Advice Column

Break Free from Clutter

December 09, 2021 Lisa Liguori Season 1 Episode 6
Advice Column
Break Free from Clutter
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Have trouble letting go of your clutter?  Feeling buried or tied down by your disorganized belongings? Clinging to sentimental items? You are NOT alone! In this episode you will hear how several people decluttered their lives, and in turn, their heads. You'll learn how they tackled the process and why it was so freeing.

We hope these ideas help you gain more organization, lightness, and peace in your life!

Welcome to the Advice Column community. Here we share stories to accelerate one another's growth, while combating isolation. In each episode we discuss a common life challenge and several people share their experiences dealing with that issue. You'll gather ideas and insights while finding encouragement that others have felt like you do. We're better when we're together, and we're so glad you're here!


Connect With Our Panelists!

Noemi Kis,
Founder, AquaQuote: 

Robin McCoy, PhD, Professor, University of San Diego

Keenan Jacobsen,  Consultant, Cruising Yachts, Inc.:

Elaine Minton, Writer

Jessica Zemple,
Life Shucker:

Lisa Liguori (Host)

Advice Column Podcast:

I believe our external world is a representation of our inner world.

I felt like physical clutter is actually emotional clutter.

One day, I was just like, that's it, we're cleaning this thing out.

When I walk in my home, it just feels good. I feel like it's my sanctuary.

I actually had a weird jump in clarity with business, with life, with relationships, friends.

It was this feeling of freedom and joy. It was a transformation that I was looking for as a person.

Lisa Liguori

Hello friend. In this episode, we're talking about how to declutter, especially sentimental. And it's not going to be as much about the nuts and bolts of how to sort and create piles, although that is helpful. It's even more about how to let go of things and why it's worth the effort to do that. I am Lisa, and on this podcast, we share stories with each other so we can leverage one another's experiences to accelerate our own learning.

I am so excited to learn how other people declutter their sentimental items. Because as a sentimental pack rat, I've struggled with this for a really long time. For decades. I've been carrying around boxes of my childhood papers, greeting cards. People have given me and terabytes of digital photos and it's become burdensome to have such a big mass of disorganized stuff.

But I feel really overwhelmed by the project because. Going through those items is really emotional. And I'm scared that if I throw out something special, someone gave me, especially my dad or my grandpa who are no longer here. I might lose a piece of my connection with them. I'm tackling this now because I have a timeline to get it done.

I'm trying to find the best photos and videos of my dad. So I can make a really nice tribute video for his celebration of. I think it will be really freeing to reduce and organize what I'm keeping. So join me as we get ideas for letting go and starting a new lighter chapter. Let's listen into our panelists now.

Noemi Kis

My name is Noemi Kis, I'm CEO and founder of a software company startup. And I'm originally from hunter. The first time that I decided to declutter was when I first read Marie Kondo's book. At the time I was living in a condo, you would think it was organized, but underneath it drawers were stuffed. You would look in deeper and you would find that there was clutter.

And I felt like physical clutter is actually emotional clutter. When I look back, I had a desire to cleanse. Of things that I was holding onto in my space and in my head. And so the way I structured it is I said, okay, I'm going to actually take off work and dedicate an entire week to declaring my life, actually hired somebody to come over, to take away bags, donate things, carry things out.

Oh, all I wanted to do is really focus on going through item by item, by category and. What gives me joy, then I would keep that. And then I would find a home for them. And that would be the process. This is from the life-changing magic of tidying up by Marie Kondo. And it's as to truly cherish to things that are important to you, you must first discard those that have outlived their purpose.

That was really powerful for me because a lot of things have outlived their purpose and what we're still taking up space and sticking around. When I got to the topic of sentimental things, which I did last, or it was more emotionally taxing. It was like my heart against my brain. I would think, oh my gosh.

I remember it's from an EO retreat was a t-shirt that I got and I haven't worn it. It's a little small for me, but it represents something. And so my mind would rationalize, like you can't throw that away. You're throwing away an experienced by throwing away this t-shirt, which actually didn't make sense.

And the truth is it didn't bring me joy. I was so focused on the outcome and the goal, and I just wanted a clean slate for myself and it included my home. And I would find things from my previous husband and even notes from friends. I looked at it. I'd read it. I really took in what it meant, how beautiful, a messaged that person wanting to give to me.

I would stick with that feeling. And then I would know if this is something I would keep. And I would say, thank you for this gift that you've served and I'm going to let it go cards that really affected me that strong. I did keep, but it was really a selection of what is really important to. Those things that I kept her so special.

That for me, it was better to have 10 things that are so special that I know I want for life than to have a hundred things that are not special. I wasn't focusing on what I wanted to. Discard. I was focusing on what I want you to keep. It was indescribable right now. I just feel it in my body. Ah, so freeing, I felt like I had gotten lighter.

My environment has gotten lighter and it was this feeling of freedom and joy and also feeling grown up like I'm a pro at life. Now that I know where everything is, I'm organized. I just want to read this one more sentence from Marie Kondo's book. It says by handling each sentimental item and deciding what to discard you process your past.

