Next On My Read List

I love self-help, non-fiction books. This year I decided to reignite the fire in decluttering my house, so you can see the attraction this particular book would have for me. Also, I have always admired the Japanese ability to refine design and declutter their environments.

So, next on my reading list:

After I read it I’ll let you all know what I thought of it, and which changes I am implementing, if any.

If you have read it, or join with me in reading it soon- let me know your opinions about the book or its ideas in the comments.

Now They Tell Me Clutter Is Good for Me?

by Ali West

I just read a post that says  researchers found that clutter is good for creativity. Just when I am trying to finally overcome its tyranny over my life.

The magazine, Rodale’s Organic Life, put it under a slightly deceptive headline “The Surprising Health Benefits Of Clutter”. There weren’t any real health benefits listed, although I suppose the idea that I would stop stressing out about cleaning and organizing might help my health.

It wasn’t until the end of the article that a difference was made about hoarding and ordinary clutter.

Still, it kind of makes a point about how media information tends to muddy the waters in order to grab eyes in the ever competitive world of publishing. The most benign reason I can think of that we are given so much conflicting advice.

Is Clutter Good For Me?

In the sense of day to day disarray, allowing things to look “lived in”, I would say, yes. That kind of cluttering probably is conducive to being creative. It takes an awful lot of energy to maintain a clean and organized house. Especially for those whose personalities aren’t gifted with the neatness gene. (It must be genetic!)

But in the larger sense, of having a household where it is a struggle just to get through a task because you can’t find things you need, of having a generally disordered life… no, that is not going to render health benefits.

The Larger Lesson

I think the larger lesson here is to eliminate the struggle. When the environment of our homes threatens to dominate our lives- either by obsessive neatness or blockades of clutter, we need to adjust what we are doing (or not doing, if we just let things get jumbled and messy).

It becomes a matter of freedom. We operate best in an environment of freedom, I believe. Free to create, free to live. It is a balance. Order is the background against which we produce change and create something new. For me, the clutter got out of its allotted space and began encroaching on my ability to function, and then to enjoy life.

At that point it is unhealthy and unwelcome. That is why I must unburden myself from the tyranny of things. Good, bad, and neutral. I just need more space in life, especially as I am entering the end phase of life.

I no longer want to spend so much time in the service of things.

Increments

I won’t be chucking everything, anytime soon, though. Perhaps I am too slow about it, but for now, making a clear path throughout this year. I am renewing the organizing of what I need (or think I do!), throwing away the detritus, and finding ways to give items into new hands is the way forward.

If you are struggling, like me, to maintain the course, let’s set ourselves small, obtainable goals that keep the momentum moving forward.

What Cluttered Area Is the Least Beneficial?

That is the question I am asking myself, right now.

For me, it is an accumulation of clothing that no longer fits. I think it is time to let go of “perfectly good” clothes.

Why?

  1. It takes too much time every season to manage the packing and unpacking of it.
  2. I am taking up too much space trying to manage all those clothes.
  3. I actually wear a small percentage of them.
  4. I finally see that I will not be making craft projects out of any of them. Not even the buttons.
  5. I will look better if I am not tempted to wear these things that -don’t fit, aren’t in style, are wrong for me.

There. An even 5 reasons to sort through and get rid of piles of closet clutter.

Is Clutter Healthy?

No. I’m not buying it. There is no danger of me ending up in the obsessive opposite of perfectionistic neatness, so I will not be unhealthy that way merely by organizing and getting rid of the clutter.

People like me don’t need excuses to let the mess multiply. I have a new rule: if it makes me uncomfortable to have too much stuff and the mess is blockading me in some way- it is too much clutter and it is unhealthy.

 

The Holy Spirit Declutters Me

My prayer life is still a pathetic and small thing, but I find when ever I open the door to the Lord, even the smallest bit, He is ready with revelation.

…If only I will hear it.

With a mouthful of sandwich already, I remembered to say grace. Thanks for God’s great provision for me daily.

That small reminder to communicate thanks began to grow into a larger prayer…as forgotten prayer life is wont to do, and soon I began to realize something.

The Holy Spirit is seeking to declutter my disorganized and overburdened mind. He sorted through a number of vague guilt trips and forgotten good intentions, and it was so like the actions I had repeatedly followed all through the past year.

bookcases
In my house…

As I opened doors to rooms that I had ashamedly kept closed, hauled out boxes of mishmashed contents, and removed cobwebs and cleaned before installing in their rightful place. Or simply bagged up and hauled away (much to my husbands delight).

