SENTIMENTAL VALUES

The ancient Chinese revered their ancestors.                                            

Perhaps this is nowhere more evident than in the ancient Chinese bronze vessels used for sacrifice.

These priceless objects were part of an elaborate ritual ceremony to commemorate the deceased, based in part, on the belief that one’s’ ancestors would continue to watch over you from the afterlife.

As long as you kept them happy, that is.

In those days, Bronze was an expensive metal, not easily obtained. It was reserved for use by the elite members of the aristocracy and upper class citizens – those that could afford to honor their ancestors properly.

Thus, by offering food and wine in these intricately carved bronze bowls and ewers, honor was maintained.

In our Western culture, we have a different set of customs that dictate how we honor our loved ones, and we do this primarily through family heirlooms and treasured keepsakes.

A common practice is to cherish an object that we know was previously loved by the deceased – such as an antique chair, a decorative object or other works of art.

It’s as if our loved ones live on in these keepsakes, and so, for sentimental reasons, we continue to keep them in our homes and our hearts.

However, at some point, we may need to ask ourselves whether these family treasures are still fulfilling their original purpose.

Do you truly love those keepsakes that you’ve treasured for so long? Are they inherently beautiful?

Or, is your devotion due to sentimental reasons only?

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IS LESS REALLY MORE?

“Less is More”  Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe

A few years ago, a friend sent me this picture.  

The house, located in downtown Toronto, Canada, was about the size of a postage stamp. It was, at the time, for sale.

This immediately captured my attention. I was intrigued, wondering what it could possibly be like to live in such a tiny space. I found the challenge of maximizing the living space in a house this size, and creating a warm and inviting interior, to be exciting!

Now, I realize that a miniature dwelling of this scale just doesn’t cut it for most of us, including myself.

If nothing else, it certainly puts things in perspective, especially if you’ve ever felt you don’t have enough room and need a bigger house.

You’re not alone.

The thing is, you can move to a larger home, but if won’t be long before you’ve once again run out of room.

Because the problem isn’t lack of room, it’s that you have too much stuff.

The bigger the house, the more things you can accumulate, and the more you accumulate, well, sooner or later there might not be room to store it all.

So the problem, or challenge, is simply to get by with less in the first place.

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HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT YOUR OoM’S LATELY?

An artist friend of mine, Julie Doane Roberts, creates what she calls OoMs. Otherwise referred to as Objects of Meaning.

We all have them, these OoMs.                                               

In fact, our OoMs are one of many reasons that we tend to collect so much stuff. Unless you are immune to this condition, you will know what I’m talking about.

Yet there is a big difference between the stuff we’ve collected over time that we really don’t need, and the many treasures we simply couldn’t live without.

Sentimental value, after all, is something we can’t put a price on.

Some time ago, I wrote an article about being the Artist of Your Life. I took a tongue-in-cheek approach to curating your various collections, in much the same way that a museum curator oversees the collections he or she is in charge of.

Be discerning, I said, as you sort through your possessions.

Once sorted, I advised you to display them prominently, with adequate lighting and an appropriate backdrop.

What I’m suggesting today is another alternative.

As the artist of your Life, why not curate your collection of memorabilia and treasures and re-purpose them into something that is a work of art, in and of itself?

I’m all for re-purposing, as you know. (It’s the 21st century buzz-word!)

Of course, when you take the time to create something even more beautiful out of your many treasures, you will be doing several things at the same time:

Creating Order Out of Chaos

Do you live in a clean, organized space full of positive energy?

We all know how we feel when our lives are out of balance. Exhausted, confused and overwhelmed.

There is a definite link between the clutter and disorganization in your home and these feelings of overwhelm.

Clearing Out Clutter

Have you ever noticed how an organized space, free of clutter, can literally free up your mind?

The theory behind this is that a cluttered home (substitute life, schedule, desk, etc) usually reveals a much deeper problem.

Recent studies have even proven a connection between clutter and excess weight, and even clutter and stress.

