Lost in the clutter

This comment by Jo H and the mention of Feng Shui last week got me thinking about the aesthetics of a home. We all have our own tastes when it comes to the kinds of things we like, fabric choices, art works, furniture styles, knick knacks etc etc. However as Jo pointed out in her comment the beauty of these objects have a better chance of shining out when they aren’t so plentiful that they get lost in the clutter.

Although I only have a vague understanding of Feng Shui, and  am sure some people think it is a lot of hocus pocus, I would suggest that it is worth investigating. I feel that some of the basic principals such as de-clutter every room, position furniture correctly, keep work and rest areas separate and make repairs promptly, will make any home more pleasant to live in. Homes have a feel about them whether you believe in chi (the flow of positive energy) or not. Have you ever had an area of your home that just doesn’t feel right to you and can’t put your finger on why. To another person the problem may be obvious but, because you have emotional attachment to the stuff in the room, your ability to see the problem is obscured.

I happened to visit a local antique shop this last weekend. This shop is large and jam packed with all manner of old and interesting things. So jam packed that you couldn’t possibly see even one tenth of what it has to offer in a single visit. I had come to show my husband one particular item which was right at the front door and took seconds to accomplish, however these places are so intriguing that it is fun to have a look around. The decision then had to be made whether to glance over the entire store or choose a couple of areas to look through closely. No matter what choice one makes in this situation one is always left with the feeling of missing out on something. What treasures could be hiding amongst all the clutter. Where do I look first, what might I be missing if I make the wrong choice of where to look. Even though I didn’t even wish to purchase anything I find this feeling oppressive.

Now imagine living in your home with a similar feeling every day. You believe you love and need every item in it, you wouldn’t want to part with anything because you might miss it or need it someday. However you know something about your home is making you feel on edge and you can’t put your finger on it. My guess is your need and love for all your stuff has your eyes closed to the fact that you can’t deal with it all. You spend so much time maintaining it. Or you feel guilty if you don’t. You encounter inconveniences everyday manoeuvring around and through your stuff. Be open to the idea convenience might just be worth parting with some stuff.

As always I would suggest you start decluttering the items, among the multitudes, that you love the least. But if you would like to immediately experience what it would be like with less stuff, why not do a trial separation. A practice run so to speak. You can test how much you really would miss some items when they are gone. At the same time experience how much easier maintenance can be with less stuff. Then weigh up what is really more important to you.

Find a place in your home where you can store some boxes of stuff for a while. Choose an area of your home that feels the most cluttered. Box up the items you least use and/or love and take a break from them. Leave the items in the boxes for at least a month, two or three would really give a good indication of whether you really miss them or not. At the end of the time you can either sort through the boxes to retrieve what you have decided you want or just send them as is straight to the thrift shop. If you do decide to go through the boxes don’t allow the novelty of seeing your items again cloud your judgement and have you forget the benefits of having less stuff to maintain and live with.

Today’s Mini Mission

If you have a bunch of fancy, rarely used utensils getting in the way of  the useful stuff why not pare down a little.

Eco Tip for the Day

Just like yesterdays eco tip on saving fuel not idling the car, you can also practice this with your vacuum cleaner. When you are vacuuming and get sidetracked by another task turn off the vacuum, even if the other task takes little more than a few seconds. Every little bit of electricity you save is good for the environment and your energy costs.

For a full list of my eco tips so far click here

It matters not how fast I go, I hurry faster when I’m slow

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About Colleen Madsen

Colleen is the founder of 365 Less Things and lives in Newcastle, Australia.


  1. We designed this house but six months after we moved in I found that I simply hated the kitchen. It had never felt right. One day I pulled everything out of the drawers and cupboards and rearranged the entire lot. Its placement now makes sense and my physical and mental energy flow. I have no idea what Feng Shui would say about my kitchen arrangement but having a house with things in sensible places and enough stuff to make it comfortable but with open space to let your eyes take it in and your mind be free just feels good.

    • Wendy ~ Thats what I’m talking about. Thank you for a fine example.

