layers I’d been hiding under. And found that dancing to the beat of my own drum allowed me to become the person I was always meant to be.
I also found that inner sex kitten of mine. And, that, my darling,was transformative.
How Clearing Clutter Changed My Life After My Mom Died
After my divorce I continued to shed clutter and keep a mostly tidy house. But my closet was a little, well, overstuffed. I had begun traveling extensively for work, and I was constantly adding new suits and shoes to my wardrobe.
Then, seven years after my divorce, my mother died. My sister and I helped our father clean out her closet. I can’t explain how heartbreaking it was to find so many unworn clothes, still with the price tags. Besides clothes with price tags and barely worn clothes, there were shoes. Lots of shoes still in boxes. And handbags, scarfs, and belts.
If you wonder where I learned to use buying stuff as a way to fill an emotional hole, it became very clear to me. When we finished cleaning out her closet, we were left with thirteen 39-gallon trash bags stuffed full of my mother’s things.
In the weeks following her death, all I could think about was my own daughters having to go through my closet. I was traveling on average 200 days a year then, so what if something happened to me? Would they be stuck going through all my dresses, suits, and shoes?
I pared my closet down tremendously.
If you ask how clearing clutter changed my life when it came to my closet? I’d tell you that I finally learned to dress for who I am today. No more saving clothes in case I lose (or gain) weight. No more hanging onto something just because it was expensive. I only kept what I loved, what fit, and what I felt great wearing.
How Clearing Clutter Changed My Life when I left Texas.
After loss, love transformed me. As I was managing the grief of losing my mom, I was simultaneously falling in love. When things began getting serious and we began talking about merging our lives together. And that meant making the decision to sell my home in Texas and move to Ohio.
I cleared more clutter than I could ever imagine with that move.
Over the months when our relationship was long distance, I brought the maximum amount of baggage American Airlines would allow each time I flew into Ohio. By the time my house sold, I had most of my clothes in Ohio. (Thankfully not too challenging considering the purge months earlier). In Ohio were also my golf clubs, my favorite kitchen tools, and some beloved pieces of art.
Then, I cleared the decks, so to speak. Only bringing to Ohio what would fit in my car.
Yes, my dear, you read that right. I walked away from an 1800 square foot house full of furniture and artwork. I didn’t pack (many) dishes or appliances. And, nope, no linens or other little things I spent countless hours shopping for. And no telling how much money.
My mantra in that last frantic weekend of shedding stuff? “Do I love this enough to either pay to store it or haul it 1000 miles.”
The answer was no more often than I could have imagined. I found good homes for what I wasn’t bringing to Ohio. And you want to know how clearing clutter changed my life that year? I learned that starting over when it came to possessions was ultimate freedom.
The treasure in life wasn’t in my belongings. The true treasure of life was trusting my gut and listening to my heart. And, of course, finally understanding the sheer power of love.
How Clearing Clutter Changed My Life This Year.
This past year, JB’s mother sold her home and moved in with one of her daughters. That meant that JB and his siblings began diving a home full of memories. Several pieces of furniture, art, lamps, and other such stuff has made its way into our home.
To be honest, that can be a challenge. Yet, thanks to regularly culling through our things – from books to dishes to furniture – we were able to welcome these items into our home with joy.
That’s one way clearing clutter changed my life this year. By regularly tending any excess that builds up through everyday living, it made the decisions of what items to welcome into our home.
And don’t think I say that lightly. Because I know that every single item holds energy. All the psychic weight of memories can be overwhelming.
And that’s how clearing clutter changed my life this year: it isn’t overwhelming. It enhances the welcoming and peaceful feel of walking in the door. And is there anything more important about having a home than for it to be a welcoming haven?
And the thing is, clearing clutter continues to change my life. Both in big ways. And in subtle ways.
If you ask me how clearing clutter changed my life, I would tell you that it opened the door to me being who I was always meant to be. Rather than hiding behind stuff, I let my inner light shine. Clearing clutter led me own the path of building a level of confidence I never had before. And did I mention freedom?
And those subtle ways? Seemingly small ways that don’t seem like a big deal. At least on the surface.
But, oh my darling, do they have a powerful effect only the quality of our daily life. Like walking into the house and feeling that sense of nourishment and welcome. Wanting to stay home instead of dashing out to escape the chaos. Being able to wear everything in my closet and like how it looks.
And surprisingly to me, clearing clutter has invited me to find pleasure in housekeeping.
Darling, if you are seeking to live a life you love, then you must be willing to do the work of clearing what’s in the way. Yes, I know that our minds can get in the way of our happiness. Because our thoughts to create our reality. And, yes, I know that life can feel challenging and overwhelming. However, sometimes you need to start from the outside.
Because I can tell you all the ways and whys of how clearing clutter changed my life. What’s most important, though, is that clearing clutter can change your life. I know it can be scary, darling.
But the work is worth it. Because you and your happiness are worth it.
PS - 30 Days to Clarity: Clutter Busting begins 10/14.