The Focused HomeWork ~ lining up your ducks

lining up your ducks - clutter-clearing

Our thoughts and emotions create a large part of our reality and set the tone and caliber of personal space. What we think; what nuances our thinking; what emotions well up, are triggered or prevail; and how we can even feel them, deal with them, and modulate them are constant activities that we knowingly or unknowingly are engaged in – consciously and often not so consciously.

Mainly, we know that extreme cluttering and hoarding can involve some of the above human inner interactions – personal possessions can bring out extreme attachments and that may bring out great difficulty in letting possessions (even those appearing useless and cheap that others would easily discard or recycle. Possessions can start to build up… even to the point of obstructing the natural enjoyment of one’s home. Folks with hoarding tendancies may experience emotional distress due to clutter’s interference in a happy home, but also distress at removing / discarding what is held as too precious. however inconsequential to the rest of us.

There is no better place to begin to creatively exert some control over these feelings and start with crossing the threshold – trying out new opportunities to support or shift personal patterns and conditions. Your home – its contents, the state it is in and how you live in it – reflects all about you – your innermost state of your feelings – and then, it in turn, affects you. Successful, inviting, gracious, flowing and open – or limiting, closed down, frustrated, or stuck and confused?

Starting with acknowledging some some basic truths:

1. No personal living space with jumbled clutter will ever inspire quiet contemplation and optimal healthfulness. Messy spaces and distracting conditions create cluttered minds because what we see, is what our mind picks up on and we are and feel what we think about. Only that which inspires and elevates should be visible.

2. Everything in the universe has a unique vibration – from the earth itself to your plants to your bodily organs and tissues. And through this everything has a very personal and emotional tie and association. So also do colours, shapes, materials, lighting, symbolic meanings and previous ownerships. All this and much more evokes different feelings, depending on our personal nature and preferences.

3. Placement of a personal or sacred object can be a simple, mindful invitation to go deep and reflect. Some people create a personal altar for daily use. You can also purposely place other significant images and objects into the decor throughout your home as gentle and periodic nudges to stay present as you move through the house and your eyes touch a fine aesthetic or emotionally pleasing or uplifting object – if even for a nano-second – it leaves it’s touch. These items will capture your eye and shift your mood as you pass them – a gentle cue to take a deep breath or tune in – a round metal container filled with water and flowers with a stone or a crystal and a lit candle can be placed on any surface and will bring in the five elements of nature. Hang an object of inspiration on a wall. Or place a small item or simple vignette on any surface. A subtly lit sculpture, for example, can become the focus for calm and renewal.

Why not make adjustments to your physical environment that will have the potential to create a more healthy, and abundant life – supporting your personal needs and transformation.
Once you start to see results, the real fun begins. Expand your changes to include colour – every colour resonates with distinct associations – physical and psychological – affecting mood and function. Designing your space is such a personal journey and can have far reaching implications. By making conscious and authentic choices, your spirit flows and your energy returns to you in kind.

The essence and power of clutter clearing, personal clearing, geomancy, energy dowsing and feng shui – philosophies that are over 3,000 years old are all. in sync with this – deep wisdom available to all of us.

The Basics First – Clutter Clearing and Assessing:

Scan the Scene: piles of dishes, messy closets, stuff that “might” be useful one day without a function or place of it’s own, unsorted laundry, bits and pieces of “implied” value, stacks of old magazines and catalogues, bills, tax receipts and notes that need attending sooner than later – anything and all that is in the way of tasteful and smooth functioning.

Serious clutter assessment and abatement feels like climbing an impossible mountain until it is broken up into little mole hills!
This can be seen and felt as tough work as this is where personal issues can loom in the shadows. After all, the actual act of looking at a piece of paper and deciding if you’d like to keep it and then placing it in a labelled file is not mentally or emotionally challenging. It is, after all, a simple act but there arepossibly deep thoughts connected to that piece of paper that caused it to be on display too long and lying around trying to capture one’s eye – other decisions, other uncleared links to our greater “to do” files in our minds…

And the clearing is not work that lasts forever – once done – it can be a breeze to stay clutter free. Do one task – and one task only -as all of them looked at together are way too daunting.

Do not stray from the program below – dogged determination helps with sticking to the chosen specific clearing task at hand. Avoid getting caught up in side tasks such as folding the laundry and stopping to mend a blouse that’s in the pile as you might be wearing it tomorrow and as you just miraculously found the missing button, after all. Finding an un-mailed letter in the paper pile on the dining room table, if that area was your focus, does not require running off to the post-office – it merely requires that you run it off to your designated in-home office area where it will be taken on it’s further journey when THAT area gets it’s super focus. This is how we can avoid the road to madness. It’s your energy – spend it wisely on just the current, defined task area at hand.

