Becoming Clutter Free with Sharon Paavola

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Clutter Free and Me

You know Linus and his blanket from the Charlie Brown cartoons, right? Well, there’s Sharon and her clutter, okay? As a little girl I was challenged with all my dolls and accessories. I shared a room with my older sister who did not do clutter. Every Saturday was clean your room day. What an ordeal for me! It continued on into college. Spaces were getting smaller and I was collecting more “things”. My dad was amazed at my ability to pack it all into the trunk to go home each spring. As I married and had children it became like a snowball rolling down the hill increasing in size and multiplying.

I recall a friend visiting for a playgroup, who commented on how messy our dressers were. She never returned. I felt shame realizing not everyone lived like I did. There were neat people. How could I become one?

Over thirty-five years have gone by since that day. The ebb and flow of clutter remains… on my mind constantly, always like a foreboding storm. My friend, Kathi Lipp has written a book for people like me. She understands that shame, that forever overwhelming feeling, and the energy-zapping demon of clutter.

“The problem is that clutter can become so overwhelming that to try and attack even a little of it can feel defeating. So instead, you give up and live in the piles.

Sharon P 3Clutter never lets you settle on one thing. There is too much distraction, too much stop and start; too much ‘I’ll get to it when I can.’

It shames us. It steals our joy. It makes us exhausted. It brings up bad memories. It keeps you guilty…

Clutter keeps talking to us, weighing us down, and keeps us from living the life we were designed to live.”

She gets me. But then she offers words of hope:

Sharon P 2“In the next several chapters, we’re going to talk about how our head keeps us bogged down in clutter – the lies we tell ourselves to keep clutter alive and how we can retrain our mind to stop trusting in stuff to meet our needs.”

Really, Kathi?

I have read several of Kathi’s other books. Most recently The Cure for The Perfect Life and her practical, spiritual, and humorous ways to handle my procrastination worked wonders so why not trust her with my clutter? She invited me to be a part of her book launch and I accepted, willing to be clutter vulnerable with the world.

Clutter Free discusses how to get rid of stuff, how to keep it from coming into my home; and why I keep it, and more.

The chapters on what it is costing me tugged at my heart knowing my clutter keeps me from entertaining, from enjoying my hobbies, and from following God’s plan for my life.

As of today, at least 25o items are gone, most of them trash and some to give away. My mom’s piano and unnecessary items from my remodeled kitchen have found homes.

Freedom, peace…HOPE

Sharon P

Sharon Paavola

Sharon writes about hope, healing, and God’s love along with book reviews.

Purchase Clutter Free – Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your Space on Amazon or Barnes & Noble now!

Becoming Clutter Free with Alexandra Kuykendall

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I’ll Just Put it Here for Now by Alexandra Kuykendall

We have a house with a front door that almost never gets used. Sure we open it to go on the front porch to get the mail, but almost everyone who comes in and out of our house does so by way of the garage and our mud room. The “mud room” is a landing place between our kitchen, laundry room, garage and stairs to our basement. In other words, it’s a vortex of stuff.

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And because we are a family of six, we’re talkin’ a lot of stuff. Six people’s worth of backpacks and cleats and sweaters and artwork and leftover lunches, to dump every time we walk in the house.

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On top of the regular inflow of clutter, its snow season where we live. Which means for the last month and a half we’ve needed snow boots, hats, gloves, scarves and snow pants for sledding about two times a week. The rest of the days, a single jacket will do because it’s back to Colorado sunshine.

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A few days ago, I could barely walk through, not to mention over, all of the MESS that had landed in this spot. Visitors coming in and out of our house were greeted by this “welcome mat” of coats and socks and school papers and lunch boxes strewn everywhere. I needed to do something about this disaster of a space.

I grabbed Kathi Lipp’s newest book, Clutter Free: Quick and easy steps to simplifying your space. This is what I found:

“It’s so easy to just put things somewhere “for now” and then leave them there day after day, week after week, month after month until our house becomes a cluttered mess.”

This landing had become our “for now” spot with all things coming in and out of our home. Kathi asks, “What is causing you to put things down “for now”? Are you feeling too rushed in your everyday life? Is there never a chance to reset?” Ummm….does she have a nannycam positioned in this mudroom of mine? I needed to take the hour required to clear this space of its clutter.

