Lighten Up by Peter Walsh was a total game changer for me. Its many exercises such as calculating what percentage of your home you devote to storage (both eye opening and depressing), what percentage of your mortgage is devoted to financing your storage (including attic, closet space, garage, crawl spaces, basements, etc.), and visualizations such as what you desire your home to look like all enable a shift in mindset towards "out with the old!" This shift in mindset that will surely occur after reading this motivational and enlightening text will enable you to make the changes you have been dreaming of for decades. His book is full of exercises, visualizations and practical tips for how to change your emotional attachment to no longer useful items through anecdotes, statistics, relating his personal experiences through consultation and horror stories of over-the-top cluttering, aka hoarding. You will bristle with excitement as you envision your closets no longer overstuffed, your cabinets with only current functional items, and every nook and cranny of your house streamlined to be up to your highest standards of functionality, purpose, and integrity aligned with your vision of your home the way you want it.
I started my journey about 19 years ago with my first yoga class towards decluttering my inner "junk", but it was really about 8 years ago, when I discovered meditation, that my life began to morph into something that closer resembled my standards, vision, and intentions in the outer realm. It was five years later that I discovered the magical art of decluttering, and decided, now that I had cleared the mental clutter, I was ready to be finished with the physical clutter as well. Peter Walsh makes this connection in his book of mental, emotional, and spiritual clutter. Our inner world is often reflected in our outer world; and while sometimes inner chaos can manifest as outer order such as in cases of OCD, for the most part our inner and outer world are intimately connected. For instance, if there is a 40-year-old piano rotting away in the corner and you can't give it up because it was your father's; maybe that is an indication that you still have inner work to do on grieving if holding onto his memory means forfeiting 24 cubic feet of your living room to an old relic that no longer works, no one uses, and is not even remotely satisfying visually. At least that's the parallel Peter Walsh draws in his book through multiple anecdotes. And he has me convinced. There were many items in my house, that although past their functional expiration date (jeans that no longer fit, old photographs with no current meaning, sheet music I would never play again, college poetry textbooks I hadn't studied in 20 years) I couldn't get rid of them despite my best efforts. In a way, reading Walsh's books as well as The Life Changing Magic of Tidying up by Marie Kondo (the KonMari Method) and other self-help decluttering books; these books talked me off the ledge (figuratively speaking). Who really needed 30 pairs of bellbottom dress slacks from the 90s in every size from 0 to 14 stuffing their closet past the brim when they hadn't been worn in over five years? Definitely, not me. I was sold and went on a decluttering spree that lasted the better part of two years and streamlined every closet, drawer, and book shelf in my home; selecting one drawer or closet to work on each weekend for nearly two years straight. And I can say that I'm never going to be finished (I did the junk drawer this morning after being inspired by pictures of a pristine "junk" drawer of my dear - show off - aunt!), but that decluttering is an ongoing project and something that will forever be managed on my master project list (see blog on GTD) for next actions each week.
Managing our clutter, whether it's old nostalgic photographs or that electric cable you have no idea what it is for, should be done systematically and periodically, with a "next action" chosen and designated each week. With constant changes in our priorities, activities, lifestyles, hobbies, habits, projects, household members and intentions we must constantly reevaluate our use of space so that our outer worlds can reflect our highest of intentions and function in the most purposeful way possible. For example, if you have a toy room that no longer is purposeful but a growing waistline, maybe it's time to convert that space into an exercise room. It's all about making sure that our homes mimic our ultimate vision for our higher purpose and calling. If you are devoting large amounts of space to storage and dreaming of your next dream house, maybe it's time to take control of your space once more. You may find you are the only person standing in your way.
May you find peace and joy in letting go of what no longer serves you.
- Betty Lynn