    • Hi Wendy B,
      With regard to your kitchen, you must make it work for you. It may seem weird to have only pots on the left of the stove or utensils on the right. If that is how you work then it is right for you. My kitchen is set to how I use it (i’m in there the most) things that hubby wants close are there too, it works for us because we make it that way. So glad you re-arranged to suit, why stress yourself more than you have to. I love it when people are in my kitchen and scurry looking for things with their own mind set, Just watch tem try to find a cup hahaha!! Enjoy your kitchen 🙂 🙂 🙂

  2. Wendy B – I’m glad you were able to rearrange and make your kitchen comfortable for you and your family. I bet it was crappy feeling as if you hated your new kitchen. With our laundry remodel, we are moving the washer and dryer and I keep looking at the space and in my head, I’m thinking that I’m not too sure about this. lol But, hey, I’m one of those folks who fear change. 😉

    • Michelle: I hope it turns out the you love your new laundry and your fears were misguided.

    • Hey Michelle,
      This laundry of yours reminded me of my friend who was buying a new washer. The breakdown of her old one was spectacular! smoke and all, hahaha we still laugh about it but what a mess! Anyway when we got to the shop she immediately said “That one” front loading dream machine with all the bells and whistles and a price tag to make you want to scream. Hummm how do I say “What The” without sounding sanctimonious and crappy and thrifty and narkey judgemental all at the same time.. In my own diplomatic way I pulled her aside from the shop vulture oops assistant and calmly asked her to remember 1.. the size of her laundry 2.. the way she uses her laundry 3.. the configuration of her laundry 4.. how others will be able to use the laundry in the event that hubby or kids may want to do the laundry.

      She has the smallest laundry in the universe and a big slider door and no room once you open the room door. You see the door was opening the wrong way to facilitate effective input and outpull of laundry. The pipes were all wrong for her sink set up and it was just plain huge without being a big load capacity machine. After much discussion and time to let the dazzling effects of an overpriced behemoth of an appliance wear off, she chose one that would allow her to do the laundry without becoming a contortionist and causing herself much stress. Happy to say she loves her new ‘baby’ and it fits and works and does what it should without a fuss and all the family can drive it. PERFECT!!!! Now she wants a new laundry room!!! 🙂 My advice here is check which way you want to swing and make your area work for you!! And ‘Chi’ flows better in a clean well maintained laundry and home!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

      Michelle enjoy your new room and may the Gods of Laundry shine on you 🙂 🙂 🙂

      • Dizzy – I had to replace my washing machine two years ago and I looked longingly at the “Nana” size washing machine. Alas my crew would fill it 5 times a day and it didn’t have a hand-wash option (wool school jerseys still to be considered here) so I did have to go with the big size washing machine, and fortunately my laundry is located in the garage so space isn’t a problem. I had a friend who bought an apartment a while back and hired shifters to move all her stuff. None of the appliances fit, everything had allowed for smaller appliances, the fridge, the microwave, washing machine. What a dilemna. So the shifters took everything back out and they were put in her parents garage and she had to rent appliances until her stuff sold. I think she had the option of using the laundromat down in the basement, one of those coin operated ones – I think she might still use it.

      • Hey Dizzy – thanks for sharing that story. My husband and I have come down to two different sets. The smaller set (which has less bells and whistles but is also just slightly less energy efficient) is about $300 less expensive then the next set up. As for bulk size, it’s only about 3 inches smaller, but you know, that can make a difference in a space as small as our. Gads, I can’t make up my mind. It’s as if there are too many to choose from, you know what I mean?

        Moni – that is EXACTLY what I am also concerned about. Are we sure we can get a new set through the door??

  3. Packing up things to see if you’ll miss them is a great strategy. One of my cats helped me discover that one -I think he’s working on turning me into a minimalist. In his opinion, all things were put on this earth for him to either eat, sleep on or play with. Seriously, nothing is safe from the adorable, yet challenging Smoky Bear! He can jump to the top of a 6 foot tall cabinet in a single bound and even knocks the pictures off the walls!

    Anyhow, when he adopted me about 3 years ago, he left me no choice but to remove pretty much all loose items. The knick knacks got boxed up, the lamps and television all got wired down so he couldn’t knock them over, most of the pictures were removed from the walls, and the potted plants and assorted other “not safe for cats” stuff all got relegated to the spare room, which had been converted into a cat-free zone (aka dumping ground for all things that I didn’t know what else to do with.)

    After a few months, I decided that I didn’t miss the stuff, but did miss my spare room! So, with the exception of a few treasured items that are still boxed up in the closet, all of it found new homes! Score one for the minimalist cat!