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I decided our mud room should hold only immediate needs. The jackets, shoes, backpacks, and gloves we need TODAY as we walk out the door. There shouldn’t be soccer backpacks hanging on hooks because it’s not soccer season. There should be no flip flops in shoe bins when we have snow on the ground. And there should not be four coat options per person when we can only each wear one jacket, one hat, one pair of gloves at a time. All of these things we “put here for now” have overstayed their welcome and need to be tucked away in coat closets and bedroom closets to be brought out in a few days or a few months when we need them.

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So I did just that, moved everything back to its designated spot (and in the process redesignated some locations) and gave a bag full of shoes and hats away in the process (tips I also learned from Kathi’s book). With all of the piles cleared out it felt as though I could breathe when I stepped in my house. And when my husband walked in the door he proclaimed, “Praise Jesus!” Well, yes, always. But also thank you Kathi Lipp for a practical nudge to get the clutter out.

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Alexandra Kuykendall is a mother of four, ages twelve to three, Alexandra Kuykendall spends her days wiping. Wiping counters, wiping bottoms and wiping tears. Alex lives in Denver with her family where she serves as the Specialty Content Editor for MOPS International (Mothers of Preschoolers). Her first book, The Artist’s Daughter: A Memoir, chronicles her questions of identity from girlhood through motherhood.

Find her at www.AlexandraKuykendall.com.

Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

Purchase Clutter Free – Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your Space on Amazon or Barnes & Noble now!

When Facing Your Clutter Feels Too Overwhelming

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When Facing Your Clutter Feels Too Overwhelming by Cheri Gregory

  • “You take everything so
  • “You over-react to everything.”
  • “You’re just too

I’ve heard these accusations all my life. I’ve also been labeled

  • High Maintenance
  • Attention Seeker
  • Drama Queen

For four-and-a-half decades, I thought there was something very wrong with me.

That I was defective.

Beyond repair.

Then, I read Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking and learned that I’m not defective, just different.

I’m an HSP: a Highly Sensitive Person.

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HSPs and Clutter

According to “16 Habits of Highly Sensitive People,” an HSP is likely to

  1. be overwhelmed by strong sensory input.  (i.e. visual, auditory, etc.)
  1. be bothered by intense stimuli, like loud noises or chaotic scenes.
  1. feel more deeply.
  1. be more emotionally reactive.
  1. take longer to make decisions.
  1. become more upset if she makes a “bad” or “wrong” decision.
  1. take criticism more personally and experience its effects more strongly.

De-cluttering can trigger every one of these, causing me to over-react, shut down, or both. (Sometimes simultaneously!)

I’ve learned that in order to stay out of the “Overwhelmed Zone” while de-cluttering, I need two things: awareness and an HSP-specific plan.

Awareness

In Clutter Free, Kathi says,

Owning is not bad. But we must understand that there is a price to be paid for everything we own. Owning too much chips away at our freedom.

HSPs can pay a higher-than-average price for owning to much stuff, and the de-cluttering process can be especially stressful.

For years, I felt blind-sided by my own reactions to the de-cluttering process, even though they happened every time I tried. When I started to accept and even predict them, they became far more manageable.

Every time I de-clutter, I have three main reactions:

  1. The visual chaos becomes over-stimulating. Suddenly.
  1. Sorting through my stuff evokes emotions. BIG emotions.
  1. Deciding what to keep and what to toss takes time. Lots of time.

Quote-6An HSP-Specific Plan 

When I de-clutter, I give myself these permissions and reminders:

  1. DO start small. Set a timer and do what you can in a short time span. Then take a break.

Don’t force yourself to keep going–that break is vital. (And whatever you do, don’t haul everything out of a closet and spread it out all over the room to “force” yourself to deal with it all!)

  1. DO acknowledge your feelings. De-cluttering is a loss process. Every item has a story; much of your stuff holds memories. Honor your heart even as you let go.

Don’t get stuck in guilt or shame. You don’t have to keep gifts to “prove” that you love the giver. You don’t have to hang on to old purchases to “punish” yourself for spending so much money.

  1. DO develop criteria ahead of time. This prevents analysis paralysis. For example, deciding “If I haven’t worn it in ___ months, out it goes!” puts you in an objective frame of mind.

Don’t force yourself to make big decisions on the spot. It’s okay to say, “I’m not ready” about an area or an item. It’s okay to move on for now and come back.

Finding What Works for You

Every HSP is unique. Make your own lists so you can become aware of what happens for you…and what works for you.

