A practical no-nonsense book that teaches you the WHY and the HOW of ridding yourself of emotional, physical and body clutter. This is the Americanized version of this bestselling book originating in South Africa. Kate Emmerson is gaining worldwide acclaim as the Quick Shift Deva for her uncanny ability to help people make real change in their lives. Resistance is futile. You will live light and live large if you read this book.
|Publisher:||Micro Publishing Media, Inc.|
|Product dimensions:||6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.41(d)|
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Clear your Clutter
By Kate Emmerson
Micro Publishing Media, IncCopyright © 2016 Metz Press
All rights reserved.
'It is preoccupation with possession, more than anything else, that prevents men from living freely and nobly.'
– Bertrand Russell
Age 7. One trunk. One term. A system that was designed to work.
Boarding school provided me with a system for life that I feel privileged to be able to share with you, no matter where you are on your personal clutter journey.
In my memory of that time, my two elder brothers were 'sent' to boarding school. Being the youngest, and the only girl, I decided that fair was fair and that I wanted to go too, aged 7. Seriously. It was a bit of a personal wail in terms of, 'If they can go, why can't I?' While most other kids shudder at the thought of boarding school, my independent nature would not allow me to let go of the idea. And, in retrospect, I honestly think it boded well for my future, allowing me to learn to live by the rules that still serve me to this day.
I had no choice but to abide by the military-like precision of green knickers living with green knickers, towels folded neatly, bed made before showering, keeping toiletries in one small bag, nothing lurking under the steel-framed bed, evening wear hanging with evening wear, for example. It was all about 'like with like' – and it had to be neat. Precision neat. Each of us had half a cupboard and a small bedside table. Every morning as we left the dorm area we had to polish our shoes at the end of the passage. It was a simple system that worked. Pocket money was fastidiously controlled by Mama Matron in her little black book and we had to request funds every week for sweets from the tuck shop. We even had a knickers, hair, nail and hemline check. Eek!
For me, it was never worth stepping beyond the parameters and facing the wrath of Matron. Although our junior dorm matron was much loved for her gentle nature, she had tools at her disposal. When pushed too far, such as catching us talking after 'lights out' or transgressing other such rules, she would, with a harsh voice, send us down the dark, twisty stairs that led into the kitchen. As punishment, we had to stand with our noses touching the cold wall, listening to the scurry of mice in the kitchen and the demons playing tricks on our minds. Towing the line, being responsible and just doing the things that worked for the system was a much easier option for me. I confess I also liked the regularity of it.
So, right from the start, I was lucky in that I found it easy to fit into a system that worked for me. I was only allowed to take what would fit into my black metal school trunk, no extras. Clothing (three different outfits for day wear, nightwear and Sunday wear), toiletries and edible extras had to last me a full term, with one home visit. There was something amazing about having absolutely everything I needed, but nothing in excess. I really do feel, when I contemplate my life retrospectively, that it was a rare gift to learn at such a young age.
Everything had a place and a reason. I even learned to revel in helping the matron sort 'intimate smalls'. While all our main laundry (with neatly sewn-on name tags) was carted off-site weekly, all the girls' knickers and bras were done in-house. They would be laid out on long trestle tables in the 'undies' room, in alphabetical order. They had to be folded so that they'd fit within the name slot, and every night you had to collect yours so as not to let them build up and cause mayhem in the undies room.
Like many kids going through a phase, one of my favorite pastimes at primary school was collecting 'stuff'. Most girls did this simply as a way to add some element of amusement to what can otherwise be dreary boarding-school life and a way to connect with each other. 'Stuff' was things like beautiful writing-paper sets, exquisitely decorated with matching envelopes and a second, spare sheet, miniature perfume bottles (thanks to my mum, who was a pharmacist with regular access to the perfumery reps donning their wares every month), posters, glass animals and annual diaries. I even collected erasers, stickers and Hello Kitty goodies (which, I see, have made a huge comeback in recent years).
However, I also knew how to look after all my stuff, respect it and store it. I loved to look at it, see it, touch it, appreciate it and feel it – and often. I cherished the stuff I collected and knew their value would be retained (thereby giving me better bargaining power at school) by looking after and respecting them. My pride and joy was my writing-paper collection. At the beginning of term we would all arrive back with new additions acquired over the holidays, ready to get into the swap frenzy, demanding two or even three sheets of paper for one special collection. It also taught me the art of negotiation. My paper was to be envied, or so I thought, and I had it all sorted into categories so it was easy to find and ogle over. Duplicates were kept separate, as they became bargaining collateral. Oh the young entrepreneurial mind. It was all kept in my dad's old shirt boxes to ensure safe preservation. Long live paper!