    • EcoCatLady: many people pay a lot of money for a professional organiser that your cat has done for you for free. Lets hope he lives a long life and continues to force you to keep your clutter in check. 😉

    • Eco Cat Lady – I had stored away these decorative butterflies made from dyed feathers that were on bits of wire coming out of thin wooden handles, I had about 20 and the handles were to be arranged in a vase and you had the effect of a swarm of butterflies floating/fluttering. And then we got Nuppi the cat who thought these might be birds and they were too irresistable for a kitty not to pounce and chew. So they got packed away about 5 years ago and I’ve always thought I’d like to have them out again one day but I’d have to wait until we didn’t have cats (I almost said “until the cats leave home” in the same that Adrian says we’ll get a new dining room table when “the kids leave home”) – anyway, I recently realised that we’ll probably always have a cat, and so this box of butterflies has gone on the “out” pile. Isn’t it amazing how much ‘say’ our cats have in our lives?

      • Ha! I think the truth is that my four feline friends own the house – they just let me live here! I think any cat would find those feather things irresistible! At one point I had some feather toys stashed away somewhere, and when I went to retrieve them the feathers had all pretty much disintegrated, so I think feathers might count as one of those “perishable” things that fall apart whether you’re enjoying them or not!

    • great story! I’ve always loved my pets much more than any “stuff” I’ve owned

      • Deanna – my husband and Nuppi the cat have a ‘bromance’ and absolutely adore each other. I am his minion. The cats minion that is, Adrian is not so lucky. I can remember we were in a store looking for a blanket to put across the bottom of our bed and Adrian (who’d been reluctantly dragged in to give a final opinion) saying “I think Nuppi would like this one better”. And yes Nuppi does like the faux fur one better.

  4. I have my problems with the esoteric side of feng shui, but I do agree that a clean and clutter-free house is a restful home.

    • Sanna ~ I can’t say I have ever read much about it but, like you, I feel there is a grain of truth to some of it. Or perhaps it is all hocus pocus and the connection is just that awkward feeling when something just isn’t right and one can’t figure out or blindly refuses to admit what it is.

  5. The title of this post reminds me of some of the weird, wonderful, and amazing things I have found during decluttering including:

    – An ipod I thought I got rid of 2 years ago
    – Hair curlers, again that I thought I had gotten rid of years ago
    – A Christening present from my childhood which one day suddenly stood out to me amongst the rest of my things and I wondered how it had gotten there and when, because I couldn’t even remember unpacking it three years ago when I moved or ever having placed it there. Really bizarre and disorientating!
    – A pair of tights with a huge hole in them – how on earth they got put away I don’t know
    – A single sock – on more than one occasion I might add!

    Throughout all of this I think it’s always important to keep a vision in mind of how you want the finished result to look and feel – whenever I get slow at decluttering or fed up with it all I try and hold that image in my head and think about what needs to happen next for me to get there.

    • Jane W~ I am sure we have all come across at least a few of the sorts of things you are talking about. I found $30 in some old baby cards of my son. For the life of me I can’t imagine how we missed doing something with them at the time. I sure am glad I went through them an so was he. At twenty years of age it was a nice windfall. The funny part was that the money was so old that it was now out of circulation and my children didn’t even realise that Australian money used to be paper. It has been polymer for many years.

  6. Funny you should write about this Colleen. I have been trying to figure out why I dislike some flea markets, antique stores, yard sales, etc. Why do I find myself shying away from them? Your post has told me why. If they are so cluttered, like that store you went to, I find myself just walking away. And it’s because I can’t see/get to things easily. It all makes me anxious because it is so jumbled. Thanks for helping me figure it out. This also helped me realize why I don’t like a lot on the walls. I need some visual “white space.” I need to have a place for my eye to rest. The same goes for crowds. They used to not bother me and I couldn’t figure out why they do now. Now I realize there are two reasons. 1. I have poor balance now or have to use my scooter and people crash into me all the time. 2. Crowds are not as orderly as they used to be. People used to be polite, had a code of conduct and thought about others. You don’t see much of that anymore. It scares me because a fall or something could really hurt me badly. So now I stay away. I don’t like even going grocery shopping if the store is crowded.

    • Deb J ~ There was a craft shop I used to occasionally shop at in the Seattle area that used to have this effect on me. Instead of all the paper being in one place, the embellishments in another, stickers in another and so on they used to arrange them in themes. Baby here, travel there etc etc. I used to think of it a shopping dyslexia, the muddle was so confusing to me I just didn’t know where to turn. It was like trying to read with the words and letters all jumbled up. I was thinking of that as I wrote this posts.

