Coach Shari: Decluttering
There I was, sitting at my desk trying to get some paperwork done. My husband had a few days off over the holidays and he was on a mission. His project for the day was to clean out all the closets upstairs. I ignored him as long as possible as he went about this huge task. As the day went on, I saw him carry down massive amounts of suits, shirts and pants to be taken to Goodwill.
And then I was called on to get involved. He stated that he really couldn’t complete his project without my input— he needed to know what in the linen closets could be pitched. I was not pleased with my needed involvement in this project. You see, I didn’t feel the same need or motivation to organize and purge. I was happy keeping everything status quo. He convinced me that my involvement was needed since it was December 31, and he only had a few hours to finish this task for 2013 tax purposes. Aggravated, I left my desk to clean out the two linen closets.
Let me paint a clear picture of what kind of project I had before me. I don’t believe that anything had been purged from these closets for the last 20 years. They were stuffed with comforters, sheets, and blankets from many years ago. Actually, being able to close the closet door had become an accomplishment in itself. I believe that my closets were only truly appreciated by my cat Biscuit. I wish that I had a dollar for every time I opened the closets to find him enveloped in a mass of blankets.
So let me go back to my forced-upon project. Slowly, I pulled everything out of the closet, shocked by the sheer mass of stuff. It was like a stroll down memory lane: the boy’s old bunk-bed comforters, my towels that we received as wedding presents over 30 years ago, sheets that I couldn’t even remember owning. My husband was right; these things were never going to get used again. I was shocked that I had ignored this stuff for so many years. There, at the bottom of the pile, were two baby blankets. That put a smile on my face and made me think about how things had changed.
I put 90% of the linens in a huge pile to be donated. I didn’t use most of the things I found and they had cluttered up the house. When I put everything back in the closet, it was clean, organized and quite empty.
And guess what else I discovered? The process of cleaning out my closet was a good experience. The feeling I had when I looked at the end result of my work was pretty wonderful. Somehow, I felt uplifted. It felt as if I was letting go of the things in my life that were causing distractions. As I looked at my new closet, I felt renewed, positive and clear on my intentions going forward. How strange that something like cleaning out my closet could change the way I felt about life!
The other realization I had was how I needed to do this with other parts of my life. The next day, I organized some paperwork that had been on my to-do list way too long. I sat on the floor of my office, set up a notebook and ended up throwing away the many papers cluttering my work and life. After the work was completed, I spent time admiring my new organized book; I was feeling clear and at peace.
We can get so used to our dysfunction and the clutter in our lives that we don’t even notice it anymore. It becomes familiar and part of who we are. Make a point to address the “closets” in your life that might need some attention.