Free of Clutter, at Last

By Hawaii Renovation Posted in: Go Ask AliceImprove

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My home wasn’t always filled with feng shui bliss. Here’s how I went from life as a hoarder of all things to one who’s learned to minimize her mess

QUESTION OF THE WEEK: Every time I read your column I always wonder what your home looks like and imagine it must be in perfect order. I’m curious about your life and how it was before you knew feng shui. How much can you attribute your success in your life to the feng shui of your home? I find great interest in your column, but I can never seem to get motivated to clear stuff out.

The new year signifies new beginnings and opportunities for positive change, so I’ll take this opportunity in the first “Go Ask Alice” column of 2013 to share my “before feng shui” story with you.

Multiple storage units filled with “stuff”

This may come as a shock, but about 10 years ago, I had three storage units filled with the things I thought I needed to keep — everything from clothes to furniture to gadgets and kitchen tools. I loved to buy things and I kept almost everything. I was paying $471 per month in storage unit rent because I lived in a condo and the closets and shelves were filled to the gills. I never understood why people would “de-clutter” and get rid of things. I thought living by the “I’ll keep it just in case” rule was best.

It’s in my nature

For those of you who know a bit about astrology, I am a Cancer — a “double” Cancer at that. This just means that at the time of my birth I had multiple emphasis points in the constellation of Cancer. Double Cancers are like crabs in that they often resist change in the environment and have a hard time letting go of stuff, very similar to the Rat personality in the Chinese horoscope. Both crabs and rats are driven by security.

The study of feng shui

When my career in media unexpectedly ended, I immediately got interested in understanding the bigger picture of life and started on the path of becoming a professional astrologer. I immersed myself in learning about life cycles and life potential through astrology, which turned out to be a natural segue to studying feng shui. So, I took some intensive training courses in feng shui, thinking that it would be a good complement to astrology because they were both about “energy.” When I finished my feng shui course, I was excited to have information on how to help people set up their homes to reach their highest potential. I immediately started offering feng shui consultations.

My awakening

Then about a year or two later, as I was walking to my car with my significant other, I opened the trunk and revealed a cluttered mess. He jokingly said, “Feng shui consultant says, do as I say not as I do, huh?” I got a bit defensive and made excuses as to why I needed all those things, knowing deep down that I was, in fact, living incongruently.

I decided right then that even though I had the knowledge, I couldn’t ask others to do what I didn’t do myself. I was being inauthentic and knew I had to make a drastic change in my lifestyle.

Minimizing my clutter

I immediately set aside seven days to de-clutter my life. I made a difficult decision to clear, donate, give away or throw away anything that I didn’t need. Like a mad woman, I went from one end of the apartment to the other mercilessly purging and clearing. I even cleared out my storage units and was able to reduce them to only one small unit at $39 per month for “must keeps,” such as old photos, large suitcases and mandatory files. When I was done, I could breathe and felt liberated, as if I could do anything.

So what eventually happened?

That was one of the best things I ever did for our home and myself. Over the course of the next eight months, I dropped more than 10 pounds without even trying. I know it was directly related to letting go of all the physical burdens in the form of my stuff. Not only did I start feeling better and more energetic over time, but my business also started growing by leaps and bounds. Opportunities came out of “nowhere.” My emotional state improved and I felt less stressed by my challenges. Clearing out my clutter literally changed my experience of life.

Remember, I am a double Cancer, so it is still a struggle for me to let things go, and I still have a tendency to accumulate, but every year, without fail, no matter how busy I am, I set aside two full days to clear my home. I now trust the process of life more than ever and find security in the knowing that life will bring me everything I need without my having to hoard things.

Calendar your clean up

I highly suggest that you avoid using the excuse of insufficient time by setting aside “de-clutter” days on your calendar and making the task the only thing you and your family do on those days.

I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to rid yourself of the stuff you do not need. Your clutter literally weighs you down. The more your home is de-cluttered and unencumbered, the more easily and freely the energy flows, enabling those who reside in the home to flourish in ways they might not otherwise. If you make the time to do some clearing, you can create an amazing 2013 with your home as your biggest supporter!

Alice Inoue is a life guide at Alice Inoue Life Guidance LLC, a company committed to assisting people in living empowered lives. Alice shares her wisdom as a professional speaker and personal consultant, and offers a series of instructional DVDs on feng shui, as well as her award-winning books on feng shui, happiness and spiritual life wisdom. Visit www.aliceinspired.com to read her blog and download useful feng shui tips.