Friday, April 06, 2007

just throw out 50 things

I read a great article ("The Motivator" column) in the latest issue of Real Simple magazine (April 2007). It was written by life coach Gail Blanke, author of Between Trapezes: Flying Into a New Life With the Greatest of Ease.

Says Blanke:

"...when I coach people, I always ask them to throw things out. But not just a few things. At the end of the second or third session, I ask everyone I work with to go home and throw out 50 things.

"In fact, I not only ask them to throw out 50 things but also ask them to make a list of what they're throwing out, so they can look at it later and actually feel lighter. Here's why: When you start throwing out a lot of physical clutter and you get on a roll, a new urge kicks in - the desire to clear out all the clutter in your mind."

Blanke goes on to say that it's easy to get into the swing of throwing things out - just start with the obvious. Her mother once offered some sage advice: "If you don't know what to do with it, or where to put it, or why you ever bought it in the first place, or if looking at it depresses you, throw it out," she'd say. "Never keep anything that makes you feel heavy or weighs you down."

That single sock you've been hanging onto for years (just in case you ever find its mate - or wear out one half of another pair that matches it)? Gone.

That coupon for herbal tea that you keep in your wallet because your friend gave it to you - because she knows you used to drink herbal tea (but you don't anymore - although you probably should, but that would mean finding a place to keep the tea, and really, your cupboards are too full already - besides, you never liked the taste of herbal tea anyhow)? Recycle it.

What about those pennies? You know, the ones that reproduce on the top of your dresser, or in the corners of your desk and kitchen drawers. Maybe you're "organized," and keep a colony of them in a jar in your closet. Gather them up (along with the rest of your small coins) and take them to the automatic counting machine at the grocery store (which reminds me - I need to write a separate post on those machines - I love them!), or dump them into a charity coin box (which is what I do with all my spare change as soon as the cashier hands it to me).

I've already started my list. It looks something like this:
  1. Antique white china wash basin. I bought it at a rummage sale because I loved it, but I have no place to put it. And I never use it.
  2. Inexpensive black platform flip-flops. I love how tall they make me feel, but I can't walk more than 20 steps in them (they're too wide for my feet), plus the fabric on the uppers is starting to fray.
  3. Miniature roulette game I won as a door prize two months ago at a business meeting. Need I say more?
  4. Beautiful, large, cream-enameled colander. It drains food perfectly. But I worry about the enamel being hazardous to my health when it scratches and chips off. Plus I own three colanders - including a narrower, higher, stainless steel (read: non-toxic and recyclable) one that fits perfectly in my bar sink.
  5. A grilling plank for fish. I'm a vegetarian. I never eat fish - haven't for 21 years. Another rummage sale find, which I thought I could use as a cutting board. But I own two other cutting boards, both of which I love, and both of which are bigger and easier to use.
Once you're warmed up, start thinking of all your mental throwaways - you can even add them to your list of 50. Blanke describes them as "the old convictions, fears, negative assumptions, past "mistakes," and depressing "voices" that weigh you down." Then commit to eliminating them from your day-to-day thinking.

I'm kind of excited about my list of mental purges:
  1. My ex-boyfriend was "the only one" for me.
  2. I'm never going to find a man who truly loves me.
  3. I always mess up my relationships.
  4. I'm too needy.
  5. Life without romantic love is hopeless.

(Gee, I'm sensing a theme here.)

I think you get the drift. It's spring - the time for renewal and regeneration. Make room for the new growth in your life by cutting back the deadwood.

Make a list.

Enjoy knowing that those things are gone from your life. Then welcome what comes next...

copyright 2007, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow


Sandra L. said...

Thanks for writing about this book. I saw it the other day and thought of buying it. I think I may just do that! I've been struggling with my clutter for years.

Anonymous said...

I have decided i want to have a house that is functional and I can only have that if i get rid of clutter. I really like the idea of getting rid of the clutter in my mind too. I have a few of those that i need to eliminate. Thanks a bunch for your help.