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inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #26 of 119: descend into a fractal hell of meta-truthiness (jmcarlin) Sun 25 May 14 15:43
    

>  "Oh boy, a flat surface to put stuff on!"

AKA "flat surface syndrome".
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #27 of 119: It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Sun 25 May 14 18:34
    
Also, I feel like the people that say "touch each piece of mail once" 
don't live in the real world. I get mail, I have to call somebody about a 
bill, I have to put in a file, I have to pull it out again when they don't 
answer, I have to sort it into a folder-- how do you touch something only 
once?
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #28 of 119: descend into a fractal hell of meta-truthiness (jmcarlin) Sun 25 May 14 21:28
    

Of course there are exceptions but I can give you an example from
my own house. A catalog arrives. There's something a bit interesting
in it. So the catalog goes on a stack to "think about it" and make a
decision. Months later when the stack has gotten too high or we need
to clean up because a guest is coming over, the catalog goes into the
recycling pile and out to the can.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #29 of 119: Ari Davidow (ari) Mon 26 May 14 07:42
    
Catalogs are tricky, because they ask for time that you don't
necessarily have when they arrive. But I try to be a disciplinarian
when it comes to periodicals. When the new one arrives, the old one
heads straight to the recycling bag.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #30 of 119: descend into a fractal hell of meta-truthiness (jmcarlin) Mon 26 May 14 10:12
    

That's a fair statement about catalogs but when you have several months
of them on the same stack, that's over the top IMO.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #31 of 119: Frako Loden (frako) Mon 26 May 14 10:42
    
When I receive a catalog in the mail, I make a deal with myself: Either I
leaf through it right now or it goes in the trash. When I leaf through it, I
put a post-it on the page where an item interests me. If I don't get back to
it in 3 or 4 days, it goes in the trash. Catalogs don't pile up in my house.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #32 of 119: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Mon 26 May 14 13:48
    
I got a late start with the book because I lost my copy, but I'm
loving this quote from near the beginning:

"You only have time and space for what you love."

All of us do have a few things that we must keep even if we don't love
them, e.g. last year's tax returns, but that is a powerful thought.

I'm already looking around the room I'm writing this in and thinking
"hmmmm..."

I do see some things I love, like my favorite bathrobe. But I also see
many things I do not love!
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #33 of 119: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Mon 26 May 14 22:02
    
I don't have kids but I do think about what I will leave behind for
others to deal with. And this bit from Lauren really struck me as a
perfect way to approach the stuff.

>>  A few boxes of curated, meaningful objects is a gift. An attic
full of stuff we didn't have the time or energy to sort through is not.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #34 of 119: Frako Loden (frako) Tue 27 May 14 12:35
    
Yeah, those sentences resonated with me too. I'm currently reducing big
useless boxes to a few more meaningful ones.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #35 of 119: Lauren Rosenfeld (lgosenfeld) Tue 27 May 14 13:21
    
Hi Everyone. It's been a busy day at work for me and tonight I am off
to  a high school awards ceremony, but I'll be sure to check back in
and answer questions when I get home. Thanks for all the great
feedback, the great questions, and your willingness to open up this
part of your lives for discussion. I'll talk to you soon.

Lauren
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #36 of 119: Lauren Rosenfeld (lgosenfeld) Wed 28 May 14 08:43
    
So today I wanted to answer the question from @kafclown: "So, my
question is about regrets-- I am overall glad that I got rid of my 
albums (which I hadn't listened to in 10+ years)  But I am having a
few 
regrets that I left money on the table, that I will want them, that I
just 
sold stuff for a pittance that I spent a lifetime collecting.  

How do you get past the regrets?" 

This is really an excellent question. And it really has two
dimensions. One is about regret, which you specifically asked about.
The other (which you didn't specifically ask - but which is in the
subtext) is about value. 

Let me talk first about value. One of the reasons we have a difficult
time letting go of objects we purchased is about wasting money: either
dealing with the regret of having purchased something we did not really
need in the first place -- or on the other hand -- regretting letting
go of something that may still have some monetary value. 

