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Putting My Oxygen Mask On First – Ugly Truth Behind My Clutter

I’ve always struggled a bit with clutter – I’d have a “junk drawer” that was hard to open because it was so stuffed full. Or that closet that you’d have to be careful when opening. But my clutter got out of control several years ago. I had a ton of sexy excuses for it – I was going to school full-time while working 60+ hours/week and raising two kids.

However, the clutter has remained even as my situation changed. My excuses changed – I’m building a new business…there is so much going on with the kids. I finally admitted to myself this week, that the clutter is more of a barrier to prevent anyone from getting close to me and my family.

You see the clutter started after a break up of a relationship that I’ve had a hard time getting past. I had let someone into my home…and my family..and it hadn’t ended well. I let the clutter build up to protect us from getting hurt again – to keep anyone from getting close.  (Interestingly enough, my weight started increasing around the same time – another barrier).

Unintended side effects were that we added stress to our lives and created some distance with our friends and family. We didn’t have people over as much anymore – because it was so hard to get our space ready to entertain.

Visual “noise” puts us in a state of fight or flight, and by living in chaos, we have been constantly under unnecessary stress. You’ve probably experienced your mind’s ability to adjust to the noise when landscapers are working outside your house/office. And experienced that relief when the mowers and weed wackers turn off- you automatically relax and are better able to focus. Visual noise creates a similar drain on our focus and stress levels.

As I declutter, I feel more energized and lighter. I feel as if I am releasing things that were draining me and holding me back. I am rediscovering what brings me joy.

If you are ready to start your own declutter journey, I highly recommend Marie Kondo’s book The Magic Of Tidying Up. As part of her process, you physically touch every item you own, and decide whether it sparks joy. If it doesn’t, you let it go. Not only does this  allow you to effectively pare down the amount of stuff you keep, it also retrains you to be mindful about how other things in your life make you feel – the food you eat, the people you spend time with, your work activities, what you watch on TV, how you spend your free time, etc.  You may find yourself making different choices way beyond decluttering that impact your health and happiness for the better.


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