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Minimalist look, white chair, basket near Sanctuary Christian Counseling in Shippensburg, PA

January can be a time for indoor projects, organization, and cleaning tasks that we put on hold during the summer and fall. Don’t get me wrong, I am a summer girl at heart. I love the warmth of the sun, working outside, exploring nature and all the gifts summer has to offer, but I also love the quietness and simplicity of winter. As I write this blog, snow is gently blanketing my yard creating a clean white canvas. This brings to mind the calm that decluttering has brought to my life. I reflect on some of the lessons I have learned during my journey of simplifying.

This is one of the things that I love about winter, cleaning! I should first share that I find cleaning therapeutic and relaxing, almost in a weird way. I may not be speaking to the majority of you out there, so if my reflections speak to you that is great, and if not, that is ok too. Hopefully some of my experiences may resonate with you as you as you tackle your winter cleaning projects. Perhaps asking yourself, “Are my material possessions also cluttering my emotional well-being?” is a good place to start. This is different for all of us, there is no right or wrong. It is more a personal preference, however, there is some science to how clutter can have effects on our mental health and how our environment effects our mood.

As I tackle my indoor cleaning and organization projects, I think it is important to also recognize the emotional connection I feel to my physical space. I recognize that for me this became a critical part of my grief journey. So, what does decluttering have to do with feeling calm and coping with grief, you ask? For me, I found when my world was turned upside down, having a space that promoted peace became even more important to me. I wanted to come home from a stressful day and feel embraced by simplicity. Being intentional about each area of my home simmered the chaos in my life. I began this project by tackling one room at a time- baby steps.

I cleared the room (or as much of the room as possible) and then added in the pieces that felt essential and meaningful to me. I am not suggesting this holds the same value for everyone or suggesting we all become extreme minimalists, but I am sharing for me there was a connection to freeing up some physical space that also freed up some mental space.

This year, as I reflect on my actions of minimizing, I am paying closer attention to bringing it in balance. There were times I noticed that I became intently focused on putting too much attention, time, and meaning on the space- allowing that to cramp my creativity and productivity. So this year as I begin my annual decluttering projects, I am reflecting a bit on the process. Have I found too much comfort in creating a pseudo womb to shelter me from the harshness of the world? I needed to step back and examine- have I gone too far? In my quest for an answer, I can honesty say that with all the positives of simplifying my life, I found there were times that I was stuck and clinging to the idea that things had to be just so for me to be creative or just enjoy life. Balance takes dedication, re-examining priorities, and work. In many areas of my life, I am pretty flexible and “go with the flow” but my creative space is not one of them. As the saying goes, “All good things in moderation.” I found at some point in my decluttering process, perfectionism reared it’s ugly head. I have come to recognize perfectionism as an important actress in my life but definitely not the director. Perfectionism can give me drive and focus, but without supervision, can very slyly steal the show.

This is on-going work for me. I need to be intentional not to neglect the times when perfectionism needs to be put in her place- to just let go. I have recognized that the fun is in the process, not necessarily the outcome (as with many things in life). In the future, I hope to be more focused on being just as intentional about my time as my space. Both equally important. I will continue to simplify, as I have found many of its benefits extremely valuable, but hopefully I will enjoy the process more. If you are contemplating decluttering, I hope you can relax and enjoy each step of the process too.

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