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Clearing Out

pile of books near Sanctuary Christian Counseling in Shippensburg PA

This summer I’ve set myself the task of clearing out my junk. Especially my books. I have FAR too many.

I know it boggles the mind, but I gave away (to the Franklin County Legal Services book sale, of course) 37 CARTONS of books.

And I’m not done.

I’ve never been the kind to easily let go of stuff I’ve acquired. In the case of books, some of these had been with me since I was a child. Really! Over the years, I’ve gathered books old and new around me from every conceivable source – yard sales, used book stores, thrift stores, and, of course, the Friends of Franklin County Legal Services Book Sale.

It’s a lot of books.

And – promise me you won’t tell my husband, whose refrain has always been “get rid of it!” – but it feels kind of good.

I really do feel lighter.

Maybe you have some things you could get rid of.

Lighten your load.

Allow yourself some breathing space.

Try it.

Sometimes even the things we love become a burden. With books, I had so many that they had started to overflow our bookshelves, and I found myself piling them on every available surface. When I wanted a particular one I knew I had, I couldn’t find it. Even just the burden of knowing all those books were there to be read sometimes felt overwhelming. I love to read, but somehow, this felt like pressure to read.

Here are some tips for making a clean(ish) sweep:

· *Sometimes it’s helpful to have a friend of loved one who is not attached to your “stuff” help you figure out what to deep-6 and what to keep. They likely have less investment in it and can be more objective. Do you really need to keep a paperback book of a novel you also have on your Kindle just because it’s a favorite? An objective helper can assist you in making those decisions.

· Consider making an inventory. In my great book clear-out, I found I had several copies of the same book that I wanted to read. This didn’t just happen once, either, but several times. An inventory would have pointed this out long before.

· Sometimes it’s helpful to break everything you’re trying to organize into three categories: keep, toss, and give away. Depending on the depth and breadth of your clutter, you can even make three boxes – one for each of those categories. If necessary, you can add a fourth category, filing or storing.

· In today’s computer society, consider storing as much electronically as you can. There could be an initial cost for a scanner and so on, but the ability to file paper on the computer in bit form rather than in a bulky file and file cabinet is priceless.

· Do it bit by bit. I did the books one room at a time (yes, there are books in every room in my house, even the bathrooms). I have a friend who will declutter a kitchen drawer while we talk on the phone. Brilliant. It gets overwhelming if you try to do it all at once.

· Think of utility first, then sentimental value. We get stuck sometimes wanting to keep an item that reminds us of someone, represents someone or something we value or was very expensive, but if you want to declutter your life, you need to be able to tease out those feelings. What is special about that item and not any other? Does it do whatever it does the best of anything you have? Which items add the most value to your life? Last of all ask yourself about the sentimental meaning and keep the things of most value to you. Take a picture of the others, and let them go.

· Try to repurpose the things that you love but can’t keep. Make that flowerpot your second grader gave you a utensil storer. Get your t-shirts made into a quilt. Actually use great-grandma’s tea cups. Give items to others who will use them and value them.

It’s not easy! No one knows that more than me. But getting control of your stuff will make you feel lighter, more in control. And you’ll have head space to enjoy some new things – including the extra space you have in your home.

If you are struggling with clutter, hoarding, or just anxiety about this subject or any others, if depression has a stranglehold on you or your relationships are crumbling, we are here to help. Our goal is to help you live your best life, whatever that looks like for you, and to walk along side you in that process. Give us a call!

Sanctuary Christian Counseling LLC

9974 Molly Pitcher Highway, Suite 4

Shippensburg, Pa 17257


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