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Clutter and Me (and You) December 26, 2008

Posted by Ann Bertorelli in Uncategorized.
Tags: , , , ,


This is the time of year when clutter becomes uppermost in my mind, mostly because of Christmas and the gifts that often arrive to upset the very delicate

balance of organization in my home. But this year has brought me even more of a challenge than usual in that arena. This year I decided to give in to the yen for new furniture that I have been having for the last three years. Don’t ask me why now…the economy is bad and blah, blah, blah. But I can afford it and it was time.

Getting new furniture is not always as easy as it seems when you become enthralled with it in the showroom. Before those lovely new pieces can enter your home, you have to get rid of the old stuff. And I have been working on that for about three weeks—asking everyone I know and a few I didn’t if they would like some used but still serviceable old furniture. The overstuffed chair was successfully free-cycled. That left the sofa which is in good shape structurally but has a worn and stained covering. Some college students have said that they will take it but they are off on holiday break at the moment and with the new sofa’s imminent arrival, it was time to do something.

I have a rather small house and there was just no way that the living room would accommodate two sofas. So with the help of my boyfriend who’s here for the holiday, it was determined that the sofa would go to the garage to live for a while. Even this proved to be a bit of a challenge since the sofa would not fit down the basement stairs in order to arrive in the garage. So the only other viable path to the garage was out the front door and down the driveway to the back of the house. This would have been an easy trip under normal circumstances and it’s usually my route of choice to get items to the beleaguered garage. However, at the moment the driveway is covered with a coating of ice and snow. And did I mention that the driveway has a fairly steep slope from the top to the bottom where the garage entrance is?

So Larry and I decided on a new function for the sofa—it would become a toboggan of sorts. Our plan was to get it to the top of the driveway and nudge it down—the theory being that it would slide the rest of the way on its own. We successfully got it to the top and gave it a push. It slid about three feet. We nudged it again and it slid a little more. Finally Larry got impatient and really gave it a shot and to our satisfaction it slid to the bottom of the driveway. Unfortunately Larry started sliding right along with it since he was wearing sneakers rather than the good pair of boots which he needed, but he managed to stay upright with bones and ligaments intact. My neighbor Barb happened to be out walking her dog and found the whole event vastly entertaining. However, the sofa is now ensconced in the garage and the new stuff is in the living room. Which brings me to the point of this little discourse… (Yes, there is a point).

As a practitioner of feng shui, I was trained to understand that clutter is THE VILLAIN. The theory is that we have energetic strands that attach us to all of our earthly goods. So when there are too many of those goods or if they are not well organized, these strands overwhelm us energetically. This results in our own energy becoming stagnant or scattered or depleted or all of the above. This can translate to feeling stuck in our lives, having a hard time bringing in new ideas, people, wealth, and so on.

As a feng shui practitioner I have often been called in to do a feng shui evaluation and found that the environment of the client was full of clutter. Some have been worse than others. I have mostly found that people who hold on to their ‘stuff’ in the physical sense also hold onto it in the energetic and spiritual sense as well. This looks like not being able to leave behind past events that have hurt us and/or not being able to take on anything new that enables a new view of life. It also often looks like being trapped in ‘victim’ mode (my personal non-favorite.)

What I have done with the most clutter-addicted clients is to go through the house and point out the worst sites of the clutter—believe it or not some people don’t even notice that it’s there. It’s my experience that feng shui cures cannot be nearly as effective when there is a mountain of clutter in the way. There is too much competing energy to be able to set clear intentions which is what feng shui is all about. Then at a later time I come back and do the regular consultation.

Clutter is a real pain in the neck as far as I am concerned. And just because I’ve been trained in feng shui doesn’t mean that I am any better than the average person at containing it. It probably just means that I have more angst about it than others because I believe in and have witnessed the negative aspects of too much clutter.

You see, in feng shui, it is not even ok to put it behind closed doors. Closet and storage shelves are fair game. Just because it’s hidden from the eye doesn’t get you off the hook; it is still acting as an energetic drain.

So what’s a clutter bug to do? The first step is to become aware of it. Really look at your space with new eyes—often referred to as ‘feng shui eyes.’ When you do this, be prepared to get overwhelmed. My most overwhelming areas are my garage and sewing studio. The second step is to be nice to yourself about this. Assessments like “How could I have let this happen?” or “I am a total and complete slob,” while possibly having some grounding in fact, are not very productive. These kinds of assessments just keep you stuck in your clutter torment. So be kind to yourself about it, while making a declaration to attack the problem in a systematic way.

Don’t expect to be able to fix it in a day or even a week. I have known people who have taken a year or more to be able to address the problem. And yes, there is often a psychological issue involved but that’s a story for another time written by a different author.

Give yourself permission to take the time you need to remedy the situation. One of the surest ways to start to feel better is to identify one small area: a closet, a book shelf, or a desk and spend half an hour weeding through and disposing of the clutter. If you can’t do half an hour then try fifteen minutes or whatever amount of time you think you can successfully accomplish. You will be amazed at how much lighter you feel when you have done that. This will give you the will to go on to the more difficult areas—like the garage or the sewing studio.

One of the challenges in going through clutter is to know what to do with it. I suggest becoming acquainted with your local free cycling group. My local one is a Yahoo group and has some specific practices about how to post and what needs to be included in the post. However, I have seldom failed to get rid of an item that I feel still has some value. If you don’t know if you have such a group, try searching the internet for free cycling paired your town’s name.

Also become very friendly with Goodwill and other charitable organizations that accept used items. College students are a good resource for contributing unwanted furniture. They often need serviceable but not necessarily beautiful furniture for their off-campus apartments. Many libraries will take your used books to sell in their book sales. And sewing or quilting guilds will sometimes take fabric that you don’t want. And Craigslist is helpful when you’d like to get a little money for your unwanted items.

Usually what takes the most time is sorting through and deciding where things are to go and then getting them there. I would like to make the case for recycling or re-using items (as per the suggestions above) rather than just pitching them into the dumpster. We need to be as kind as possible to the environment.

And if you are tempted to keep something because you might need it in the future, just apply these criteria that you may have heard before. Have you used it in the last year? Do you love it? Answering yes to either of those two questions means you can keep it—at least on the first pass. If after your first pass you don’t feel lighter and relieved, then it’s time to go through one more time with a more discriminating mind set. I often have to go through my book shelves three times before I can see that I’ve even made a dent. Just hold your own feet to the fire and if you can’t seem to do that—invite a spouse or friend to do it for you. Just promise to maintain your equanimity when they do as requested.

It’s my experience that going through this process at the beginning of a new year is much healthier and more joyful than making a list of resolutions which often don’t get accomplished. And if you can get rid of your clutter you just might find that those resolutions you would have made take care of themselves—just like magic!

Have to go now—I have a date with my sewing studio. Have a light, joyful and less cluttered 2009!




1. http://yahoo.com - February 10, 2013

I really consider this specific blog post , “Clutter and Me (and You) Edgyangel”,
highly entertaining and also the post was indeed a wonderful read.
Thanks for your time-Alexis

edgyangel - February 10, 2013

Thanks for reading, Alexis. I had not looked at this post for quite a while and it gave me a chance to remind myself of why I wrote it–and to remember that couch floating down the icy driveway. 🙂

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