Feng Shui for home organization: learning to let go
We often hear the expression of ‘letting go’. Letting go refers to releasing or becoming less attached to something—an idea, a relationship, a job, or things. A friend of mine is in the process of moving from a home her family has been in for over 15 years. For those of us who have moved recently, we understand the somewhat overwhelming task of sorting through ‘stuff’ that has accumulated in our homes. Feng Shui is based on the principle of keeping energy moving by releasing and restoring balance in our homes and lives. One of the regular practices associated with Feng Shui is the practice of letting go or clearing clutter. What kinds of clutter have you accumulated in your house since the last time you did a major clearing?
We live in a world where not only do we have access to more than we would ever be able to use, but we also pass items on to one another in our desire to recycle. Clutter and an overabundance of all kinds of things, builds up in our homes, offices, studios, and other spaces (cars, yards, garages, barns, closets—wherever you store things). Without getting into why we tend to amass so much stuff (emotional, psychological, fear-based needs, work-related and seasonal), what kinds of things can we probably get rid of?
Start with the spaces that you use most frequently.
The kitchen is one of the most active rooms in our homes, usually. We bring food and supplies into the kitchen, we prepare and clean up meals, we store food and equipment, and we are in and out of this room a great deal. In Feng Shui, the kitchen represents the heart of the family/home, and is crucial for maintaining harmony, abundance, and a free flow of energy.
Mugs and Dishes: Get rid of dishes and coffee mugs that you do not need or use. Get rid of chipped cups and dishes. Do something about those coffee mugs that have traveled around with you for years, yet never get used. Donate them to some place that will use them (thrift shop, homeless shelter). If you are having trouble giving some of the sentimental clutter away, take a photograph, frame it, and hang it in your kitchen to remind you of the cups and memories attached to them.
Utensils and cookware. Clear your cupboards and drawers of utensils and cookware that you do not use or that is broken or damaged. For example, if you use some form of coated pans, and the coating is scratched, get rid of it. Keep what you use; get rid of what simply takes up space. If you have a few things you use seasonally (canning supplies, cookie cutters, or specialty cake pans and serving dishes), store them in a separate location to be easily located when it’s time to can or when holiday baking begins. Get rid of items that worked for you at one time, but no longer do. For example, I like using cast iron skillets, so I recently got two large ones from an estate sale. I find that the larger of the two is too heavy for me to use comfortably or safely. I’m taking it to a local antique shop where the market for cast iron skillets is good.
Excess and outdated food. Go through your pantry, and get rid of foods that are past their expiration dates (spices, canned goods). Get rid of items you have that you do not use. We all seem to buy items we think we ‘should’ have, but we never get around to using. Donate those items or give them to someone who would actually use them. And keep clearing and cleaning out that refrigerator and freezer. Just returned from a month away from home, and found a clean and nearly empty refrigerator greeting me. It gave me a lift—energy—and has made it easier for me to keep the fridge clear of ‘food clutter’.
Electronics. Old cell phones, power cords from some old appliance or device, old monitors, keyboards, printers, and other paraphernalia from electronic equipment that has accumulated. Find a local recycling center, or go online and see who is looking for just what you are trying to get rid of. Visit the Monterey County Electronics Recycling site to learn how to best recycle your old equipment. . Staples and Best Buy (and other stores) have programs for recycling as well.
Plastic and Glass containers. Reusing and repurposing plastic and glass containers can be good. All my dry goods are stored in glass jars (beans, lentils, rice, cereals). However, when you reach the point where your cupboards or shelves are overflowing with glass jars and plastic containers and lids, it is probably time to cull the lot. Go through your supply, and save the jars you have an immediate purpose for, and recycle the rest.
Bags. For over four decades I have used reusable shopping bags. My daughter has called me a bag lady for quite some time, and I have to admit, she’s right. While it is a great idea to use canvas and reusable bags for groceries and other kinds of shopping and storage, you can have too many bags. Go through your bags and find a way to recycle. My cousin runs a clothes bank and she needs bags for giving away clothing. I save my paper bags and other reusable bags to give her. Hint. Keep 1-2 reusable bags in your car, by he front door near your keys, or tucked in your purse (yes there are some shopping bags that are compact and fit into the bottom of your purse. Putting bags in strategic places helps you remember to take them with you when you go shopping. Also saves you from buying yet another bag because you have forgotten yours at home.
Receipts, paperwork, magazines, coupons. After finally coming up with a workable way to save receipts (legal size envelops for each month of the year), a new way to scan receipts may save me from having to have a box of envelopes and receipts to go through at tax time every year. Doing more business online makes it easier to keep track of expenses and income/sales/royalties. However, paper still manages to accumulate, and take up space around the house. Have a system for keeping track of mail and paperwork, and regularly sort through and clear out old paperwork. Have a system for going through mail as soon as it comes into the house. Coupons, which I have every intention of using, generally expire in a drawer or hanging on the refrigerator behind some flashy magnet. Thanks to the online coupon service of my local market, I can get my coupons electronically, and not have to fool myself into thinking I’ll actually take a handful to market, and become one of those annoying shoppers who hands the checker a wad of coupons to sort through. I actually admire the coupon people who resourceful and disciplined.
Magazines tend to pile up, and they can be recycled (local coffee shops, beauty salons, offices, or senior centers) as well more often. Part of the problem is we have good intentions. We may set a stack of magazines on our writing table or next to where we write letters (another great intention), but never get around to reading them. Make a date with yourself, and sit for an hour or two, going through those magazines, cutting out pictures or recipes or articles you want to save, then toss what’s left in the recycling bin. Either act on the intention or admit you’re not going to read the magazines and they need to go before they become boxes of intentions stacked up in your attic or garage. Imagine all the energy tied up in things we think we are going to get around to doing, and we never do. Start sorting through what really matters to you now, and getting some of the clutter cleared out of your home, office, studio, and your mind. The flow of energy will give you a good lift.
Books. Regularly go through your book shelves (and those boxes in the basement or garage), and get rid of the ones you won’t read ever again. Anything worth saving, set aside, but then pack the books and get them out of the house to a used bookstore or some other place where you can recycle them.
Artwork, Memorabilia, Souvenirs. Periodically, go through the artwork you have accumulated. Some may be from your children or grandchildren while others pieces you may have inherited. Other artwork may include pieces you got that once held meaning but no longer fit into your life. Clear out the pieces that are no longer meaningful, and clear them out of your house. One friend talked about having a huge portrait of her mother hanging over her home office desk. My friend had some pretty ambiguous feelings (and some not so ambiguous) about her relationships with her mother. Her mother, long deceased, was still hanging around, so to speak, and the energy was not very positive.
Accept the past, and honor what is important to you and your family. Get rid of items that remind you of negative and unsupportive experiences, relationships, or times. Sort through your music as well. Our choice of music indicates what we are imprinting in our minds and taking into our energy. Make certain what you put into your mind is worthy and uplifting. If you keep souveniers, put them in a scrapbook or use them for a practical purpose. One person I know fills a shoe box with memorable items for each family member at the end of each year. Everyone chooses what to keep. Honor the memory of people experiences, and the past, but avoid filling your home/office up with clutter and making it look and feel junky. Our lives change, as do our tasts. Refresh your home to reflect the energy you want to attract into your life. Release the energy that is dragging your down, reminding you of a past that needs to be released. Use Feng Shui to arrange and keep the energy flowing in your life and home, and release yourself from the traps where your energy gets caught in clutter, negative and blocked energy, and a lack of vitality caused by feeling bogged down in unfinished business or connections to events and people who are no longer in your life.