Friday, July 17, 2009

Return to the basics...

Now that I have told you all about the shredding events that are coming up, I want to get back to the basics that I talked about earlier. Has anyone tried the exercise recommended by Michelle Passoff in her book Lighten Up? (Passoff, Michelle. Lighten Up! Free Yourself from Clutter. New York: Harper Collings, 1998). Did you spend some time imagining and writing down your dreams for a life in balance with a positive relationship with clutter? I think that this is an excellent exercise. I know that I have been much more determined to rid myself of stuff, now that I have started to compare its value to the value of life without all the baggage. It makes it very easy to toss stuff that only recently seemed so important! I also find that if I look at something for less than a minute and the reason that I set it aside does not immediately come to mind, I can say to myself that it really wasn't that important after all and I can pitch it without spending any more time with it. Hopefully, in the future, I will know immediately what is worth setting aside in the first place!

If the written exercise didn't work for you or you didn't think that it would be beneficial, she suggests an alternate activity. She also says that this might be useful just for fun, providing "a way for you to tap into your heart and reveal your unconscious desires." It also gives you a purpose for magazines you may have collecting in your house! She suggests, on page 27, going through a pile of magazines that you have and "clip anything that attracts your interest on a visceral or intellectual level." You can clip photos or words that are either random (and let your subconscious mind inform you about your inner most desires) or you can clip items with conscious intention, looking for images and phrases that remind you about what you are looking for in the future to improve your personal or work life, your relationships with family and friends or your finances and your physical surroundings. As Ms. Passoff goes on to say, "usually there are no accidents."

When you have gone through (and then recycled) several magazines, lay out what you have clipped on one large poster board, sheet of newsprint or length of freezer paper (or on smaller sheets sorted by ideas or topics). How you arrange the individual elements is part of the imaging process. Glue them down (if you dare). For some, this may be too much of a commitment to the future to truly attach things "permanently" to your dreamscape. Remember, you can always remove something later, or paste something new or more important over top of an old idea, just like you can always change a bad habit by replacing it with newer, healthier behaviors (hint, hint!)

When you have finished, stand back and look at the collage of ideas and images you have created and try to get more inspiration from the new relationships that are formed by the adjacencies and notice the items that stand out among their surroundings. Keep this collage somewhere where you can revisit the ideas it contains whenever you get stuck at your task of de-cluttering or whenever you need additional motivation. Update it periodically with new ideas that come out as old habits are dispelled. Start over with a completely new collage at key points in your challenge to conquer clutter or at specific time intervals (monthly or annually). Go ahead and write things on the poster or on sticky notes that you add to the montage as new insights and inspirations occur to you as you approach your goals. If you do this exercise and you are comfortable doing so, bring it to one of our future meetings and share with the group the things that you have learned about yourself.

I will move on to some of Michelle Passoff's insights into the accumulation and elimination of clutter and her pointers on creating a game plan in the coming posts. I have also found a copy of Elaine St. James' Simplify Your Life, (Hyperion, 1994) on my bookshelves at home, which has some chapters that will give us positive ideas to incorporate into our mission. Good luck this weekend – remember to set and achieve three goals for our next meeting on August 6th.

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