My love of moving, traveling, seeing the world and experiencing exotic cultures ensured that after university I pretty much sold up all that I had to venture out into the world. I still live in this light way, free to pack up and travel light the moment an opportunity arises. As I explored and adopted a more spiritual way of living in my twenties, I learned to let go of the collections of 'stuff' I had once loved. Garage sales, boot sales, anything to off-load and lighten up so I could skip off to new exciting adventures. Traveling with my backpack once again emulated my black tin trunk at school.
Have only what you absolutely need, nothing in excess. My traveling rule was that I had to carry everything myself, and if I wanted to buy anything in the country I was visiting, I had to choose one precious item that would encapsulate the journey. I only detoured from that rule when I knew I was coming back home to South Africa, and used the last of my funds to buy up local jewelery in Bali to bring back and sell, so it was more of an entrepreneurial business opportunity intended to fund the next stage of my trip than pure indulgence on my part.CHAPTER 2
'Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.'
– Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
When you consider the clutter in your life and the reason you may have picked up this book in the first place, it is very likely that you were thinking about some of the following:
Your messy desk
Trash that needs clearing
Clothes that don't fit
Clothes you don't wear
Stuff that is broken
Unwanted gifts stashed in a cupboard
Anything you're hanging onto 'just in case ...'
Old magazines or newspapers piling up somewhere
That overflowing drawer, cupboard, room or garage
Too many things in too small a space
A general lack of organization
Other people's stuff – dead or alive
'Baggage' – of every variety ...
The dictionary definition of clutter is:
to strew or amass (objects) in a disorderly manner
a condition of disorderliness
to make a place untidy and overfilled with objects
the mess created when too many things are in a place
a state or condition of confusion.
So while the dictionary version is a great start and does well to describe clutter, it does not offer the whole picture. We need to unpack this idea further. For our purposes, we require a more empowering definition. I would like to offer a definition that reveals a bigger picture, a bigger reason and a better understanding. If we step beyond the obvious, incorporate an understanding of the three different aspects of clutter and allow the definition to become a clue to moving beyond its grip, we can define clutter in more accessible terms:
Clutter is anything that no longer serves you, for whatever reason.
Please read that definition again. And again. And now ask yourself, 'What does this conjure up for me?'
This definition is all-inclusive, regardless of the shape or form clutter takes. If it is not adding any current value and no longer serving you in some way in your life, it is classified as clutter! Cool, huh?! Whether we are referring to outdated clothes, messy paperwork, limiting beliefs that clutter our mind or congested circulation in our bodies, we can now put all clutter under the same all-encompassing definition.
Having defined clutter, this now opens up your perspective of what it entails. Even if you feel that you are the neatest, most ordered and organized person, you can start to view your stuff (be it things, people or anything else) with a fresh perspective, and scrutinize it using this broader definition.
Go easy on yourself
This definition also lets you off the hook a little – because at some point your clutter did, and possibly still does, serve you. Perhaps the red dress that once grabbed attention from admirers; the gym equipment you bought and started using to shed those extra pounds; the papers that defined your life; the magazines that you bought in anticipation of inspiring ideas; the knickknacks and antiques that beautified your home; the stuff you needed to buy when more people lived in your home; the friends who completed your life; the smoking habit you took up to help you feel more confident at parties in your twenties; the pain and illness or even excess weight you manifested to protect yourself; the shopping you did when not knowing how to deal with your emotions – all of that somehow served you in the moment, at that moment.
So the question, 'Does this serve me now?' is not about judgment, which merely exacerbates how bad you feel about yourself; it is not about whether your clutter is good or bad, valuable or trash, right or wrong, positive or negative, but simply about whether your stuff serves you now or not.
It is not about judgment, guilt, shame or blame. It simply means being in the present and evaluating everything and everyone in your life.
An invisible image of clutter
Allow me to paint a metaphorical picture: On the front of your body – about where your stomach lies, just between your rib cage, by your sternum – is the area known as your solar plexus, the place where we say we have 'butterflies' in our tummy.
Imagine that every single thing you are holding onto, things that no longer really serve you, has a thread of invisible fishing line that emanates from your solar plexus. And at the end of every single thread of fishing line is a very big, heavy, glass bottle filled with lead. Clutter, literally and figuratively, weighs you down:
Keeps you stuck
In the past
Unable to jump into your future
Too tired to see the present moment.
Now imagine finding the right scissors and snipping all those invisible fishing lines and releasing the lead weights. Wow, what an instant freedom and lightness of being you will experience!
By the time you have completed this book and done all the step-by-step exercises, you will be as light as a feather, ready to face your world with gusto.
Our destiny as humans is to evolve. We are designed to expand into the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be. We need to look for things that prevent us from taking this journey.
'Everything you want is just outside your comfort zone.'
– Robert Allen
It really is worth taking the time and making the effort to discover the underlying cause of why you gather, collect, harbor, cling to and generally hoard stuff.
