Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Less Life Clutter

Traveling Lighter. I write about it sometimes. When I'm not distracted by life. By the clutter of life.

The obvious - the practical, like de-cluttering the countertops, the cabinets, the closets.

But it goes deeper than that, much deeper.

In Decorating Without Fear, Sharon Handy-Robie says,
"I believe that there is a direct correlation between the chaos in our home and the chaos in our lives; if either is out of balance, the other will be affected. We may not be able to control the outside world and its chaos, but we can bring a little peace and order to our lives simply by cleaning a little clutter from our homes."

To that, I would add, adding balance by cleaning a little of the clutter from our lives.

What would that be? What is it that clutters up our lives, creating chaos and disorder?

 There are stress points, I admit, I prefer to pet and coddle, care for and protect. Focus on.

That sounds funny when I look at it that way, doesn't it? Pet and coddle, care for and protect what stresses me? From the outside, it is easy to see the mistaken perspective.

Don't we all know people who prefer to fondle and pamper and caress their stress? They carry it around like a chihuahua in a bag, its head sticking out, petting it and carrying it everywhere for everyone to see. They talk about it, name it, carry the weight of it with them. They want everyone to see and appreciate the burden they carry. To pay attention to them, adore them and their baggage.

(I don't have a photo of a cute little dog in a bag. Our dogs are too big to carry around in a purse.)

Perhaps we know those people a little too closely. Ourselves. Me. What I perceive as horrible, could be an exciting adventure to someone else. What I perceive as a challenge, someone else could be eager to meet as an opportunity.

Our internalized conflict becomes a heart condition and blocks our ability to travel lighter. We are cluttered by the anxious attention we give to what stresses us.

If you want a pet to fondle and pamper, get a dog or a cat. At least they can love you back. Stress will not. I am not a psychologist, and I don't mean to over-simplify tough issues, but how we choose to perceive our situations will make a critical difference to whether we travel with a heavy load or have a lighter journey.

I let things get to me. The tension builds, the fog settles in clouding my ability to see clearly. My husband is great at pointing out my imperceptions. Last night, as things piled up, I let the weight of it all get to me. He reminded me to take it one day at a time, to focus on what was needed just for today. Good words. I am grateful.

As I continue to work through our house, clearing out clutter and the unneeded stuff we carry around with us, I also watch for the clutter of life. Letting go of the unnecessary and finding joy and gratefulness for all we do have. As I pay attention to all that is there, I pay less attention to all that I perceive is not there.

 Luke 15 tells of two brothers. One did not realize all he had, wanted more, and demanded his expected due from his father. The other brother did not realize all that was his, either, and resented the attention placed on his brother. Neither of them understood their father's love and care and concern for them, all he had given to provide for them. Their incorrect perceptions influenced their attitudes. Their perceptions biased their actions.

My friend sent me a link while I was writing this that ties it up nicely. It links to an artist's blog, which links to her source (as it goes in the blogging world).

Her burning question: What do you want that you already have? It is all a matter of perspective. She says, "...wish lists can distract us from what's already working in our life...notice how rich you already are..." We can change our perspective from what is lacking, to all that is already there. From all we think we want, to what we have.

Change my perspective. Look at my stress points, smile at them, and use them as tools to grow and build strength. Rather than caressing my stress, smile and laugh and gratefully appreciate all that I do have. I can clear off my counters and cupboards and appreciate the peace and order it brings to life, all of life.

                                                  The ability to travel lighter.

images above from the book, Decorating Without Fear, Sharon Handby-Robie


  1. You've got my thinker going! Yes, people do coddle their stresses. (Do I?) I think we get the idea that stressed people are high achievers, so it makes us feel like maybe we are? But stress that you just carry around and pet and coddle and show off only cripples and bogs down. Good insights here.

    1. This is very much an on-going, in process topic for me. Finding the perspective to be truly, deeply grateful.

  2. Slowing down, being thankful for what GOD has given...life long lessons.

  3. Amazing post - - especially that whole paragraph about carrying stress around like a "chihauhau in a bag". That paragraph got me, well, the whole post got me:) Thanks for sharing your wisdom. It helps me as I sort thru that crazy life clutter.