So I'd like to redefine value: An object of value is one that creates
happiness, peace, or ease in your life. Period. If an object is not
serving that emotional function in your life, it does not really have
value, no matter how much you paid for it or no matter how many
generations it has been in your family. So the opposite side of that
same coin is true as well: If it is making you unhappy, if it is making
you anxious, if it is creating regret, if it is making your life
harder -- it has negative value.  So regardless of how much you paid
for it, or how much money someone else has paid for it, if it is
draining you of your happiness and your inner peace -- that is too high
a price to pay.

How would you price out your happiness? What is it worth to you? Would
you sit on $100 worth of records (or dishes, or books, or clothing) if
it ended up costing you years of happiness and peace and ease? 

Here is what I tell my clients: If you love doing yards ales, go for
it. If you love listing things on ebay then packing them up, printing
labels and running them to your local post office, by all means, do it.
If you enjoy listing things on Craigslist and enjoy the social
interaction of receiving calls from potential buyers and inviting them
to your house (and some people really do!) then you should definitely
do that.

But if doing any of these things puts the fear of G-d in you and you
get stomach cramps just thinking about it, please just give them away.
Because you are paying too high a price to house them. 

And how do you get past regret? You can't. At least you can't get
around it. You have to listen to it. You have to talk to it. If regret
tell you, "You never should have let those things go for so little a
price," you can tell regret, "I understand your fear, Regret, but I
want to reassure you that I was paying too high a price to live with
these items. In letting them go, I have regained freedom and peace of
mind. And so I feel I have come out on top of deal. I may have lost a
few dollars, but I have gained something that is priceless in the
bargain." 
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #37 of 119: Lauren Rosenfeld (lgosenfeld) Wed 28 May 14 08:58
    
Q: Also, I feel like the people that say "touch each piece of mail
once" 
don't live in the real world. I get mail, I have to call somebody
about a 
bill, I have to put in a file, I have to pull it out again when they
don't 
answer, I have to sort it into a folder-- how do you touch something
only 
once?"

Paperwork tends to create a special form of anxiety in us. We're
afraid to touch paperwork because it creates anxiety and so we put it
away and ultimately it becomes piles and boxes of anxiety. 

Some paperwork takes time that we don't have at the moment. Some
paperwork takes courage that we don't have at the moment. Some
paperwork takes decisiveness that we don't have at the moment. 

So it's important that we recognize why we are putting out paperwork
away for later, because there are different reasons. So the paper I put
away because it is going to be a thirty minutes conversation is
different than the paperwork that we put away because it is a two
minutes conversation that we are afraid of having. 

I'd like to suggest that you sort you papers as such. So maybe a pile
that says, "come back when I have time" -- "come back when I have
courage" or "come back when I have patience" -- and then set aside time
and energy for dealing with those particular sources of delay. 

There's never really a time that you or I are going to enjoy talking
to the insurance company about the bill they declined to pay. But if I
know that I am going to build my patience and courage muscles by doing
it (and in the end will have benefited by exercising them) then it is
worthwhile to set aside that time for my personal growth. 

Touching things only once may indeed be a bit unrealistic and
perfectionistic. But on the other hand, not touching them at all can
create a huge problem. So the balance is this, look at touching your
paperwork as an opportunity to touch some very important strengths
within yourself: courage, patience, and perseverance. 

And remember this: If we spend two months avoiding a five minute task
-- that task turns into a two month and five minute task. That's too
much energy given over to a very small task. :) 
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #38 of 119: Jennifer Powell (jnfr) Wed 28 May 14 10:10
    
That's excellent thinking on paperwork, Lauren. Thank you.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #39 of 119: Rip Van Winkle (keta) Wed 28 May 14 11:44
    
Great conversation so far!  That's a great insight that not all things
postponed are for lack of the same ingredient.  It's so easy to assume
we just don't have the time, but you're right, sometimes it's really
patience or courage that is needed.

I have a lot of thoughts and comments about the book, but for the
moment I just wanted to chime in with a question.

