Even if I fail to effectively de-clutter my home, I’m good at reading about de-cluttering. Two books have been helpful in teaching me what this agonizing task has got to do with mental and spiritual health.
In “Make Room for God: Clearing Out the Clutter,” author Susan K. Rowland claims that “clearing out the clutter, as mundane as it may seem, is really a sacred task.” (Uh oh.) She offers six simple (but grueling) steps:
1. Extract the essentials, the things you must not lose (for me, everything). She’s talking about things like keys, bills to be paid, calendar items (a bracelet my best friend Angela made for me in the fifth grade?).
2. Once you extract your essentials, remove everything from the area you are clearing and sort it into piles, boxes or bags. Basic categories include “Keep,” “Give Away,” “Throw Away,” “Recycle,” and “?” (for things you feel ambivalent about…like Angela’s bracelet).
3. Once you have sorted through everything, put back ONLY the things you have decided to keep.
4. When the room or closet or drawer looks right and feels comfortable–when drawers, closets and cabinets are about half-full: STOP. Rethink everything you used to keep there. Do you need it all?
5. Remove the clutter permanently (OUCH!). Deliver your donations to a thrift store or charity, visit your local recycling center and put the garbage out (without going through it one last time).
6. Get help from a friend (or a clutter-police of a husband). Take turns working on each other’s houses (or shelves). Remind each other how much each of you will love your houses (or each other?) when it’s all over.
My other resource is Karen Kingston’s “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui: Free Yourself from Physical, Mental, Emotional, and Spiritual Clutter Forever.” She is among a few pioneers to use Feng Shui in Western cultures to “balance and harmonize the flow of natural energies in our surroundings to create beneficial effects in our lives.” Working directly with the energy of each space (which means she’s never coming to dinner at my house), she sees Feng Shui as a complete way of life.
On clutter, she writes:
“Clutter accumulates when energy stagnates and, likewise, energy stagnates when clutter accumulates. So the clutter begins as a symptom of what is happening with you in your life (yikes) and then becomes part of the problem itself because the more of it you have, the more stagnant energy it attracts to itself.”