inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #51 of 119: Rip Van Winkle (keta) Fri 30 May 14 08:47
    
Thanks for the answer about relationships.  A few years ago we had to
remove everything from our basement to have earthquake retrofit work
done.  What had been rooms bursting with clutter were briefly 100%
empty.  As we were thinking about what was going to go back in I had
the insight that it's not what you want to put there, it's what you
want to do there. Very much in line with your approach I think. Maybe a
good question to add is, how do you feel there, how do you want to
feel there, how do you want others to feel there.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #52 of 119: (fom) Sat 31 May 14 12:53
    
   >bin full of programs of shows I've seen

That's a tough one; it has turned out that of all the things I could have 
saved from the library of my parents' house, my own large collection of 
Broadway playbills from the 50s and 60s was one of the small handful of 
things I am still truly regretful about getting rid of.

Discerning between random-interesting bits of paper (some flyer) and 
worth-keeping bits of paper (really good, well-designed flyer from some 
historic show) is tricky. It's like the cusp between being a clutterer and 
a hoarder.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #53 of 119: Dave (davidwag) Sat 31 May 14 17:42
    
late to the conversation, but have to say that at this juncture in my
life the woo woo explanation behind my clutter makes complete sense. 
For me, it's the right book at the right time and I am grateful for
that.  
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #54 of 119: Teleological dyslexic (ceder) Sat 31 May 14 20:05
    
Patty Duke lives in this area but she doesn't have a slate roof!
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #55 of 119: Teleological dyslexic (ceder) Sat 31 May 14 20:17
    
OK, that may seem off topic; but, slate will last for centuries--no
need to change rooves forever!  ]6)    ....Clare, you can't just invent
words! 
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #56 of 119: Kathy L. Dalton (kd) Mon 2 Jun 14 09:40
    
Are any of you interested in the idea of a whole clear room? The
breathing space that is part of the title of the book? 

Have people had successes yet trying any of the book's suggestions? 
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #57 of 119: descend into a fractal hell of meta-truthiness (jmcarlin) Mon 2 Jun 14 10:53
    

This topic continues to inspire me. I looked through my closet the
other day thinking "hmmm" do I really want this any more. And the
answer in a few cases was no so the closet will be less overstuffed
shortly.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #58 of 119: Lauren Rosenfeld (lgosenfeld) Mon 2 Jun 14 11:06
    
I'm really happy that this is bringing together so many great
responses. To reply to some of them:

1) Yes, scanning is an awesome idea. It is much easier (and cheaper)
to store than boxes and boxes of paper. I personally have had a lot of
success with asking clients to take digital photos of the things they
are letting go of. It's the reminder that they need as a touchstone
more than the object itself. 

2) In discerning between random bits of paper and significant bits of
paper, in the book I ask people to think in this way: If someone were
writing your biography, would this memory make it into the book? 

So for example -- when I first met my husband, I worked at an
organization called Community Servings in Boston that delivered hot,
nutritious meal to people living with AIDS and their caregivers. It
was, to say the least, a very intense time in the early 90's. One
weekend, my parents flew us to NYC and took us to see Angels in
America. At intermission. When everyone else got up to stretch, I laid
my head down in my husband's lap and wept. 

I still have that ticket stub. It would make it into my biography. I
also have a ticket stub for X-Men in my wallet from last week. That
will not make it into my biography. So it will be recycled. 

It's not enough just to be able to tell the story about something. I
can tell you that I went to see X-Men. Who I went with. What theater.
What I ordered at the concession stand. It's a story. But it's not a
significant story. 
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #59 of 119: Lauren Rosenfeld (lgosenfeld) Mon 2 Jun 14 11:11
    
In response to Rip Van Winkles comment: "Maybe a
good question to add is, how do you feel there, how do you want to
feel there, how do you want others to feel there."

Absolutely! This is what I mean when I talk about stopping and
listening to your clutter and setting intentions for a room. It's not
enough to know that you want stuff gone. It's about knowing that you no
longer want to feel drained or frustrated or overwhelmed. AND it's
about knowing what you DO want and feeling worthy of those feelings.
What you want to create matters! And knowing what you want to create in
terms of the feelings you want to feel there and how you want others
to feel there -- this is the motivation for clearing out the objects
that carry an emotional energy that is counterproductive to what you
want to create.