Be sure to check back next Monday, when several special guests will share their HSP Clutter Free stories and tips!

Wonder if you, too, might be an HSP?  Subscribe to Cheri’s blog and receive your FREE “HSP–Who, Me?” PDF.

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Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

Becoming Clutter Free with Luna Leverett

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A year ago we moved into a wonderful home after living in a tiny apartment for three and a half years. I had visions of making this place a home, but we ended up dumping boxes on the floor and leaving them there.  When people came to visit, I picked up all the stuff around the common living areas, stuffed it into grocery bags, and hid the bags next to the boxes in my master bedroom making sure to keep the door closed. IMG_8582

It isn’t fun to sleep surrounded by chaos, but any time I would set out to clean things up, I was so overwhelmed not knowing where to start or what to do with all of the things in the piles on the floor.  I’d end up literally feeling exhausted and take a nap.  The chaos was like kryptonite defeating my best plans.

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Reading Kathi Lipp’s Clutter Free gave me the information I needed to not only deal with the physical aspect of the chaos but also understand the mental and spiritual aspects of WHY I make the choice to hold on to things or continue to believe that purchasing more stuff will make me happy.  The first part of the book had such great insight that explained exactly what is flawed with my thinking about stuff.  IMG_8577

It’s tempting to skip this information and just get to the “how to” part of the book, but understanding the WHY was the permanent change in the way I think about everything in my house that I needed.  Even though I focused on decluttering my master bedroom first, I found myself questioning the value of items I came across in every room and closet throughout the house. IMG_8666Now, I can’t help but declutter as I go about my daily routine and come across items asking myself, “Do I currently use it? Do I really love it? Would I buy it again?”  Heck, I even watched my husband throw away a piece of equipment when he finally admitted that it wasn’t worth keeping around because when he did try to use it, it only worked half of the time.

I spend my time blogging and speaking to women about identifying their priorities and arranging their lives to reflect those priorities. Whether it’s Christmas, your New Year’s goals, or how you want to raise your children, when you identify what means the most to you, you realize what DOESN’T and you can get rid of those things. Kathi hit it on the head when she wrote:

At some point, we need to end some things so we can hold on to the things that are most important to us.  And when we define the things that are truly important to us, we can start recognizing the things that are not important to us and eliminate those things from our life.

Once I got that concept regarding my stuff, the chaos no longer had control over me.  I had the power to look at sections of my house and attack them with the game plan Kathi explains so simply.

This book isn’t about micromanaging the possessions we have, it’s about not letting the emotional aspect of the possessions run our lives.  Because of understanding the “why” and learning the “how to” that is in Clutter Free, I know what to keep and what to give away. It’s freeing and now when I go to bed, instead of being surrounded by boxes, bags, and stress, I’m surrounded by peace, comfort, and beauty.

You can find out more about Luna at her website!

Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

Becoming Clutter Free with Mary Lou Caskey

 

Guest-Post-CFOur post today contains Mary Lou Caskey’s testimonial about Clutter Free.

“Kathi, thank you so much for your book, Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your Space.

You shine in so many areas, including encouraging others with God’s Grace, making changes from the inside-out and making things FUN!

I appreciate how the book is written from someone who understands the struggle! The book is filled with GOLDEN NUGGETS that honestly relate to so many areas of life, not just clutter!

Your teaching and tips resonate with me and have made a difference in my life. For example, in just one 15 minute project alone, I received peace, clarity, freedom, hope and so much more.

I had stacks of “ideas” that were costing me time and mental energy to go through each time I needed to find an idea! You will see from the photos that I now have a “clean slate” to work with. Thank you!”

Here is Mary Lou’s before picture of her desk:

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Here is picture of Mary Lou’s desk after she spent a little bit of time decluttering:

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If you want to read more about Mary Lou’s experience with Clutter Free, visit her blog!

While you’re there, sign up for her 5 Weight Loss Myths or her 10 Day Turnaround!

Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

Cheri Gregory – Be Longing


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Be Longing by Cheri Gregory

I hate her.

As I stare at the boxes of belongings going to the Goodwill, I hate the woman who bought all this stuff in the first place.

My past self.

What were you thinking?!?  I demand.

This, of course, is the heart of the problem.

I wasn’t thinking when I bought all this stuff.

I was longing.

Longing to be.

I felt an endless ache for be-longing.

