at times, but when I’m not grieving the loss of a loved one. I’ve been on that side of downsizing.
The other side of life when it’s time to edit the contents of my home and or in helping others,
laughter has played an important part
A silly memory from long ago of a garage sale with a friend sitting beside me makes me a smile
right now. She saw a pair of culottes (think long shorts in the 70’s hitting below the knee) on
the table for sale. She laughed at me for having held on to them for over ten years, long after
anyone was wearing them. They were in great condition, had cost plenty and the fabric was a
lovely wool. I don’t think at that point in my life, and twenty years into my marriage that I had
ever consciously downsized or decluttered. I just hung on to stuff until it was useless. I was
still in the accumulating phase of life.
After getting over my embarrassment with my friend I laughed too. I quickly evaluated why I
still had those culottes. I realized I had not put boundaries around what I would keep or for
how long and, since I once loved them, I thought I should keep them until the pregnancy weight
was off. Being on a budget was also a factor. I grew up hearing the motto, ‘Good clothes must
be worn until they were worn out. After the laugh, reality set in and I could not wait for
someone to buy them. No one did but I did donate them since someone somewhere might
That laugh was refreshing and urged me to keep sorting through my home to edit down what
was no longer needed or used. There were plenty and things in every household category that
showed up that could be donated that were not used or needed. I reflecting on how laughter is
so good for our health, and decided to look for what else I could laugh at for keeping so long.
There have been countless times that a client and I laughed at something found deep within a
cabinet that had not been used for over a decade. One of the best laughs came from finding
parts of a blender in four different places in the kitchen. We howled imaging the scavenger
hunt that would have happened should a smoothie for the children been on the ‘need now’
agenda. But it is the older appliances pushed far to the backside of a deep cabinet that has
brought the most giggles and shock at the find of forgotten items not-used-in-years category.
Research shows how clutter causes us stress.
Clutter causes stress anxiety. Many of us may not have realized how
healthy it is to have our homes and offices better organized. That alone may be incentive
enough to decide to do something about the accumulated amount of stuff covering our kitchen
countertops and furniture. If support is helpful to tackle the project, there is no shame in
asking for that. A friend or relative might be able to help or a professional might be better for
you. You will know best. Decide what would work best for you to have a plan to move
throughout the home or a room to put it in order. It helps to have everyone living in the home
be part of the solution to keep things in better order.
Being perfect is not the solution. We all have lapses and real-life conflicts to that conflict with
order. Relax, enjoy life and know you can get right back to having things better organized as
soon as you are rested and have the energy to put things back where they belong. Looking at
life like it is a mobile that moves with the breezes helps us see that our lives are not stationary,
nor can they be absolutely organized all the time. After an event breezes through your life,
things settle back down, and you can put things back in order.
One thing that I like to stress is a purpose and place for every item. If an item is kept that is
because it is needed, and it has a purpose. Placing that item back in the same location each
time makes retrieving it simpler, rather than a hunt and search mission that wastes your time. If
for some reason you cannot find an item quickly, relax and look later but rethink if where it
was placed made good sense. Finding a new place may be required if you searched too much
or too long.
We each need to be mindful of our health and that includes our mental health. Now we realize
how that accumulated clutter causes us stress and there is a solution to get rid of that stress.
Put on an attitude of being ready to laugh and set your intention to have less stuff and have
more order. Be sure to laugh your way through the process and celebrate along the way or
certainly by the end with something that brings you joy.
Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson
Professional Organizer | Author Calming Your Chaos | Leader of the Smooth Organizer Community
Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson
Since 2000 Elisa (Lisa) Hawkinson, author of Calming Your Chaos, has been teaching and training businesses and individuals to support anyone who is not naturally organized on a consistent basis to be just that. Her HOW2GetOrganized seminars, workshops, and speaking along with hands-on coaching and coaching by phone has evolved from her natural genetic bent for order. Efficiency, calm, productivity and profitability are increased with the help of HOW2 and Elisa.
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