Have you ever wondered what it would be like to move into a new home and take nothing, or at least very little, with you? I have and that’s prompted by my desire to live clutter free. The less clutter I have, the less stressed I feel. It’s just that simple for me. A clutter free space truly makes me happy.
If you came to my house, you’d see several books about decluttering, organizing, and keeping only those things that spark joy. I love to clear things out and organize spaces because the payoff for me is truly a sense of peacefulness and clarity. You might think that I have a home that is completely clear of clutter since this is a topic that is near and dear to my heart, and yet that isn’t true. Some rooms stay clutter free much of the time, and others manage to get out of control occasionally. Why is that? Probably because the spaces that get out of control are less visible like spare bedrooms, closets, the basement or the infrequently used dining room table.
Clutter is most likely to build up when life gets busier than normal and I don’t make the time for a regular practice. Before I know it, I have an overwhelming decluttering job to tackle. Clearing the clutter works best when I make it a part of my routine around the house, like getting the dirty dishes into the dish washer, vacuuming or doing laundry. Clutter can make me feel distracted, overwhelmed, and raises my stress level, even if it’s in very subtle ways. I know that when I declutter, even in the smallest ways, I have quite the opposite reaction. I feel happy, honestly almost giddy at times when the things piling up on the kitchen table, or thrown haphazardly in a closet are straightened up. Years ago, I worked for a large financial institution and a few close colleagues would joke with me that they knew when I was working on a project that was very challenging when they saw me standing in front of my desk with a very focused look, throwing papers away, and clearing off my desk with a passion. I seemed to do that when I really needed to focus intently on a difficult task. Taking a few minutes to clear my desk off completely, and get rid of things that weren’t needed allowed me to clear my mind and concentrate on the one priority I had without being weighed down by the distractions sitting on my desk.
I’m sure many of you are familiar with Marie Kondo and her books on tidying up. Kondo states that to successfully declutter, we should ask if each item in our home “sparks joy”, and if it does not truly spark joy, to thank it for being in our life and let it go. I have found that the “spark joy” test to be very profound. You may think that there are lots of things that you need in your home that do not spark joy, but you still need them. At first, I thought that too, and then realized that even small things like my favorite knives in the kitchen, my amazing vacuum, or fluffy towels in the bathroom can spark joy. If you’d like to check out Marie Kondo in action with some of her clients, you may enjoy her Netflix series called Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Her practice promotes taking everything out of closets, drawers, etc. all at one time and item by item deciding whether they are worthy of keeping. If you can manage that, you’ll soon be on your way to being 100% clutter free. However, I use a combination of ideas that work for me, some pieces of her practice as well as tips and tricks from other sources that work well.
Getting started can be the toughest part of decluttering. It helps to have a clear vision of your clutter free space. What’s that look like and how will that make you feel? Once you have some clarity around your motivation for decluttering, here are a few ideas to help you get started.
First, get a bag for trash and a box for donations. Set a timer on your phone for 20 minutes. Go room to room finding things that can either be thrown away or donated and fill that bag and box. You may be amazed at the progress you’ll have in just 20 minutes. And, there is nothing magical about the timeframe – do it for 10 minutes or 45 minutes, whatever works for you. Just keep it simple and manageable. Then, celebrate that success by throwing out the trash and putting the donation box in your car to deliver to your local charity. This small step will start some momentum for you, and you’ll feel good about doing a bit more.
Start small – perhaps you clean out the spice cabinet, throwing out the expired items and organizing the remaining bottles, all in one place. And, think about the decluttering based on categories, for example, books, gift wrap/bags and cards, files, cleaning supplies, seasonal decorations. These things may be scattered in several rooms and when you gather them all into one space, it’s easier to create a good space for them and find them easily when you need them. Having one place to look for each type of item can reduce stress, and eliminate the need to purchase things that you already have somewhere! Once you have tackled a few smaller tasks, you’ll most likely have the energy and enthusiasm to declutter larger areas for longer periods of time.
Imagine clearing out clutter to bring more joy and peace into your life. Visualizing that may make the work of clearing your clutter feel more purposeful and impactful. On Wednesday, July 29th Wholistic Woman Retreats will be hosting a virtual event called Clear the Clutter. As one of the partner coaches at WWR, I’ll be facilitiating the event and talking about clearing out what I call life clutter. We’ll talk about more than the clutter in our physical spaces. We’ll also consider the emotional, mental and spiritual life clutter that could be holding us back or making us feel stuck. You’ll create a customized plan for yourself that will help you to design a life that is peaceful and full of joy. I hope you will join us on July 29!
Every year, the Wholistic Woman Retreat community gathers together at our first evening retreat of the year to discuss our One Word for the year. This year, we thought we’d share with you the three steps of the One Word and how our founding coaches Carol, Laura and Kelye approach these three steps.
