The Art of Declutteringby Laura Brady Saade
I had read an article by Susanna Sonnenberg in Whole Living magazine. I'll paraphrase the parts I liked, since I can't find a copy online.
First, I loved that the subtitle of the article called decluttering an art -- I've always felt like it was drudgery, so to elevate it to the level of highbrow makes me feel slightly more sophisticated when doing it. (And now I can check two 10-minute boxes for the price of one -- "tidying" and "art". Love multitasking!)
She quotes the author of "Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui: Free Yourself from Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Clutter Forever," Karen Kingston, as defining clutter as: "anything neglected, forgotten, unwanted, unloved, or unused [that] will cause the energy in your home to slow and stagnate." We've got a match! I'll try to hear that mantra in my head when tidying. I wonder if having a guideline like this would also help my kids to discern worthwhile from worth tossing.
Here are some sections I thought were helpful...
- Kingston says, "Clutter drags your energy down, and the longer you keep it, the more it will affect you." Sonnenberg related -- the "Pile" on her kitchen counter had it all -- "To get to the street-cleaning schedule or the school directory, I had to dig through batteries, plastic lids, Monopoly hotels, more batteries, erasers, a mini bottle of Tabasco." That one hurt -- I just bought my husband a mini bottle of Tabasco as a souvenir from a trip. One day's cute is the next day's clutter.
- Sonnenberg says, "If the sentiment nourishes your spirit, fine, but otherwise, free up this precious space and allow something new to bloom there."
- "What if an airy nothing gives us more than the solid stuff?"
- "What's really meaningful to you?"
- "Do I love it? Do I need it? Does it bring me peace and energy or uneasy trouble?"
- "Kingston advises that a person trust each decision made during decluttering, even if the benefits are slow to emerge. In the whole process, I found parts of myself I had thought lost, eased movement in our house, helped friends, bonded with my mother-in-law, prioritized our needs, let go of stale hurts and worries; and, thanks to the cleared-out spot once occupied by The Pile, I had renewed with passion and vigor many aspects of my marriage (that's for another article!)" ...I'm waiting!
- "The act of choosing to discard it -- thinking about it -- gave it more value than it had in the closet, waking me a little more to the possibilities of our full world."
- "Space opened in our house, the closets, the bookshelves, and the rooms. Space inside myself. What would I put there. What is it about an empty spot that makes us fill it? We equate empty with nothing; but when I resisted refilling the space, air and light moved in, became a sanctuary."
That last one was my favorite, because it really summed up for me the benefits of decluttering -- not to have the neatest house on the block (not gonna happen), or to look like the best homemaker (we'll leave that to June Cleaver) or the most efficient mom -- but to figure out how to use the new "empty space". Hopefully by not filling it with more Tabasco!