So those are three truly excellent question to ask! 
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #60 of 119: Lauren Rosenfeld (lgosenfeld) Mon 2 Jun 14 11:19
    
Jmcarlin: Congratulations on letting go of the jeans that will never
be turned into shorts. 

This work requires us to be very honest with ourselves about how we
want to spend our time and energy. 

If someone has been holding onto jeans for years with the intention of
turning them into shorts -- and hasn't yet found the time to do that
-- it probably means it is not an interest or priority. And that's
okay. It's an important learning about who we are. Once we let go of
the guilt about what we believe we ought to be or ought to love doing,
we can turn our time and attention to the things we do love doing.
Here's a video I made about the subject of making room for what you
really love: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KxoiA4aHAhc  

Letting go feels good. And ultimately the honesty does, too. Though I
grant you that it's not always easy. If it were, I'd be out of a job.
:)
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #61 of 119: Gail Williams (gail) Mon 2 Jun 14 11:23
    
Nice video!
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #62 of 119: Lauren Rosenfeld (lgosenfeld) Mon 2 Jun 14 11:39
    
Gail Williams. Thank you. I pride myself in being a goofball. ;)
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #63 of 119: Teleological dyslexic (ceder) Mon 2 Jun 14 18:02
    
(kd.) Kathy (from #52) Yes, I have/am trying recommendations out; The
impromptu interjects in the meantime.  So much to do--so little time. 
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #64 of 119: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Tue 3 Jun 14 04:39
    
Love the video!

We've had a knitting project in our bedroom for more than 20 years. 
No knitting that I know of has taken place in all those years.

Which actually brings up a serious issue.  I'm prone to clutter - I'll
admit it.  But Mrs. McDee puts me in the shade.  Any tips or
strategies with negotiating clutter differences in a relationship?
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #65 of 119: Celia Chapman (lark) Tue 3 Jun 14 10:20
    
I have a question.  A lot of my clutter is magazines and newspapers
with articles that I truly want to read.  But if I am realistic I know
I don't have time to read them all.  How do I deal with this?  There
was a book a while ago called "Stuff" and they described some people as
being information hoarders, and that absolutely fit me.  I keep all my
old financial information because it's interesting to have.  I have
way more books than I have time to read because they all seem
interesting to me.  And of course the magazines and newspapers.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #66 of 119: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Tue 3 Jun 14 15:26
    
I stop short of financial records, but the rest of that paragraph...
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #67 of 119: Gary Gach (ggg) Tue 3 Jun 14 18:59
    <scribbled by ggg Wed 4 Jun 14 11:44>
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #68 of 119: Gail Williams (gail) Wed 4 Jun 14 12:23
    
I'm even an online information hoarder, as it turns out.  I bookmark
many things I mean to get back to, and mostly never do. 

Happily, using services like Delicious or Pinterest keeps those
massive collections from cluttering up my own browser and laptop
more.

It's so hard to discard books, though.  They are easy to fetishize
as the soul of The Book as a symbol of learning, even when outdated,
yellowed, not likely to re-read.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #69 of 119: Celia Chapman (lark) Wed 4 Jun 14 12:31
    
Me too on the online information!  I recently lost something like a
hundred open tabs in some browser fu, and not one single friend
understood why that upset me.  Bad friends, bad!  They were all "who
keeps that many open tabs?"  Me, that's who.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #70 of 119: Lauren Rosenfeld (lgosenfeld) Wed 4 Jun 14 13:09
    
Mark: It is not unusual for different feelings about clutter to give
rise to relationship issues within families. One person feels
comfortable in
mess, while another feels like it makes their skin crawl. Some people
feel they need a certain amount of disorder to relax. Others can't
relax when there is the least amount of disorder.

