clear space to be – part 2

One of the few objects that has followed me over the years (photo by Jo)

There is nothing like the universe coming together to provide an opportunity. Today, an assignment of mine was suddenly cancelled so my afternoon became free. I’d normally revel in a walk through my town but being a cold and wet day, I hopped on the tube and came home. Rather than get straight to work on various projects, I decided to treat myself to some fun and catch up on episodes of a favourite television show!

On the internet recently I tuned into the television series, Consumed with Jill Pollack. Families have their homes completely cleared out and they live for 30 days with the bare essentials. Then they return to their boxed up items in a warehouse and reduce a lot of it before bringing some things back home. Meanwhile, Darren Doyle builds architectural solutions in the home and Jill decorates to make it even more inviting to remain junk free.

I wrote about this show in my previous clear space to be post last month. I am inspired by the revelations of the families featured on the show! It all starts with host Jill stating: “It’s not just about getting rid of’s about getting rid of bad habits. To have an appreciation for what’s really important.”

Discovery runs deeper than what is found in the closet – These folks are getting to the heart of their issues. “This space is crazy! Very stressful. It may be why I don’t sleep well at night.” One son cried, “What upsets me is that this is my parents house and this is how they live. This stuff isn’t who we are.” With laundry and toys piled on every surface, Jill points out that one family eating separately is an example of how they are living separate lives. “This stuff has created walls and they are drifting apart.” Ouch! But one by one, they all get on board and the end result is truly inspiring.

A particular theme Jill discussed was sentimentality. Just this morning I was conversing about this topic with a colleague who subscribes to my blog. She wishes her husband would thin out his collection of memorabilia. One ‘Consumed’ family member had a strong attachment to their past. I like Jill’s advice about finding a special way to honour those memories. In an HGTV video supplement, Jill conveys that “sentimentality is wonderful – just having the right place to put it is important”. I agree. Although I try not to keep tangible representations of the past, I digitize my photographs and keep them on the computer, select letters are neatly filed away, and a couple of favourite objects that remain are put on display. Jill demonstrates on the show how an amazing photo, properly framed, can be beautifully featured on a wall. That is a memory that can be appreciated everyday.

The topic of collections also came up. Jill is supportive of people collecting things if they receive emotional and monetary value, enjoy shopping for them and display them beautifully. But once you tell folks that you collect [insert word here], people start to buy them for you and then it’s not your choice anymore. This touches on a tricky subject that I talked about in my post ‘permission to receive less’. Many of us have been raised to give gifts and I argue that there are more meaningful ways to show that you care. Without the box and bow, it isn’t easy for some friends and family to come into contact and express their affection.

Finally, a key message many of my friends hear me say was echoed by one of the children of a family featured on the show. “I don’t think we really know how to organize our stuff. When we bring something in…to let something go.” Amen. When I come home with something new, I negotiate with myself and my partner what will have to be given away, donated or thrown out. I smile when I think of this – this summer I came home from working in Newfoundland with some beautiful local made pottery. (Alexis  Templeton)    Before I arrived I texted the message “what in the kitchen can we get rid of?” We had an extra tea set we weren’t making use of so I took a photo, put it on facebook and sure enough someone was pleased to make the set a part of their home.

I would love to know what strategies you use at home or at your office to keep organized and not to get overwhelmed with too much stuff! Please comment!