Whether we make resolutions or not, we can’t seem to stop ourselves from taking stock of our lives at the crest of a new year. I’ve spoken with a number of people in the past few weeks who have been bitten by the “declutter bug.” They resolved to, room by room, reduce, reuse, recycle. It put me in mind of a post I wrote two years ago, which I’ll recycle now.
Decluttering our lives
Years ago, when Vicki Gabereau still had her wonderful show on CTV, she had a guest who specialized in helping people declutter their lives. This woman, and how I wish I knew her name, advised people to keep only things that are beautiful, or positive, or valuable. This includes clothing, furniture, art, even friends.
At the time, I looked around myself and discovered I was keeping a surprising amount of stuff that was ugly, negative and not very useful.
Let’s say, for example, that you had a great-aunt, Myrtle, who had a habit of telling you things like, “You would be beautiful if you lost 30 pounds.” And let’s say that Great-Aunt Myrtle gave you a rather unattractive painting for your wedding. You hang it on your wall—in case she drops by. But every time you walk by this painting, your stomach churns, you think, “What an ugly painting,” and you feel somehow not quite beautiful. Who needs that kind of energy in their lives? Take the painting down and put up something beautiful.
When we cleaned out my mother-in-law’s house after her move into long-term care, the process involved the heart-wrenching work of deciding what to keep, or not. As we cleaned, we came upon her old typewriter.
Both my husband and I spend our careers typing and writing, so a typewriter is not a piece of equipment with which either of us would part easily. Then add in that it belonged to his mother, a woman we both adored. Then add in that she had typed all her favourite recipes on it (she made the best shortbread cookies on creation). We knew that we needed to keep that typewriter. We put it on a special table in the corner of our dining room, and every time I look at it I feel a warm glow.
Go through your belongings. Pick each thing up. Does your stomach churn? Get rid of it. Do you feel a warm glow? Keep it and put it in a place that feeds you. Do you have no strong reaction? Well, if something doesn’t do anything for you one way or the other, do you really need it?
Clear out the negative clutter and move in what is beautiful, or positive, or valuable.