There’s a personal limit for each of us when focusing works and when it’s overdone. Take a 5 minute break every hour – a quick breather – even when you have a long attention span. Call it quits for the day after three hours… unless you’re having a rollicking time…
Then survey the task at its day-end completion and inhale and administer some proverbial pats on the back. When all is cleared away in your chosed area, there should be a visible and sensetory difference.
Now deep clutter assessment can begin as to how those three hours felt and what went on for you.!

Create a list of specific neat and tidy areas you need in your home and then prioritize – address only one at a time – start with the one that annoys the most or has the most pressure on you (example: the cluttered nook you see as you open your front entry door; or areas that a nagging husband would like dealt with; stuff the accountant needs, etc). Occasionally you can do an area that seems extra easy when the resolve flags. Then go back to your priorities. When the clutter is cleared in each area, do one more thing! Take a few clothes or paper towels and wipe down the surfaces and have it as clean as a whistle. Feel empowered after each task is completely done. Remember – you cannot compete with the clutter clearing magic on television – they have 24 minutes per home and a crew of 12 and an array of optical illusion!

For every activity there is a very specific area – for example – knitting may be done in the bedroom and living room but the balls of cotton and wool plastic tubs and containers are never part of the living room furniture or bedroom bedside furniture. A gymn fanatic may label his living room as the work-out area and the tiny sitting area.
Similarily, magazines, books, cross-words and discount flyers and all sorts of reading may be read in the living room but that doesn’t mean that they have to be stored in unsightly bags / racks strapped to chairs (always advertised on TV as the latest in “easiness”, unless one is paraplegic and one’s mobility is seriously impeded). In fact they even don’t belong in the loo…

A very practical example of specific areas to tackle and a good order to precede in and a good step in getting the hang of it as there may be less emotions and sticky feelings attached:
1. kitchen cupboards – just upper ones – and fetch everything deposited everywhere else around the home that should be in them. And take the items that don’t belong in the upper cupboards and place them in the rooms or areas to the side where they belong… you’ll get to them soon enough. Most of us don’t have too much ‘stuff’ that effects us in these cupboards unless you are Martha Stewart.
2. kitchen cupboards – the lower ones – and fetch everything deposited everywhere else in the house that should be in them and in they go!
3. main bathroom cupboards – and fetch everything deposited everywhere else that should be in them – gather all cleaning supplies that are specific foior the loo into the main bathroom rather than here, there, and everywhere. Make room for the towels in the bathroom storage rather than the bedroom; store the on-sale extra toilet paper stuffed into the bathroom closet, in the storage area of the home instead to make way for the towels (in other words in this example, don’t let a “deal” upend all the appropriate placement/storage of items).
4. secondary bathrooms – same idea.
5. relaxing /reading / sitting area / living room – bills / papers and flyers are placed in the office rather than on the coffee table even if they will be read sometime in the coming months. (NOW IS NOT TTHE TIME TO READ THEM).
ALL unused power cords are stored on a specific utility room shelf or stashed in a specific kitchen drawer OR SHOW BOX – and stored out of sight – not in the wings waiting for an encore; twist-ties / baggies / potential flower pots and puzzles, etc just go – gone – into the garbage and maybe into the recycle bins – they only have value in a scared mind fearing survival and losses.
6. living room bookcases and cabinets – edited of all books, treasures and chachkas – only the precious remain – does it look like leftovers of the stuff you had happening as a student or is it very special, sacred and a collector’s item? Bring all the books by the bedside and in the loo and put them back!
7. entertainment centres / electronic equipment in the living room (CDs, DVDs, videos, tapes and all that sort of equipment, wires and cords) and the same type of stuff should be fetched from everywhere else in the home and corralled into one place – the HUB you choose for those precise items.
8. dining room (yup! it’s about dining not the right place for all the pet supplies nor yesterday’s rainwear and tomorrow’s library book returns and unpaid bills)!
The home office area – albeit it tiny – could include a desk top – and a lot of the dining room ‘stuff’ could end up there.
9. attic storage – lots in and lots out – lots for recycling and lots for the garbage – all the way out!
10. basement (maybe in two parts) – what is worthy of storage?; what is living space?; what is utility space only and what is carpentry and just how will the guest area pr grandchild play area ideally look and feel?
11. closets – main bedroom (one by one if you have such a luxury of time – each with precise categories and even in each specific closet)
12. closets – secondary bedrooms and basement – one by one
13. front entry, mud room, pet areas, garbage container and recycle areas – one of each unless you live in a mansion; stuff designated to be recycled needs to be in one spot near the exit – not in every room… that would just be an excuse to not really do any cleaning and clearing and hanging on – not much value in holding on to old empty boxes and used wrappers and empty pill bottles and twist ties magazines and newspapers unless a REAL antique store wants them)
14. balconies / patios / backyard storage or sheds
15. inside the files / filing cabinets in the in-home office area now that everything has been brought there; paperwork / receipts /banking / investment items and more paper work. The home office area – all items gathered from all the other home spaces are here now – so hence this should be done near the end of the clearing – grouping receipts; bills to be paid and filed; stationery; widgets; software and computer paraphenalia and uploads
16. guest bedroom – now lots of loose ends will have been removed from here. Find the very best place for a day bed / guest bed (feng shui-wise; find a nice area for the desk (never with one’s back to the door or off to the far out of the user’s viewing range – serious closet space usage with smart bins and shelves and extra storage tricks being put to use. Take down the curtains from the Stone Age?
17. computer – clean up email “in” boxes
18. computer – clean up email “send” box
19. storage locker(s) or garage (maybe in 2 sessions)
20. left over spaces