      I am not a lover of crowds either for the same reason, that the individuals in them get so focused on their own needs that they forget other people are trying to traverse the same ground. I don’t know what it is like in Arizona but I have to say the people in Seattle are far more polite in this sort of situation than what I have encountered. The grocery store is a good example. In Seattle if you were browsing a shelf for a product, perhaps trying to choose something new, anyone who needed to step across in front of you would excuse themselves. That never happens here. In in car parks here, you can have your car half backed out into the driving lane and other drivers will just swoop around behind you. Generally going too fast for safety to begin with. In Seattle people would stop and allow you to safely back out and on your way.

      • We used to have a store like that in Indianapolis. I didn’t like it. It drove me nuts. Some people really liked it.

        I think things here are getting worse. I had the backing out scenario you mentioned just today. I think every year it gets worse. What saddens me is that people want to copy the US Americans. NO!!! Find your own GOOD things and stop trying to be like us. We are nothing anymore that is worth following after. Sad to say.

        • Hi Deb J, what you say about the US American is just not true. My experience in Seattle and when I travelled in American is that the every day American is friendly and polite. It may be different in Arizona but I have been to other countries and my own when one is not so frequently offered the same courtesies that I experience when I lived in the USA.

          • I am glad you have found that in your travels to the US. I think my problem is that in the everyday travels around here this doesn’t seem to be the case. Maybe it is just this area. I hope so.

    • Deb J and Colleen – I know you will gasp/shock/horror Colleen but I have a similar reaction in some 2nd hand clothes stores. Just so much crowded in. In my town there is a huge warehouse size one and I feel my blood pressure go up as I walk in.

      Do you remember that video clip that was part of a Friday’s Favourites a while back and it was about a team of anthropologists who went into Average American homes and documented everything? I think one of the scientists said that the women of these households had very high cortisone (?) levels is a hormone released when under stress and the scientists felt it was the visual and the knowledge of ownership/responsibility for, that was causing it.

      I’m wondering if that is what we have all experienced in different situations – Colleen in the antique store, Deb J in flea markets, me in the 2nd hand clothing store etc – a big surge of cortisone to cope with the surroundings and stimulus that we’re all obviously (pat on the backs all around) not used to anymore.

      And if so if that is the scientific explanation of what I will call “anti chi” (stagnant energy) I can’t remember who wrote it – it might be Karen Kingston or it might be Sue Ramusseum – but when you own something or are responsible for something a little bit of your energy attaches itself to the item, and so if you have a cluttered house, it is extremely draining. Possibly could also explain the overwhelmed feeling I got yesterday walking into the messy storage room. All my energy got sucked 1000 ways and I couldn’t decide what to do first.

      • Hi Moni ~ it’s not only the responsibility of owning the stuff it can also be the guilt of wasting the money on it in the first place once it soon becomes unused or less loved. Then there is the reluctance to make the decisions on what to get rid of. I have heard people say they would rather a fire of flood to destroy everything so they don’t have to make the decisions. Yikes, it all sounds too hard unless of course you can divorce yourself from the guilt and sentimentality of it all. Glad that is where I am with this, and yay for that.

        • Colleen – its funny you say that about preferring a fire or flood, because the first time I set a date to start work on our ceiling storage (going back a year or two) the night before a small tornado came thru the area and took the roof off a house a street over and they lost everything in their ceiling storage. I remember thinking they were soooooo lucky. That sounds unsympathetic I know, but to my mind it was a quick fix, mother nature decluttered, no having to think about anything, decide, agonise or re-house, list on trademe, freecycle, recycle, donate – just all gone in a blink of an eye.

          I have a friend who works in insurance and she says that people with uncluttered homes recover emotionally a lot faster from such a disaster and also they recover financially faster too because they know what was in their house and can settle their claim quickly and move on with their lives, whereas people who don’t know a fraction of what is in their life suffer thru a long process.

          • That doesn’t surprise me about insurance. However if my home burned down now after all the work I have done to get it in to shape I’d be quite ticked off. 😉

            I also understand you being jealous of your neighbours misfortune. I felt the same way about when my brothers belonging got damaged due to a removals truck accident. I sure wished it had been my stuff in that van.

