Wholeness Healing Today

Clearing Clutter Jan 2010

My husband and I are preparing to move to a new home in the next few weeks. And the journey of preparation has been interesting as we muddle through 33+ years of accumulated treasures, mementos, and downright junk. I have worked hard over the years to unload my clutter as I am aware of how it feels to have clutter and what clearing it away feels like. And I opt for the second choice. But try as I might, clutter still prevailed. The process of clearing away and packing has been an emotional process for me.

The task I decided to tackle first was making the decision to have all my pictures in albums. Yes, I was aware that when one is moving, one should just dig in and pack the boxes. But I felt this strong need to put the pictures in order. It must have been that part of the process of leaving our family home of 27 years was to relive the emotional events, relationships, and traditions that we had in this home through the reminder of the memories that easily are forgotten. This was accomplished by thumbing through the pictures. I found myself checking out dates of important events as I attempted to put pictures into some chronological order. Somehow it seemed respectful to our family home and to our family time to remember all the joys, trials, disappointments, and growth that we experienced while being grounded in our home. It seemed important to give time for gratitude for the family home which embodies so much of who we are and what has been important in our lives. It has been the family grounding place, the hub, the touchstone.

And really it wasn’t so hard. I was surprised. I always had that nagging thought that I really needed to attend to the pictures. Maybe I should have dug in sooner and just gotten them done. I patted myself on the back because I was only ten years behind. I had kept up with the pictures for more years than not. But nonetheless, the task did feel monumental at times. But diligence and three full weeks of nonstop pictures in my face and we arrived. The pictures were in their place. I had reminisced, talked to the kids about important pictures that I had found, laughed with my husband about things we had forgotten and cried over some darker moments. But with each picture being honored by having a place, each memory recalled, and all things in this one little area of our 33+ years in order, I packed up the years of events and people, preparing to transition them to our new home where we would experience the opportunity to make more memories. Somehow it felt as if we could then make the transition from one very rooted family home to a new home.

And with this emotional task in order, I began the physical task of packing up our basement belongings. The basement is the place where things that we don’t feel like attending to, or don’t have time to attend to, go. It is the area that we can shut the doors if we need to and just avoid until we are ready to face it. But it was time. So I faced the monster square in the face, and said, “Bring it on”. I was surprised as I ventured courageously through our “stuff” how much of it was sitting there because of an emotional attachment, but really had not been used for years. There were times that I had to ask my husband to join me in a room, help me tackle it, not physically, but emotionally. We had to jointly decide if we needed to keep an item. I was reminded of the questions Feng Shui expert Pauline Uhing gave me when considering keeping something.

  • Do I love it?
  • Do I need it?
  • Does it reflect who I am now in my life?
  • Does it act as an environmental affirmation for me?
  • What positive and/or negative thoughts, memories, or emotions do I associate with it?
  • Does it need to be fixed or repaired, and am I willing to do so now?
  • If I moved tomorrow, would I choose to take it with me?
  • If it is time to let it go, am I going to sell, lend or give it away and when?

With that in mind, we shredded many papers, took truckloads of belongings that we were ready to release to Goodwill, gave away some of the valuable items to those who would treasure them and/or put them to good use, and sent much to the dumpster. It was a clearing for sure. Room by room we touched each item, assessed where it was to go, and then packed up what was left. And surprisingly, there was not much left to pack up. The ratio of what we kept to what we released was quite large. And I was content with it. It felt good to have reevaluated what our needs were and whether we really needed to be surrounded in so much “stuff”. Releasing the item doesn’t change our memories or our emotional ties to someone. It just cleared the stuff. Through this process, I was able to reconnect each item that had emotional ties to the memories and experiences. It wasn’t tied to the “thing”. My heart feels full even though we have cleared the clutter. And the clearing feels very nice – as if there is much more in store for us – more memories to create – more space to bring in the new.



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  • Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
    Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner

  • Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.


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