How do you recommend approaching the relationships with other people
who are also affected by your stuff... or in the case of a family, how
do you approach finding a mutually agreeable way to handle individual
and shared space and stuff?
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #40 of 119: Kathy L. Dalton (kd) Wed 28 May 14 12:46
    
I like this thinking on the paperwork, sounds like it is adaptable to
how I operate. 

So, I tried an exercise in my book, the one about the entrance to your
house, which in my case is the foyer -- a room of doors. But straight
as you come in is a little table full of problems. It is where I put
the mail and the phone is there too. 

Stuff does just PILE up there. I couldn't keep coming in & out to fix
it; I gave up. The real fix is moving it to my study...but my study is
the most enormous job of decluttering in the house. Not a good spot to
start on. 

I think I will at least designate one other spot for my three folders:
come back with time; come back with courage; come back with patience.
But man oh man I need deadlines. 

Putting it in little chunks is also what I need. I find it draining
even SLICed. Stealing a bit from the pomodoro (sp?) folks I have found
that for me, setting aside a time and then an alternate activity does
seem to help me move forward. If I try to set a whole task it is often
TOO MUCH. Also, I am eminently distractable. 

Like Mark, I was a bit put off by the woowoo but have been able to see
that it makes some sense. I do not want a whole breathing room, but I
do want the spaces I spend the most time in to have some peace and
respite along with a certain lively clutter that feels homey to me. 
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #41 of 119: (katecat) Wed 28 May 14 13:31
    
the woo woo is what brought me here! I really love the idea of being clear
and present and compassionate about your own clutter. I am as cluttery as
the next middle-aged person who has lived in the same house for 16 years;
and my husband has more serious hoarding tendencies. So most of our house is
a bit cluttered, and then his two domains (his never-used office and our
garage) are just jammed with boxes and old busted computers and dust. It 
is depressing.

So I will get your book and see what I can do. Does it talk about working 
with more determined hoarders at all? I am sentimental and indecisive, and 
thus cluttered; but Ken has a lot of anxiety about letting anything go, 
and it seems like it's so painful for him when I push it that I often just 
stop. 

I guess another way to look at it is that although decluttering is a 
bit hard and anxious for me, I feel marvelous afterward. I don't think he 
feels _bad_ afterwards, but he doesn't feel marvelous, and the process is 
incredibly painful for him.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #42 of 119: Mark McDonough (mcdee) Wed 28 May 14 15:01
    
I came for the de-cluttering, but stayed for the woo woo! :-)
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #43 of 119: Lauren Rosenfeld (lgosenfeld) Thu 29 May 14 12:39
    
Thank you for asking about the difference between hoarders and
clutterers. As you all know, my co-author, Dr. Melva Green was an
expert psychiatrist on the A&E series, "Hoarders". The main difference
between hoarders and clutterers that we talk about in the book is that
hoarders find it nearly impossible to distinguish variance in value
among their belongings. So for example -- a cluttered person might find
it very difficult to let go of a pile of old receipts -- they may feel
very anxious and worried about the consequences of letting that pile
go. But if I were to ask that person to decide between old receipts and
their grandmother's handwritten recipes - they would know the
difference and would let go of the receipts. A hoarder would find that
decision near impossible. They tend to have equal amounts of
attachments to all their possessions (and thus equal amounts of fear
and anxiety about letting them go. As one hoarder on the show told
Melva, "When you ask me to give away my things, I feel like you're
asking me to give away my skin." 

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! 
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #44 of 119: Lauren Rosenfeld (lgosenfeld) Thu 29 May 14 12:43
    
And as for woo woo -- I guess I am unabashedly woo woo if you want to
call it that. I believe there is a deeper dimension to even our most
mundane tasks. But honestly, when it comes right down to it -- this
isn't about conjuring or candle lighting or calling on spirits (though
I have no problem with any of that!) -- it's about getting the work
done: the very real work of looking at how our internal emotional
clutter tends to generate the clutter in our homes. No amount of wand
waving will get that work done. It takes willingness, discernment,
compassion, and courage. I have decluttered with folks from all walks
and stages of life and love and loss. Woo woo or not -- I've seen this
method work. So thank you all for sticking around and being part of
this conversation. :) 
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #45 of 119: Teleological dyslexic (ceder) Thu 29 May 14 13:05
    
