Monday, December 22, 2008

Focus Challenge - Month 10

This month's Focus Challenge comes during the time that a person who struggles with mental clutter would identify as a "difficult" time of year. I'm not knowledgeable on the traditions of all religions and all cultures, but I am guessing that most of us are celebrating during this season by exchanging gifts in some way.

After working on ourselves and our spaces for many months to slowly (one-item-a-day) release clutter from our lives, this may be the time of year when we could take in a whole lot more. I say could because the choice is ours. There is no guilt allowed here in the 365 Days of Decluttering Challenge...whether in decluttering past clutter or present clutter!

We'll receive an item and go through the wrenching dance between our mind and heart, or even between us and others, about whether we should keep the item. If, instead, we feel positive feelings and the sentence reads, "We'll receive an item and feel ___ (positive feeling here)", the end result will undeniably be we will keep the item.

For experiences that have a "should", realize that you've given up the power of your choice to clutter...both physical and mental!

An end result with a "will" in it is most importantly a decision of your own choosing. A much better way of living, don't you agree?

Hopefully, we have been taught civilized manners and are gracious when receiving a gift. Regardless of it feeling like clutter, mental or otherwise, we know (or are learning) that we are not obligated to accept mental clutter attached to a gift. And, we are already gaining momentum in purging physical clutter from our life. We won't be stopped by this physical clutter.

Only in a private moment with ourselves, after showing kindness to the gift-giver for their thoughtfulness, do we choose to allow the gift into our life or choose to let the clutter go.

Your Focus Challenge is to focus your decluttering efforts for the next month on mental decluttering. For now, it will be on gifts. As the new year begins, with a newer "you" than the last, you will also be setting up a foundation for purging even more clutter from your life.

Happy Holidays to you. Here's to an even Happier New Year!

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  1. O my! You have validated what I was grappling with, and that is to actually hand off some of the (few) gifts I received this holiday rather than, as you put it, accepting them into my space. Two mugs went to Goodwill already, and a strange 2009 calendar is waiting for a neighbor girl to stop by. This has been freeing, to say the least. Now I am on to my BIG project of paring down all my decorations and all my mother's decorations that I inherited. I have a box for the Humane Society Thrift Shop and one for my neighbor's ebay business. Our living room is full of boxes. My goal is to reduce them considerably. I HATE this kind of project! But I keep telling myself that this is a gift to me.

    Happy New Year, Guru!

  2. You are an inspiration. Happy New Year, Lydia!

  3. I hope it's ok to join your challenge belatedly, but I'm in! Love the blog.

  4. Chaotic Kitten: You are very welcome to join us. This decluttering challenge is FOR YOU and you are only accountable TO YOU. Jump in right where you are and begin your decluttering journey too!

    Thanks about the blog. I'm trying. Can you believe almost a year ago I had rarely even read a blog? :-)

  5. So timely! Suzanne you really are so "in tune" lately. I realize it's finally January that I'm reading this. But it is still so appropriate as we are continuing to asses and find homes for some of the new items we've acquired as gifts.

    This year I immediately passed on some things I knew I'd never use or love right away. I know the decluttering challenge has had a lasting effect. I never before would have easily let go of something immediately after receiving it. Even our eldest DS opened and rec'd a gift, thanked the receiver graciously and then proceeded to tell his father and I that he didn't think he'd enjoy playing with it. His younger DB overheard and piped up right away "I'll take it" and he gave it to him right away without a moment's hesitation. The joy I felt at that moment, knowing I hadn't scarred my children with the mental clutter of keeping something because someone gave it to them was overwhelming and nearly had me in tears.

    Our whole family was so at the opposite end of the spectrum just a year ago. It's really amazing and the mental clutter is starting to be released right along side of the physical. It's an amazingly wonderful and peaceful feeling!!!

    ;) Ella

  6. You've once again done it with such a time appropriate challenge. I'm always amazed at how "in tune" you seem to be. This really hits home with me this year for sure. We're still gradually assessing and finding homes for some of the gifts we've rec'd this year.

    I have to tell you I did something I don't think I've ever done before in my 34 years of life. I immediately passed on some of the gifts I rec'd, no guilt, no harm, no fouling up my soon to be peaceful home. I was amazed at how free I felt over making the decision right away and not having that guilt weighing me down.

    I also have to share with you a moment that happened Christmas Eve at DH's mother's apartment. This is one of those moment's I'll probably always remember. Our eldest DS opened a gift and thanked his grandparent's very graciously. He then came over to his father and I and told us he didn't think he'd enjoy playing with his new toy. Our youngest DS overheard the exchange and piped right up with "I'll take it!" and our eldest immediately handed him the new gift still intact in it's it's packaging without a moment's hesitation.

    The meaning behind the moment to me is that DH and I haven't scarred our children for life as I'd feared. Our almost desparate hanging onto things and people in our lives the last few years due to DH's Ex's attack tactics hasn't had a lifelong negative effect as I feared. I was overjoyed at that moment to see our progress was so far reaching in less than a year's time. Talk about an amazingly wonderful and peaceful feeling!

    Thanks yet again,
    ;) Ella

  7. Ella: Thank you, and you're very welcome!

    I did something I don't think I've ever done before in my 34 years of life. I immediately passed on some of the gifts I rec'd, no guilt, no harm, no fouling up my soon to be peaceful home.

    WOO HOO!! You kept this strictly between you & the clutter-no guilt allowed! WTG!!

    And, reading about your child learning not to let guilt clutter his life too. Wow, awesome, love it!

    He was able to see that the gift was clutter and give it to someone else, for whom it would be wanted and not clutter at all. Please tell him "Great job!" and give him a high-5 for me. :-)

  8. I think I've hit another bump in the guilt clutter. I finally got my son to let go many of this old toys. (They were kept in bins underneath his bed for years because he wasn't ready to let go.) Now I'm having trouble letting go of them. I have this idea that I can pass them on to his kids in the future. Help!

  9. Yay, congrats on helping your child to realize what he truly needs, wants, uses, etc. and teaching him that it's OK to let it go. With that said, you will have to remind yourself that it's OK to let it go.

    There are great resources to read online or books to purchase regarding dealing with mental clutter like this. All I can add are some reasons why I think keeping stuff for later isn’t worth it.

    * Clutter should not own real estate space. If I don’t love it, want it, need it and use it, there must be a compelling reason for me to keep clutter.

    * Most children’s things wear quickly these days. To me, clothing and toys are rarely worth saving for later generations. Future children may not be interested in the same toys. And, since we are talking about children who will be using these things many, many years from now, it just doesn’t make sense to me. We have no idea what life will be like then. There are so many advancements in entertainment that toys of today will most likely not be interesting. If you want to save a few of the good basic imagination-stimulating toys (like blocks, wood puzzles, or other well-made, stand-the-test-of-time objects), then OK.

    * I don’t want to pass on mental clutter to future generations. I am hoping to lead my children by example regarding stuff. Objects are just stuff until we place an emotion on them. By choosing to live in the moment, I intend to teach them to feel at peace.

    Good luck. Mental clutter is much harder to purge than physical clutter!


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