      • Moni, I understand the high cortisol levels because that is something that happens with Fibromyalgia. I have to take an anti anxiety med because my cortisol levels (same hormone that is part of “fight or flight” when scared) are always high. When I get that same feeling going into a store or in a crowd I know that my body sees it as a form of stress. One of the things that caused my FM to eventually get so bad was the high stress of my job. So for me stress (high cortisol levels) means more pain and more exhaustion. I don’t like that so I stay away from any of that as much as I can.

  7. Calico ginger

    Re the Feng Shui, I think there is a grain of truth at the bottom of it, which is that we project our energy (or lack of it) into our spaces. I know I feel “lighter” and more relaxed when the house is tidy and clean and that is not usually possible in a cluttered space. And if that space is cluttered with objects that remind us of unhappy times or fill us with guilt, then of course we will feel uneasy. We are not really getting just getting rid of stuff here, we are getting rid of our attachment to stuff. Once you have that “aha” moment, everything gets easier.

    • Here here! Calico Ginger. It is all about the attachment to stuff and acquiring stuff. Two things that I am so glad are well in my past. I can still appreciate the beauty in things, which is why I like a little romp through an antique shop or art gallery on occasion, but I am happy to appreciate it from afar.

    • I agree, Calico Ginger! More and more I am losing my attachment to stuff and it feels great!

  8. I have to tell you a funny on me. I love jigsaw puzzles and the harder the better. I received some in the mail from Sanna and one is a Monet painting that is basically a mix of 3 colors–lots of flowers. I got it out first and put together the outside to frame it. Well. from there is was really, really hard and I had to put it away without finishing much of it. Every time I looked at it I had the same feeling of anxiety that I get in a crowd or in a highly cluttered room. I finally decided it was because right now things are very busy and instead of being soothed/calmed but working the puzzle it made me feel even worse. That’s new for me. So I have finally met a puzzle that I have to be “in the mood” to work. Grin.

    • Deb j, possibly you felt guilty because you knew there were other things you ought to be working on rather than playing around with a puzzle. Of course this is self-destructive thinking because everyone is entitled to a little down time but it does happen. Like me finding anything else to do aside from working on that ebook that I am sure my husband would like me to finish and get out there in the market place. The more words I write the more I have to go over to make sure it is flowing and I am just not a keen reader especially of the same passages over and over again. But enough about my troubles. 😉

    • Deb J, I think you mixed up names, because you didn’t get any jigsaw puzzles from me (yet)! 😉

      Personally, I mostly do things only occasionally: I knit one object during each winter, but don’t touch the yarn during the rest of the year, I get a “sewing flash” every 3 or 4 months, I read a book in one sitting and don’t touch another one for the next three weeks, and so on. I have learnt to accept that and go with the seasons, so to say.

    • Duh! I mean I got them from Maggie. SOrry.

  9. This is an absolutely terrific post today. The home should bring peace to you when you walk in and welcome you, if it does not, then usually that means something is off. Many times it can be that there are too many physical items in it and they can be smothering. I used to get that smothering effect when I would visit some relatives. There was so much stuff that just finding a comfortable place to sit was difficult, not to mention sleeping there. Upon returning home, my entire family would feel so much more relaxed and thankful that we were returning to a place that we could move around and there was room to breathe. Even more so now, that I have started getting rid of useless items in our home.

    I don’t enjoy crowds anymore. If I can, I go early to the grocery store and get it done before having to fight the crowds. It is funny, even my kids do not enjoy crowds. They ask why people would want to go to movies on opening night, why don’t they wait until it has been showing for a while? Situations like this make me anxious and make me feel like I need to be in a hurry, and I don’t like that feeling.

    • Jen ~ I can so relate to the clutter issue when visiting. Not only do I find it oppressive but the dust gives me terrible hay fever. I end up going home feeling drained. I enjoy the company but my poor nose has other ideas.

  10. I very much embrace the philosophy of feng shui. It is just common sense, unfortunately something that we lose sight of in the “busy” of our lives. I have read many books on the subject. My very favorite is “Clear the Clutter with Feng Shui” by Karen Kingston. She also has a website/blog.

    • Kimberley – I have that book too and I feel that what she says makes a lot of sense. I didn’t know she had a blog, so thats interesting to know.

      • Moni, I was going to type in the link, but see that Janetta responded with the link. Mahalo, Janetta. Karen doesn’t post daily, but I have her site bookmarked, so I check in every couple of weeks. I loved a fairly recent posting she did on garages, attached and detached from the home. Enjoy perusing the site for past postings.

