Sunday, April 20, 2014

Brooks Sang to a Ghost

Here's a video of me talking about the time I clutter busted a house that seemed to have some kind of strange energy associated with a room. The owners thought it was a ghost, and of course I have no idea. But this is what happened.


This was produced by Suzanne Clores for The Extraordinary Project. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Fortress of Stability

Sometimes we get this sense that whatever is happening now will continue happening. We know there will be changes, yet we think life will basically bring the same things tomorrow. I had been feeling this way recently, but this week was eye-opening for me.

One of my friends was planning to visit her dad, and he died. She was devastated.

One of my clients said she'd gone in for routine surgery and flatlined during surgery, then came back to life.

I started thinking that this general assumption that things will continue as they are -- is a big lie. The people in our lives, we assume they will be there tomorrow. But there's no guarantee. From the time you say goodbye, it may be the last time you ever see them.

It's not just an idea -- it's actually true. And it's scary.

I think sometimes we hang onto things that don't serve us because they gives us a feeling of continuation and stability. Even though we don't use the clothes or eat off the kitchenware or open the storage locker, there's this feeling like "I'm safe because I've got these things." The world can change outside of us, but we feel protected in here. It's like a fortress we've built against change.

The thing is, difficult events are going to happen regardless of the fortress. Meanwhile, living within the fortress anesthetizes us so we don't even know all this is happening. And no matter how big or well constructed the fortress, it doesn't really even protect us from the pain of the things that actually do happen. People's houses do catch fire. They're burglarized. People die. People get sick.

So my experience from my own life is that it can seem like a scary proposition, but it's true that removing the things that aren't serving you anymore makes you more vulnerable to the world and to your feelings. It also makes you more flexible, and in that way, more safe. But clutter busting doesn't increase or decrease change. Life still does what it will do, whether you clutter bust or not. And the truth is, even in your fortress, you're getting hurt by the world -- just alone and without even yourself to hug.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Choice Compass

Clutter busting is about taking an honest look at how you feel about the things, people and activities in your life. I like the word honest because you are checking in with yourself to see not how you think the things in your life affect you, but how they actually do affect you. 

It's easy to get used to the things in our lives. We can assume that everything has a place. But my experience is when people are willing to actually ask and see, they are surprised to find that many things they once liked and used no longer fit their life. Or that some things never served them. 

My partner, Julia Mossbridge, is a scientist who has come up with an app that makes it easier to see how you truly feel about life choices. It taps into the body's innate ability to know things. It seems to me it would be helpful in the clutter busting process when you are feeling stuck and not sure what to do about a certain thing, person, or activity in your life. It helps you look deeper, which is what clutter busting is all about. 

I'm not that good at science, so I'll let her explain:

As Brooks has said, for the past 2 years, I’ve been working to create this app to help you tap into your heart’s wisdom. Choice Compass uses your phone’s camera to calculate your heart rhythm, and it compares these heart rhythms as you are concentrating on two possible life choices. It shows the result as a compass needle that points to the choice that your heart reveals as the most joyful one. The way it determines this choice is based on average heart activity data across groups of people as they imagined making positive versus negative choices. 

It will be available for iPhone (4 or 5), and iPad (iOS 6 or later), and in late May for Android phones. Tomorrow, Thursday, April 17, the app will go live in the App Store. That is the day that I could most use your help and support, by purchasing the app and encouraging friends to do so as well. If enough people buy it the first day, it will help to put the app on “hot new” lists in the App Store, increasing the odds that it will do well, and get the notice of other people who could benefit from learning how to trust their intuition.
Based on our beta testing, the app appears to be impressively accurate when it comes to predicting choice types across a cross-section of people. I think it is a tool that will be of benefit to almost everyone as we navigate life and attempt to use every scrap of wisdom that we’ve got!

Here are some ways you can spread the word today:

“     1. "Like” the Facebook page: and link to the website on your Facebook page (“My friend made an iPhone app that helps you ask your heart about life choices, available Thursday!”)
·         2. Forward this blog post with a note to anyone you think might be interested.
·         3. Tweet about it (@choicecompass).

