It's a Kind Thing to Do for Yourself

It's the crack of dawn, for me, and I'm getting things ready to catch a flight to LA. I'm eating eggs and left over Mexican food and I'm a little sleepy as I write to you. It's the sexy life of the clutter buster on the road.

What a great week it was in San Francisco. I ended up having a couple of days off. At first I thought, "Oh, no, it's important that I work everyday while traveling." But it turns out I was exhausted from writing the second draft of my new clutter busting book everyday and all day in December. So I got to play and have a mini-vacation. I went hiking in some great forests. And I met a squirrel.

This recharged me for Friday and Saturday's Clutter Busting seminar and workshop in Mountain View, CA. Here are some of my favorite moments:

Most everyone in the audience brought a sack of clutter with them. I invited up a woman who came to the stage with a bag of papers. They were mostly recipes. She said she had thousands of them at home. She had so many she could never get to them. This frustrated her, and she was distraught at the chaos they created in her home. She felt she could not go through them. I said, "We get overwhelmed when we see all of our stuff at once. It's too much for us to handle. We aren't made to work that way. It makes us shutdown. But I've found that by going through only one item at a time, in a matter of fact way, 'Do I need this or can I let it go?', it becomes simple and easy."

She didn't believe this and went back to fretting about how bad her clutter situation was. So, I asked her about the first recipe. She took a look and said, "No, toss it." I did the same thing with the next recipe. She said, "I don't need it." After the third time she started doing it on her own. She didn't need my help anymore. It took her about five minutes. As she was diligently going through the recipes, I pointed out to the audience how focused and peaceful she looked, in contrast to her anxiety from a few minutes before. When she was done, she was stunned. She said, "I can't believe I did that. I thought it would be impossible. But, it was so easy." I said, "We're amazing when we focus in an easy way on one thing at a time. We're built to function this way."

Along the same lines, I realized that putting clutter in a bag and taking it to a new place to get a different and fresher perspective is actually a good clutter busting tip. Seeing the piles of things in our homes can be daunting. But filling a bag full of stuff and taking it to a different room can make it simpler to take care of. It narrows the focus, and it allows us to see our things in a new light. You can try this at home if you feel overwhelmed by a particular pile or clutter area. After you are done with that bag, you can stop and start again later. Or you can get another bag of clutter and continue.

There was a woman who talked about her overwhelming clutter situation at home and at her storage locker. She said there were so many things that she couldn't keep track of them. She said it was too much for her and she couldn't make herself start. She said she'd been stuck for years. She began to go into detail about the stuff. She started to laugh as she spoke. But then the laughs turned to tears. She started sobbing.

I told her that what she was feeling was the pain from living under the clutter. The pain is there in her all the time. It found it's way out because we were taking a kinder approach to letting go. It's good to be aware of the pain the clutter in our life causes us. We don't need to know why or how it got there, but that it hurts us. It brings out the compassion in our hearts to clutter bust. I said to her, "If you were walking and stepped on a nail, it would hurt and you would go to the emergency room to have it taken care of. The clutter in your home is causing you great pain and it's important to begin the process of letting it go. The pain will be reduced. It's a kind thing to do for yourself. Pick one small area and start there. Do what feels comfortable. Stop when you start to feel tired. If it's a half hour, that's okay. Come back and begin again tomorrow."