Change your habits & your life will change 

Change your habits & your life will change 

January was about decluttering your environment. Clutter drains your energy. It’s baggage you don’t need. Travel light.

I spent the final week of January howling. Why? Because decluttering your external environment impacts your internal world. I don’t mean tossing some old makeup and shoes out. I really went in deep (opened boxes) and memories, that had been stored for years. I let go of years and years of STUFF… It left me feeling raw and strangely free. Who would’ve thought decluttering could do that?

These boxes were full… now they're gone.
These boxes were full… now they’re gone.

How did you go? Didn’t quite declutter as much as you’d like? No problem. The good news is this month you’ll continue decluttering. In fact you’ll continue tossing and cleaning and clearing your clutter ALL YEAR. Habits take time, so while we’ll focus on a new healthy habit each month, we’ll incorporate that new habit into our lives for the whole of 2015.

By the end of 2015 you’ll not only have 12 new habits, but also a very different mindset and life.

Not sure why I overlooked all of this in the past.
Not sure why I overlooked all of this in the past.
Decluttering my emotions

Decluttering my emotions

January is nearly over, but I’m still tearing the house apart. I keep finding more areas to declutter. In my last blog I talked about going in deep. Really question why you keep certain things.

Hit the discomfort zone and declutter there.

There’s a very good reason for this.

It’s not just your external world that you’re decluttering… it’s internal too.

We feel good when we clean our space.

We feel even better when we declutter.

But when we really address the baggage we have stored away… we address the emotional baggage that goes with it.

The emotional response can be quite overwhelming.

I’ve always had things neatly stored, both in my home and internally. This week I’ve ripped the lid off everything and thrown, tossed, faced and finally… let go.

I have cried. Boy have I cried. I’ve been surprised by the waves of emotions that have swamped me at times, for all sorts of things.

The passing of time.

The mistakes that I’ve made.

People I’ve lost.

The end of my first marriage.

The areas of my life I still haven’t healed, haven’t mastered… or simply haven’t addressed.

As my past came out of boxes, it came out of other places as well. A great aunt told me mind-blowing family secrets. My parents told me things that had never been voiced before. Generations of pain and secrecy have been released.

And healing has begun.

I opened boxes and I found letters and cards from my first husband. I cried for a lost love, eight years after it died. I’ve been able to place a few of these letters away for each of my sons. It’s their history now. And it’s a lovely history. It was a beautiful romance. It just died. I cried not because I held out hope but because enough time has passed now and I can finally see how wonderful that love was. That’s a healing.

I have laughed, and cried, and even felt like I was going to throw up. And as each bag of stuff gets tossed in the bin, there is space, both in this house, and inside me, that I haven’t felt before.

These boxes were full… now they're gone.
These boxes were full… now they’re gone.

I lay in bed last night and I could feel the space. I also feel raw, but I feel clear, and energized… and there is space.

SPACE.

I’m travelling light.

Sign up to my newsletter for more tips on decluttering your internal and external world. And find out what February has in store for us.

Travel Light with me this year.

 

One week to go!

One week to go!

We’re on the home stretch! Hopefully by now you’ve achieved some major decluttering. I know I have. But I’ve also discovered, there’s no point scratching the surface with this exercise.

Go in deep.

There’s always more to do. There’s always more to let go of.

I’m a good declutterer… but this month I’ve taken it to a new and often uncomfortable level. I’m challenging myself by clearing and tossing things I’ve overlooked in the past. I don’t need these things but I’m scared of letting go!

And it’s during this feeling of discomfort that we have the opportunity to embrace change.

This month I’ve embraced the discomfort and thrown things out anyway. Gone, cleared.

This is where the space for change is created.

I clear my wardrobe about three times a year. I always thought I was good at it… but something has shifted for me this month. A couple of days ago, I tackled my wardrobe again. The results were this:

Not sure why I overlooked all of this in the past.
Not sure why I overlooked all of this in the past.

I’ve cleared three quarters of it. I don’t need it. I don’t want it. I don’t wear it.

I want something different in my life.

Not clothes. Not things. Something richer than that. I want to travel light.

And to do that… one must let go of the baggage.

How are you going this month with letting go?

Childhood baggage: let it go!

Childhood baggage: let it go!

We’re over halfway there in our major decluttering month.

January is not just about cleaning the house. It’s about shaking up the energy around us—starting the year by getting the universe to take notice. You can desire change… but unless you actively put it into action, nothing will happen.

By decluttering constantly this month, we’re shouting out, “I want change… I am changing.”

We are taking consistent steps towards forming a new and healthy habit—the ability to let go.

I’ve been decluttering for months now, but really gone in hard recently. This month I’ve been away from home so taken my decluttering to a new and often uncomfortable level.

Remnants of my past...
Remnants of my past…

I’ve cleared the things I’ve had stored at my mother’s house for years. There were:

  • Boxes of childhood toys and books
  • Some clothes I’d kept
  • Boxes that I’d had sent back here from overseas
  • Boxes of baby treasures that I’d left here when I went travelling with my son
  • Schoolbooks, letters, old love letters and diaries
  • Years of things I thought were important
My toys! All gone.
My toys! All gone.

