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Monday, May 19, 2008


Our women's organization at church (The Relief Society) every so often has an activity night, called, Home Family & Personal Enrichment. For short we just refer to it as "Enrichment Night".

I missed our last Enrichment activity and it sounded like a really good one. I was supposed to be working that night, but had to cancel on my clients, cause I was suffering badly from my allergies. My throat was severely swollen and I'm just at the tail end of it now. It was pretty bad, but I'm just happy that it didn't hit my sinuses! Anyways Enrichment was on De-cluttering your life and although I missed it, they sent out a handout that was really awesome, I thought I'd share it with the rest of you. It has some really good advice that I hope will benefit some of you.

By the way although the handout is based on a book, it was put together by our lovely Enrichment Leader Darcie Davis. Way to go Darcie!

Anyways enjoy!

Based on the book Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui by Karen Kingston

Feng Shui – the art of balancing and harmonizing the flow of natural energies in our surroundings to create beneficial effects in our lives.

Clutter begins as a symptom of what is happening with you in your life and then becomes part of the problem itself because the more of it you have, the more stagnant energy it attracts to itself. The reason de-cluttering is so effective is that while you are putting your external world in order there are corresponding changes going on internally, too. Everything around you, especially your home environment, mirrors your inner self.

What is clutter?

Four categories:

1. Things you do not use or love
2. Things that are untidy or disorganized
3. Too many things in too small a space
4. Anything unfinished

1. Things you do not use or love. Things that are loved, used, and appreciated have strong, vibrant, joyous energies around them. Anything neglected, forgotten, unwanted, unloved, or unused will cause the energy in your home to slow and stagnate. When you get rid of everything that has no real meaning or significance for you, you literally feel lighter in body, mind, and spirit.
2. Things that are untidy or disorganized. Even if you keep your stuff honed down to just the things you use and love, your place will still be cluttered if they are scattered all over the place and it’s difficult to find items when you want them. People’s lives work better when they know where things are. Clutter in this category consists of things that either don’t have a proper place of their own or do have one but have strayed from it and got all mixed up with everything else.
3. Too many things in too small a space. The more you cram into your living space, the less room there is for energy to move and the more difficult it becomes to get anything done. The only solution is to move to a bigger place or shift some of your stuff off the premises. You will be amazed at how good it feels, either way.
4. Anything unfinished. Things not dealt with at home are a constant drain on your energy. From small repairs like a broken drawer or a burnt out light bulb to bigger jobs like finishing your scrapbooks or taming the jungle that has become your yard. Loose ends will hinder your progress if you do not deal with them. Your subconscious mind will suppress these things nicely for you if you ask it to, but it takes a lot of your energy to do so.

How does clutter cost you?

1. It costs time and energy. Don Aslett in his book Clutter’s Last Stand said that each item we accumulate “stifles us and robs us of freedom because it requires so much of our time to tend. We have to pay for it, keep track of it, protect it, clean it, store it, insure it, and worry about it. Later we have to move it, hide it, apologize for it, argue over it. …But these things are valuables you say? What about the value of the life and time to store, to clean, to insure, to transport, to protect—what does that cost? More than money.”
2. It costs you financially. Go into each room of your home and estimate the percentage of space that is taken up by things you rarely or never use. Be very honest with yourself as you do this process. If you want the blatant truth, include everything you don’t absolutely love or haven’t used in the last year or two. In an average-sized home, you may end up with a list that looks something like this:

1. Entrance foyer 5 percent
2. Sitting room 10 percent
3. Dining room 10 percent
4. Kitchen 30 percent
5. Bedroom 1 40 percent
6. Bedroom 2 25 percent
7. Junk room 100 percent
8. Bathroom 15 percent
9. Cellar 90 percent
10. Attic 100 percent
11. Garden shed 60 percent
12. Garage 80 percent
Total clutter 565 percent

Now divide the total by the number of areas.

565 percent divided by 12 areas = average 47 percent junk per room!

So, in this example, the cost of storing clutter works out to a staggering 47 percent of the cost of the rent or mortgage for your home. Perhaps you have even reached the stage where your stuff has overflowed your home and you are also paying premium rentals for commercial storage space elsewhere. There are other ways your clutter habit costs you. There is the cost of your time shopping for it and finding a place to put it when you get home. There is often the expense of buying something to store it in, like boxes, shelving, cupboards, wardrobes, drawers, filing cabinets, trunks, etc. You are expending all that time, money, and effort to buy things you will never use and then paying to keep them indefinitely for not reason!

Why to people keep clutter?

