Thursday, October 22, 2009

Clutter Perceptions

"Walking your talk is a great way to motivate yourself. No one likes to live a lie. Be honest with yourself, and you will find the motivation to do what you advise others to do."

-- Vince Poscente

This quote rang so true to me that I had to spend some time analyzing it relative to my situation. Please forgive my ramblings today but maybe there is someone else out there that feels the same and will be motivated by what I share.

Here I am writing a clutter-control blog, giving advice to others while I am drowning in clutter around me both at work and at home. Being honest with myself will make me admit that it is a daunting and intimidating task for me to consider controlling the clutter; one that I would rather avoid all together. I know that motivation is definitely one of the qualities I lack. At a recent meeting I showed you the picture I have pinned to my bulletin board of the Noble Prize winning professor peering out from behind huge stacks of papers. I keep it there to make me feel as thought I am not too badly in need of help since I don’t have half as many papers around me and none of my piles come close to the height of his. For motivation, I think I am going to look for some pictures of restful, clutter-free spaces. I need to be able to visualize the goal since I have never actually seen it myself in any of my spaces except at the very beginning, before I moved in my stuff.

I think I may have mentioned at one of the meetings a time when I faced a similar situation and what I was motivated to do. My husband and I, many years and two houses ago, reserved a cabin on Deep Creek Lake in western Maryland for a week’s vacation. The cabin was designed to accommodate 8-10 people and we rented it just for ourselves. Of course, as a vacation rental, the house was fully furnished and appointed but definitely spacious and clutter free. All of the closets and drawers were completely empty! We spent a week of shear relaxation with nothing for us to do but enjoy life – reading, cooking, hiking, and napping…all the good things in life. After the week was over and we returned home, we were not only confronted with the stress of being back to work, but we realized how much stress our living conditions were adding to the whole. At the time, we lived in a small house in North Plainfield and we were definitely bursting at the seams. As I look back, the stuff in our house at that time, since there was less of it, was very well organized but there was just too much of it for the space that it occupied. Clutter does not have to be disorganized to be a problem. Instead of de-cluttering like we should have done when the task was manageable, we looked for a newer, bigger house to solve the problem.

Unfortunately, getting the new house only solved the problem temporarily since it is human nature to fill the space that you have. Within a few years, we were back to an organized but overwhelming quantity of stuff. Since everything was organized, (and we didn’t treat ourselves to a week in a clutter-free environment again) we were lulled into thinking that we had spare time to take on some volunteer activities – things that clutter your calendar and sap you of free time to enjoy those good things in life. When free time became scarce, it became harder to keep the stuff organized and then, the quantity became an even bigger problem, which is where I find myself now. We are in yet another house, not necessarily bigger but configured very differently and now I don’t have the time to de-clutter and get things organized. We hit the ground running when we moved into this house and after four years, we are still sitting with almost half of the stuff still sitting in the moving boxes, piled into the basement and the attic. We didn’t have enough time to de-clutter before we packed (a situation that cost us dearly in moving expenses) and now we are overwhelmed by the idea of sorting everything out into new and different locations. I suppose in some ways we are attempting to live a more clutter-free life by keeping all of that extra stuff packed up and out-of-sight, but it is not out-of-mind. Now, don’t get me wrong, we enjoy the volunteering and feel good about helping out, but, like possessions, too many “things,” including commitments, are not admirable or beneficial to your health and well being. I feel that the obligations on my time are as dangerous to my psyche as are the possessions that seem to control and overwhelm me. I guess what I need to learn is “moderation in everything.” I need to de-clutter my life physically, metaphysically and mentally! Which comes first – clearing my surroundings or my very existence? These are very deep and mind-cluttering ideas…is it time to move on?

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