    • Yes it is a brilliant book, it’s what started me on reducing my possessions. I still reread the book occasionally and always get inspired.

      The author, Karen Kingston, has a blog: http://www.spaceclearing.com/blog/

    • Kimberley ~I have put a hold in that book at the library and am looking forward to reading it.

      • Enjoy it. I have read and re-read it often. I love the pages of a well worn book. It is a “keeper” for me.

        • Hi Kimberley,
          Karen’s book is a cracker and I re-read it regularly, I also lent it once to a sister who carried on about it being absurb and it doesn’t work etc etc blah blah blah. At one stage I was told to get a life instead of chucking and cleaning. Well i’ve got a great life. I also have a garage that still needs attention (ongoing but getting there). We all tidy as we go so it makes cleaning a breeze, we pick up and clear away anything that doesn’t belong and we are out more than we are home, and when home we are not stuck having to clean for days on end. My family life is harmonious and we all share the wealth of our toils by enjoying the sometimes finer things in life, on the other hand my sis seems to be crabby, always tired and her hubby tends to be the same. They are in constant chaos and seem unhappy with everything. I periodically leave the book on her table! 🙂 🙂 🙂

  11. Isn’t it interesting how many of us are so familiar with that feeling of sensory overload when things around us are busy or crowded or messy? I would add noisy to that list, too, but the main idea is that there is TOO MUCH of something. And within our homes, it is usually in our power to change that.

    Enjoyed the post, Colleen.

  12. Hi all,
    To me Feng Shui just makes perfect sense! Providing you follow the basic rules, love yourself and trust yourself, respect your space, your body space, your physical space and ‘space’. I don’t go all ‘bat crap crazy’ about it though, just what I know is commonsense. When I first had my interest sparked I went to a workshop/demo about it all and I ended up leaving feeling like a confused rabbit. Mind you I think I got on the ‘black chi’ side of the bloke because all through it he was extolling the virtues of a clean clear space and then proceded to flog us all sorts of ‘stuff’ to ward off the bad vibes etc. If I bought all the ‘stuff’ he recommened to ‘fix’ all the goings on in my house I would have been $$$$$ short in my purse and overfull in my house!! I simply asked why should I re-clutter the place with things that will need high maintenance as opposed to having a clear and happy space ? “WHAT THE” ???? Suffice to say I came away empty handed but was guided towards a book by Karen Kingston. Now you can get OTT with anything but her books just spell it out simply!! Get rid of your junk, clean and maintain your space, learn to love yourself and respect yourself and others. She goes into detail and has remedies for all your woes, but not once did she tell me I have to move the sofa so that it almost covers the walkway to improve my financial status. What I got from her was ‘leave your sofa as is, clear it of crap that doesn’t need to be there and treat it well so it serves me well. To this day I still have my beautiful sofa, it is a place to rest and chat and read and snooze, it is in great condition and it provides me with a financial windfall every so often because I find money under the cushions hahahaha!!!

    I just love thinking about her description of ‘Stagnant Chi’ kinda like a broiling, sluggish, dismal, goopy stew going on behind closed doors. Basically anywhere you have mess or junk and the air can’t flow.

    If a clean and tidy well maintained room, house, garden, office or public space makes you smile and feel happy and energised, think about how looking at the same things in a mess or state of disrepair makes you feel. Improve your ‘Chi’ clear that clutter!!!

    Enjoy good ‘Chi’ with an equally good Chai, or coffee or chocolate or icecream with your loved ones x 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Hi Dizzy, it seems the Karen Kingston believes in my brand of Feng Shui. I have put her book on hold at the library and am looking forward to reading it. About time too, I’d say.

      • Hi Colleen,
        I’m sure you’ll enjoy it, I remember telling you about it yonks ago, which in turn prompted me to leave it with my sister. I tend to drop it off to her now and again. From the practical side of things Karen’s book is very easy to read. If you like it you may want to read her other book, if you’d like to bone up on space clearing and Feng Shui principles in a bit more depth. If I ever get stuck, I like to re-read her fish slap to the face for a commonsense check up heehee!!!
        🙂 🙂 🙂

    • I did read Karen Kingston’s book as well, Dizzy.

