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Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Letting Go of Barriers

90% of the time I’m in another world all of the time. That doesn’t mean I’m always immersed in my make-believe world of romance. Sometimes my day job is my focus, even into the evening hours because there is not enough time in the day to do all that I need to do.

Sometimes my world is all about my kids: getting them to birthday parties, scheduling well-child checks with the doctor, replacing the broken bow for the violin, dental appointments, football practice, etc. Lots of times it’s about the everyday basics of living, such as ordering more oil for the furnace, making sure we have something to eat, clean dishes so we don’t get food poisoning, clean clothes even though I’m not going to iron them and maybe won’t even hang them up for days. And sometimes my world is all about my husband and enjoying the relationship I have with him. I should spend more time in this world.

Rarely—read never—do I spend time in Spotless House World. I wish my house was clean and everything in place, but I don’t have a magic genie to grant me wishes. Hmm, maybe if I dusted that old lamp…

But occasionally, I do reside in that OMG-Someone-Is-At-The-Door-And-How-Come-I-Never-Noticed-This-Crap-All-Around-Me World. That happened last week. I completely forgot about the appraiser coming. In fact, I was still in my PJs, which was humiliating enough, but all of a sudden, huge piles of things that required my attention popped up all over the place. It was as if I had an anti-genie.

Then to rub salt into the gaping wound created by my super ego—Thanks a lot, bud. Where were you last weekend?—the appraiser needed pictures of every interior room. Wow! Just what I needed, a record of my inadequacy as a housekeeper.

But shame is a powerful motivator, so now I’m on a kick to purge my house of unnecessary stuff. I started with the kitchen last weekend, because we are preparing for a remodel. It was a good time to get rid of some things, but it’s not always easy to part with personal belongings. Why is that? It’s just stuff. Only it’s not just stuff.

Many items have memories attached to them, or possibly represent aspirations, such as the margarita glasses in the cabinet above the refrigerator. When I see those glasses, I have visions of Cinco de Mayo parties with lots of friends laughing and having a good time, but the reality is there have been fourteen May 5ths come and go since my husband and I received those glasses for our wedding. The truth is I don’t make margaritas. I don’t even like the taste of lime! So, why am I holding on?

Well, if I lie down on my couch and analyze myself, I think certain objects symbolize what I want more of in my life. Not alcohol or tacos, but joy and friendship. By giving these items up, it feels like I'm giving up the dream. Yet if I’m really, really honest with myself, collectively these things are a barrier to me getting what I desire in my life.

Because my house is cluttered, I don’t want to have others over to socialize. In addition, I don’t have a peaceful environment in which to write because I have these things creating visual noise and oppressive energy. I mean, don’t get me wrong. I’m not a hoarder. The show Clean House makes me hyperventilate, and I start cleaning my own house five minutes in. But I think I’m like many others who just have too much stuff that is interfering with complete contentment.

Gee! Thank you, therapist self. I feel much more enlightened now. You’re welcome. That will be $200. Grr… I should have hired a housekeeper instead.

Is there anything acting as a barrier to what you want in your life? Or, if you’ve already overcome a barrier, how did you do it?


  1. This post made me laugh--it's so easy to see myself in this. :) I don't have as much stuff as I used to, since I've had to move several times in the past few years. But it's almost as if OTHER stuff finds me. LOL I don't want to deal with it, so I tell myself I should be writing. But it does feel like I'm carrying extra weight around, and I'm not happy with the burden of it.

    There is a lot of emotional attachment to the things we've accumulated. I've heard the suggestion to take a picture of an item so you can get rid of it and still have a permanent reminder of it. But then I guess you'd have to organize all the pictures. LOL

  2. Holy cow--were we separated at birth? The house cleaning falls so far down on my list that when we do get the place picked up (usually for in-laws or parental visits), I think of who else we can invite over during that brief window of shiny happy house. And the decluttering combined with the sentimental value? Don't even get me started.

    I know the only barrier I have is me. If I can ever figure out how to get out of my own darn way, I'll be unstoppable.

  3. Donna,
    The need to organize the pictures was my first thought too! LOL! I've actually considered hiring someone to make scrapbooks for the kids. Before I had a digital camera, I took tons of pictures that now sit in boxes waiting for the day I no longer require sleep so I can get to them. I bet there is someone who LOVES scrapbooking who would be thrilled to make money doing it.

  4. Pamela,

    We do the same thing! It's a mad dash to clean the house before visitors come, which is usually my in-laws. But how lovely it would be to have my house ready at any moment for friends and family.

    One of my bffs saw my blog and has offered to come help me purge. I should take her up on the offer. :)

  5. If it helps at all, I'll come over and help you drink some margaritas. :)

    And don't clean up ahead of time. I'm clutterblind. LOL

  6. Clutterblind! I love it!

    Let's find each other at the bar in NY and toast to our mutual clutterblindness.

  7. What a wonderful post, Samantha. I'm guilty of it too, especially not inviting people over because the house is too cluttered.

    I've been using Liz Frederick's 10 day plan (see last Friday's blog here), and I've decided as long as I get my house really clean at least once in a ten day block, it's good enough and I don't have to feel guilty about it. Now maybe I should add "declutter one room" to my next ten day plan. :)

  8. LOL this post made my day. To suddenly realize I'm not the only one is such a relief. Living in an apartment and a small one at that, has forced me to downsize my "stuff." And what a chore it is. Because I live in such a small space with four other bodies btw, I HAVE to keep all my surface spaces clutter free in order to "look" clean. But get inside my closets and drawers and the clutter shows its ugly face lol. I wish I could give some advice but I'm still getting a handle on my clutter free life as well. Perhaps one day I'll be "clutter free" until then I'm joining the "clutterblind" club with you guys.

  9. Clarissa,
    I want to go back and read Liz's guest blog again. It sounds like a really good tool, the 10 day schedule. I'm glad to hear from someone using it that it's helpful. :)

    Bless your heart with all of those boys! I think they're very luck to have you. :)