Some things were easy to toss. I got my sons to look at my toys and choose one each for any future granddaughter I might have. They didn’t seem that enthused and said all the toys looked creepy.

ME: “No, they’re vintage now.”

SON 1: “They look like they’ll come to life tonight and stab us.”

ME: “They’ve been here for years.”

SON 2: “Yeah locked in a box. But they’re out now. Watch out.”

Later my two clowns were seen leaving on a friend’s car.

 DSCF6346

So the toys were easy to throw. The majority was a little uncomfortable… I knew I had to let go but still… it was bittersweet.

Letting go of some things was really tough. But let go I did, because unless we let go of our baggage, how will we Travel Light? And it’s when we travel light that we feel, experience and receive all that life has to offer.

She's staying with me for now.
She’s staying with me for now.

Did I let go of everything? No. I couldn’t part with Raggedy Ann, or my half-written romance stories from when I was young. Or the romance story I wrote for school with the note from the teacher: “Interesting ideas but you should lay off the melodrama.”

I also kept this patchwork dress my great-grandmother made me when I was 5. Irreplaceable.
I also kept this patchwork dress my great-grandmother made me when I was 5. Irreplaceable.

 

There’s one last thing I need to toss. I’ll share that with you later and get your advice.

How’s your decluttering going?

Goodbye vintage clothes… sob!

Goodbye vintage clothes… sob!

I have a collection of vintage clothes. I used to wear them all the time and figured when I got too old for them, I’d pass them onto my daughter.

Then life gave me four sons.

So I clung to them for a few more years, hoping my best friend had a daughter. She understands a great vintage piece. She lugs around a collection ten times the size of mine. It’s a phenomenal collection of clothes that she figured would one day be passed onto her daughter.

But life also handed her a male child.

So being daughter-free, with no one to pass our vintage creations on to, we recently had to decide

  1. Do we save them for when we’re over seventy and can safely wear them again? (Make a choice now… will be eccentric ole broads with pink hair who ride bikes and wear vintage dresses?)
  2. Do we save them in the hope that one of us will have a granddaughter?

Or do they go?

I love my vintage dresses. I had such a wonderful time wearing them. I looked fabulous in them. It’s only now, in retrospect, that I see how truly great I looked.

But it’s time to let go.

What are you holding onto you stuff for? And is it worth it?

 

Hit a declutter slump? 5 top tips for getting through it.

Hit a declutter slump? 5 top tips for getting through it.

So you’ve thrown a few things out, organised a drawer or two, but now you’re feeling the pressure. Either time, or your baggage is stressing you out and you don’t want to declutter every day. In fact… you think you’ll rebel.

“Bugger you Jane! I like clutter. I don’t need change.”

That’s me talking to myself, but you might be saying something similar. The further along you get this month, the harder it will be. But this is a great exercise. You have the universe on the line now. So let that higher power know, loud and clear:

“I AM CHANGING THINGS HERE. SO ANY TIME YOU FEEL LIKE JOINING IN, I’M READY.”

Here are 5 top tips for getting through the slump:

  1. It’s important to do something each day, but that can be as little as five minutes. It’s not the amount of time you put in, it’s what you toss out.
  2. If you’re really overwhelmed do a week of decluttering things that don’t mean anything to you: the fridge, the pantry, a folder of bills.
  3. Do your daily declutter early. Get in, throw out, get on with your day. You’ll feel the benefits.
  4. Dance while you declutter. I put together a playlist here.
  5. Each time you go to toss something you think you still need or want (but know you don’t) breathe. It’s just a thing. As you let it go, think about what will replace it.

 

Four boxes of stuff: Working out what’s really important.

My ex-hubster just sold his house. I still had some things stored in his garage, so spent an afternoon clearing them out. It was an interesting experience.

Stored on a high shelf were four medium sized boxes filled with things that I hadn’t seen for years. They were from my “Japan life.”

When I left Japan, I moved to Austria. I went through the stuff that had built up in my Tokyo apartment (positively minimal by today’s standards) and shipped a box of things to Vienna.

These were the things I thought I couldn’t live without.

I’d settled into an apartment owned by my in-laws by the time the box arrived in Vienna. Six-months later, I moved to London. I packed up my things, added a few more treasures from the Vienna stay, and stored the boxes at the in-laws’ house. I figured I’d get them soon.

Years passed.

I visited Vienna but kept telling myself I’d get those boxes later. My life was so transient. I had nowhere to put them.

Fifteen years after I left Tokyo, I had the boxes shipped to my new house in Sydney.

I didn’t have time to open them. I stored them in the garage.

More time passed. My marriage ended. I moved a few times. The shape of my family changed. And then recently my ex put our old home on the market.

And I found myself in his garage going through the things I couldn’t live without… but clearly had.

Four boxes of STUFF. Four boxes of things and bits and pieces and books and memorabilia. And I realised, none of it meant anything to me any more.

