• Category Archives getting rid of stuff
  • 3 Steps for Dealing with Subliminal Clutter

    apple blossomsNow that I’ve embraced the clutter-free, minimalist way of life, it has become second nature for me to glance around our home and think, “What can I release today?” As I’m going from one room to the next, or am taking dishes to the sink, I invariably find something else that can go into the “giveaway” box. It is an ongoing process, and I enjoy it.

    Clutter at its most basic level is anything that gets in the way of living the life you want to live. It drags you down and makes you feel heavy. It can be physical clutter, of course. Or digital clutter, as thesimplerlife.net describes.

    But there is another form of clutter that is not so easy to address. I’m talking about the unseen “stuff” that lurks in our minds. The subliminal clutter, if you will.

    Subliminal/mental clutter can be every bit as destructive and disruptive as other types of clutter. And it comes in many varieties. Some of these are:

    • Negative thoughts
    • Unhealthy relationships
    • Outdated attitudes
    • Unrealistic expectations
    • The need always to be right
    • Regrets
    • Unfounded guilt
    • Worries
    • Envious longing
    • Old grudges

    When dealing with below-the-surface mental clutter, the first step is bringing it to your awareness. Look at it. Name it. Oftentimes we are not even aware that something is bugging us or not serving our best interests until we actually stop and identify it.

    The second step is to decide if it is no longer serving you. Is this quality bringing more joy to your life? Or is it blocking the flow of energy you would prefer to embrace?

    The third step is to consider that it may be time to release this manifestation of subliminal clutter. It might be time to let it go.

    If the process seems too daunting to do alone, don’t underestimate the value of seeking help from a mental health professional. As Erin of unclutterer.com suggests,

    When clutter is out of control in your physical space, you can turn to a professional organizer to help you get things in order — so why not turn to a professional to help you get rid of the mental clutter?

    Getting rid of subliminal/mental clutter leads to greater clarity and peace of mind. It also creates the space for new insights and ideas. It may not be easy, but, ultimately, it’s worth the effort.

    Your turn: “What can you release today?”

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  • 10 Simple Questions to Ask Yourself When Clearing Clutter

    Getting rid of unwanted clutter in one’s home can be a daunting process. To keep the process from feeling overwhelming, I have developed a list of 10 simple questions which I use to help me decide whether to keep or release an item. I hope you will find this list helpful, too:

    1. Do I love this item?
    2. Do I believe this item to be beautiful?
    3. Would I replace this item if it were lost or stolen?
    4. Would I pay extra to insure this item (or pay any money to insure it at all)?
    5. If I were moving to a much smaller living space, would I haul this item with me?
    6. Is this item in perfect working condition and, if not, am I willing to do what is necessary to fix it (in the next 7 days)?
    7. Does this item reflect my current interests/size/reality?
    8. Could I take a digital photo of this item and keep the photo instead of the item?
    9. Is storing/cleaning/caring for this item adding to the quality of my life?
    10. Do I feel energized and uplifted when I look at this item?

    So, what sorting questions do you ask yourself when you are in the midst of de-cluttering?

    pacific rock

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  • Dumpster Fun! How We Kick-Started our Minimalism

    The heavy “krr-chunnk!” sound of the dumpster being delivered to our driveway stirred me from doing the morning crossword puzzle.  I ran outside to greet the driver and waved as he pulled out of sight, leaving behind a 3-cubic yard drop box.  It was ours for five days.  Five precious days! To fill with all the unsaleable, non-charitable junk we had accumulated in the prior ten years of living our typical suburban lives.

    In preparation for the arrival of the dumpster, I had spent the prior week going through my office closet, spare room closet, guest bathroom, art studio, and several other nooks and crannies of our home.  So when the great bin arrived, I was ready to spring into action.


    It was almost like a game, a race against time, to make the most of the five days.  And the clock was ticking…

    My husband and I spent the entire weekend cleaning the yard and clearing out the double car garage that had seldom had room for more than one (small) car. Old, soggy doormats; broken garden pots; unsalvageable debris from a recent remodel; and remnants of ancient, half-finished craft projects were heaved into the abyss of the dumpster.  Gardening supplies, power tools, and sleeping bags all found their way into neat, organized shelves.

    But as we got deeper into the project, it became clear that the dumpster was only part of the solution.  So much of our stuff was recyclable or reusable and not something we could simply throw away. The collection of old paint and toxic cleaning chemicals and fertilizer and motor oil filled the entire cargo capacity of our car.  Dropping it all off at the (free!) hazardous waste center was such a relief! Likewise, it was wonderful to donate a box full of outdated computer cables, cell phone cords, and miscellaneous computer hardware to Free Geek for refurbishing and reuse.

    As the five days flew by, we did manage to fill the dumpster with unusable junk.  I was delighted when the driver came by on the appointed morning and carted the giant drop box away.

    While we were nowhere near completing our task, this whirlwind dumpster-cleanse served as a great kick-start to our purifying purge and shift towards minimalism.  And, yes, two cars could now conceivably fit into the garage.  If only there were not a ping-pong table in the way!

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  • My Minimalist ‘Aha!’ Moment

    It’s not that I woke up one day and suddenly decided to embrace the minimalist lifestyle. No, the dye was cast after the innocuous, or so we thought, decision to watch a documentary on the local on-demand-channel. It was a Friday night, January 15, 2010 to be exact, and we chose to view “Food, Inc.”, a movie we knew nothing about.

    So we watched. Having been a vegetarian for over thirty years, I went into the viewing fairly confident that the movie would probably affirm my choices and perhaps I would come away with a new insight or two. Oh, such sweet, simple naivete!

    My husband observed the movie from a somewhat detached vantage point while I watched with increasing horror and dismay.

    By the end of those 93 minutes, I knew I could not live in denial anymore. It was impossible “unknow” what I had learned. Like a cosmic light switch flipping in my awareness, I knew I had to make some changes so that I could live with integrity in my own skin. I adopted a vegan diet and a leather-free life-style then and there.
    The next day, I went to my closet and began pulling things out.

    Good-bye salmon-colored designer sandals with the clear, round Lucite-bubble heel; good-bye taupe knee-high, western-style boots; good-bye aqua-hued, faux-crocodile mules; good-bye woven red leather chunk-heel sandals; good-bye black mary-jane flats with the leather flower accent on the ankle strap purchased at a summer sale in Paris. Good-bye dark chocolate brown boots with the ultra-pointy toe.

    Good-bye cherry-red leather gloves lined with gray rabbit fur.

    Good-bye numerous leather coats and suede jackets and elegant handbags and turquoise padded opera-style wallet that snapped shut with a reassuring ‘click.’

    Bye-bye Leather

    It was with a mixture of relief (mostly) and regret (a twinge, but hey, some of these items were kinda chic) that I donated all of these items to Dress for Success, a nonprofit group which provides professional clothing to help low-income women successfully enter the workforce. It took more than one trip.

    Afterward, as I glanced in my closet, I felt a sense of peace. The first round of purging had left a little bit of space between my hangers and I could actually see where the back walls met the floor.

    And I knew that my work had just begun.

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