How amazing is that?

Freeing Up Space

Many of us have the inevitable spare room, where we discard unused, and unneeded items.

What is the energy emitted from that room? Does it weigh you down or lift you up?

Which would you prefer?

Are you ready to create some OoMs?

HOW MUCH DOES YOUR HOME WEIGH?

I finally had a chance to get caught up with my movie viewing this past weekend, something I don’t do too often.

I happened to watch “Up In The Air”, the one with George Clooney. I particular liked the Clooney character’s motivational speeches.

I found them quite, well – motivational.

Just to refresh your memory, he first posed the question:  “How much does your Life weigh?”

He then proceeded to challenge his audience to picture every single item that takes up room in the lives, and pack it into a hypothetical suitcase.

The next step was to try and move that suitcase, which of course was so laden down with accumulated stuff that it wouldn’t even budge.

The question that popped into my mind at this point was:

“How much does your Home weigh?”

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9 Seemingly Logical Reasons We Cling to Clutter

Actually, this week I’m featuring a favorite guest writer, Christine Kane. I think you will enjoy her wisdom and sense of humor.

Performer, songwriter, and creativity consultant Christine Kane publishes her ‘LiveCreative’ weekly ezine with more than 11,000 subscribers. If you want to be the artist of your life and create authentic and lasting success, you can sign up for a FRE*E subscription to LiveCreative at www.christinekane.com.

9 Seemingly Logical Reasons We Cling to Clutter by Christine Kane

“Perfection is not when there is no more to add, but no more to take away.”

– Antoine de Saint-Exupery

A retired man once told me he loved going camping with his wife because camping showed her how simple life can be “without all that bloomin’ stuff she keeps everywhere!”

He’s right!

Our lives are meant to be simple. Our intuition and creativity thrive when given freedom and space. Clutter is a disease. Each moment we ignore the reasons we hold on to things we don’t want, those things rob us of energy, health, and clarity.

If you’re a clutter-clinger, be kind to yourself. Begin with an awareness of your thoughts and excuses. For starters, read over this list to see if you can find YOUR excuse!

Clutter Excuse #1: “I’d be a bad mean horrible person if I…”

Guilt is heavy gooey energy that convinces us we’re bad people if we let go of heirlooms, knick-knacks, unwanted clothing, or unwanted gifts.

These items clutter up our lives and keep us in a comfortable – but draining – place. And conveniently, we never have to decide what we actually do want in our environment. We become environmental victims. Often, that spreads out into other parts of our lives too!

Clutter Excuse #2 – “I spent so much on it!”

Do you punish yourself for having made a bad choice by keeping the item around? Or convince yourself that you’re going to get your money’s worth – even if it drains the hell out of you?

You won’t. And it will.

We’ve all done stupid things. And we’ve all had to let them go. Now it’s your turn.

Clutter Excuse #3 – “I might need this someday.”

I often wonder how many idle telephone cords exist in the world. Way in the back of old desk drawers. Stuffed on closet shelves. They can’t be gotten rid of.

Why?

Because we might need them some day.

Evidently, some day – in spite of technological progress – you’re going to need that particular grey phone cord that came in the box with a phone you bought in 1989.

Throw it out. Now.

Same thing goes for: The broken fax machine, switch plates from your first house, and every glass flower vase that came with deliveries.

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HOW TO NARROW DOWN YOUR CHOICES, PART II

As I see it, the art of making decisions, as referred to in this article, is really about the Art of Removing Clutter and knowing When to Let Go.     

This week, we continue with the theme of Spring cleaning and getting clear, while wading through years of accumulated stuff.

Whether you are dealing with day to day decorating decisions, household clutter, or the mammoth task of downsizing your home, the options listed below will give you a place to start.

Narrow Down Your Choices

This is critical, especially if you are prone to Waffler tendencies. Like Aladdin, if you can narrow down your choices to just two or three, your task will be a lot easier.

While you sort through your possessions, limit yourself to just three piles, or categories:  Keep, Discard and Maybe.