If you make time to acquire clutter (and people easily do that), then you can also make the time to clear it. Identifying the reasons people keep clutter will help you understand why you have needed clutter in the past, which will help you to release it and cease to accumulate it in the future. These patterns are buried deep in your subconscious mind and, without you realizing it they are running your life. After you become aware of them, they gradually lose their power over you.
1. Keeping things “just in case”. This is the number one reason people keep clutter. “I can’t throw it away! It is sure to come in useful someday!” Keeping things “just in case” indicates a lack of trust in the future. You create your own reality by the thoughts you have, so if you worry that you will need something after you have thrown it away, then sure enough, very soon afterward, your subconscious mind will create a situation where you need that very thing, however obscure it may be. “I knew it would come in useful sometime!” Once you fully understand your own role in creating the sudden need for things you have finally decided to get rid of, it stops happening that way. When you decide to let things go, you either never need them again or, if you do need them, similar or better things will somehow turn up in your life at the right time. The more you can learn to trust that life will take care of you, the more life will take care of you.
2. Identity. You can get attached to your belongings because you somehow feel that your own identity is tied up in them. You sometimes identify with them so strongly that you feel you are throwing a part of yourself away or, if it was a gift from a friend, that you are throwing your friend’s kindness away. This accounts for the many ambivalent feelings about clearing sentimental clutter. This is one of the deeper reasons people feel so emotionally devastated when they lose everything as a result of theft, fire, blood, or other so-called disasters. The fact is that our own continuance and well-being does not depend on any objects continuing to be in our possession. But for the things you do have…surround yourself with things that are up to date with who you have become.
3. Status. “Keeping up with the Joneses” serves the function of bolstering low self-esteem. Some people do create the trappings of prosperity around them simply to “keep up appearances” and no amount of “stuff” will ever be enough until they tackle the deeper issues of self-worth. It is so easy in the possession-orientated Western culture to lose track of who you are and why you are here. Your status as an eternal spirit is defined by an entirely different set of principles than those set by our transient materialistic world.
4. Security. While it is reasonable to want to create a home that serves your needs, there is a point where the motivation for acquiring things goes off track. Modern advertising is deliberately designed to play on our insecurities. “If you don’t have one of these you will be a lesser human being!” No matter how many possessions you have, you never feel secure. As soon as you get one thing, there is always something else you “need”.
5. Territorialism. Suppose you are out shopping, looking for a new jacket. You find one you like, leave it for a moment to check that there isn’t one you like better, and along comes another shopper who picks up the jacket and looks interested in buying it. Panic wells up inside you—“That’s my jacket,” you are thinking. And then there is the relief when the other person puts it down and moves no, or the awkwardness of butting in and telling him or her you were there first. These feelings can be very intense, but realistically it’s only a jacket that minutes before meant nothing to you. This territorialism and desire to possess things comes directly from the ego, which strives to own and control things. It is a matter of realizing that your happiness does not depend no your ownership of things.
6. Inherited clutteritis. The “just in case” mentality is usually handed down from parent to child. People in the United States still carry the emotional luggage of fears handed down from the time of the Great Depression. By choosing to think differently you can free yourself from the anxieties of those who brought you up, and when you go one step further and focus on abundance rather than worrying about lack, you will happily let go of things you no longer need.
7. A belief that more is better. In our kitchens we have a whole collection of culinary knives in our kitchens. We have small knives for chopping small things and big knives for chopping big things; some have pointed blades, some are square-edged; some are lightweight, some are heavy. We carefully select the most appropriate knife for the task at hand. This “more is better” theme is constantly being touted to us by manufacturers who want to create a need in order to sell their products, and gullible folk fall for it every time. Next time one of those “useful-gadgets-you –didn’t-realize-you-needed” catalogs lands in your mailbox, spend a hilarious half hour reading it and getting convinced how much better your life would be if you only had a non-slip, multi-purpose, easy-care whatever-it-is, and then toss the brochure gleefully in the recycling bin without ordering!
8. “Scrooge-ness”. These people refuse to let go of their junk until they feel they have really got their money’s worth out of it. It feels indecent to let it go before every last drop of usefulness has been wrung out of it, even if it means that it sits in the cupboard indefinitely waiting for its time to come.
9. Using clutter to suppress emotions. Do you feel uncomfortable with too much empty space around you or too much free time? Clutter conveniently fills that space and keeps you busy. But what are you avoiding? Usually it is loneliness, fear of intimacy, or some other buried emotion that it feels easier to submerge in clutter than to cope with. However, it takes a tremendous amount of energy to keep it suppressed.