Coach Carol shares about looking in
My favorite way to prepare my heart for One Word is during my morning quiet time. I usually start my days, while still in my PJs, nestled in my comfy chair with a hot cup of tea, lit candles, and inspirational reading. It sets a positive tone for my day when I ground myself with gratitude, prayer, and personal reflection.
This is when I feel most calm, centered, and am ready to ask the powerful questions “What do I need more of? What do I need less of? What needs to go?”
My mind is quick with an answer however, I intentionally listen with my heart and soul, as well. For example, this year as I asked those questions my mind readily knew the answers: I need to slow down, do less, give myself more downtime, and allow myself more time to get from one activity to another. I came up with several words that captured this energy: Release, Receive, Savor, Time, Slow were a few of the options. I thought of many good words, but I wanted a God-inspired word. I waited for a sign indicating which one God was directing me to. I asked, what word do You want me to learn from this year, God?
In 2019 my Word repeatedly came to me with a physical manifestation. With my head bowed in prayer, it dropped heavily forward when my spirit knew my word: Approval. I wait for such a sign again this year. This is my 8th year using One Word to guide me and consistently the knowing of my word has come in my core instead of my head. I feel it more than I think it. I know it is true because of an inner calm or rightness to it.
When I get quiet, pray, listen, and wait, my word reveals itself to me.
Coach Laura shares about looking up
One Word is one of my favorite tools that we use and teach here at Wholistic Woman Retreats! Step 2 in the process is about waiting for your word to show up for you. It’s about receiving a word vs picking one. I’m a girl who looks for divine “signs” in life which I take as indications that I am where I am supposed to be. I have a playful plaque in my bedroom that reads, “If You’re Waiting For A Sign. This Is It”.
One of the amazing parts of the one word process has been the “signs” I have received that the word floating around my thoughts is indeed my One Word. This year has been no exception.
Late in 2019, as I began the One Word Process, the word “unveiled” came to mind. It comes from a notion I’ve held since my teens that at our core, we are all pure love and pure light. It’s what you see in babies when you look deep in their eyes. My belief is that over time we are conditioned by the world we live in and this bright light begins to be covered up with “veils” that block the light. As I thought about the questions, What do I need?, What’s in my way? and What needs to go? the answer was your veils. Hence the word, “unveiled”. Fast forward to December 30th… I’m on a holiday cruise with my family. I turn the TV on in my cabin and in the bottom right hand of the screen is the name of the program they are showing… UNVEILED. This was the sign I was waiting for and at that moment I knew, unveiled was my one word for 2020.
Coach Kelye shares about looking out
I have arranger in my top 5 strengths for executing skills so I get a kick out of living my word for the year and have fun with it. I truly am disciplined when I choose a word and become very loyal to how I lead each day throughout the year. My words over the years such as Shine, Move, Roots, LEAP, Savvy and Breathe stack up year after year forming new, fresh positive beliefs and habits. My new word discovery for 2020 is Rhythm and I have already started stepping out of my comfort zone with this word.
Stillness and meditation don’t come easy to me so I have to work harder to get in the “rhythm” of my day to show up my best and for others. This way of moving in the day has created a CEO in the flow approach personally for me. It started working for me at my Wholebeing Positive Psychology immersion at Kripalu health and yoga center in Massachusetts. All of my days included Let Your Yoga Dance which is a way to spread joy and consciousness and embodies Positive Psychology. Not leaving BREATHE behind, my 2019 word, I now focus on my breath and rhythm in my day. It became my 30-day Mindful Movement practice which I shared at two of our Wholistic Woman events to wrap up 2019.
Creating a practice is certainly one way to live out your word and to feel alive and aligned within. My goal now is to create a 365-day practice in 2020 with Rhythm. How do I keep my words front and center and grow year after year?
Here are some special examples:
Shine – the year I needed more sparkle after my mom passed away – I went to Sarah Mclachlan’s concert Shine On – and bonus, I received about 3 of her CD’s from friends that year. So listening to music or picking a song is a great way to keep your word alive.
Roots – the year I needed to feel more grounded with family – I traveled to Oklahoma to bring my mom closer to her mom and had a ceremony with her childhood friends and family. So traveling is another great way to feel the effect and internalize your one word.
LEAP – the year I needed help moving forward with fun – I created a LEAP program for my business that is now company-wide – it stands for Leadership, Engagement, Attitude and Positive Performance. Creating a program, or a mantra is a great way to personalize your one word.
Some other daily ways are to keep a journal or create a vision board. We are planning a vision board activity with my team in Texas to set the “tone” for vision 2020. This will include individual one words and our team one word, MORE, to focus on together.
All I can say about the third step in One Word is enjoy and experience the journey. I can’t imagine using the same word year after year; there are so many opportunities for growth and change. Change can be difficult and stretch us, but it’s all part of the process. Live it out and be ALL IN!
We look forward to seeing you at our One Word evening retreat – Gain 2020 VIsion!