·       If you know a journalist, blogger, or other media contact who might be a good fit to talk about the app, please connect them with my publicist, Polly Washburn – / 847-757-8869

Thank you so much for any support you can offer to help make the app a success and help make the world a more heart-centered place! Please let Brooks know if you have any questions or suggestions for spreading the word.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Being Compassionate

My phone client said, "I'm feeling beaten and defeated."

Her mom died not long ago. She had to move her father into an assisted living home. She then had to clutter bust her parents house on her own and sell it.

She cried as she said she wasn't able to take care of herself during that time and things piled up at home. The state of her place had made her feel sad and she did retail therapy to feel better. This put her in debt, which made her feel guilty.

She got down on herself for being in this situation. She felt she shouldn't have let things get that bad. Also, she was critical of herself for not being able to clutter bust on her own.

I said that it made sense that she felt stuck and that she wasn't able to help herself. She was physically and emotionally overwhelmed. Everyone has a threshold and when they reach it they shut down. Their capacity and clarity are diminished.

When we get run down and shut down, we sometimes react with self-criticism, hoping it will help us fix the situation. But it depletes us even more.

I encouraged my client to be kind to herself. In a situation like she had been in, it was understandable that she couldn't take care of herself. I said if she was outside taking a walk, and she saw someone fall and hurt themselves, she wouldn't say, "They should be able to get up." She would rush to help them. She would understand that they were hurt and needed assistance.

In her situation, she was hurt. She couldn't take care of herself. The first step in healing would be seeing the situation for what it was. That meant forgiving herself for being stuck amidst her clutter. That meant understanding her need to buy things to feel better. That also meant being okay about hiring someone to help her get up again.

She got it that it was okay to be compassionate to herself.

This released the shackles she had put on herself for being wrong.

She began going through her things. She was able to think clearly and separate out things that she no longer cared for our used from the things she liked and were an active part of her life.

After we finished working, my client kept working on her own. She sent me an email a few hours later and said, "Here's something I found under our work pile today--a dish that has encouraging stones in it.  (It's a fish because I'm a Pisces.)  Dusted and off the floor, it's very pleasant to have."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Clothes Our Life Wears

[Today's blog post is taken from the "Best of" clutter busting archives...enjoy!]

Our things make up the clothes our life wears. How does our stuff, the things we do, and the people in our lives fit?

We get so used to wearing these clothes that we think they are us, that they are parts of us. And even if one of these things is causing us discomfort, we hang onto it because of the intimate association.
That's why I encourage asking, "Do I like this, or can I let it go?" because it helps us see that our things aren't us, that they are here to provide us pleasure and take care of us, or we shed them like a shirt that no longer fits.

I recently helped a client clutter bust his kitchen pantry. He was resistant at first, even though he complained that this part of his home gave him a headache. The resistance felt like he was connected to what was in there, which caused him to try and protect the stuff, even though it was hurting him.

But as I began asking him about each item of food in the pantry, the connection broke, and this gave him distance to see with clarity that the majority of the food in there was old and didn't fit his tastes and life now. He put this food in some boxes and bags to take to a local homeless shelter.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Guilt as Clutter

My client said, "I have a desire to tackle all the clutter as quickly as possible and this is what tires me out and leads to burnout.  So while I understand and FEEL the urgency of my situation, is there a way to not feel guilt when I think I'm not dealing with it quickly enough?"

I said that feeling of guilt might come up that you're not dealing with it quickly enough. You can't prevent the thought from arising.

But you can notice how powerful it is. Guilt is loud. It changes the blood chemistry. It has a way of taking away momentum. You can be aware of it with some curiosity, as if it's a thing, just like the things that you are going through in your space.

Because the guilt is a thing in the space of you.

Noticing when guilt comes up is part of the clutter bust. When you feel it, you can talk with yourself and say, "Is this true? Am I not doing this quickly enough? Could I be going faster? Or is it that when I try and go faster, I shut down and give up? Maybe it really does that the time it takes. Maybe I need to be gentler with myself in order to complete this process."

Thursday, April 10, 2014


When you're unobscured, you're mighty. When you're without things to hide behind, you shine. It's a burden to try and hang on to things that were supposed to make you brighter, smarter, sexy, stronger.

Underneath all the stuff is an amazing person. Not measured by standards. But by the presence of who you are.

I never get tired of seeing people without their clutter. After they let go of all the things that didn't matter to them, they radiate an aliveness that no product in the world can deliver.