Letting go

People hold on to their clutter because they are afraid to let it go—afraid of the emotions they may experience in the process of sorting through the stuff, afraid they will make a mistake and later regret getting rid of something, afraid they will leave themselves vulnerable, exposed or at risk in some way. De-cluttering your life can bring up a lot of “stuff” to be faced with, and intuitively everybody knows it. Love and fear cannot exist in the same space, so everything you are holding on to through fear is blocking you having more love in your life. Fear stops you from being who you truly are and doing what you came here to do; de-cluttering brings you greater clarity about your life purpose.

How does all this apply to de-cluttering our commitments?

Make a list on your paper. Have it look like this:

Things I love to do Things that are important/necessary to do Clutter

Remember that things that you love have “strong, vibrant, joyous energies around them”. They give you energy, they help keep you focused on who you really are, they develop a gift or talent that brings you joy. Write some things down on your list, that you spend time doing that you love. Anyone willing to share some things they love to do? Notice how one woman’s junk is another woman’s treasure? There is no room for judgment here because we are all so different in what we love. Now as a group let’s brainstorm things that require time and that are necessary and/or important to fit into our lives. Let’s compile a list together and you can write things down that you feel are important to you, too. Elder Oaks gave us some important things to fit in during his October 2007 conference address. He said,

Parents should act to preserve time for family prayer, family scripture study, family home evening, and the other precious togetherness and individual one-on-one time that binds a family together and fixes children's values on things of eternal worth. Parents should teach gospel priorities through what they do with their children.
The number of those who report that their "whole family usually eats dinner together" has declined 33 percent. This is most concerning because the time a family spends together "eating meals at home [is] the strongest predictor of children's academic achievement and psychological adjustment." Family mealtimes have also been shown to be a strong bulwark against children's smoking, drinking, or using drugs. There is inspired wisdom in this advice to parents: What your children really want for dinner is you.

Sometimes these important things get crowded out by the clutter. What are some clutter items (remember, some of these may be another’s treasure…please allow people to express clutter for themselves that may be your treasure…no offense intended!) Elder Oaks gives some potential clutter items.

Consider how we use our time in the choices we make in viewing television, playing video games, surfing the Internet, or reading books or magazines. Of course it is good to view wholesome entertainment or to obtain interesting information. But not everything of that sort is worth the portion of our life we give to obtain it. Some things are better, and others are best. When the Lord told us to seek learning, He said, "Seek ye out of the best books words of wisdom"

The amount of children-and-parent time absorbed in the good activities of private lessons, team sports, and other school and club activities also needs to be carefully regulated. Otherwise, children will be overscheduled, and parents will be frazzled and frustrated.

Some of these things are outright good. But he reminds us:

In choosing how we spend time as a family, we should be careful not to exhaust our available time on things that are merely good and leave little time for that which is better or best.

Sister Beck, in the same conference, said something similar in addressing mothers, but it applies to all of us at any given time in our lives:

Mothers who know do less. They permit less of what will not bear good fruit eternally. They allow less media in their homes, less distraction, less activity that draws their children away from their home. Mothers who know are willing to live on less and consume less of the world's goods in order to spend more time with their children—more time eating together, more time working together, more time reading together, more time talking, laughing, singing, and exemplifying. These mothers choose carefully and do not try to choose it all.

Remember the types of clutter mentioned earlier? A few apply here:

1. Things you do not use or love. These are the things listed in our clutter category. They are different for everyone. When trying to fit these things in we extend ourselves too far, and they take energy that could be given to things that we love or that are necessary or important.
2. Things that are untidy or disorganized. Putting the important things first, and adding the things in that you love, in wisdom, will keep some order to our lives.
3. Too many things in too small a space. With time we don’t have the luxury of moving to a larger day. Things crowding our time simply have to be tossed out.

You get the idea. Some may argue…so I’m just a free rider? I just enjoy the great outcomes of other’s efforts? The idea is not to live an empty life; never to purchase, never to commit, never to sign-up or be involved. The idea is to be aware of clutter. We may have a calling that we aren’t particularly excited about, but it is important for us to serve…and so we do, and we gain joy from it. And if it is a particularly time demanding calling…we take a look at our lives and find what can be put on the “back burner” for a season so you aren’t just adding to an already full life, but keeping it full of energy, and giving to those things in life that matter most. Afterall, do you own your clutter, or does it own you?

So, before you buy something, or commit to something, ask yourself, “Can I live without this?” And chances are…you will say, YES!

1 comment:

Lori said...

Amen is all I have to say about that!

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