Clutter is a universal problem in our wealthy countries. Whether it’s a child with too many toys, a middle aged couple working full time and overly busy buying more than they use or a senior with lots of time on their hands yet closets full of items not needed. Clutter has been proven to create stress unnecessarily in our lives. We live with so much choice yet it is overwhelming. Walk down the shampoo isle in the store and notice how you feel trying to pick one.
Seniors who lived in large homes with large families usually have decades of items that have been accumulated and now have a hard time to downsize because they feel a sense of loss. This is sad because when we eliminate the unneeded from our lives we free our minds to focus on what’s important and that is relationships and well being. Spending time wishing things were different and keeping items for “someday” actually holds us back and ties us down. We humans make our lives more difficult than we should. And when we pass on if we haven’t cleaned up our stuff we leave that burden for the ones we left behind. My dad died over 2 years ago and I spent hours going through years of old receipts and newspapers clippings. I was scared to throw out something important but it was my dad who should have worked through his stuff because the one owning it is in control of it.
Eliminating clutter through out your life is best because it becomes a way of life as we are always changing and growing. Each stage of our lives will be enhanced as we take control of our “stuff” and move things out that no longer serve us. In a recent visit with a client who was packing to move to a smaller home I opened a large box of baby clothes. Baby clothes that were used on her child who was now 30 years old. My client confessed that the clothing was kept to give to her daughter one day if she was to have a little girl. As her daughter entered the room I asked her how she felt about the box of clothes. The daughter said she did not want them and wasn’t even sure if she would have a child. My client was holding onto items that brought her joy at one time but now brings her pain as she was holding onto the idea that she wanted her daughter to have a child. Learning to love and cherish moments of joy in our lives and move on is important to our current well being. Each day has blessings and it is up to each of us to be open to the new blessings and be content with the old blessings. Letting go of our expectations for our children is also good for us. While working with my client she choose to keep one beautiful dress and put that in a keep sake box that was meaningful and cherished but not overflowing.
We are all on a path forward and embracing each day with openness and gratitude is the gift of the present. What serves us today may not serve us tomorrow and knowing when to let go is a gift to yourself and your loved ones. Knowing what you have and finding it easily can not be bought. There is a peace of mind in surrounding yourself with what’s needed and loved and embracing change when it’s needed.
On Saturday, January 28th join Jackie Lysak of Home Made Perfect to discuss Decluttering and Letting Go at the Invermere Seniors Hall -1309 14th ST. Invermere, BC at 2pm. Admission by donation to cover hall rental. Jackie can be reached at 250-688-4219 if you have questions on how to move forward and eliminate clutter.
In 1996 I worked for a local newspaper in Alberta and wrote the article, ‘Christmas Buying: with a Green Conscience’. I thought it was almost perfect for this time of year to share. Twenty years ago I suggested many green gifts and encouraged readers to make conscience decisions when choosing a gift. Today I feel much the same but instead of giving an item I believe a gift certificate for an experience is the better choice with all we know today about excess stuff.
Because I am privileged to work in so many homes, I see the years of gifts that clients have received. Some are on display but sadly much more sit in storage or collecting dust in corners. Gifts that were given with love but the recipient maybe never needed it and was now storing it, moving it from home to home and not able to get rid of it because they are wrongly making the gift the person.
I learned a very important….life changing actually….lesson a few years ago. A good friend came to visit me and I pointed to the gift she had given me 10 years prior for my wedding. I told her that I have moved that gift through many homes and every time I look at it I think of her. She stood there in wonder and said she couldn’t remember giving it to me. Which was fine….I get it, well I get it now because after that moment I tried to think about the gifts I have given over the years and I couldn’t remember many at all. Then I had the light bulb moment….”so sometimes we keep things that someone gave us thinking that it would be wrong to get rid of it but they can’t remember they gave it to us” Hmmmm….so I want to tell everyone that I have ever gifted right now that if you don’t want or can’t use the gift I gave you then please donate it or give it to someone who wants it. I want to remembered for who I am not the gift I gave you and you are only keeping it out of guilt…thinking it will hurt me if you give it away. And going forward when I choose to give a gift I plan to give a gift that will create an experience, a memory not one that can collect dust.
Clothing….It’s part of those 3 essentials we were taught in elementary school that we needed to survive…food, shelter and clothing. We are very fortunate in many parts of this world to have ample supply of these 3 needs. What’s become painfully obvious though is how we’ve abused those 3 essentials. I’m not promoting poverty at all. I like nice things….but I’ve come to realize I don’t need so much that it becomes a burden on me and the environment. Each person must evaluate their own needs and wants but the talk on the street is less can be more.
I worked in a clothing store for awhile but it wasn’t my thing…it wasn’t my passion. Why? because I had a hard time selling to people that I knew were looking for a fix to feel better. Don’t get me wrong I have done this too. I love the way a new outfit makes me feel…but it’s temporary and there are better ways to make yourself feel good especially… if your closet is filled to the brim.
Several months ago I had the pleasure of chatting with a friend about clothing. She suggested that as she was 50 now she would try getting her wardrobe down and maybe challenge herself to 50 items for 50 days. She confessed how she has way too much clothing, much of it she doesn’t wear and she continues to buy more. This is something many of us face. Yes this is a 1st World problem but it is one that once it gets under control will make the way for better things. Like saving money, maybe not working as much (I know many women who spend almost their whole paycheque on clothing each month), more peaceful surroundings at home, less choice in your busy life to name a few. You may have heard the fact that President Obama wears almost the same thing daily because he saves his decision making for more important issues at hand.