      I have a friend who is a feng shui consultant and although I agree with the results and the effects in daily life, I have huge problems with all these astrological etc. foundations. Actually, since I came to know some hard-line feng-shui-ists, I became more and more hesistant against it. I have the impression that those are all very common sense and helpful suggestions for daily life that have been passed on through generations and have been put into a “religion-like” setting afterwards. Though I agree with the common sense and feel open to learn from this passed on knowledge about how to make a house a home you feel well in, I do have problems with all this “hocus-pocus” around it and I think feng shui as is today can’t do without the hocus-pocus (at least that’s how I feel when I see my friend and her colleagues). That said, I think that one can of course learn something from those principles, because I guess that generations of people thinking about what makes a home feel good wouldn’t come up with queer thoughts but must have hit some good spots, no matter what kind of astrological things they believed in.

      • Sanna – I just go with the common sense stuff for making my home feel better, I don’t get into the astrological or religious side of things – that’s a bit too hardcore for me – and Karen’s book doesn’t really go into all that, its more about decluttering and giving some thought to what you do and don’t keep in your home. A bit like enjoying the physical benefits of yoga without converting to hinduism (please forgive me if it was the Hindu’s who invented it – I relied on wikipaedia to complete my example).

        • Moni, I think we can benefit from all kinds of ideas if we don’t convert to them religiously, but ask for their benefits we can incorporate into our daily lives. I even think, I’m doing better for not taking in the whole thing, of which I probably don’t understand the bigger part, so it would only produce new problems for me.

      • Hi Sanna,
        I have met some ‘out there’ people in all sorts of places, none more than the man who did the workshop. I’m sure half of China leads a frenetic life on the outside, full of chaos etc, but when they go home they return to their own little sanctuary. It’s ok to look at ideals and think ‘whoa’, I have friends that are very religious, and that’s fine, I’m not but I respect their choice and they mine. What I don’t like is having something thrust upon me, I like to make my own decisions, I try not to force my way through either, but I also don’t want to be made to do anything I’m not 100% into. I am happy to live and let live.

        When you first started your journey of de-cluttering, did you get a lot of negative comments? I know I did. Goodness me you would of thought I’d just said to everyone I’m going to start burning babies or something!! No-one wanted to hear about anything I was doing and thought I was a bit mental, but hey I’m here less cluttered and happy and loving it. Hahahaha. If you’d like to have a laugh check out Penn & Teller on You Tube, they do a piece on Feng Shui with the ‘hard liners’ It reminded me that we don’t have to get too bent out of shape about it hahaha.

        Sanna you are already practicing the basics anyway by having a clear space in which you can move about, without breaking a leg, and you are creating a harmonious space in which you can flourish and prosper. Don’t worry about your hard liners, whilst they are still working on it, you have it 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • Dizzy – I remember a Friday Favourites recently and the writer said that minimalism copped the most criticism than she’d encountered elsewhere (and I believe she was a theology student and seen more than her share of criticism) and she felt it was because we talk about what we want to achieve/live but the hearer only sees you at the point you are on your journey. which likely doesn’t match up to what you’re saying at that point. I got some “Yeah, right, whatever” comments at the beginning, Dayna thought this was going to be another ‘Zhumba’ ie another passing phase of mine. And I guess because it takes a while for it to click that decluttering involves less stuff coming into the house, so onlookers only see contradicting behaviour for a while. So when I got snide comments, I just said “I feel like there is change coming up in my life in the next few years, I don’t know what or when, but I want to be ready whatever it is and don’t want to be held back by too much stuff in the house” – strangely people accepted my airy-fairy answer rather than advocation of decluttering and minimalism.

          • Hey Moni
            So true, I still get people saying are you still chucking out and clearing and blah blah blah, my answer now is yep, it’s ongoing and I’m saving for our American Experience which will be happening soon. Gasps and oohhh how are you doing it?? hahahaha!!!! by clearing the crap and not shopping for useless things and enjoying my clear and clean uncluttered space and leaving my money in the bank!!

