Thursday, February 10, 2011


It strikes me that there could be a strong correlation between cutter in my house and clutter in my home, house being the physical place where I live and home being the emotional place where I live, my soul or my psyche. Maybe one feeds the other. Maybe the clutter, the piles and stacks of stuff around my computer, for example, are more than a metaphor for the piles and stacks of resentments, blames and losses in my mind. Maybe the physical clutter actually contributes, makes higher (or deeper), the mental clutter. Maybe the reverse is true as well.

For years decades I've been saying I want to de-clutter (get rid of the physical stuff in my house). Once in a while I take on a surface or a shelf, clearing it. Feels good when I do, although it's hard to get started and often I simply re-locate the stuff where I don't see it. But most of the time, I continue to dig through the clutter when I need something, fuss about how it looks, gripe about the time it takes to try to find anything, and berate myself for procrastinating.

Today I want to get to the bottom of procrastination and fix it. Our marriage counselor talks about ego, the part of my personality that resists change, that wants to keep everything just like it is, both physically and emotionally. She tells us we must reach deep into a different place in order to change, a place that begins in compassion, respect, gentleness and love. The ego will resist all change, requiring a conscious effort to put it aside. I'm wondering if her wisdom about changing our attitudes and behaviors toward one another might be useful with clutter procrastination.

If clutter procrastination with the physical stuff in my house IS inter-related with procrastination of clearing emotional clutter, then maybe I could improve my odds of enjoying my marriage by getting rid of physical clutter, one day at a time, one pile at a time. Duh... sounds like a no-brainer to me.

To that end, the Costco magazine again proves useful with an article in the current issue about De-Cluttering (pg 43). I especially like the list of 5 questions to ask when deciding whether to keep or not to keep any specific item:

-- When was the item last used?
-- When might I use it again?
-- Does the object enhance or hinder my life?
-- Has it affected the quality of the life I'm living or want to live?
-- Is it replaceable?

That makes sense. Once the decision about keeping is made, it's important to physically move the item, to put it away if keeping it, or to put it into a specific container destined for the thrift store, dump, recycle, donate, give or sell.

I know from experience that I have to be very wary of the sell option. I procrastinate on that too. I have many boxes of things that people might buy, that I could try to sell on eBay, that are somewhat collectible. Do I do anything about selling them? No. Is it because of the ego wanting to hold on or is it just because I'm not fond of selling? Who knows, maybe both. I need to let go of these things. They are millstones around my neck.

Am I willing to make a commitment right here and now? Oooooh, I feel the resistance... the little voice is saying, "You need to work on your art and catch up on blogging and take your walk... that's enough for one day... you can start de-cluttering later, some other day." I say no to the voice and yes to de-cluttering, one day at a time... starting today.

Today I will de-clutter four piles of stuff in the immediate vicinity of my computer... put away, throw away and recycle all of it. I will ask the five questions and make decisions based on my answers.

Tomorrow I will file a report here and also write more about this subject, about how my 68-year-old memory is cluttered and about how I hold onto stuff, memorabilia, because I'm afraid I'll forget.

* * * * * *
Today's gratitude list: cottage cheese 'n' home-made applesauce, sunshine, signs of spring, people who take the time to read and write blogs.


  1. Before I forget... I have been thinking of you a lot because I finally read the book you recommended about Love Languages. I'll probably send an email about it someday.

    As for clutter - I can't stand it. I really thing my whole being reacts to it. It stresses me out. I've blogged about it. When I was writing that post, I did look online for articles about the connection between clutter and weight issues... because there does seem to be one in some opinions. Much like you correlate house and home.

    I am intrigued at your Costco mention because my husband reads their stuff and is a major clutterer!

    I hope today's experiment in decluttering oges well for you.

  2. I was a Minimalist
    when I first came back from the first Gulf War.
    I had nothing. Nothing.
    Then, the clutter set in.
    Just now getting rid of some of it.
    Some of it, though, I have learned to accept
    and love and know that it might be a part
    of my life for the next few years.... or longer.
    It just bees that way some times.
    (And it's still all good!)
    As if the clutter is of the MIND......
    not just the dwelling....
    And we can challenge every thought anew!
    The only barrier is: are ya up to it?
    It's hard to turn a big ship around!

  3. Robin, I think there is a definite correlation between clutter around us and having a cluttered psyche, and possibly carrying weight, as well. I have blogged about living in a big house, going through a big fire, getting rid of about 50% of everything I owned. I have felt lighter and lighter and lighter.

    It was a wrench in the beginning - I had a lot of memories tied up in some of that stuff, not all of them happy. We tie energy up in things, as if they are then the containers that hold those memories, those people we held dear. Those memories are not in the things, they're in our hearts; when we let go of the physical things we get back the energy we invested in them. And there is much less tending and dusting, which leads to more creative time.

    One of my friends had a practical suggestion: photograph things and write about the memories and put it all on a disk, which takes up little physical space.

    It doesn't have to mean getting rid of anything you actually use or value - and certainly doesn't include beads! At least not in my world. The great thing about beads is that if they're well-organized, they don't take up much space.

    I'm inspired to go de-clutter a table in my beadio.

  4. I just had another thought, Robin. Those beautiful things you could sell - why not have a blog sale? Lots of people do it. I bet you'd clear out a lot of things to people who would really appreciate them (let me know if you're selling any of your own beaded pieces first), make lots of money, and then you and Robert could go on a little romantic getaway and have some fun together - and you wouldn't have to check in by phone, either. Come to Kauai!


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