I really recommend that we have "I" conversations about such things.
So, for example, instead of saying, "I just can't relax in the midst
of
your mess," try saying something like, "I relax better when my visual
field is clear. Stuff brings up worries for me and when the room feels
decluttered, I feel like I can breathe." Or -- instead of saying,
"You're constant cleaning makes me a nervous wreck," try saying, "When
the house is too picked up, I feel like I can't put anything down for
fear that it is going to be seen as trash; so a little disorder feel
natural and comforting for me." 

This isn't about pointing fingers - it's about looking within -- which
frankly is much more challenging work! 

Ultimately this is about coming back to intentions: Do you all share
intentions about various spaces? My father liked to relax quietly in
the living room after work. My mother liked to do paperwork in the
living room because she didn't like to feel isolated while doing it.
This put them at odds for forty years of marriage. My father wanted a
refuge away from work. My mother wanted a social atmosphere to get work
done. The clutter was really an outcome of their different needs.
Perhaps if they had negotiated honestly around their intentions for the
living room, they wouldn't have argued so much about the clutter
itself.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #71 of 119: Elaine Sweeney (sweeney) Wed 4 Jun 14 13:12
    
Having come from the other side of the dynamic than Mark has, I'd also
suggest thinking about if the spouse has some dedicated space for
his/her own projects, or is there nowhere else but the common areas
available?
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #72 of 119: Lauren Rosenfeld (lgosenfeld) Wed 4 Jun 14 13:19
    
So with information hoarding, it's important to come back to what you
value about the information itself. What is it you are trying to get
from the information? Are you holding onto articles about potential
vacations? Recipes? Medical articles? 

Are you wanting to feel happy? Or relaxed? Creative? Informed? 

Ask yourself this question: How many books or articles would I need to
be happy? Or relaxed? Or creative? Or informed? 

Often when we hang onto information -- it becomes counterproductive.
So I can't be happy or relaxed because I am tripping over books and
articles about happiness and relaxation everywhere I go (and I must
tell you I have decluttered homes with TONS of books about decluttering
and organization!) Am I unable to let my creativity blossom because I
have too many potential creative projects waiting in the wings? Am I
unable to feel deeply informed about one thing that's important to me
because I am always skipping around between unconnected articles and
books? 

Pick the book or article in one category. Maybe it's cookbooks. Which
is your favorite? What do you love about it? The colorful pictures? The
writing? The ease (or complexity) of the recipes? If that's what you
value about cookbooks: How do the other cookbooks measure up to it?
Keep those that inspire you. Not those that inspire guilt. I honestly
trust that we all know the difference. 
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #73 of 119: Elaine Sweeney (sweeney) Wed 4 Jun 14 13:38
    
>So I can't be happy or relaxed because I am tripping over books and
>articles about happiness and relaxation everywhere I go ...

Such a great visual.

>(and I must tell you I have decluttered homes with TONS of books
>about decluttering...

And I'll bet there were stacks of organizing supplies too.  You get
the article about organizing your home and the first thing is "buy
matching baskets!  Buy a lot of them!" and instead of dealing with the
*stuff*, you're off to the store to buy matching baskets.  Or
color-coded folders, or rolling carts, or whatever the purchase is that
will automagically transform your space.  It's an insidious trap and
it took me a long time to realize I would do anything to keep from
dealing with the piles of crap, especially if it involve retain
therapy.
and organization!)
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #74 of 119: Elaine Sweeney (sweeney) Wed 4 Jun 14 13:39
    
"RETAIL therapy"...
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #75 of 119: Lauren Rosenfeld (lgosenfeld) Wed 4 Jun 14 13:45
    
As a continuation of the discussion above about books (and information
clutter, in general) -- if you happen to have a copy of Breathing
Room, read the story about Joel and Shelley. The core of the story is
that Joel, who has a problem letting go of books, needs to learn to
trust his own wisdom, his own knowledge, his own expertise. So we can
hang onto books as touchstones, but we can also hang onto them as
crutches -- as stand-ins for our own innate wisdom and knowing. Who are
you without your books? You are still you. With all your curiosity and
wisdom and intricate stories intact. And sometimes letting go of the
information clutter is a way of affirming the vast library within. 
  

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