My heart twisted in fear. What now, God? I silently pleaded. Where do we go from here? Questions tumbled through my mind as I nervously rubbed my abdomen in response to the movement I felt from my unborn child. He or she was due the following month.
Barely older than teenagers, my husband and I clutched hands, our palms clammier than they’d been the first time our fingers had intertwined over 2 years prior. Due to no fault of our own, our jobs had just ended that afternoon, without notice or warning.
We had no plan, no idea of what to do next or where to go. Nobody would hire me at 8 months pregnant. He felt a sense of urgency, wanting to generate an income now for his wife and child. There was no unemployment. No time for resumes and interviews.
So we opened a business.
It had been his dream… someday, perhaps 10 years down the road, when we felt more established in life and had money saved to start a company. But now? So soon? We weren’t ready.
We jumped in anyways.
We spent the next several years well below poverty level, scrimping to get by, thankful every time a client paid before the cupboards were bare and rent was due. And though we never solicited help, we gratefully accepted each hand-me-down that was offered to us, from furniture and clothes to vehicles and toys.
The very thought of giving away any one of those items felt incredibly wasteful because we never knew when we might need something we didn’t have the cash to buy.
As the years passed, however, many items started to feel like burdens instead of blessings. Entire rooms in our home couldn’t even be used because of the excess. The things we had saved “just in case” were filling in the spaces.
And with a preschooler in the house and a new baby on the way, we needed the extra space more than we wanted the additional stuff.
As I wrestled through the emotions of knowing something needed to change, I finally realized the real waste was not getting rid of things – the real waste was hanging onto items I rarely used.
Some of the items could be enjoyed by someone else who needed them. Other things simply needed thrown away. But all of those rarely-used items had one factor in common: They were preventing my family from truly enjoying our home. The stuff was pushing out space.
And we needed the space. For life, for love, for creating memories, and for having room to invite others in without hesitation.
Figuring out what caused me to hang onto stuff was pivotal in my own journey towards creating a clutter-free life. Because until I understood the inward why, I would never make lasting progress about the outward mess.
I don’t know what’s been causing you to hold on to your own possessions. Maybe you had a house fire that caused you to lose everything, so now you want to keep what you can. Maybe a family member died suddenly and things are all you have left.
Perhaps someone in your life threw your possessions away, making you feel like what you had wasn’t important. Or, maybe you’re following patterns of those who raised you because you were never taught to clean.
Whatever has been holding you back, whatever you’ve been fighting against – that doesn’t have to define your future.
You do not have to give your past experiences permission to rule your life. You can take back your time. You can be free.
Here Are 7 Simple Ways to Begin Your Own Journey To A Clutter-Free Life:
1) Identify what’s been holding you back.
Think about what has happened in your life that’s made you resistant to, or afraid of, letting go of your possessions. Honor your memories, and comfort yourself if you have to emotionally relive painful experiences. Give yourself time to process what’s been holding you back.
2) Talk to someone about your reservations.
Tell a trustworthy friend, share with your spouse, open up in the Tidy Up Facebook community, leave a comment on this post, or send me an email. Seek out truth-tellers who can help you process your emotions.
3) Imagine that your home is already organized.
Close your eyes and pretend that your home is clutter-free, organized, and peaceful. How do you feel? How does your home look? Do you notice all the extra space that’s available when stuff isn’t blocking the way?
4) Give yourself a quick success.
Clean out one small area in your home. It can be a dresser drawer, one shelf in the bathroom closet, your medicine cabinet, or your coffee table.
Donate or toss anything you don’t use often. Work on this space until it’s completely organized, then notice how energized and amazing you feel when you’re done.
5) Focus on one room at a time.
Add another quick success to the first. Clean out a second dresser drawer or a different kitchen cabinet in the same room you worked on in step 4.
Continue doing this, giving yourself several quick successes in a row, slowly building to the more difficult areas. Whether it takes one day or three weeks, keep working in this room until it’s 100% clutter-free and organized.
6) Have a maybe box.
Don’t allow yourself to become mentally paralyzed by indecision. Have a box or basket ready for those tough-to-decide items. If you look at something for more than 10 seconds, toss it into the maybe box.
Come back to that box after the rest of the room is finished – it’s often easier to make a decision for those items when you know there’s only one measly box coming between you and a finished project.
7) Remember that throwing away items doesn’t erase memories.
People give us things to bless us. If you’re burdened by rooms full of stuff you rarely use, the items are no longer serving the giver’s intended purpose. Letting go of the item doesn’t erase the original blessing, and it certainly doesn’t erase any memories. Not at all.
Giving away unneeded items creates space for new memories, while still honoring the old.
Personal Thought/Application Question: What’s holding you back from decluttering, and how are you going to work to overcome that? Leave a note in the comments so we can encourage each other.
P.S. If you need help cleaning your house, make sure to check out the brand new FREE subscriber-only email course. It’s all about how to completely refresh your entire home in just 10 days, and you do not want to miss it! Read the details here.