I didn’t see it coming, but a major declutter and spring clean changed my life—for the better.
It was a number of years ago and, at the time, I was struggling to pay my mortgage—frequent rises in interest rates meant it had spiralled to a level beyond my means within a year and a half.
I was in a pickle.
Then a friend asked me to half-housesit-half-rent her home while she was in Africa. The proposal was for me to pay a rate that covered her (much lower) mortgage—freeing me up to rent out mine and reduce my living expenses by €600 a month.
It was a Godsend and I was all up for it.
And to prepare to rent out my home, I embarked on a two-week long, intense decluttering and deep, deep cleanse. I cleaned every nook and cranny and divested the attic of all the things I was saving (because I might decide to use them again, “some day”).
It wasn’t my idea of fun. But it was essential at the time. And at the end of it, I woke up one morning with a single thought in my head: “I’ll sell the house.”
It came out of nowhere—I was rather attached to my lovely little house and hadn’t been considering this as an option. In fact, I was doing all I could think of to hang onto it.
But the thought was implanted—out of nowhere—and it just felt right.
Overnight, I had let go of my attachment to my home. And the idea was freeing.
I put the house on the market at the very start of the decline of the Irish property market in 2006. It was in positive equity at the time. Had I not done so, today it would likely be in negative equity and I would probably still be living in Dublin, working in a corporate job and hating it—and generally stressing about how I would keep my little house.
I think I would probably be struggling—mentally and emotionally, as well as financially.
Unpayable mortgages have destroyed countless lives in this country over the last nine years. In too many cases, it’s been so bad that people have ended their lives because they couldn’t take that pressure. I’m so grateful that I got off the property ladder and out of the rat race before things became that bad for me.
I’m not saying my life is a piece of cake now, or that I don’t have financial worries. But I am living a much freer lifestyle, in a beautiful coastal town in the west of Ireland. And selling my house enabled me to do this.
As soon as I was off the property ladder and back in the land of tenancy, the desire to move west started to whisper. Previously, it was a long-term dream but now it was a potential reality that I no longer needed to postpone.
What’s more, the release from debt that came with the sale allowed me to invest time and money in training to be a meditation teacher. And I love teaching meditation.
So, even though I would never have predicted it, I’m glad that I released my attachment to that lovely little house in Dublin.
And it might be too big a claim to say that decluttering saved my life. But, for sure, it improved the quality of my lifestyle immeasurably.
Now I’m a passionate advocate of the power of decluttering. I still don’t enjoy the doing of it, but I know from first hand experience that it does more for us than the obvious.
Yes, it’s wonderful to soak up the calm of a room that’s recently been cleaned and cleared of cobwebs and unused, unloved stuff. But the benefits run much deeper: when we clear out our physical space we also clean up our energy—physical, spiritual and emotional.
Our mind, body and spirit operate as an integrated whole. We cannot separate what’s happening on one level from other aspects of our being. And when we start to make improvements on one level of our wellbeing, we invariably experience benefits on all the other levels too.
Decluttering is a physical act that has such an effect on the mental and emotional levels. It is especially useful when we’re feeling stuck in some area of our lives.
Clearing up our physical environment can give us the mental, spiritual or emotional boost we need to get unstuck and get going again.
The principles involved in clearing clutter are really simple:
Or lose it!
Decluttering is about getting rid of unnecessary excess. What we use regularly gets to stay. What we don’t use regularly has to go—unless it’s a decorative item that you love.
In deciding what to keep and what to let go of, look around your home for the items that give your spirit a little lift when your eyes glance their way. That little spark of appreciation is what qualifies them to remain in your space. Without that, they are merely dust magnets crowding your home.
Be ruthless. Our home is meant to be our own private sanctuary and it’s in our best interests to enable the energy to flow easily and make it as uplifting a space as possible.
Some starting points:
If you have a lot of clutter to clear, chances are the job will seem overwhelming to begin with. The trick is to start small and do it little and often. Assign yourself an allotted amount of time—a morning, an hour, ten minutes—and choose an area that can be easily cleared and cleaned within that time frame:
Sock or knicker drawer
Set up three large boxes and, as you go, put what you’re clearing in the relevant box:
And then just get to it!
I’m not promising you life-changing results. But don’t be surprised if you notice new opportunities opening up after you let go of some of your “stuff”.
And, what I would say is this—apart from your clutter—what have you got to lose?
Author: Hilda Carroll
Editor: Renee Picard
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