That happened to me. I process my past. It was hard. It changed me completely. And it's a practice that I've kept ever since it's a practice that fundamentally makes me feel very grounded and this was the transformational journey for me personally.

Dr. Robin McCoy, PhD

I was getting married and we were combining my husband's home with my home and my home was full. So we had to find a way to declutter on a scale of one to 10, in terms of sentimentality, I'm probably. So I don't hold on to things. I don't usually have knickknacks and he is at least a 9.9. So we knew we had to come in the middle of somewhere.

For me, it was really easy. I just got rid of it and gave it away and knew somebody else would get something better out of it than I could with it. Just sitting in a box. What wasn't easy though. It was for him to let go of stuff from his mom and stuff from his house that was really important to him. And so there was this one moment we're in his office and he's looking through his desk drawers and he finds this threaded needle and he looks at it and he gets sentimental.

And it's, this was the last needle my mom ever thread. And it was at that moment that I knew, because I wasn't sentimental about it. I needed to just let him be, let him go through the stuff. And then I just left and I went and cleaned his bathroom. But then what we decided to do too is we made three piles. So we had the pile up.

I must have it. Then we had the pile of, okay, I can let these things go. And then we had the middle pile. That he had to get through. And honestly he needed the time to just get through it and then he would make the decision to keep or thrill. But once we did the piles, it was much easier for him to do.

And I needed to stay out of the sentimental stuff of his, because I'm this person that's adding stress intention to him when he's looking at these beautiful things, that mean something to him. So I needed to go away, but I could at least help organize the piles and then say, you know what? I think sure.

We can make room for this stuff.

Keenan Jacobsen

My name is Keenan Jacobson. I work in the Marine industry. I am father to my son and enjoy an active lifestyle and love living in San Diego. My son and I had been living in the same place for about five to six years. I was opening his closet door and it was starting to kick out at the foot. And I'm like, this is a problem because things like literally swollen.

So one day I was just like, that's it, we're cleaning this thing out. I asked him, do you care about anything in here? Whatever it is, clean it out. I wasn't looking forward to pulling all this stuff out and having my house trash. Cause it was trashed for like two days. Cause there's stuff everywhere. But I got to say it once I got rolling on it, I have a little system set up.

It was sentimental, maybe an absolute nonsense, get this out of my house. And then we sifted through the middle pile and it either went that way or that. And we kind of thinned out the herd, so to speak, having a friend there who was good, because a couple of times she would kind of give me the raised eyebrow.

Do you really care about this? It was very helpful to have a friend there to be able to put some objectivity on it because it wasn't sentimental to her. And it helped me kind of spin it out even more. And, you know, also I can be cleaning stuff out and one of us would run down to Goodwill, you know, just kinda' a little team.

I was on a roll. I just got into like cleaning decluttering mode. And then I proceeded to do the same thing with my office area. And I mean, completely decluttered. It did an entire bookshelf. Then I did my closet, my bedroom, my bathroom, and the kitchen, and actually even did the balcony afterwards. I just felt very airy.

Light is almost like a spiritual effect on myself. When I opened my closet, I feel that feeling of. Perfect. This is the stuff that I use. Everything's in its place. If I want to look at family photos, I know where to find them. If I wasn't looking for a book to reference, I know it's in my bookshelf. It's not under five boxes and it's very freeing.

I come home and my home feels free and why I enjoyed coming home more. And the thing that I thought was going to be the most freeing thing was that, oh, there'll be more storage space. One of the biggest lessons I learned, I didn't need that. Once it was clean. I actually had a weird jump in clarity with business, with life, with relationships, friendships, and all it took was two or three days of huffing stuff down to a dumpster in Goodwill.

So from a business perspective, it was a very good investment with a high ROI.

Elaine Minton

I am Elaine Minton. I've been a wife, a mom, a Bible study teacher, a prayer group leader, and a writer. My mom passed away, but before she passed away, I was moving her out of her home. She had lived in for about 70 years. She was showing signs of dementia and the doctor said that they wouldn't let her stay in the house any longer.

She had 89 years. Things accumulated in that home. And so I needed to help process through all of that stuff to move her out to California, to be with me. I was feeling sad for a couple of reasons. The doctors made her stay in an assisted living facility while I cleared out the house. My own family was out here in California and they couldn't be there with me.

So I was in my childhood home and going through their lifetime of things together. I was going through all the things, processing them by myself, knowing that this would be the last time that I would be in that. So it was a very emotional time for me being all alone. On the one hand, it was sad. On the other hand, it was good in the fact that I had time to process the things slowly and quietly and cry when I wanted to.

And just to let all that emotion out and say goodbye to so many things that I knew I would never see. Again. I basically used three variables to make my decisions. The first was need, is this something either that meets a physical need, or this is a sentimental item that there was a need to get. The second thing I considered was time that I was on a very short timeframe and the third thing was space.

Even if I liked it, if it wasn't something that I had to have, I asked myself, would someone else need this or whatever? And there was a painting that a man in our hometown had painted. And I thought that painting would probably mean more to his family than to any of us so that the family came to pick up that painting.

