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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Home is not a home without...

This week, I am happy to post a piece written by Sue West. Sue is a professional organizer whose company, Space 4U, specializes in helping people to downsize, organize and simplify their personal and business lives. In this excerpt, she writes about how to cope with clutter during a time of major change.
As a special treat, Sue is offering a free copy of her book, 
Organize for a Fresh Start: Embrace Your Next Chapter in Life to one of our readers. Just submit a comment (make sure we have an email address for you) and all names will be put into a hat for the drawing. My daughter will choose the lucky winner, and you will be notified next Friday if you have won! 


External clutter is often a symptom of internal clutter. The mail that’s piled up is because your child was just diagnosed with a learning disability and you’ve got a lot on your plate now. Or your mom now needs caregiving and you’re trying to figure out how to make her a priority, and still give your all to your family and your business. Or a room no longer has a purpose. Or it has too many purposes going on at once.
Major changes and life transitions often bring on distraction, intense emotions and some overwhelming feelings. And when that happens, whether the change has been of your choice or foisted on you, our stuff and our time can get a bit out of control.
The good news is that reorganizing is cathartic, not just for your physical stuff, but also for your internal, emotional or psychological "stuff." The organizing makeover—that big change you make in the beginning—can be quite a journey: one that is cathartic, sentimental, and treasure-laden. It can be a very useful processing time that helps you deal with the changes you've gone through or are transitioning into.
Once you’re on the other side of that life change, you will think differently about how you use your time – what’s important now – and you’ll think differently about which belongings are most important to have around you. You’ve changed inside and gained new clarity.

The Journey Starts with a Tour
As you prepare to physically reorganize your house and your belongings, you’ll start by taking a tour of your own home. Bring your notebook or your camera because as you tour, you’re going to decide which belongings truly make home feel like home. You’ll want a record of this to help you move forward, after the tour.
Sit or stand in each room and acknowledge what specifically makes the room feel like home to you. This will be your first cut at identifying what stays in your life and what you may be ready to let go of, as you move into your next chapter. 

Each room has had a purpose in the past, but each room can have a new purpose now. Use the questions below to help you decide which items from the past are still part of who you are today and which items are not so anymore. This reorganization is about having your home reflect who you are now and who you are becoming. We need to make physical space for current and new interests. You may not know what they are yet, but you will, soon enough.

Questions to Ask Yourself
What do you see? What do you notice first (and why?)
What kind of energy do you feel in this spot?
What's in place? Out of place?
Which objects have good memories associated with them?
Which things do you not really see anymore?
What did you love – awhile ago – but now feel differently about?
What activities used to occur here and don't need to anymore (but the stuff is still located here)?
How would you like this space to be?
Do you need space for something which is wedged in somewhere else in the house currently (“I wish I had space for …”)
Do you enjoy the color scheme, d├ęcor, and lighting? Is it still your tastes?

It's a pretty exciting journey if you're ready to get on board. So enjoy it and don't rush it. It's the journey, not the destination; the destination may change, as you make the journey if you let it.

6 comments:

A Matthiesen said...

Oh, I could use this book (and hopefully not just as addition to a pile of things!)

This is a great post, I'd love to have Sue help me out of the chaos!

Linda Holt Interiors said...

I love the idea of taking a photograph of the room. Often times what becomes invisible to us in everyday life is glaringly obvious in a photo. Great tip, thanks!

elfmom said...

I have found that I need be in an organized environment in order to concentrate well. I am a stay-at-home homeschooling mom to five, so this is a great challenge! Clutter is visual noise is very bothersome to me. I am always on the hunt for better ways to achieve clutter-free enlightenment!
Joyfully,
Elyse

Sue West said...

A Matthiesen - There's always that balance, isn't there, between how much organization we NEED and how much chaos we might actually WANT. Hope you enjoyed the post and might consider reading more at my blog or with the book someday!

Linda - Yes, a change in perspective is what a photo gives you. So true. And particularly if you're highly visual, the photo is a great method.

Elfmom - Clutter as visual noise - so true. Feng Shui experts say this, as do we organizers and coaches. Too much around us, particularly if not in line with our values, and yes, it feels chaotic internally, too!

Linda Samuels said...

Sue- I love the list of questions you've suggested. They are powerful and thought-provoking. Transitions can be so tumultuous. I like how you acknowledge the angst as a necessary part of the change process. Thank you for sharing.

Wendy Wrzos said...

Thank you so much to everyone for reading and commenting!! And, a big thank you to Sue West for her wisdom and book offer.
Congratulations to Elyse (Elfmom) - she was our lucky winner of Sue West's book!
- Wendy