Imagine the organized hush of a library: you are now imagining my teenage years. As the daughter and niece of librarians, organization is in my genes. My father even had an encyclopedic knowledge–– of plants, specifically, but the detail-oriented framework was there.
Imagine my family’s surprise when they had an artistic, chaotic, sensitive, Gemini child.
I have about a million hobbies, and most of them are messy–– cooking, painting, kayak guiding, backpacking. I’m REALLY good at making messes. “Stuff” explosions regularly take over parts of my house.
My career is just as non-confirming; I’m on the advisory board of The Wild Society, and I run two businesses: Transformational Kayak Journeys and Spring Cleaning Home Organization.
So how did I get into organization as a business? I believe in my heart of hearts it started out with my environmental education roots and consciousness about consumerism. What started as a casual way to help friends became a passion when I saw the transformation they went through after letting go of a keepsake they didn’t feel connected to anymore, going through a closet and seeing how heavy an object a simple piece of clothing could be and what a release it could be to simply let it go.
There is a brightening and lightening that occurs, and it looks and feels like a weight has been lifted off their shoulders emotionally and mentally. They literally move with more ease.
So why is it that people move through their spaces with more ease after letting go of things? Why is it important to organize?
On the surface, many homes appear orderly. But there are areas that can be draining, even subconsciously. Imagine that every time you walk by a room, a part of you thinks, “I have to take care of that!” It’s like having a post-it note on the wall, and the more post-it note thoughts you have within your house, the more energy is drained.
I know that feeling.
My goal is to have someone look around their home and feel uplifted, energized and inspired.
Our homes can be beautiful museums of the past, but they must also be sacred places for the future self we want to become.
One experience I had was with a woman who had a home office in which she had piled items so high she could barely enter the room. I did most of the clearing myself, as she had a hard time even entering. Once I’d cleared the room enough for her to walk in, I noticed whenever I came near a large black notebook full of papers in the corner, she visibly tensed. When I asked her what was in the folder, she told me it held her divorce papers. The marriage had ended nearly twenty years before, and she knew she didn’t need or want the papers, but she couldn’t let them go quite yet.
I realized afterwards that in a sense, the entire room full of things was meant to bury that one item. Maybe it wasn’t on purpose, but it seemed to me that it started with that one memento that she was unknowingly trying to hide from herself.
Many months later, while creating a new home office, she suddenly announced she was ready to let go of the folder. She threw most of it into recycling and put the rest into the shred pile.
It can take time to bring forth the courage to face emotionally charged belongings, but just recognizing how we feel about them is the first step towards great healing.
Not to mention, you can actually walk through your house!
“The question of what you want to own is actually the question of how you want to live your life. Keep only those things that speak to your heart. Then take the plunge and discard all the rest. By doing this, you can reset your life and embark on a new lifestyle.” – Marie Kondō, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
These wise words have shown themselves to be true time and again with myself, my friends, and my clients.
So what are the beginning nuts and bolts of getting this process moving? Here are some of the tips to finding a deeper sense of calm and joy through organizing.
1. Figure out your goals for the space
If your goal is to dust and vacuum to make your living room sparkle, that’s easy-peasy and will feel good when you’re done, but if you’re looking for a spring cleaning that will have a more profound effect, give yourself time to think about and write down your larger life goals.
When there are larger goals in our hearts and minds, it’s easier to see how clutter keeps us from those things and to be inspired to free space for things to come in that we REALLY want.
2. Be honest with yourself
There’s a balance between knowing when to be gracious and when to let go.
What is your clutter and extraneous “stuff” truly saying about your life and your state of mind? Look at each item with new eyes. Instead of just walking through a space, feel your way through. How do you REALLY feel about that book your highschool boyfriend gave you? How about the cute little rooster towels that don’t really match your kitchen–– the ones from dear Aunt Edith?
Giving ourselves permission to release these items can turn our houses into homes.
3. Keep a donation box and a recycling container in your house
Have a plan for where and when to donate and empty when they’re full.
4. Reward yourself
This trains your brain to enjoy clearing clutter and letting go of things. Organizing can take a great deal of energy. Have a reward planned ahead of time and make sure it’s something that will motivate you–– a hot bath, a hot date, a hot double-fudge brownie with a glass of red wine–– whatever blows your skirt up and will make you truly happy when you’re finished.
Just don’t preward yourself, and this should work like a charm!
5. A place for everything and everything in its place
There’s a reason this saying has been around since the 1500’s: cleaning is much easier when everything has a place. If you’re having a hard time finding a place for it, it’s time re-evaluate.
Do you REALLY want it? Do you even need it?
6. Ask for help when you need it
Sorting with someone you have a connection with can make it more of a challenge, which is where the home organizer comes in. A non-judgemental, objective presence can provide clarity and keep you on track when needed. Don’t be afraid to enlist the professionals.
After this process, the decluttering phase, is complete comes what we call the “eyewash:” vacuuming, dusting and fluffing pillows, and it’s so much easier to do after the decluttering. Ordinary cleaning will have a different and more complete feeling to it. This final step of tidying, cleaning and dusting your newly acquired space puts the bow on this gift to yourself.
Any age, any time is a good time to begin. Let’s get started!
For more tips, guidance and support, visit www.SpringCourtright.com
Special thanks to April Joy, a dear friend with a big heart who has run a house cleaning and organizing business for 20+ years, for her contributions to this article.