I'd like to introduce to you Cary, AKA: Dear Mrs. Pickle. She is a teacher, a crafter and an inspiring mommy who is committed to reducing clutter in her home life to make space for what matters most to her and her family. Here is her recent journey of "conquering the clutter."
1) Why have you chosen to join the "Reduce Clutter; Create Space" challenge for 2010?
I stumbled upon this challenge and felt that it suited my life perfectly at this time. About 10 years ago, I read a book about Feng Shui and decided to cleanse my home. At the time, I was living in a teeny tiny, 1 bedroom apartment, so the job was a lot more simple than what I now face! Every year, I have made it a point to go through every single thing in our home and rid our lives of needless clutter. However, after the birth of our son in 2007, I have had very little time for anything else. My husband and I have (an almost!) 5 year old daughter, Charlotte, and our son Parker, is 2. Parker is quite a handful! Since his birth, all of my time has been spent focusing on our children and very little time spent on our bulging cabinets and drawers! I have decided it's time to play catch-up!
2) What does "clutter" mean to you?
"Clutter" to me is anything in our lives that is A) unused; B) unnecessary and could possible benefit someone else; C) an overabundance of personal belongings.
3) What kinds of reducing have you started?
Charlotte and I started in her bedroom last week. I was so proud of her! She went through every single item in her room and chose where the item should go. She would A) keep it; B) "give it to another little girl that doesn't have as many toys as I do, Mommy"; C) donate it to her school; D) toss it! She was able to part with an unexpectedly large amount of "stuff".
4) Have you noticed any new space being created as you let things physically, mentally and emotionally go?
It is always so rewarding to let things go. In the wake of the tragedy in Haiti, I look around my home and my eyes well up with tears because I have SO much. I am so blessed and it is necessary for me to say "thank you" for my blessings, and then say "I'm sorry for acquiring so much, let me give back from the gifts that have been given to me". A lot of the items that I am able to part with are items that can be used by others. Decluttering also helps me to refocus on the important things in my life. I have spent a lot of time spending unnecessary money on things that we don't need. When I see the piles of items that we are able to give away, it helps me refocus on a budget and the millions of other things we could be doing with our earnings.
5) What's been the easiest part for you?
The easiest part is always the planning! I am a planner. It is very difficult for me to find the time to follow through! With two children, a very busy husband, a new puppy AND a new job, it is very hard to make space for "making space"! I can work well only when I am alone and not distracted and only for a few hours at the time- I HAVE to take a break or I start to question the items that I am getting rid of. I start to think "well, maybe with a fresh coat of paint....." (like I have the time to paint!)
6) Any surprises so far? My biggest surprise is the realization of how much "stuff" we actually own! Our upstairs has two walk-in attic spaces that span the length of our home on either side and most of those spaces are full! My husband and I both had our own homes before we were married, so when we combined homes, we had two (or more!) of everything. We packed away a lot of it, gave away a lot of it, sold a lot of it and we still have a lot of it!
I love to see the different ways that people go about the decluttering process and what they do with their living spaces once the clutter is gone. I love to see a life that seems to have such a burden lifted from it because their home is in order and they know where everything is. When you need something, you should be able to go right to it. You should be able to open the door of a room and know everything that is in that room. I love to see pictures of rooms where every single object in it has a home and is an object of use to its owner.
7) What are your intentions for joining other "explorers" on this journey?
I sincerely believe that a cluttered home leads to a cluttered life. There is no way to describe the pressure that is felt by a person that has too much stuff. It is such a cleansing process of the mind, body and spirit to rid our lives of unnecessary objects. When you begin your journey, ask yourself- do I absolutely love it? Where will its home be? Would someone else benefit from my willingness to give it away? Could I possibly sell it and add the profits to my savings? I'm sure that if you are completely honest with yourself, you will be able to part with over 50% of your earthly possessions. Besides, we cannot take our possessions with us when we die!
8) Any tips, thoughts or suggestions you want to share with others who are interested in starting to "reduce clutter" so they can "create more "space" in their lives?
Start small- choose a room in your home that isn't used very often and use that particular room as "home base". Use one corner for "KEEP", another corner for "SELL" and a third corner for "DONATE". Get rid of trash immediately- you don't want anything to get mixed in with the trash or the trash to get mixed in with anything! Devote an hour or so every day to your decluttering process. When you know your time is almost up, finish the sort and leave the room nice and tidy so that you won't mind entering it the next day. Use boxes or even trash bags as containers and be sure to label the bag first so that you are sure to put the correct items into it. It probably wouldn't hurt to label the corners as well, so that you don't add a bag to an incorrect pile!
9) Anything else you would like to add?
Good luck on your journey! I know that the process can be grueling at times, but I assure you, it will be well worth it in the end!
Thank you, Cary, for sharing your insight and mindful reflections! Your ability to organize and your infectious enthusiasm have inspired me to keep on this journey. My husband and I delivered two more loads of donations this past weekend, and although the basement feels amazing, I know there's much more to conquer!
On a side note, for those of you following the amazing travels of Inside Out explorers, here are some new inspiring posts to check out:
On Manon's blog, she shares her beautiful reflections of how she's sharing her creativity and inspiration from Inside Out, with her children. You can translate her post by clicking "google translate" on the right side of her blog.
Love Gypsy Forest and her description of her best friend (who won my spring give-away!).
Eileen's post makes me want to call up my best friends and plan an art getaway!
Your Personal Reflection: Do you have a Reduce Clutter; Create Space story you'd like to share? Email me firstname.lastname@example.org