About a year ago I read a book called Clutter Busting by Brooks Palmer. It really changed my life. I highly recommend it! Clutter Busting is all about getting rid of the things that don't serve you anymore and making room for you in your own life! Brooks writes with love and compassion and I think that's what makes his book different from all the other books out there. Clutter can be anything. It can look very good. It can be expensive. It can be very neat. It can be invisible. Brooks tells you how to figure out if something is clutter or not. I've been clutter busting for over a year now. Recently I re-read the book, and it was a great refresher. I realized I had been carrying around a great big pile of clutter on top of me every day of my life: my hair. I hate having long hair. It looks great on some people. Maybe it even looks great on me once in a blue moon. But for me, I just don't like it and I don't feel comfortable with it. I don't like how it feels on my neck. I don't like the little fuzzy pieces I can't control. I don't like washing it and I don't like blow drying it. I dislike it so much that I usually cover it with headscarves and such. The reasons I keep my hair long are all bad reasons: My friends say I should grow it and that short hair doesn't suit me. When it starts getting longer they go nuts saying how great it is that I'm growing it. My mom says it looks bad. People remind me how great I looked at age 16 with long hair. I tell myself that since my husband is handsome he should have an attractive wife. Well here's what I realized: I love all my friends but their tastes and my tastes are as different as night and day. My mom is a long hair fiend and that's never going to change. And there's absolutely nothing more pathetic than trying to retain your youthful glory-days teenage look at age 34. Also my husband is happy when I'm happy and that's the truth. No matter what I look like, he's never said one negative thing about my appearance in 12 years. So I went to get it cut. It felt like a therapy session. I told the stylist that I had been letting my hair grow since I got pregnant with my son, now 10 months old. I told him I didn't know what to do with my hair. I showed him my licence so he could see how short my hair used to be. Immediately he said "OH Honey, you HAVE to cut it." He asked me if all I ever do is pull it in a ponytail like the one I had when I came in. I said yes. He asked me if I was happy with the length, if I liked styling it, if I knew how to style it, if I even cared enough to do it. I felt like it was Brooks asking me these questions and it was a clutter busting session! I knew the hair was clutter and it had to go. When he started cutting it, it was such a release that I had to hold back the tears because I didn't want him to think I was getting upset with the cut! I was overwhelmed that I had released the clutter and all the clutter baggage! The stylist said that he was a "long hair guy" normally but he really felt that I should go short. Even HE knew it was clutter! Tonight I went out with one of my best friends who is a definite long hair enthusiast. When we met up she took one look at my drastically shorter hair and didn't say one word. Neither did I. I knew what she was thinking though! But I also knew what I was thinking: if wishes and buts were candy and nuts, then we'd all have a bowl of granola ;) (10 points if you know where that's from!). We had a great time!
Here are some great Clutter Busting quotes (and my personal takes on them) that I underlined the first time I read the book:
"Your home needs open space for you to feel peace of mind. But when a large quantity of stuff accumulates or is set aside for possible future use you diminish your ability to think clearly." This is certainly true! I feel so much better when I'm surrounded by space than by stuff!
"You have outgrown many, many of the items you currently surround yourself with. I know and, more important, now you know that 75 percent of the things in your home are worthless to you." I thoroughly believe this to be true.
"The mind often worries about things that never happen." I need to be reminded of this often. I have a terrible problem with anxiety, and sometimes a simple statement like this makes such a difference. When I'm in the midst of anxiety, I can't remember this. Reading it instantly helps.
"When you get rid of clutter, you will have a lot more space and you won't need organizing devices." Like Brooks says, organizing devices are just pretty garbage cans!
"This is a great opportunity for you. You get to discover what you don't care about anymore. You're opening yourself up to discover what you really do care about" This was certainly the case when I went through my old college things and my heaping collection of books!
"...any time you meet with resistance, you know you are standing on a gold mine of clutter." If you know the thing is important and valuable, you don't question it. But if you starts saying: Well, I may need this... or so-and-so gave it to me so... or ...hmmm I don't know, I may fit back into this... or maybe my kids will want it... OR so many other hesitations....IT'S CLUTTER and IT'S GOT TO GO!
"I found I enjoy my life in simplicity. I have more fun than I used to when I had so many things but felt confused and unsatisfied." I just cannot enjoy myself in my home when it's full of clutter and I have no space to move.
"Toss anything that makes you feel that the past is more special than right now, that gives you the feeling that life will never be as good as it once was." This came in especially handy for old photographs. Brooks says that the location of things is very important in revealing clutter. It was very interesting to see that I had a box of pictures in the basement near the door, like they were trying to leave!!! The box was full of pictures from around the time of my parents' divorce. It had pictures of me looking pretty. I figured I would never look so pretty again. So I didn't think I should throw them out. It also had pictures of my mom and dad together, and it felt like I should keep them because they would never be together like that again. BUT they got divorced 6 months later, so they also felt strange to me. The whole box made me uneasy and sad and anxious. I realized I had taken the box from one address to the next, getting anxious each time I saw it but believing I had to keep it. I read that quote and knew it had to go. I haven't regretted it yet, and that was a year ago! If I found another box of duplicate photos I would gleefully toss them out too!
Brook recently had a double lung transplant! He had gone into some very hazardous homes in his clutter busting career and as a result his lungs were failing him. He writes in his blog about realizing how he had to clutter bust his own lungs: they were no longer serving him or sustaining his life, they had to go to make room for a new set of healthy lungs! Brooks also writes back to every comment and question you send him! I am a Brooks Palmer appreciator because he really helped me to see things differently when it comes to clutter! You can read about his clutter busting and his transplant story on his blog: www.brooks-palmer.blogspot.com. Best wishes for a full recovery, Brooks!