Blog Tales

The Art of Decluttering...

Over the holidays, I met with one of my dear friends from graduate school for an outing in San Francisco. It had been awhile since we'd been together and one of the agendas of the day was to celebrate her finishing her dissertation in 2007 and officially receiving her doctorate. Yeah Dr. J!!!!!!

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While at breakfast, over the most delicious of mochas, we caught up on our lives. We discussed how pleased we were to have made it through the quicksand mazes of our doctorate programs... and our dismay at the chaos left behind in the wake of our lives being so focused for so long... One of the complaints we share is the clutter that accumulated while our noses were held to the grindstone (I still have a box of "Important Stuff" that is eight years old that I can not part with, not to mention other boxes and cluttered corners of our home that could make for a DSM diagnosis!!!).

Overwhelm at what needs to be attended to can be the biggest deterrent from starting... So... Dr. J and I made an agreement to go to each other's homes and to lend support and help the other with our decluttering projects... She was first, as it had been too long since I'd last visited...

One of the things we found is that it can be hard to let go of some things because of what they represent to us. We want to hold on to the feeling or the memory that the object reminds us of... I still have a t-shirt in my closet that I got in Hawaii when I was sixteen...

J had made a banner our last year of graduate school classes. This ten-foot scroll holds the name of every classmate, every place we met for classes, and every teacher we had and it is precious to her... Now torn and faded, this strip of paper has hung in her office these past eleven years and it was time to let it go... To do this, J has found that taking a picture, helps her to let the object go...

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(See??? I was there!!!)

We decided to create a ritual for letting some of these precious things go... Rather than tossing them in the trash, we made a pile to burn, an offering of prayers, to be transformed and carried away in the flames and smoke...

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We then tackled some of the big stuff,
like her office...

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We moved everything out of the room and brought back in only what was necessary and desired...

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Dr. J was glad to get her office back... And I discovered just how much I love doing this... for I can feel the change of energy in the the areas that we worked on. There were three main areas of her home that we tackled ... the office, the main hallway, and the family room. I love hearing how it has changed her enjoyment of her home... and we made plans for the other areas that need attention. What was once overwhelming... is now doable, step by step...

At the end of our time together, we lit the fire...

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and watched these objects transform...
leaving space for more life and energy in Dr. J's life...


So if there are areas in your home and work space that you know are in need of clearing... here are several suggestions to help you in the art of decluttering...

  • Take a picture of things that hold memories, making it easier to let them go.

  • Have a friend help and give witness to what is changing and being let go of.

  • Tackle small areas first, so you have the experience of instant success, giving you the fortitude to go on to other places that need your attention.

  • Move everything out of the space to be decluttered. Place objects in bags or boxes clearly marked, denoting if they are to go to a thrift store, a particular person, or to the garbage/recycle. (Note: I no longer hold things for that garage sale that I think I'll hold someday. I find that garage sales take more time and energy than I have to give. I believe that moving objects allows for their worth to flow towards you in easier ways than spending all day in the sun selling items for small amounts. However, some people love to hold garage sales, and then I say go for it! But if the someday garage sale begins to create more clutter, it's time to move those objects on in the easiest way possible!)

  • Once a space is cleared, make a commitment to keep those places clear and to not allow them to get cluttered again.

  • Create a ritual for things you are letting go of, that have been precious, giving meaning to the what they have meant to you and their transformation.

  • Reward yourself each time you clear an area. Dr. J and I went on outings and she treated me to the most delicious of meals.

Thank you Dr. J for allowing me to spend this special time with you... you are an amazing friend who I deeply cherish...