Decluttering diva or denial?

De-cluttering mind body and soul

Have you had a time in your life when you looked around your home and wondered why you collected so many things?

Why every single corner and space holder was filled with an item, jumbled and stacked on top of one another?

Maybe you held onto items which were broken, or other people's for pure sentimental reasons, at the thought that the long lost friend or deceased family member was going to remain in your life with the item as a symbol.

As a daughter of a hoarder. not a newspapers stacked high from 1969, might be seen on a TV show kind of hoarder, but more of a 'this could come in handy, lets waste not want not' kind of hoarder, I have come to recognise my own habitual collecting obsession.

Either saved from the side of the road because it looks useful, frequenting Op shops to re-purpose instead of buying new, or holding on to sentimental items which are passed down through the family, I can see how the era of 'the more the better' has infiltrated into my life to take up more space than it deserves.

I feel this fear of having not enough comes from a deep seated scarcity mindset which may have been passed down from a generation who lived in the days of the depression and rationing in WW2, where scraps of cloth, wool and other items where saved because new items were so hard to come by and expensive.

The day of more is better is coming to an end, where waste minimisation meets the need for space in our lives and in our minds, those old fashioned concepts of reuse and renew are adjusting, to battle our over consumption and throw away society. We need to match our desires with our needs.

As a clothing designer and artist, I could forgive myself for collecting scraps of fabric which align themselves with an idea about how they will be used one day. Recycling fabric, reusing old into new, mending and reconstructing creates a huge scope of ideas of how we can do things differently and avoid unnecessary waste and revaluing the old. It's this ideas factory which is placed on the silent to do list in my head, but as the list keeps on growing, the ideas get pushed further and further away from ever being finished.

With a busy family life, work and other commitments which pop up as opportunities, those special idea projects barely get the light of day when I start to allocate them to my "fun" time in life.

The placement of such items start to become more like an unwelcome burden, a must do for a rainy day experience, when frequently what I need to do is just rest, read, swim or just take a walk in the mountains, then spend my precious time on finishing a project which started out as a great idea.

Why I can't finish projects also has something to do with being interested in the process only and not the final product. Once the idea or item is finished, the inspiration has evaporated and I am left only with either a successful or non successful product which is then possibly stored again, in my home, in a dark dusty place.

Having the ability to be discerning is a very useful skill. The ability to see pure rubbish from potential can set apart the clutter from the gold, and allow ourselves to move forward and live with out the growing to do list.

What is an idea without action? Does an idea have any value without the time and energy it requires to be birthed into the world. Ideas are similar to the thread a spider uses to spin their web, such delicate precision to create such beautiful mastery, only to be destroyed in the swipe of a hand, whilst cleaning out the clutter from the cupboard.

There needs to be a measure set to how to process items and ideas, otherwise the world of stuff can become quite overwhelming.

This First world, world wide problem has been tackled by Japanese organiser Marie Kondo who believes if something doesn't "spark joy" in you, then it has no place in our lives. Her method is to look at every single item in our homes and decide whether or not we really need it, and whether or not it brings us joy. Having started on this program in my life, I have to give credit to her method of sifting through the gold and the grey in my life.

Why hold on to things that are painful, and hold energy from the past which we no longer represent ourselves with in our everyday life. By taking away the outer objects from our home space, we can create space in our own minds and internal framework, to think clearer, increase focus and elevate the things that are important to us in the now. Items in the home or office which take up space, but are no longer necessary, need to be reviewed regularly for their function in our working and daily life.

Out of sight, out of mind is the old saying, which rings true here to me. In my daily busy life, when things start to feel out of control, the first thing I can do to help me get back into a better mindset, is to tidy and clean my house, organise the clutter and I can think better and have a fresh start to my day and to get my work done.

This may seem like a very old fashioned activity to do, but when I clear away the dust I feel renewed and ready to start clearing the back log of work, bills, jobs, chores and ideas which all seem to require some time and energy from me. I feel better when I am not wallowing in a whirlpool of chaos, which is not organised or purposeful.

So to tackle this problem I have come to revise my part I play in the overflow of life.

Firstly I looked at my ideas factory that operates in my brain.

Someone mentioned to me in passing recently that 'Ideas have no value without action' and how true that rang to me.

An idea has value once it has been tried, tested and functional in the world.

But to complete an idea can be a very scary place, because it no longer exists only in our head, where it can be the most perfect and beautiful thing.

To offer it up to the world invites criticism, failure and completion, and ideas can never be complete as they then move on to more ideas.

My best learning is to not to be attached to the outcome of the initial idea.

Things grow and develop and change and sometimes are no longer useful to the big picture. Learning to take parts of an idea and apply it gradually brings more satisfaction then trying to take on a large project all in one go.

To see ideas in motion and to watch people getting involved and being inspired is a wonderful achievement. It is more powerful to scale an idea down and scale action up.

So to this mantra, I make myself ruthless.

I no longer rule myself by my ideas and invite the space I get from clearing out the clutter and the noise from my home environment.

Clearing away old clothes, toys, and items and looming projects brings us much more present to the moment, where we can make better decisions about how we want to use our time and energy. We create the life we need to look after ourselves and our families and practice self care on another.

About the author

Becky Cashman

Founder and Product Maker ~ Goodbye NZ

Goodbye makes certified natural, water-free products that take care of skin outdoors. Established by Becky in 1999, the key message has been consistent from the beginning.  Outdoors is good. We belong outdoors. It's better outdoors. Being outdoors is self-care in it's most natural state.

Alongside this message of wellness outdoors is the ethos that we take care of what we love. When you are connected to your environment, you naturally take better care of it.

Becky is the product maker for Goodbye products, sometimes development takes years. As a former outdoor guide, she has remained focused on bringing performance and portability to genuine natural products.

Her products are a good reason to keep showing up to the conversation about a life lived better outdoors.

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