Month #7 of Extreme Self-Care

It’s no coincidence, I think, that this month’s Extreme Self-Care Challenge dovetails perfectly with my Absolute Intolerance for the cacophany of clutter taking over my home. (Inez, this month might be for you, too.)

Cheryl challenges us to make our homes and work spaces a ‘soul-nourishing environment.’ That means going beyond clearing the clutter and organizing things to “recognizing the impact your home or office has on your emotional and physical health, your energy levels, your self-esteem, your relationship to yourself and others, and your spiritual well-being.”

It’s not just about freeing our living/working space from clutter and disorganization, it’s about filling it “with elements that allow us to be and act our best.”

But, in order to fill it with those wonderful things, Cheryl says we need to start by removing 50% OR MORE of what is already there. Chances are most of that stuff is doing nothing to feed our souls.

These numbers are telling. Remember last month when she told us most people need to reduce their doingness by 30%? Now we’re told we have 50% too much stuff. I wonder . . . if we do the math and subtract the total of those two numbers from our lives, will we have 80% more peace, joy, contentment?

It’s worth a try.

To this end, Cheryl suggests starting small. Choose one area or room where you spend a lot of time — a place you would like to transform into a soul-loving space — and then follow her Four Step Process to take that space from soul-sucking to soul-enhancing.

First, EXAMINE what the room means to you, its primary purpose, what you must have in it to honor your soul as well as what must not be there.

Then, EVALUATE what needs to change. Rate the room from 1 (I loathe this space!) to 10 (I love this space!) and then list what needs to change, what’s important and needs to stay, what can go, what needs to be added to make the room more soulful, and a very important last point, what needs to be done to keep this space clutter free and soulful when the transformation is complete and you’re actually living in it.

List done, ELIMINATE:

 A) the habits and behaviors that have created this non-soul-nourishing space in the first place (do you let things pile up? is this room a depository for homeless household stuff? do you hoard things you might need for ‘someday?’ Check, check and check. Oh, man, I am so busted.)

and B) anything you don’t absolutely love or need.

Did you hear that? If we don’t absolutely love it or need it, then it goes.

How many things in our homes actually fit those parameters? How much stuff do we hold on to because so-and-so gave it to us and (s)he’ll be hurt if it’s not on display? Or because we’ll fit into it someday? Or because it’s a sentimental reminder of something from our deep (and long gone) past?

These things go into four piles:

Things you’ll give away to loved ones.

Things you’ll give away to strangers.

Things that can be recycled.

Things that simply need to be thrown away.

I know you’ve heard all these things before so I’m not going to explain them. I recommend reading this chapter for yourself. As always, I’m just doing a quick summary. Cheryl goes into much greater detail.

The last (and best) step is to ENHANCE.

This is all about beautifying the space in the way that feeds your soul. Your soul, not some decorating diva’s soul. What do you find beautiful, uplifting, soul-expanding?

Cozy nooks or open, light-filled spaces?

Strong colors or soothing, neutral tones?

Empty surfaces, all supplies tucked behind closed doors, or all tools in sight, gleaming invitingly from their place on the shelf?

Art? Photos of loved ones?

Add these things you love to the space (not too many, mind you – beautiful or not, we’re still striving for 50% less stuff than we usually cram into our lives) and bask in the peaceful energy that will gently inform all the other aspects of your life.

And then prepare to repeat the process for the next room needing this particular brand of extreme self-care.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Right now, we need to focus on Step One: Examine.

(sound of Maxine rolling up her sleeves)

Ready or not, Dear Cluttered and Besieged Office, here I come.

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5 Responses to Month #7 of Extreme Self-Care

  1. lorienyoga says:

    Yay! Go for it! My house needs some serious decluttering too. I’m afraid of the basement…stacks of boxes of my old journals, art supplies languishing, unused…I always tell myself I need a bigger house, but I know that’s an excuse…I need to put more love into the house I have, and create space by releasing what is no longer needed. I applaud you for your courage and drive! (Can you send some my way?)

    • That’s interesting, Lorien. I was just telling my sons at breakfast this morning about a dream I had last night about a basement that surprised me with its clean, clear, wide open uncluttered entranceway and that, since the basement usually represents our subconscious that maybe I’ve managed to clean up some things below my consciousness. I wonder what would happen if you parted with those journals and unlanguished your art supplies? Sending lots of courage and drive (and fun!) your way! Whoosh!

  2. MyHrt says:

    So need to do this one with you…

  3. Aynsley Saxe says:

    I really needed this reminder, thank you Maxine! I emptied the closets last week but need to get started on the bookshelves and kitchen cupboards too. While cleaning I find it hard to throw away sentimental things like letters, cards, etc. But then if I am able to discard of it, it does feel very freeing. It’s not like the card or letter can ever equal or replace the relationship with the person – I remind myself of this often when it comes to throwing away sentimental things that I kind of want to keep but know it’s better if I let them go. How was your birthday? I hope it was wonderful!

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