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Honor, or let go, of things that clutter your home

Evan Zislis
Post Independent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado
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Purge. The word all by itself just sounds horrible.

In general, people cringe when it rudely intrudes itself in on the conversation. It conjures images and reflexes we tend to repress.

What we forget is that it is as natural as breathing. The simple act of breathing can alter our mood, our physiology and our ability to regulate cognitive function. We breathe fresh air into our lungs, which provides oxygen rich blood to our brain, which reminds our body to work.



We exhale, and let go of carbon dioxide toxins building up in our lungs. Fresh air goes in, toxic gas goes out. In. Out. We get what we need, and then we let go. In. Out. In. Out. In. Out. It feels wonderful, especially when we do it with thoughtful intention.

The same way that holding our breath can become poisonous to our bodies, holding on to the things we no longer need can strangle our ability to regulate healthy lifestyles.



Because we live in a consumer-centric culture, we tend to over-emphasize the incoming flow, rather than a more balanced approach to managing our stuff.

I get a lot of clients who ask me to organize their spaces. Organizing is a very easy thing to do. Sorting through their trash for similar items, I could very easily organize bits of laundry lint, halibut fish skins, and poopy diapers into neatly labeled, designer fabric-covered bins, expertly lined up on shelves just so.

Clearly, this would be a silly thing to do, and yet the organizing industry has us buying containers of every shape, size and finish, rather than encouraging us frenzied shoppers to just let things go.

I won’t pretend this comes easily. There are as many reasons why people hold on to things as there are things to collect. To the collector, their reasons seem perfectly sensible.

But a lot of what we keep, we develop love-hate relationships with. It is here I place all joking aside. The reminder of a lost loved one, the sadness of an unrealized future, the memory of a cherished time or relationship – these are powerful emotions that can become paralyzing. These feelings are tangible, valid and profoundly influential in what we let go, and what we reluctantly embrace.

I usually ask clients to consider if the memories or feelings associated with a certain thing are being honored by the thing itself and by the way a thing is kept.

For example, a recent Skype client based in Manhattan refused to give away a favorite T-shirt he never wore, because it was a gift from his father during a memorable trip to Prague. I suggested perhaps the memory would be better honored by framing the shirt, and hanging it on his wall, rather than leaving it folded at the bottom of his drawer.

I was recently gifted my great-great-aunt’s crystal wine glasses. Rather than saving them for special occasions, I use them all the time.

Simplifying our stuff and refreshing our space is not as much about how we organize what we have as much as it is about loving what we keep.

In organization, as in life, what gives us joy is the only thing worth holding on to. For the rest of the minutia of things that come into our lives, it’s really okay for us to use those things up and then let them go.

With a little practice, we find that when we become clear on what we need most, it appears. We may be surprised how refreshing life feels with a little less stuff and a little more breathing room.

– “Life. Simplified.” appears on the second Saturday of the month. Evan Zislis is founder and principal consultant for Intentional-Interiors.com, offering hands-on organizational solutions for households, businesses, nonprofit organizations and students. Contact Evan Z. at 366-2532 or ezhomecoach@gmail.com


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