So I bought easily into the lie: You can buy in order to become!

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Buying to Become

Through the years, I’ve purchased dozens (perhaps hundreds!) of versions of myself.

My boxes of belongings are like the Barbie isle at Toys R Us:

The piles of card stock, drawers of punches, and boxes of photo albums still in shrinkwrap?

Scrapping Cheri.

The mandoline with fifteen attachments, the ice cream cookie sandwich maker, and that 20-year-old stack of brand-new cookbooks?

Cooking Cheri.

Yoga mat, Denise Austin DVDs, and NIB cross-training shoes?

Fit-n-Fabulous Cheri.

You won’t find evidence of Awful Evil Cheri in any of these boxes.

No, the problem is far more subtle.

The problem is that I’ve bought so many versions of myself, I haven’t been able to find my self.

My one self.

The woman God created me to be.

I’ve tried on so many different lives that I’ve failed to live my own.

Trapped by Belongings

I tried to satisfy my be-longings with belongings.

But my excess belongings ended up owning me.

My excess belongings have taken

  • my money.
  • my space.
  • my time.
  • my energy.
  • my peace.

My excess belongings have stolen everything I need to discover who I truly am.

Free to Be

But here’s the good news:

As I surrender excess external belongings, internal transformation is occurring.

I’m noticing two things in particular:

1) I’m admitting who I am not.

I’m not a scrapper or gourmet cook or athlete.

Or any of the other versions of me represented by the stuff in my boxes of belongings.

I didn’t really long to be any of them

My longing went far deeper.

I longed to belong.

2) I’m finding space to be me.

I’m finding where I belong.

And to Whom I belong.

“Quite simply, every piece of clutter I give away gets me closer to the life I’m designed to live. One of peace. One of freedom.” (Pg. 35)

The more clutter you release, the better you can hear God’s call on your heart.

You’ll find that he’s not a cruel circus master, demanding that you live dozens (or hundreds!) of lives.

He’s a loving, rescuing shepherd.

Who will lead you into a spacious place.

Where you belong. With Him.

And where you can live your one life well.

Cheri

 

Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

It’s a New Year! Time to Form Some Happy Habits!

Harvest House, my publisher for Happy Habits for Every Couple, is doing a “New Year, New You” promotion and they’ve included my book in it!

From January 6 – 14, Happy Habits for Every Couple will be $9.99 for the ebook version. This is such a great deal!

You can purchase it at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Google Play or Kobo.

Not familiar with the book? Here’s what it’s all about:

Happy Habits - smallWhen was the last time you flirted with your husband? Was it before you had kids? Do you spend more time on the couch with your wife watching movies or with a bag of chips watching The Game? Does your idea of a hot date include a drive-thru and springing for the extra-large fries? What would your marriage look like if for 21 days you turned your attention to happy habits that will better your relationship? Plenty of books describe how to improve a marriage, how to save a marriage, even how to ramp up intimacy in a marriage. In Happy Habits for Every Couple, Kathi Lipp and husband Roger show you practical, fun-filled ways to put love and laughter back into your marriage. Here are just a few of the results you’ll see when you put Happy Habits for Every Couple into practice: new levels of warmth and tenderness in your relationship; a deeper sense of security with your spouse; and a marriage filled with fun and flirting.

If you haven’t given up the dream of being head-over-heels with your spouse again, following this 21-day plan will give you just the boost you need to bring you closer together.

Why not start today creating some new and happy habits?

 

Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

Becoming Clutter Free with @AnnetteWhipple

Are you ready to be Clutter Free? Start the 21-Day Clutter Free challenge! Sign up now!

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I was thrilled to join Kathi’s launch team for Clutter Free: Quick and Easy Steps to Simplifying Your Space. I frequently blog about cleaning and organizing. (My blog is even named This Simple Home. Unfortunately, simple living is more of a goal than our current status.)  I have a much deeper problem of STUFF. With a home overwhelmed with stuff, cleaning and organizing are futile. Kathi doesn’t just challenge and motivate us to remove the clutter from our home, she asks us to examine ourselves to get the heart of the matter of why we bring more into our homes so it can stop.

