2012 is my year for digging into books on organization, de-cluttering, and simplicity (in hope of seeing some real change in my own life). Too Much Stuff - De-cluttering Your Heart and Home by Kathryn Porter was the third book I read on my weekend away at Glen Eyrie several weeks ago. What I loved about this book was how the author opened the book. She told her own story about growing up with a hoarder and the tragic death of her mom in the midst of the stuff. Well, that gets your attention - especially if you are a mom.
"My mother loved her children dearly, but I don't think we ever fully felt the depth of her love in our messy house. Clutter kills. It diminshes, even destroys, relationships."
Enough said. I need to take this seriously. (I'm pleased to confess that I made good progress on my own clutter projects today.)
So what really got the attention of the author Kathryn as she confronted her own issues? A friend who told her, "'You can't keep everything and keep a clean house.' Those words, spoken ever so casually, changed my life." Then a question from the same friend: "If you are not using them, then why are you keeping them?"
First things first is to define the clutter. Porter has a great 'what-is-clutter' list: trash, unorganized things, unfinished projects, homeless things, unused goodies, unnecessary duplicates, visually displeasing objects, broken items, clothes that don't fit, outdated or obsolete things, and too much of anything.
But just as importantly, "That which we possess and that which we desire to possess also clutters our hearts. We think, worry, and dream about these things. When it comes to the stuff we own, protecting it, insuring it, maintaining it, storing it, and cleaning it resides in the back of our minds. Even if we're not actively thinking about it, it weighs on us, stealing the room in our hearts once reserved for loved ones and for God."
The book is part counsel and insight, part practical and how-to. So here's some of the tough love medicine: "There is a spiritual element in our battle to de-clutter. As you wage your war against too much stuff, remember to wear spiritual armor. Invite God into the process. Ask Him to help you defeat emotional attachment to material possessions. Seek His guidance as you develop your own strategy to create a dwelling place that is clean and comfortable."
All-in-all, this was a great book. It asked tough questions. It dug beneath the surface while providing practice help for navigating a clear path out the othe clutter.