Although virtual, blog-sites give me the heebie-jeebies!  Talk about
clutter--sheesh.  
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #46 of 119: It's all done with mirrors... (kafclown) Thu 29 May 14 18:30
    
Thanks for the responses-- I don't think of myself as a clutterer or a 
hoarder-- I think of myself as an archivist or a collector.  Maybe I am on 
the hoarder spectrum, though.

Up until recently I've had plenty of space (although I've been steadily 
filling it) I am moving to Chicago this summer, and doubt I will have 
the kind of space that I have now.  I have been going 
through my office  trying to get rid of stuff. 

I just shredded (the county has a mobile 
shredder every saturday at  different town halls)  15 years of documents-- 
19901--2005.  They were my  mundane documents, phone bills, fidelity 
statements, etc. I feel a little  bad about it in that the record of that 
is all gone-- but I also know I was never going to look at that, it was 
just taking up space (about 9 banker's boxes)

I now have the boxes of financial documents from 2006-2014, which I am 
keeping (just in case) plus all the tax returns.  That's another 5 bankers 
boxes.

I also have a large plastic bin full of programs of shows I've seen (not 
exhaustive or complete, but a lot), a large plastic bin full of posters 
and artwork I've saved, a large plastic bin full of clippings and reviews 
of my work (and I had 2 bins-- got it down to 1 by throwing out all of the 
complete newspaper sets and duplicates that I had saved of the Newspaper 
that day), and a bin of all the personal letters that I wrote (or that 
people wrote me) back in the day (for a while I photocopied everything I 
wrote to save)

And a couple more banker boxes full of paperwork from the non-profit I 
used to run, and some of my mom's paperwork and artwork.

I don't want to get rid of this stuff, but I know I need to.

Not sure how I am going to.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #47 of 119: die die must try (debbie) Thu 29 May 14 18:57
    

scanning has made a huge difference in our lives. We are on the extreme side
of decluttering, having gotten down to two suitcases each for a total of 30
kg each, but it isn't like you just get to that place and stay there, it is
an ongoing process of constantly working at getting rid of stuff. the worst
for us is the stuff we should sell - some camera lenses, tripod - that's our
current challenge. We find if we are about to move, then it is too late and
harder to work on.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #48 of 119: Julie Sherman (julieswn) Thu 29 May 14 19:57
    
I used to save lots of paperwork and books from old jobs, houses, etc.
But I realized that I never looked at them again. So when I moved
across country last time I got rid of as much as possible. I shredded
20 boxes of paper and got rid of 15 boxes of books. I do not miss any
of it. Paper still accumulates but not as fast as it once did.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #49 of 119: descend into a fractal hell of meta-truthiness (jmcarlin) Thu 29 May 14 20:43
    

I was inspired by this topic to toss old jeans that I had planned
to turn into shorts for several years.
  
inkwell.vue.477 : Lauren Rosenfeld, "Breathing Room"
permalink #50 of 119: J. Eric Townsend (jet) Fri 30 May 14 06:06
    
Coming in a bit late, but I think this is a great discussion.

Moving across country can reset your "what should I keep?" answers.
It cost us $.68/lb to move from the bay area to Pittsburgh, we got rid
of a lot of stuff we'd have kept if we moved across town.

Scale it up for inflation -- if it cost you $1/lb to move, what would
you keep?

I no longer buy books thinking I can sell them if I didn't like them.
I use my library card or buy used books so cheap and common I don't
mind recycling them when I'm done reading them.  When I buy a book
it's one I plan on keeping and re-reading or using as reference text.

We also give away 'decent' clothing at donation events to help people
who were hit by a natural disaster.  I'd rather see it go to someone
who lost everything than to the dollar bin at a charity store.

At the end it's still a bit personal, it's a way to get stuff out of
our house and lead a simpler life.
  

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