In my heart…

As the Holy Spirit acts as a guide, it must be me that opens the doors and assembles the thinking. I must decide whether I am willing to throw something out or put it in the place where I can access it when needed.

Decluttering My Home and Garden
The How-to Of Decluttering

 

In my physical life, it was something that I had experienced breakthrough within. Lifelong piles of  accumulated stuff, much of it useless and undesirable, had finally been cleared. New and accessible fittings were begun to hold what was kept. And now I could see that this is the way God wishes me to live in the inner rooms of my soul.

There are so many dusty places of old thinking, values, and ideas that never had anything to do with God’s thoughts. Bits of broken dreams, the broken cisterns of past teachings that were incongruent with the love of God, the life of the Spirit.

Those, along with layers of living only for myself, making my own plans without consulting either God or the people impacted by those plans. It all needed to be swept away or sorted through, pulling the valuable from the surrounding debris.

What’s Gone?

  •  False guilt and the judgments of others
  • Insecurity about my failings- we all fail, and I had to get over that fact.
  • Fear of success. Change is a good thing, and success is one type of change I want to embrace.
  • The need to control. I have little of it, and that is okay.

What Stays?

  • Releasing control to God, allowing others their choices.
  • An attitude of gratefulness
  • Courage to step forward
  • General plans of improvement, one step at a time.
  • Taking control of myself and my decisions.

Instead of lots of “must-do” lists, I find that insight into the work of the comforting Helper creates a desire to try out more of the connection of prayer during my day. Try to live what I believe instead trying to make it work. Like the flow of lifegiving sap, from my roots in the Lord; not the forcefed infusion of outer stimulation.

Instead of worrying concerns and tormented thoughts, there is a feeling of strength and peace.

I like this clear and open space much better than trying to gather control and harbor resentments.

I needed to jot down these thoughts so that I would have them to meditate on and be more open to a greater understanding of what God has been wanting to do in my life from the beginning.

I do wonder at myself… that I can go so long and be so very unaware. I am thankful for the insights of today. May they multiply!

 

Guilt, That Terrible Burden

burden carriers
‘Burden carriers’ Source: Charles H. Woodbery

I’m always amazed by the people who manage to make it through so many situations without a twinge of guilt, situations where I would stagger under it.

I tend to feel a lot of “duty and responsibility” type of guilt, “Why can’t I save the world?” kind of guilt too. It can be hard to sift between the well-founded and the false sources of this load upon my conscience.

The latest source is the fact that I have done so little for some of the people in my life where it could have meant so much. My cousin died recently. He lived a very tragic life, and was wheelchair bound for some decades (not at all the worst of things for him). The things I could have done for him didn’t need to be big things. He would have liked to Skype on the phone, etc… but that is something I hate. A little thing that I hate for reasons that aren’t entirely reasonable.

I thought about that. So many times we hate things that really would take such a small effort to do, to just overcome that little hurdle of dislike. Like talking on the phone.

I think some of this inability comes from a difficulty with boundaries in life. we feel that if we give an inch in some small unimportant matter that it will mean a wholesale collapse of our walls. but that is only because we seem to leave our gates wide open when we shouldn’t and to people who set up camp there.

We get terribly confused.

That is where I think much of this guilt and regret comes from, that confusion.

I am old now, in my sixties, sometimes I despair of learning these important lessons.

There are people who truly have need. There are people we will make a great difference for through our attention, and those are the intentions we should take seriously and take responsibility for. We don’t have to do the grand gestures.

That is what I think always trips me up: the idea that I must make grand gestures, complicated and long drawn out efforts. When really, it is a small everyday kindnesses that accumulate and matter more.

And I would feel so much less guilt if busy with those ordinary, accomplished, thoughtful acts. Less of the guilt that drains my life of much of its strength and promise.

Think more simply, more focused on caring about individuals. Doing what one can. Just follow through and do the thing you are planning. Stop building concretions of imaginary actions and perfecting every step.

Life is better that way, and much less burdensome.


I wish I didn’t feel so guilty and regretful. I wish that I had called him just a couple times last year. I wish I had gone to my cousin’s family Christmas party (I was invited), and seen him one last time while he was enjoying life. I wish I had sent that fruit basket I had planned on doing and came close to doing, but was distracted. I wish I had done just three things last year with the sole intention of making him feel special and cared for.

But death is chasm that no wishes can cross.