Monday, 4 July 2011

Clutter Busting with Brooks Palmer: A Trick of the Mind

On Friday, which was a holiday for us, I went into my basement to start clutterbusting. It's is our ultimate clutter repository. Everything that doesn't have a home above ground eventually ends up there (or, rarely, gets kicked out of the house). The basement looks worse than when I started clutterbusting our house. Two reasons. First, when I clutterbusted the guest-room some of the clutter ended up in the basement; not good. Second, I've successfully removed a lot of toys and clothes from the basement (and the house), but in the process the neat piles of storage bins have been disturbed. A lot of the bins are now empty but they are strewn about so it looks worse than when they were stacked full of clutter. Go figure.

Anyway, I went into the basement on Friday afternoon, armed with a garbage bag, and I got totally overwhelmed. I didn't know where to start. I didn't know where to put things. It was too late in the day (I slept in; I went for a run; we went to my parents-in-law's for a family brunch; just before we left the brunch I accepted a nice, cold beer, and then I succumbed to the need for a short nap when we got home; I put on some laundry and emptied the dishwasher and marinated some chicken for supper...).

So there I stood picking up bits of clutter and putting them back down, looking around at all the disparate bits and layers of clutter. I was overwhelmed. I came outside and sat down and said to my husband, "I can't do this."

Instead, I put my son in his Mr. Turtle pool and he splashed and slid and played with his boats and I smiled and talked with him and pulled out some weeds from between the patio slabs. And that was the right thing to do. I was happy. He was happy.

In hindsight, 4:30 p.m. on a beautiful summer day was the wrong time to start clutterbusting my basement.

That night, after my son was in bed, I read this post on one of my favourite blogs: Clutter Busting with Brooks Palmer: A Trick of the Mind. Brooks Palmer advised that, "you can be overwhelmed and clutter bust. They can happen at the same time." That resonated with me.

[I pause to note that I named my blog clutterbuster before I had ever heard of Mr. Palmer or his great book Clutter Busting. A clutterbuster was who I wanted to be, and I was happily surprised that no one had snapped up the clutterbuster name when I first signed on to blogspot. A fellow blogger, Clutterkiller, later recommended Mr. Palmer's book and blog and I am grateful.]

Rather than quote Brooks Palmer's entire post, go read it.

But this is the part that I'm going to take with me as I go down to the basement now:

"When you pick a place and start asking of each thing, 'Do I actually need you, or can I let you go?', the feelings of being stuck may still be there, but they will begin to diminish." 

That, and the idea that one can be overwhelmed and yet proceed. Because that's exactly what I need to do.

Thank you Mr. Palmer.

No comments:

Post a Comment