Your list can be completely different – but start at your first priority – and only that area – so when you clear the upper kitchen cupboards (in this example) and you bring some items that don’t belong there to your storage locker/room (and only because it is very valuable), then that storage locker is off-limits for re-sorting what’s already stashed there; and the same in the garbage can area where some of the kitchen things need togo to (such as the broken coffee grinder, and your mother-in-law’s chipped cheap crystal glasses that she couldn’t depart with herself and gave to you!
Don’t use the “charity” bin as a way to shuffle around in a sneaky quest by the subconscious to not act upon REAL clearing.
So, while focusing on the items in the upper kitchen cupboards: ask this question of everything in it:
“Does this item support me NOW and my PRESENT lifestyle and my perfect environment?”
If the answer is “yes”, then ask: “does this item have a distinct home area?”
“Is it being used?” If “no”? then ask “why not and why keep it”?
An example might be: “do cloth grocery bags seem a good idea?” YES! “how many can I use? after all I have only two hands – THREE!
So: one small, one medium, and one large. Then three ratty ones are for the garbage bin and the other fifteen are off to the thrift store = charity bin.
Another example might be: how many airplane carry-on bags support my lifestyle? THREE “I’ll keep a small one, a large one, a rigid one and a soft zippered cloth suit bag”. That means three will go to the garbage bin and seven go to the charity store bin.

And if the answer is “no”?
Then recognize that it can drain your energy. Offer it to a friend or family member and if there is no immediate “taker” (not just a waek possibility in the back of one’s mind but a true greatful recipient), then off it goes to the second hand store – and in this case “immediate” means immediate so that we avoid another pile called “someone someday soon” or “Susie when she gets back from her cruise”, etc…
If it’s too tawdry for the charity store, then dispose of it, as then it is too tawdry for you, too,, and vice versa.

When you become a pro at setting aside a designated amount of daily focused time for this work, then tackle the paper work last – it has so many facets – it’s a bit like your graduate program!
Just so that the paperwork / filing / taxes etc doesn’t turn into an unintended Herculean task that messes with the overall clutter clearing doesn’t happen. So now walking into your home can be an uplifting experience even though there are 5 specific piles of papers in the office “area” and even though there is a box of ancient tax returns that are needing to be sorted and tossed. BUT the dining room welcomes you – with uncluttered arms (and surfaces)!
This focused method works – its slick and keeps you on target and will not drive you crazy or into depression.

Clutter Clearing is your initial step to a Sweet and Supportive Personal Space. Once you have achieved it, you’ll never relinquish it!

Merrie Bakker B.Sc, M.Arch, CN

Merrie Bakker, BSc MArch, CN in Vancouver BC at Pacific Holistic

We’re still in Kerrisdale, Vancouver, BC
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Merrie Bakker – Live Blood Analyst / microscopist – Health Educator – Author – Teacher – Speaker – Editor – Hands-on-Healer – Reflexologist – Dowser – Reiki Master – Nutritional Coach – a life-long student of holistic medicine and preventative health who believes with a passion that cellular disorganization can be prevented or reversed by ortho-molecular medicine, emotional healing work, environmental detoxification (many areas of concern) and nutritional and lifestyle re-balancing (many possibilities). Combined with vigilance, monitoring and team work, clients are encouraged to detox, rebuild, re-nourish, resolve and re-educate.

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