I’ve read a number of articles and books about cleaning and organizing, but Clutter Free is the first to focus upon my problem of clutter. In addition to the typical, “Do I use it? Do I love it?” questions, Kathi has added an all-important question to ask myself: “Would I buy it again?” Whether I am going through my kitchen gadgets, my children’s clothing, or my office supplies this question is key for me.
In about twenty minutes, I cleaned out my kitchen gadget drawer. Using Kathi’s three-box and two-bag system, I found 18 items to donate, 14 to trash, and 20 which needed a new home. That’s 52 items which didn’t deserve to be in one drawer!
Next, I took my boxes and bags to the basement. The whole basement is a problem area (linked to additional photos of my reality). As Kathi suggested, I chose a smaller area to work and filled my boxes and bags.
That’s right. The cheap, white piece of furniture is missing a drawer front. Don’t worry…it’s empty. Just sitting there taking up space in the basement. It makes perfect sense, right?Yet, before long, I made some excellent progress.
This is the new area. As I work to clean the entire basement, I’m sure this desk will be a bit of a work space. After that, we’ll reevaluate its usefulness. I set the crate of children’s books in that convenient spot so I can fill it with even more book to remove from our home. The shelf has the craft items on it. This past summer we set up the shelf and purchased the plastic shoeboxes. Before that, all of that shelved items were on, under, and around the desk area. Though I haven’t labeled the plastic boxes yet, I can now find what I need.
My husband typically holds onto even more stuff than me. He may not be as enthusiastic as me, but he has surprised me at just how much he is helping by saying we can donate items we’ve been holding onto for far too long…just in case we need them. (Obviously, I related well to the chapter titled “Just in Case.”) I think we both needed Kathi’s 2,000 item clutter challenge.
Within about a week’s time, I have collected 200 items to remove from my home. (I’m keeping track on a 2,000 item printable I created. I even made a separate one for my children.)  It’s invigorating. Thank you, Kathi, for writing Clutter Free. It has truly inspired me. I can’t wait to pass it on (to keep my clutter minimal) to another who is ready to make some big changes in her life.

Annette

Visit me at…

This Simple Home

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Cheri Gregory — When You Care Enough to Keep the Very Best

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I gasp, freeze, and reach reverently for the small grey box.

I haven’t seen this for at least twenty years.

It’s Day 5 of The Great Gregory Garage Gutting, and I’m finally sorting through dozens of boxes that haven’t seen the light of day since our last move.

(Which was … <cough> … four years ago.)

I’m not going thru just any boxes.  Oh no. I’m finally opening all the boxes marked “Misc. Stuff.”

Packed in desperation, each one is crammed with a psychotic disarray of our most precious belongings (which we’d saved to pack last) and chaotic clutter (which we’d refused to give up.)

It’s while slogging through the second-to-the-last “Misc. Stuff” box that I find this unexpected treasure, an item I’ve long since given up as lost and gone forever:

When You Care Enough to Keep the Very Best IMAGEThe gold pocket watch I gave Daniel as fifth anniversary gift more than twenty years ago.  He loved it and wore it constantly.

When the battery gave out, he gave it to me to take care of. I set it aside for that mythical moment called “When I Have More Time.”  Years passed, and eventually, I realized I had no clue where it was.

Lost?

Stolen?

Now, in a minor miracle, it’s right here.

One tiny treasure we truly value, rescued from mountains of “Misc. Stuff.”

As I look from the overflowing trash can to my tiny To Keep stack, the sickening truth hits me in the gut: the ratio of worthless to worthwhile is appalling.

We have invested so much time, energy, and money into packing and storing boxes upon boxes of “Misc. Stuff” that we haven’t have the time, energy, or money to take care of what we actually value.

This habit stops here.

I put the pocket watch in my purse and Google a local jewelry store.  Later in the day, a kindly gentleman oohs and ahhhhs over the watch as he makes it shine and tick again.

And on this day, I declare an end to “Misc. Stuff” boxes once and for all.

“Misc. Stuff” boxes lure us into believing that we can “keep it all” without negative consequences.

But we can’t.

When we try to keep everything, we end up caring for nothing.

As Kathi says, “If you love it, keep it and enjoy it. If not, get rid of it and make room for the most important things in your life.”

So our family has adopted this new motto:

“We will keep only what we care for, and we will care for what we keep.”

You’re welcome to make it yours.

Did you enjoy Cheri’s post When Your Care Enough to Keep the Very Best? Cheri is doing a give-away of both Clutter Free and The Cure for the Perfect Life over on her blog. Don’t miss this chance to win these two books!

Christmas Un-Project #5 Update your address book

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