We love the four seasons here at the farm and winter is no exception. This year I’ve been hunkered down by the parlor fire working on The Lady Farmer Guide to Slow Living, full of all kinds of ideas, resources, recipes and what have you, due out this spring. (Keep reading for a preview below!) But now with the days getting longer and the promise of outdoor days in the air, I’m feeling a bit of an urge to get up and do some clearing out. Do you? The problem of “stuff” isn’t anything new, as evidenced by these words from The Old Farmer’s Almanac in 1812 (quoted from an article by Jack Savage in the 2018 edition).
“How is ….the door-yard….and the woodhouse filled with broken ploughs, dislocated wheelbarrows, hog’s nests and skunk skins? And your barn cramm’d with old barrels, sleighs, wheels, useless rakes, forks, gate posts, guide boards, and broken grindstones?”
Amusing, yes, especially since you’ll now see the 1812 clutter hanging on the walls of our favorite highway meal stop (you know the one!) or hipster coffee spots in the name of “nostalgia.” Most of us don’t need a junky barn to recognize ourselves in this admonishment, however. If we look around our own living spaces, replacing the items above with words like travel mugs, cords, catalogs, books, vases, junk mail, plastic containers, picture frames, collectibles, pens that don’t work, tape dispensers, candle holders, ceramics and on and on, we can easily see that not much has changed in terms of folks’ tendency to gather clutter.
Our surroundings affect us more than we realize. Not only do we become so accustomed to the things in our midst that we stop noticing them, but we also stop noticing their impact on our energy. Every item not only takes up space and collects dust, but carries associations, good or bad, that can influence us unconsciously. Needless to say, we don’t need things around us that silently rob us of our vitality and strength. The modern analogy would be closing apps and programs on your phone that are draining your battery. Clear your spaces and save your charge!
Now for the promised preview, here’s an activity straight out of our Lady Farmer Guide to Slow Living, that not only helps you identify any troublesome clutter spots in your home but will give you a quick technique for transforming any space.
How to Declutter Your Home
1. Take some time to walk through the different areas of your home and pay attention to how you feel in each one. Are there spaces where you feel calm and relaxed as opposed to others where you might feel more irritated or anxious? Does your breathing change when you see the pile of papers on the table or too many clothes spilling out of a drawer? Do you close the broom closet as quickly as possible before everything falls out? Pay attention to your thoughts and physical reactions in each space.
2. Use the activity above to identify one trouble area (a table top, drawer, shelf, corner, etc.)
- Remove all the items leaving empty space and spread them out on a flat surface. Have three bags right beside you as you begin to go through them–one for trash, another for donation and the other for recycling.
- Take five or ten minutes (time yourself) to look at each item quickly and decide if it can go in one of the bags. If you can’t decide immediately that it can be thrown away, donated or recycled, then set it aside.
- Repeat this process with the reduced pile until you are left with only the things that you absolutely can’t let go of at this time.
- Place them back neatly in the designated space, dusting and arranging as you go.
- Notice how that space feels to you now. Hopefully it’s more pleasing and peaceful, like you don’t mind lingering there.
Congratulations, you have just cleared a space in your life for more slow living! Repeat any time.