So I thought I needed to put my money where my mouth is ….so to speak. I went through my already downsized wardrobe and picked 30 items for 180 days. It was late September so I called it my Winter wardrobe. I picked 1 skirt in case of a dress up event, 2 blouses, 7 long sleeved shirts, 5 sweaters, 2 camisoles, 2 hoodies, 4 blazers, 3 jeans and 4 tights. I can’t tell how freeing it was right away to organize and clean up my selection.
Now I am almost 60 days in and I love that I have simplified my life by eliminating too many choices. I’ve packed for 3 trips as well and definitely noticed that having less choice made the process simpler. As for the clothes I have: I like how they look, I like how they feel and I love that I am spending less time figuring out what to wear. I have more important decisions to make in my daily life and the freedom of only have 30 choices has been a real blessing. So what are you waiting for? How many clothes do you really need?
I don’t know how I got to here?….but somehow I had brought in so much “stuff” to my home and life. Here I was standing in front of my closet, a closet full of stuff. Stuff I hadn’t worn for a long time. Stuff I didn’t care about….worthless stuff. Here it was collecting dust, taking up space, giving me so many choices and yet holding me back with indecisiveness. Holding me back to be honest, from doing more important things!!
I’d go to work, my business is cleaning and decluttering homes. And I’d see my clients stuff and WOW the stuff they had. I was overwhelmed by my stuff – they were paralyzed!!! They didn’t want to deal with it because it had gotten too big from years of collecting. It affected their lives, their happiness, their peace of mind. I could see it in their faces as they flopped down on the couch after a long day.
The Media talked about organizing and the right containers but something didn’t seem right with that idea. I questioned, “Why are we spending precious time, energy and money organizing stuff we don’t use??? We somehow think that when we get all the stuff organized then our lives will run smoother but seriously we don’t NEED to organize better we need to get rid of our Crap!!
I started to examine my stuff….really examine it. I looked at what I used and what was collecting dust. I started getting rid of the easy stuff…like the old hair brush I was keeping because maybe one day there’s a shortage of hair brushes and mine will come in handy I joked with a friend. I also thought about the thrift stores around North America and I learned that we send so much stuff to be recycled that the thrift stores are overwhelmed and they in turn ship it back across the ocean ( because it usually came from the other side of the world to begin with) and now our used stuff was sitting in piles – deteriorating because the people didn’t need it in those countries either. Check out The True Cost documentary trailer…only 2 minutes of your time..https://youtu.be/OaGp5_Sfbss
So today I am proud to say that I use ‘almost’ everything I have in my home. It’s been a journey to get here and it continues because I still have the urge to buy more stuff. As disciplined as I have become I still fight the urge for more. I live with so much less stuff however I have so much more…like peace of mind, money and time. I’ve reduced my choices and given myself more freedom. And now I love helping my clients do the same. And whats so awesome is there are side effects….like saving money, saving time, feeling more at peace when you walk into a room. It’s a domino’s effect….you start clearing the clutter and end up filling your life with meaning and purpose. Win-Win I’d say….
How many mops do you really need? The first photo shows 7 different floor cleaning items that a client was storing and using none of them. I’ve donated them to the thrift store and replaced the 7 with the only one I’ve been using for over a year. The Vlieda mop in the second photo is by far the best mop I’ve used in the 10 years of my business. Don’t waste your money on products that don’t make your life simpler. If you have questions on cleaning products just ask and I’ll help you find the best solutions.
Why do we make our lives more difficult? Over the past couple of years I’ve done a lot of observing of those around me. I guess you can call it “people watching”. In the quest for happiness we choose a lot of things that fail to deliver. Why I say quest for happiness is because whatever you are pursuing/doing the underlying goal is to be happy or at least happier than you already are.
Take food for example- we feel hungry and we grab a sandwich and it fills us up and we feel satisfied. But maybe we choose to grab a doughnut instead. We initially are satisfied and then we feel the let down of a sugar high. It failed to deliver……
Or what about waking up one Saturday morning feeling bored and you head to the Mall. You wonder around, buy a few items and bring them home to add to the rest of your stuff. Then a day or two goes by and that “high” is gone, you feel a sense of let down, you spent money on stuff you don’t need, you wasted several precious hours wondering around a building and now what?
So our modern day pursuit of happiness failed to deliver…big time fail in some cases!!
We over eat, over drink, over spend, and over shop. We want it ALL but the ALL doesn’t deliver! Now it’s time to take a new direction. Maybe the road to happiness is to get the HELL off the road?
Here’s what I know for sure…..
I know that I’ve wasted too much time, money and energy trying to eat, drink and buy my happiness. I’m not saying some of that wasn’t worth it but too much definitely sucked the life out of me!!
For the past 2 years I’ve been downsizing….simplifying….cutting out….cutting back. And let me tell you it feels GREAT!!!! I feel freer! I know I am onto something good because I catch myself smiling for no reason. Maybe people pass me and wonder why I have a crazy grin on my face? But it’s OK because feeling good can’t be bought. And the part I didn’t realize was that when I wasn’t spending my time pursuing crap, the things that really mattered started to show up! Or maybe I couldn’t see them because they were hidden within all the clutter???
Today’s Decluttering/Simplifying Tip is about what to do with all your shoe care products. In order to simplify our lives we need to store and find our “stuff” easily. Start by gathering all your items into one place. Only keep what you will use, the rest can be donated to the thrift store to help someone else. Then place all your items in a pouch, preferably see through and store in an appropriate location.