One of my first clients was someone who hired me to clutter bust her garage. When she met me at the door, I noticed she seemed very tense and cold. I could feel a lot of turmoil in her. I didn't know what it was about. Though I had a feeling it was from the effect of the clutter. She took me through her kitchen to get to her garage. My clutter radar went off. This was some kind of inner signal that told me, "Not there, right here." I looked around and saw an area where she kept recipe books. There were all kinds of papers stuffed and stashed and crammed in and amongst, on top of the cookbooks.
I walked towards it and said, "What about this?"
She said, "We're not working in here. We're working in the garage."
I was intrigued by the cookbooks. It felt like there was a spotlight illuminated on them. I sensed she was afraid of this area.
I said, "Let's work in here." She refused. I strongly suggested. I could see her eyes misting up. I knew it was a loaded place. By that I mean, there were a lot of uncovered and strong emotions surrounding this place.
She opened up and revealed that all the papers stuffed around the books were recipes. I asked if she cooked. She sadly said no. She told me how she got married as a teenager. She loved to cook, but her husband only wanted the same few bland meals. They were married for twenty years. For all those years she yearned to cook so many kinds of different meals, but stuffed the desires by cutting out recipes from the newspaper and magazines and hiding them amongst the cookbooks. She'd been divorced for two years. Even though her husband was gone, she still wasn't cooking from the recipes that she stored. She usually got take out from a fast food place or restaurant.
I said, "Let's take them out." I started pulling them out from the cookbooks. There were hundreds of them. I put them on the kitchen table. We sat down to take a look at them. She started crying right away. She was sobbing and shaking. I felt it was good to let her cry for as long as she needed to. Those tears felt full of old fears and even anger.
When her crying subsided, I suggested we go through one recipe at a time and pick out the ones that meant something to her now. She started slowly. But as we went along, she picked out the ones she felt excited to cook now. We got it down to about a little more than a hundred recipes. We got rid of many of the recipe books. They contained the bland recipes. That area now felt so peaceful and relaxed. Then we picked a few recipes and went shopping for the ingredients. She was so thrilled.
That's when I started to get the idea that clutter had the effect of choking people in their homes. It blocks the flow of the life force in people's lives. I could see it because of the contrast in her tense and diminished way of being and demeanor when I first got to her home, to her openness and joy and vitality when we went shopping for the new food.