I spent the afternoon searching through those four boxes looking for one thing. The final letter my grandmother ever sent me. I knew it was there. I’d placed it in one box after her death.

I searched and searched. I began to panic as each box was emptied and nothing important could be found. I barely glanced at most of the stuff. The one thing that was important was missing.

Finally I found it. The letter was tucked into the back of an old address book. The paper is so fragile now, the ink faded. I sobbed as I read it. She’d died while I was overseas. The one thing she’d left for me disappeared, taken by other family members. This letter is what I have now.

I could still hear her voice, her laugh as she wrote it, pretending to scold me over my previous letter to her. “I’m sure we brought the wrong baby home from the hospital when we got you. But don’t worry, we love you anyway.”

And signing off… “You are my first thought in the morning, my last thought at night. I love you.”

There are things… and then there are things. That letter is a treasure to me. It is the one thing I’m keeping from four boxes of stuff. It has made me re-evaluate what things are important. What things I hold dear.

There are very few things really.

 

The secret to throwing out old clothes

The secret to throwing out old clothes

You’re in the decluttering dumps. You have drawers of “around the house” clothes but you just can’t let go of any. Here’s a surefire way to fill that garbage bag.

Pick up the first piece of clothing. Imagine it’s the zombie apocolypse and you need to run from the house. When you run from the house, all your neighbours, the press, and the Hemsworth Brothers (Liam, Chris and even the other one) will be outside.

OMG! Look at what she's wearing!
OMG! Look at what she’s wearing!

 

Oddly enough, no zombies will be, so you’re safe. You’re safe but wearing the piece of clothing you now have in your hand.

Is this acceptable?

If not, toss.

Next piece of clothing, repeat.

Songs to dance to while you declutter

Songs to dance to while you declutter

Struggling with decluttering? You need the decluttering dance. Here are six top tunes for getting your declutter on:

  1. I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor: You know you will. It’s just clutter.
  2. Breakaway by Kelly Clarkson: She belts it out… “I’ll spread my wings and I’ll learn how to fly…” I just need to toss out that shirt that’s tie-dye.
  3. Happy by Pharrell Williams: C’mon, how can you not be happy when you hear this?
  4. Oops I did It Again, by Britney Spears: Perfect lyrics for each time you toss something into a garbage bag. “Oops I did it again…”
  5. Freedom by George Michael: That’s what you’ll experience if you keep getting rid of your baggage.
  6. Another One Bites The Dust by Queen: “And another one down, and another one down…” Just put that part of the song on loop.

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Make a habit of letting go

Make a habit of letting go

I’ve had a wonderful day. My desktop is clear (proof attached) and I spent the morning on the beach meditating and doing yoga while my boys surfed. I swam in crystal clear water. Bliss! I got some work done, went for another walk on the beach, had dinner with friends… Nothing felt rushed. Does life get better than that?

I love the decluttering phase of this program. It’s not always easy for me, but it’s habitual now. I’ve been doing it for years and really feel it when the clutter builds up. The negative energy swamps me. So I regularly declutter. Not just in January but throughout the year. (My mum is the ultimate declutterer—it’s hereditary)

The reason we’re starting small is because this needs to be a habit, not just a tri-annual event that overwhelms you. If you habitually clear the clutter, then energy flows easily in your life.

There will always be areas of your life that are less cluttered than others.

My bathroom is never cluttered.

Over the past few years my beauty routine has become very low maintenance. I’m 45… There’s not a cream in the world that will change that. I wouldn’t want it to. I’m happy to age—many people don’t have the opportunity.

But I’m also embracing chemical free—so I use oils like jojoba and coconut oil for everything: cleanser, moisturiser, and my hair. I have the makeup I use regularly and the makeup I use on a night out… and that’s it. I tossed everything out years ago.

  • I clear my wardrobe at least three times a year. (I admit to keeping a pair of size two jeans that I wore on the plane to New York thirteen-years ago.)
  • I clear my clothes drawers every few months.
  • I just tossed out more shoes.
  • I just tossed all my costume jewellery.
  • I recently got rid of two hundred books.
  • I make my sons declutter their rooms regularly. (They bitch and moan but admit the energy does feel different afterwards.)

Decluttering is a regular occurrence in my home. The more I let go of, the more I want to let go of.

But there will always be areas of your life that are more cluttered than others.

My desktop is one such area. I’m so swamped with work that organising my computer usually happens in-between projects.

Another area I struggle with is “the past”… my history. I’m a student of history, but my attachment to history means I lug crap around because it’s irreplaceable… but I’m also the only person who cares about it.

This January… with the support of this group… I’m letting go of my history. My past. Deep breath!

In the meantime… here are a few more decluttering ideas:

  • Choose one drawer, anywhere in the house. Clear that one draw.
  • Choose another drawer, in the bathroom.
  • Clean out your car, including the boot (trunk). (I do this one every couple of weeks while I wait for the boys to finish jujitsu)
  • Your makeup bag.
  • Your freezer.
  • Defriend some people on Facebook. Would you have coffee with them all? C’mon!

Let me know how you go.