Friday, December 19, 2014

Drop the Leash

“Will myself to find a home, a home within myself,
We will find a way, we will find our place,
Drop the leash, drop the leash.”
--Pearl Jam, Leash

When we stop taking an honesty inventory of what’s in our life, we get lost in things that no longer serve us. This clutter binds and restricts us. It becomes a leash that holds us back and keeps us from expanding, exploring and enjoying our lives.

It takes a conscious and bold look to see and be free…to drop clutter’s leash.

Recently I was working over Skype with a client who was feeling restricted in her life. We came across the textbooks she studied when she was in college. She’d been hanging on to them for twenty years. She was apprehensive about letting them go.

I asked her why and she wasn’t sure. I asked if she ever referred to them in the twenty years. She said, “No.” Still she didn’t want to let them go.

I told her she looked unhappy and tense talking about the textbooks. I said keeping those books would keep those side effects alive in her.

I said things that once served us, but no longer add to our life, can sometimes be hard to remove. A part of us is still invested in the memories of the rewards we once got from these things. There’s a feeling that if we let these things go, we will lose something valuable.

It helps to see that the presence of these things is now a hindrance.

It’s like you come to a deep and wide river and find a helpful canoe left by the riverside. You take the canoe successfully across the river. You’re happy. You then hang on to the canoe because of how it helped you. But now you’re dragging the canoe through the forest. It gets caught on trees. Its weight is exhausting. Your traveling is impeded by the canoe.

That’s why it’s helpful to be honest with yourself about the effects of the things in your life now.

My client realized these books had no useful place in her life. She also opened up about wanting to find new ways of making income. She felt letting these books go would help her find something new.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Letting Go of Deadwood

My Skype client had been doing a lot of clutter busting on her own but got stuck with a few items and needed my help. I asked what the items were.

She showed me a handful of cassettes and started crying. She said she was a musician and she got a lot of ideas for songs late at night. She kept a cassette player by her nightstand. When she woke up with an idea, she recorded it on the player. The thing is, she hadn't had an idea for a song in a long time. The songs sung onto these cassettes were years old.

She was crying because she wasn't interested in those songs anymore. She wanted to create something new. But she felt if she let go of the cassettes, the Universal Creative Force would be upset with her for not using those songs, and would not give her anymore songs. She was hanging on to the cassettes out of fear.

I said that it took a toll on her to live that way. Her crying was evidence. Every night that she went to bed, she took the presence of those cassettes and how she felt about them to sleep with her. When we are sleeping, we are in our most open and vulnerable place. Whatever we have near us, whether it's on a nightstand, or under or next to the bed, effects us. The angst she was feeling over the cassettes cut deep into her. They hurt her.

She said that life is sometimes hard, and hurts, and we have to endure and put up with what's happening.

I said there are somethings that happen to us that hurt like getting sick, or if your basement floods, or someone who we're close to experiences misfortune. It happens and we deal with it.

But there are other hurts that we get to say no to. We get to remove the source of the pain right away. In the same way if someone accidentally steps on your toe and you tell them to move off your foot - you get to remove items, people, or activities that are hurting you. You do this by asking and answering honestly about each thing in your life. You see what comes up. If something is hurting you physically or emotionally in any way, it's your right and duty to remove what's in question. Your job is not to protect the thing, but yourself.

I told my client that she was getting no benefit from the cassettes. She wasn't inspired to do anything with the songs. By hanging on to the songs, she wasn't getting any new song ideas. Their presence was making her cry. They were making her afraid of her creativity.

I said to her that letting go wouldn't be a crime against nature. It's actually part of nature. When deadwood is removed, it's replaced my new growth. When a restriction is removed, flow returns and new and fresh things take its place.

Creativity is a living thing that never stops. It's a relentless giver. It's not a moody force. It's Life itself.

My client let go of the cassettes. I told her I could see the life come back into her eyes and face. She looked so much lighter. Her smile was amazing.

Monday, December 15, 2014

3 Excellent Questions

One of my clients wrote me a list of 3 excellent questions she asks when clutter busting by herself. I'm sharing them with her permission.

"If I were to put in simple words what I have learned from you is this:
   1.  Does an item feed me and bring me joy?
   2.  Does an item burden me, resulting in my feeling anxious and/or depressed?
   3.  Doesn an item fit into my life NOW (not later)?"

To break the spell of clutter, you have to find a way to honestly ask about the things in your life. You can't show any mercy. Your peace of mind is at stake.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Abundance Without Attachment

I found an interesting article by Arthur C. Brooks that I wanted to share with you called Abundance Without Attachment.  Brooks talks about what in the long run really matters to us.

My favorite part is, "Collect experiences, not things. Material things appear to be permanent, while experiences seem evanescent and likely to be forgotten. Should you take a second honeymoon with your spouse, or get a new couch? The week away sounds great, but hey — the couch is something you’ll have forever, right?"

"Wrong. Thirty years from now, when you are sitting in rocking chairs on the porch, you’ll remember your second honeymoon in great detail. But are you likely to say to one another, “Remember that awesome couch?” Of course not. It will be gone and forgotten. Though it seems counterintuitive, it is physically permanent stuff that evaporates from our minds. It is memories in the ether of our consciousness that last a lifetime, there for us to enjoy again and again."

Click on the shopping carts to get to the article:
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/14/opinion/sunday/arthur-c-brooks-abundance-without-attachment.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=c-column-top-span-region&region=c-column-top-span-region&WT.nav=c-column-top-span-region&_r=0

Friday, December 12, 2014

"Does This Serve Me?"

It takes some courage to ask, “Does this serve me?” Serve means take care of you. Does it meet your needs? It means you consider yourself worthy of being taken care of.

I notice that it’s often difficult at first for a client to put their needs above what’s in their life. I recently asked a client, “Do you like and use this, or can you let it go?” She hesitated and looked down. She looked lost. It wasn’t natural for her at that moment to consider her own welfare. She wasn’t used to putting her needs first.

I pointed out her discomfort. This wasn’t a judgment about her reaction. It was a way to help her see that she was hurting herself. It was a way to break the trance.

She snapped out of the fog. Her sense-of-self came back. She said, “I’m tired of living this way. I want to feel good in my own home.”

She put the item in the donation bin. She looked stronger. It felt like the energy moved from the item back in to her.

I encourage you to take back your life by questioning whether what's in your life serves you or not. It may feel a little odd at first. But the moment you start to consider your own needs, you begin to create the momentum for that to happen.

It can help to imagine you are a big and powerful snowplow moving down the road of your life, removing the snow that’s in your way.

You are mighty.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Couponer!

I lost interest years ago in giving and receiving things for Christmas. It felt impersonal.

What I've learned from living my life and years of clutter busting with clients was that what we cherish most are experiences rather than stuff.

Experiences are alive. We are connected to an experience. They wake us up. We remember a good experience years after it's happened.

So a few years back, I wanted to give my wife a present of experiences. I came up with the Couponer. I got out a sheet of paper and some pastels and I created boxes of experiences that I know she likes. "Walk along the beach," "Dinner and a movie," "Tell a story," "Cook dinner," "Surprise," "Surprise too." I think there were about twenty experiences.

She was so happy to get this gift. She imagined the joy she'd get from using each of the coupons over the next year.

The Couponer is secretly also a present to me because I get to enjoy these experiences with her.

My wife ended up creating a Couponer for me, and it's become a yearly tradition for us.

I wanted to share this if you are looking for an alternative to the usual gift-giving.