I was getting tired towards the end. The deadline was drawing clothes, and I still had a lot to process. And one night a friend called me and her good advice was. If there's stuff that you're not sure about, ship it out here and give yourself the time you need to process it. Don't try to make a decision within the 30 days because you might be sorry for the decision you make.

And I thought that took so much pressure off me and anything that I couldn't immediately make a decision on. I just shipped it out here and took me two years to go through all those bars. And I think that it gave me a better perspective on deciding what to keep and what not to keep by way. I'm glad that I didn't let go of things sooner than I should.

And I'm glad I let go of them when I did, because I've learned that I don't have to hold on to the past and relive the past that past has helped make me who I am, the process of going through these things has allowed me to store up in my heart and in my mind, all of those good sentimental things. To take with me in the future, even if I don't have them in a box, even if I don't have them in a computer.

Jessica Zemple

Jessica Zemple, I consider myself a life shucker so I help people crack their shells open so they can find their inner pearls and am just grateful. That's what I get to do. And. I actually just recently I moved out of my partners and I was home. And so that was an interesting process of really sorting through my stuff and figuring out what I wanted to keep, what was ready to be, let go.

And I'm working through the emotions of. And so really allowing myself the space to figure that all out, it was quite the process. It hasn't been easy. I had some of my old stuff. And I had changed so much in the last five years. See, in some of that stuff, which I loved at one point and looking at it and with new eyes and a new personality, and really seen it in a new way.

So for example, I have this beautiful dark leather couch and I loved it when I bought. But I have just lightened up as a person, even the clothes I wear are lighter colors now. And I, it's interesting for me to see that transition with a couch. It's almost representative of my personality. And so now that I don't feel the same way as I did when I bought the couch, it just doesn't bring me the same amount of joy as it did.

So letting go of that couch has been a little bit of a journey and I honestly haven't done it yet, but I know that's coming because it just doesn't. Fit in my world anymore. They want to allow a new partnership in my life. And so I know that I have to have space for that. And so I believe our external world is a representation of our inner world and vice versa, and it's a beautiful reflection and mirror.

So I have been intentional about looking at what in my home right now. One brings me joy, but two may represent the old me or the old relationship I was in. And there was a lot of love there. So it's actually been a little hard to say goodbye to some of the things. And I haven't said goodbye to everything.

So I've been very selective on keeping a few pieces that represent the beauty of the. That I was in while still allowing myself to create space for someone new to show up or new possibilities or new ideas or new energies. So it has been very intentional and I also have been very conscious of not trying to hurry through the process.

I wanted to make sure that these decisions were coming from my heart and that I wouldn't regret letting go of some of the things. One thing I found interesting is I noticed my collection of books. I can let go of other things with more grace and ease. So it told me there was something more of air. And so I sat with him.

I'm like, why are books so important to me? What I realized about myself was that I regard intelligence really height. So the books almost told me that I was smart or that I've accomplished things. The books are almost like a badge of honor for me. And so that was an interesting realization that I had not seen before of, oh wow.

I have all of these books because I need to show myself that I am important or that I am smart or that I am a good. Once I had that realization, I was able to let go so many because I didn't need to have the quantity to prove my worth. One other realization I had was thank you. It was ingrained in me as a child to be kind and be nice and do good things for the world as so similar to the books, like showing my intelligence, the thank you cards showed my kindness.

So I would collect them or birthday cards because somebody cared enough to write them. Once I realized that I was valuable and kind whether I had those cards or not, it was easier to let it go. The other realization that I had too, is I used to have a scarcity mentality. And so what I had, I was really attached to because I didn't really believe I could have more or always have my needs met.

And so I'd really hold on tight to things because of those limiting beliefs and the more I've come to realize everything's a gift and it will be mine for when it's supposed to be mine. And then we can pass it on to other people that really need it more than I. By recognizing that I had some of these external things happening.

Those were mirrors for me to look within and really acknowledge that I am good enough. I am worthy enough. I do have abundance in my life. So all of those things, I have seen growth in myself, and I've also shifted my perspective of. What's supposed to be quote unquote, mine is anything really ours or are we just loaned it?

I don't, you know, whatever your spiritual belief is, but I believe in God and is God just granting me this home. I'm living in for whatever amount of time. It might be one year. It might be 20 years. And so I've shifted my perspective in that too. And in actually helping to be less attached. When I walk in my home, it just feels good.

I just feel nurtured. I feel like it's my sanctuary. I love it. I feel grateful that my home gets to be such a special place.

Lisa Liguori

Wow. I'm always so humbled and grateful to our panelists for sharing such meaningful contributions that helped me learn. What do you think? What did you hear that resonated with? I found it exciting to hear what a tremendous inner difference it can make to clean up my outer spaces.

I also found it really thought provoking to consider why I'm holding onto something and to consider whether I really need that thing to validate whatever I'm using it to validate. I heard that it can be helpful to work with a buddy to make decisions when sorting and that I can give myself permission to keep certain things that are deeply meaning.

Most of all talking to people to put together this episode helped me realize that I'm not alone in my struggle with decluttering. I hope it did the same for you. As we close. I have a question for you. What is one thing you're glad you've kept and one thing you're ready to let. That's it for now. And until the next episode, lots of love. .