I live in a storage unit. I’ll bet some of you didn’t know that. Well, I shouldn’t really call my home that… but there is SO MUCH CLUTTER! I can blame it on a lot of things (and I’m pretty good with creative excuses, in case you were wondering). I have a hard time letting go of things which are precious to me (there are just WAY TOO MANY “precious things!”)… Also I’m one of those who thinks that someday there will be time for a particular project or idea… or “someday I’ll need this!” Oh sure . . . . like when I’m 135.
And little did I know, when I moved here 10 years ago, that I’d moved into a flood plain (I don’t know what else to call it). I’ve had 12 floods. This has been very disruptive to my plan for “getting organized” (I think I use that phrase more than any other… may it’s a tie between that and “aging is getting on my nerves!”). The basement is filled with matter unorganized. I’ve been working hard to change that. If I ever EVER really “get organized,” I think I’ll have an Open House so everyone can celebrate with me. At the rate I’m going, that will likely happen on my 90th birthday…
OK… I know some of you can understand what I’m saying. I’m giving my best effort to turning my storage unit back into a home. And I have to say that at least I can park my car in the garage (some of you cringed at that remark… maybe it’s been years since you’ve been able to do it). And there IS a trail through the basement…. But OH! The CLUTTER! (I wonder who thought up that word). Clutter is like a MAGNET!! Do you know what I mean? You put something down – an item of clothing, a piece of paper, a book… anything!… and within minutes there’s a PILE! YES! Some of you have experienced this phenomenon (with which I am way too familiar). We’re supposed to magnify our CALLINGS, not our CLUTTER! Sigh . . . . So much of my clutter brings back sweet memories to me. I used to look at the future more than the past, but that seems to be changing as I get older. I don’t LIVE in the past, but really enjoy visiting! And some of my “stuff and things” bring back the memories. Like I found a tiny piece of paper, folded so tightly for so long that I could hardly open it… and the memories flooded in – it was an assignment my violin teacher Mr. Halversen gave me. A short little note about Joseph Haydn that I kept in my small wooden violin case (it was my Dad’s, and I learned on it… it was a 3/4 size violin). ….
But I’m having some feelings about clutter which make me uncomfortable. It’s not just when my youngest sister Ann talks to me about Feng Shui (I have a tiny TINY little book which makes me laugh: the title is “Feng Shui for Dummies”… I can’t remember whether or not I’ve given a copy to Ann). I know some of you may have read the book I wrote about “You can never get enough of what you don’t need,” and I even gave some advice (I think it was in that book) about how to LET GO of “stuff and things” (oh do I ever use THAT phrase a lot!!). I try to put in practice a couple of things I suggested – like taking pictures of things which are hard to let go of, to give away. Or saying to yourself “Self, there is likely someone who needs this more than I do,” and then donating it to D.I. or Good Will or whatever is close to you. So I’m trying to practice what I’ve preached. (Is this turning into a confession??) (Maybe).
There are some things I’ve found (and “re-found”) which have been SO helpful. My friend Whitney shared information about a book titled The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. The author is Marie Kondo. She reminds me that “Visible mess helps distract us from the true source of the disorder.” And: “When you put your house in order, you put your affairs and your past in order too.” Wow!
And there are lots of suggestions, like the 80/20 rule for clothing (and other “stuff”): If you’re only wearing 20% of the clothing in your closet(s) 80% of the time, get rid of the things you’re not wearing and will likely never wear again…. And you can do this with books (OUCH!!!), computer parts, doo-dads, kitchen stuff, ETC. If you’re not using it, let someone else use it! Give it away! (And don’t be tempted to fill the space you’ve created, ha ha).
And then there is this incredibly important advice from Elder William R. Bradford, which I’ve had and read several times since April of 1992(!!)…. I’m going to share it with you this morning, because I think there might be one or two of you who are struggling – as I am – with clutter. EEEEEEEK!!!!!! UNCLUTTER YOUR LIVES! “A cluttered life is a life that you do not have control of,” Elder Bradford said. “It is a life in which the things you have surrounded yourself with, and allow to use your time, are controlling you, and negatively influencing your happiness and eternal progress.” He said that lives can be cluttered by many things. Some are obvious, such as material things, “the stuff we collect.” Other things that clutter lives and use up time are not as obvious as the material. They are more subtle and just seem to evolve, taking control of lives. “We give our lives to that which we give our time,” Elder Bradford explained. To unclutter one’s life, Elder Bradford admonished, much has to be discarded. “To do this we need to develop a list of basics, a list of those things that are indispensable to our mortal welfare and happiness and our eternal salvation. This list must follow the gospel pattern and contain the elements needed for our sanctification and perfection. It must be the product of inspiration and prayerful judgment between the things we really need and the things we just want. It should separate need from greed.” At the top of a list of basics must be the family. “Next only to our devotion to God, the family comes first,” he emphasized. “A mother should never allow herself to become so involved with extras that she finds herself neglecting her divine role. A father must not let any activity, no matter how interesting or important it may seem, keep him from giving of himself in the one‑on‑one service and close, constant care of each member of the family.” Elder Bradford explained that young people need to learn that “none of the exciting, entertaining and fun things” are worth it if they take them off the path that will lead them back to their Heavenly Father. He said that one needs to ask some serious and soul‑searching questions. “One of these questions would surely be, ‘Do I have time for prayer?’ I mean sincere, honest, from the depths of the contrite spirit and a broken heart prayer. “The next question would be, ‘Do I study the scriptures?’ I solemnly testify to you that the holy scriptures are the word of God. Constant study of them is the act of holding to the rod of iron. They will guide you to the tree of life. I exhort you to go to the tree of life where you will find the pure love of God.” With an uncluttered life, he continued, “you will not be so busy doing terrestrial things that you do not have time to do those things which are celestial. God’s plan is a plan of simplicity. I urge you to clear away the clutter. Take your life back. Use your willpower. Learn to say no to those things that will rob you of your precious time and infringe upon your agency to choose to live in exactness to God’s plan of happiness and exaltation.”
I like the way he related it to the fact that our LIVES may be cluttered, and not just our homes or garages or offices or basement or drawers or closets or . . . (OK, I’m getting carried away!). One thing I’ve done a couple of times and am going to do again is have a “MEE-MALL” for my family. I put out a “ton” of things I no longer need, and they can come on a certain day and take anything they want home with them! (Send your clutter to your children or your neighbors or friends!!). Then the rest goes to D.I. I’ve thought of having MEE-BAY, where I send an email with a list of things I no longer need which they might enjoy having, and the only cost is postage (or they can come and pick things up). My younger sister Charlotte and I used to “clean our room” (we shared a room until she turned 18 and went away to Ricks College) and then “hand it down” to our younger brothers and sisters. It made THEM happy, but not our Mother quite as much…. We tried to convince her we were “recycling.” She tried to teach us what “SPRING CLEANING” really meant.
Someday I plan to post a Blog exclaiming that I am “clutter free!” (And I hope I live long enough to do that). NOTE TO MEE-SELF: