A while back, I had a brainwave.
I would start a new blog.
I already had two blogs, two kids, two cats, a hefty school volunteering commitment, oh, and a husband. I mustn’t forget him. I really needed another “something”, right?
Well, no matter. Never one to let practicalities get in the way of a good idea, I set up my WordPress account anyway and hove to.
To throw out one piece of clutter a day, every day for a year. And catalog it.
It seemed a ridiculous notion, photographing my unwanted items and putting up a blog post about it. Then, eek, sharing it. But it made me giggle and I wanted to try it. See what would happen.
I pulled out my first item, grabbed my camera, powered up my WordPress dashboard and off I went. That was February 1st, 2012.
After 365 days had gone by, I couldn’t give the idea up, however. I’m currently on Day 789. I’ve decided to stop blogging on Day 1,000, but I won’t be ending my daily toss. It is way too valuable a habit to give up.
When you are having a fit of the blahs, don’t give a stuff about anything, or want to slam your face in to a powdered Belgian waffle topped with berries, cream and oozing with maple syrup, having a clear-out just works.
I don’t know why. It just does.
When you do this consistently, steadily, day after day, there is a multiplying effect. Your whole life gets better. It gets a do-over.
Some days, I’m embarrassed about what I find to toss out, sometimes I’m sad. Sometimes, I think my item is so ridiculous it doesn’t count.
I’ve had a few blog followers take issue with me over the definition of “clutter” – spare me the fine distinctions, please – and sometimes I’ve felt fantastic as I’ve re-gifted an item that has made a huge difference to those who’ve received it.
But as I continue on this journey, I’ve discovered that there’s more to the process than just creating more space. What I’ve discovered is profound.
I’ve upgraded my life. No longer do I “make do”.
Many of my generation, brought up by those for whom the Depression or World War II and the period after that was a real life experience not something taught in a history lesson, are good at that.
We were taught that nothing is thrown away that could be useful in the future, that refusing to mend something before the repairs need repairing constitutes a mortal sin, and discarding an item given as a gift might as well be a crime against humanity.
Now, instead, I’ve decided that anything broken gets moved out. Anything worn out gets recycled. Anything “not fit for purpose” gets replaced. I refuse to live a “make do” life. I live within my means and I use the best I can afford. And that means no more teaspoons from the dollar store.
The benefits keep on ensuing. Over time this discarding of the unwanted, broken, and unloved, exposes those aspects of life that you want to keep and further, if you aren’t soooooo cluttered with “stuff”, creates a space in ones life. It creates a vacuum, and, as nature abhors a vacuum, it becomes a space to be filled with much wanted, much loved, and “just right” items.
And this idea extends to people. And food. It means no unfit for purpose “food”, no “make do” meals, no poor quality ingredients.
It’s hard to explain. It works. It’s to do with self-esteem. Or something. I dunno, trust me. Or try it.
Next time you’re tired, bored, angry, or depressed, find something, anything, and throw it out. Make it a daily practice like I do, if you like. But do it, and change your energy, reset the negative cycle you’re in.
I think the most embarrassing thing I’ve thrown out is a set of bra pads that I took out of a series of sports bras. Seriously, what’s the point of them? It wasn’t the fact that I threw them out that was embarrassing, but that I had gone to the trouble of wriggling them out of their special sewn in pocket, then I kept them. For what?
Much like when we have the occasional food indiscretion, I’ve had a few regrets over things I’ve thrown out, after it’s too late to retrieve them. But you know what? Those comprise less than 1% – a lesson it and of itself, right there. Potentially, 99% of our fear of getting rid of stuff, a fear that often stops us, is completely unfounded. And that fear will remain there, continuing to stop us, unless we tackle it.
The refreshing, lightness, energy-building response to clearing clutter crowds out the bad, negative stuff, the kind of thing that drives us to make poor choices. So when you mind is straying to your local breakfast place, or your mind’s eye is spying those Girl Scout cookies you stuck on a high shelf in the garage, set yourself a goal of one, five, or 20 items. Get them off the premises within the hour.
Or do as I do, and create a “clutter corner”. Tell family members to leave their clutter there, and you’ll deal with it. I have a “clutter pile” in the corner of my family room where I drop my unwanted items as I come across them. My family, after being dragged into the process with me, now spontaneously leave their outgrown, unwanted things there, too. I take photos and then dispose of it.
Slowly, steadily, the stagnation lifts, you’ll want more from life, and more from yourself. And poor health and junk eating aren’t compatible with that. Clearing clutter acts as a metaphor for your life, one you can practically apply. So next time, you simply can’t turn down the “Wheaties”, throw something out, and then keep going.
Lateral thinking is important when we are operating counter-culture. Get creative and share this post with your friends! You’ll find buttons to your left and below. Thank you.