Use large bins, if that will help.

Then be relentless as you work your way through the excess clutter that has overtaken your home.

When you are done, go back through the ‘Maybe’ pile and keep only what you absolutely can’t live without.

Be Realistic

How do you know what you can and can’t live without? Sometimes it can be really hard to decide.

Try asking yourself these questions: Does this item really serve a useful purpose? Does it give me pleasure? How often do I use it? Do I own more than one?

If your answer to the last question is Yes, then you need to ask yourself how many of XYZ do you really need?

Be honest with yourself!

If you are downsizing to a two-bedroom condo, with a small dining area, do you really have room for that 10 foot dining table, complete with extra leaves, that you inherited from Great Aunt Susie?

Probably not.

Give Yourself the Gift of Time

Unless you are in a hurry, why not sit back and take your time sorting through all those years of accumulated stuff?

For example, if you are making plans to move but construction has only just begun on your new residence, then time is certainly on your side.

The act of dealing with unwanted clutter can take many months to wade through, so the sooner you can start, the better.

The important thing is to start now.

The second most important thing is to not stop until you are done.

Take Advantage of Recycling and Local Charities

Many neighborhoods have regular recycling days two or three times a year. These events present the perfect opportunity to unload a lot of stuff.

Rest assured that as long as the items you are parting with are in good condition, someone else could always benefit from your donation.

Plus, it feels so rewarding when you’re done!

Another excellent resource would be charitable organizations that help families get back on their feet after dealing with personal crisis, financial or otherwise.

With charities, used furniture is always in demand, especially if it is in good condition. Check your local government listings to see what is available where you live.

Hire Outside Help

If you are really fearful of making a mistake, then by all means hire  outside help.

The professional interior designer, or professional organizer will save you time, money and the headache of having to deal with everything yourself.

Trust me, this is one of those times when the expense is absolutely worth it. You will keep your sanity, and sail through what could otherwise be a major crisis.

Losing Luggage, Losing Stuff

Earlier this summer, on a return trip from Hawaii, my luggage made a detour to San Jose. I live in Seattle, so while this was still on the West Coast, it wasn’t home. You know that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach? That feeling of forboding when you are about to deal with some Unplanned Event? For any of you who’ve ever had missing luggage, you will know what I’m talking about.

True, it’s not the end of the world. Worse things can happen. And that’s precisely my point. Once I got over the initial shock of arriving home without any of my ‘stuff’, I slowly accepted the situation for what it was. I started to figured out how I was going to make do, and even went so far as to explore the worse case scenario.

What if I NEVER got my suitcase back? I wouldn’t be a happy camper, but I knew I would survive. After all, it’s just stuff, and that stuff can be replaced. I also realized it would be one, very large shopping trip. I started to make lists. As it was, I didn’t get my luggage back for three days, and I was never happier to see it again than I was at that moment!

If you really think about it, isn’t it silly how attached we get to our things?

Which brings me to those piles of clutter we all have in our homes, be it a closet, a junk drawer or just papers piled on a desk. We know we should set aside some time to sort through everything and either get rid of it, donate it or better yet, recycle it. Yet we don’t.

There are any number of reasons why. We’re too busy. It’s too overwhelming. Maybe we’ll need it again – someday? Some things have sentimental value, and that’s a different story all together.

I have worked with clients who were downsizing from the family home into a small condo, or retirement home, and it can be a major project sorting through years of accumulated belongings, trying to decide what to keep and what has to go. There are family heirlooms and so many memories – some good, some bad.

Whether you are downsizing or remodeling or gearing up to re-design the rooms you live in, give yourself time, first, to thoroughly contemplate the situation. Then be ruthless. If it is out of date, invokes bad memories, or is simply old and falling apart – get rid of it. Consider re-cycling, giving to other family members or donating to charities.

Some things will always be non-negotiable, and that’s fine. Those are the things that make you happy, that nurture you and are part of who you are.