If 'it' is not adding value to your life today, then it is time to haul yourself into the present moment, deal with all the reasons why you are holding onto it, and be willing to let go. The process requires trust and faith. When letting go in any area of life, we always fear the worst – what if nothing or no one else comes my way, what if I regret my decision today? But the energy it requires to hold on to the old is detrimental to embracing the new. Rather than waiting until you have to be pulled kicking and screaming into a new era, why not let yourself do it consciously and willingly? There can be grace and elegance in that.
One simple fact – if you do not teach yourself to let go of anything that no longer serves you now, then one day when you die you will leave your mess and chaos for your loved ones to clean up. Do you really want to do that?
Imagine making your family or friends go through all your stuff, or worse yet knowing they are just throwing it all away because they can't deal with it? If you can't be bothered to respect it, then why should they? Or perhaps they simply do not know how to and will call in someone like me to do it on their behalf. So all that stuff you're holding onto – it's time to sort it out.
Perhaps you are so bogged down with emotional clutter that you don't know how to get started on your physical clutter. Or, subconsciously, you might even want to punish other people. In reality, however, you're only punishing yourself by not giving yourself the opportunity to live light again. I get calls all the time from people who need my help to clear out a beloved's mess after their death. If you honestly treasure yourself and respect your life, and treasure the folk you might leave behind, then it's time to get it in order in every sense of the word and show yourself how much you truly care about yourself.
Leave your legacy well respected, preserved and in great order.
Nowadays there is an incessant and ever-increasing demand on our time, space and energy, and we are constantly being pulled into it, often subconsciously. Our senses are bombarded by a barrage of information and technology, the smallness of the global village and the need to be connected 24/7. Unless we consciously take ourselves off the grid, adopt the concept of reduce, re-use and recycle, and take constructive steps to simplify our lives, then the hamster wheel of acquisition will take us on a helter-skelter ride to hell.
'One of the dangers of habitual accumulation is using the time available for enjoyment in furious acquisition of more and more. We substitute the joy of ownership for the desire of accumulation. Luxuries become necessities. The tyranny of things overwhelms the acquisitive heart.'
– Fred Smith
So, unless you want to be crushed by your stuff, it's time to take stock and live with a sense of lightness.
You can make a difference in your own home, and clearing your clutter with my help is your starting point. Too many of us are still living with the notion that more is better, rather than reflecting on some important questions:
What do I really need?
What will actually add value to my life?
Am I keeping the right things for the right reasons?
Are my priorities in order?
Is my home aligned to my values?
Am I being the best possible version of myself the way I am living?
Imagine if you started focusing your energy on quality over quantity, purpose and fulfillment over accumulation. In many ways, we are being called back to a more conscious way of engaging with our life, our time, our value and our possessions. But that starts with you in your own home, your own desk, your own cupboard, your own body, your relationship with yourself and how you engage with others in the world.
Now is the time to ...
Stop buying duplicates simply because you have no idea where stuff is.
Stop filling the emotional hole by amassing more stuff.
Stop cramming your mental space with mess so that you have an excuse not to get on with your life and focus on what matters.
Stop giving in to your kids or family by buying more stuff to make them happy and assuage your guilt.
Stop trying to fill every ounce of time so that there is no space for your soul to breathe.
Let go of the need to be constantly connected and wired up 24/7.
Once and for all, stop running away from the real issues ...
Instead, you need to consider the following:
Start refocusing on what's important.
Live with what and whom you love.
Keep your life simpler so that you have more energy.
Be brave enough to carve your own route rather than following the crowd of accumulators.
Set up systems to make your home and life work more effortlessly.
Start saying No!
Start letting go of anything that no longer serves you.
Start being honest in all your communication.
Start honoring your body if you truly value your life.
Start taking downtime off the social media radar in order to connect in the flesh with friends and family.
Be willing to trust this process of clutter clearing and get to the other side.
In order to be inspired to do something constructive, we have to be conscious of clutter and its negative effects. If you are reading this, then you are on the right path ...
Why clear clutter?
Letting go makes room for the fresh, the new, the exciting and the endless possibilities that lie ahead in the zone of clutter-free living. It increases our ability to show up and be fully present emotionally, engaged with our life, as opposed to being pulled down by the weight of those lead-filled bottles.
If we look to nature, we see a homeostatic system of flow whereby the natural world always endeavors to regain harmony; nothing in nature is ever stagnant, unless it has been interfered with by us humans. Perhaps there is a way we can look to nature to teach us about cycles and the natural ebb and flow that exists no matter what. It may serve us to emulate this aspect of our natural environment, and remember to let things go, pass stuff on and thus flow with all the different seasons of life.
Excerpted from Clear your Clutter by Kate Emmerson. Copyright © 2016 Metz Press. Excerpted by permission of Micro Publishing Media, Inc.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
ContentsJoin Kate's communities of support and inspiration,
2. Unpacking clutter,
3. The mangled triangle of clutter,
4. The clutter creep,
5. Facing your clutter demons,
6. Why all the invisible fishing lines?,
7. Creating space and moving forward,
8. Let's do it – day by day,