            I’m so glad I got told to get a life!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

        • I have to say I haven’t been very out-going about my decluttering. My boyfriend did agree with the decluttering, but apart from him, I didn’t really tell people too much about it – and when I did, I rather just told what I had been doing and not so much about what I want to reach. So it was more “Oh, I’m doing quite well with laundry now that I reduced my wardrobe” rather than “I am going to reduce my wardrobe in order to reach peace of mind”.
          I didn’t get negative comments for that reason, just a few astonished looks and reactions like “Oh, you’d really give me that plate? You really don’t need it?”.
          I think, I am probably not fit for any “life concept” like religion or – feng shui 🙂 , as I’m more about the little steps and the little things in life. I don’t really feel the need to share the big thoughts so much, as I think everyone needs to figure them out by theirselves and even if you can’t figure out some of the big questions (and I think, hardly anyone is able to figure out all of them), the truth is that you can live quite well with some big questionmarks above your head as long as you feel well with all the little things in your life.

  13. Hi again,

    Another thing that Karen hits on is power or empowering yourself. If you wear ‘red’ it empowers you to get something done and warns others that you are not to be messed with. When you really need to get something done or an area cleared and clean, wear red!! Let’s see the dust fly hahaha!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Dizzy, there must be some truth in that because not only do I like to wear red but I have red hair. This may also explain why some people tend to think I am a little hyper. 😉

      • Hahaha you may be over doing it a tad!!! The red hair should be warning enough, I find red haired people don’t usually take messing about lightly. They are usually quick to bring order to a situation. Do your eyes brighten when you get excited or ticked off??? My red headed aunty would stop you in your tracks with a look and her eyes would spark like gas jets!! Her kids never stood a chance at getting away with anything hahahaha.

        Speaking of red heads, I have just dyed my hair ‘Flaming intense RED!!’ We have ‘Run for a Reason’ this weekend so I shall definitely stand out in the walk section. I don’t run anywhere these days, too many old injuries from sporting glory days. I can however walk really well !! 🙂 🙂 🙂 It will be black in a fortnight and then Purple!! or the other way round, must check my calendar 🙂

  14. Colleen, this was a really good post. I am enjoying reading everyone’s comments. Just want to say thanks! 🙂

  15. When I clicked on the link to Karen Kingston, her blog was about Floordrobes. I hadn’t realized that was an Aussie term, since it such a good name for the pile of clothes our youngest (girl child) always had as a teenager (rebellion I am sure–she has since been more than paid back by her two oldest (girls) with even larger floordrobes than she ever had –and she certainly did not like it. I think Cindy used the term and since she is a Texan thought her child’s friend had made it up.
    I had a book on feng shui, but it left in the declutter, so I am not sure of the name. It made some sense, so I am not sure if it is just hocus pocus or just plain common sense that has gotten lost in consumerism. Some of the furniture placement–like having your desk chair face the door–I did that so I would see anyone going down the hall, as well as entering the room, probably just motherly curiosity as to what they were getting into now LOL. Think it would have “felt” odd to have done it differently. Or maybe in Japan the minimalists won out centuries ago.

  16. I’ve read some books about Feng Shui and I believe that their philosophy about placement of furniture has some merit. I also think it is good to keep things uncluttered and not to keep anything under your bed, etc. I do think it goes too far for me and I was surprised to find some of the books in a section with sorcery type books, but the basic principles are good in my opinion. It is nice to have things flow in your home. I am sure there are other methods of accomplishing the same type of thing to have things flow and not be blocked, but I don’t know what else is out there.

    • Hahaha Marianne Yoy made me laugh about finding those books in the sorcery section. I too have found them there. Clearly the shelf stackers had no idea about book placement hee hee, I don’t have it hard line but I do find it better not to block the flow of life through your home. enjoy your day 🙂 🙂 🙂

  17. When I purchased my condo, it came with some hefty built-in cabinets. It’s a small place, only 500 square feet big, so a lot of my books and knick knacks went into the cabinets. I thought I would miss them, but seriously, I have opened those cabinets maybe once a month, if that. It’s funny how we don’t really miss the “stuff” as much as we might think we would.

  18. I think it was the same comment/discussion about feng shui that inspired your post Colleen that inspired me to finally get rid of the underbed storage. We had a couple of nights of bad sleep, I’ve been hating them for the way they looked (you could catch a glimpse of them in the mirrored wardrobe) and for how they were in the way when cleaning for a long time and I had made room here and there so that I could rearrange and fit the stuff inside the two wheeled plastic boxes elsewhere. Plus: My sister came to visit and I gave her one of the two. The other one went to the attic. I know, I know … but I actually might need it in the near future with all the kidstuff around …
    But back to feng shui: We had a horrible night, nightmares and all 😉 Let’s see if the good feng shui is just late …


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