January is that time of year when new beginnings are in the air. Everyone’s still excited from the holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas, then New Year’s. Now it’s the beginning of the year and a time of reflection on the previous year regarding what has been accomplished, what hasn’t yet been completed (or even started), and what new paths to take. Usually during the month of January, a few weeks after taking down all of the Christmas decorations and the tree, I take a look around the house and review all of the stuff that I have. I see things lying around in the closet or the bedroom that haven’t been used in six months or longer. I have my “spring cleaning” and my “fall cleaning” sessions but there’s something about the new year that motivates me to take inventory and declutter. Typically I like to keep certain things “just in case” because you just never know when you might need it. And, I have had situations where I’ve thrown a few things out only to have a situation to arise when I actually could have used what I threw away. But, it really doesn’t kill you to have to go to the store and replace an item.

I was cleaning out one of my closets and some of my storage containers today that I keep things in that I don’t use everyday and just decided that I wanted to throw almost everything away. I just wanted to get rid of all of it. I don’t really like to keep stuff because I hate too much clutter but I also don’t like to throw everything away because to me that’s just wasteful and I feel that you should be as resourceful as possible and take care of the things you have. But too much stuff collected over time is just a mess. So usually after pouring my buckets of stuff on the bed and looking at it I struggle with what I will throw out and what I should keep. I usually want to just throw everything away just to clear it out, but I know I can’t do that.

There were two things that I had been keeping of my daughter’s that took up too much space: a poster board project and a stack of poster-size artwork that she made in kindergarten. Just didn’t want to part with them for sentimental reasons. One declutter tip that I learned years ago was to take pictures of your kids’ art and school projects. I thought that was the best idea. You still have the memory of it without the clutter of it all. So that’s what I did, I took pictures of these things and now I feel better about throwing them out.

Sometimes in life you experience a lot of stress and agitation and there are moments when you just don’t know why. If you were to take inventory of not only your personal space (your home, your car, your desk at work, etc.) but your personal relationships as well, then you could see why there is so much stress in your life. Clutter produces stress. It’s amazing to me how clutter in a home can make you feel uptight. When you have a well organized, clean home you automatically feel more relaxed and at ease. There have been times during the early years of my marriage when my kids were babies and during the toddler stage I felt so overwhelmed by the responsibility of taking care of the kids, changing diapers, feeding them, doing laundry, washing dishes, cooking, cleaning, etc., etc., etc. and worked a forty hour a week job on top of that. Some things just didn’t get done. If it didn’t get done one particular day I would try to get to it the next day or the day after that, or the day after that lol!. Fortunately I have a husband who was and still is very helpful around the house. He’s not the type to think that housework is “women’s work” which many men do even when their wives work a full time job. Hey I have mowed the yard on many occasions. Actually I would rather mow than cook – go figure lol!. I think it was just my attitude about being in the kitchen and that old “barefoot and pregnant” thing that I didn’t like so much so mowing the lawn to me was a little more “liberating”. Those were the early years. Now that I’m older and have been married for thirteen years I have come to enjoy cooking (after many years of praying to God to help me find enjoyment in this mundane task.) I have actually discovered and experienced that feeling of love and contentment in preparing meals for my family that I’ve heard other women talk about. Finally!!

Those times when the housework was lacking due to my inability to keep up with the SUPERWOMAN routine, my husband and I would find ourselves in petty arguments and just stressed about the smallest little things. Then we’d both mention to each other after the argument that we thought it had something to do with the clutter in the house. Whenever the housework piled up, it always gave us that feeling of uneasiness. And, whenever the house was neat and clean it gave us a feeling of peace and tranquility, we were more relaxed, nicer to each other and more affectionate toward each other. We would notice a major difference. It even affects you emotionally and many times physically when your finances are unorganized and maybe you’ve overspent and neglected certain bills by going out to eat too much or spent the money elsewhere. Bills pile up and you find yourself having to double up or find yourself not having enough money to buy all the groceries you need or other things. You go in the grocery store with the kids and usually that’s the time when they ask the most. Any other time when you have the money to stock up on everything they don’t say much, but as if you aren’t stressed already due to the fact that you slipped in the area of your finances, now the kids are adding to that stress by begging for almost everything in the store. Thank God I don’t do that anymore. I’ve learned from many experiences and know the difference between want and need.

Declutter your life. It’s such an important thing to do. Clutter creates anxiety and stress in so many ways. Some people are so attached to their cluttered lifestyle that they don’t even realize how it has an impact on their emotions. Too much stress can lead to physical ailments if not controlled. Our emotions directly affect our physical body. Sometimes it can be something as simple as procrastinating. When you have things that you need to take care of and you keep putting it off, it lingers in your mind and even this small thing can create a little bit of stress in your life. Headaches are produced from worrying too much. Worrying about a task that you keep allowing to linger. There’s a wonderful sense of accomplishment when you take care of your responsibilities and have your life in order. To be able to mark a few items off your to do list gives you a sense of achievement and satisfaction.

As I was throwing stuff away it just felt good to get rid of things that were no longer of use to me and no longer had any value. Holding on to things that no longer serve you just makes you stagnant. Sometimes we hold on to relationships that no longer serve us and support us for a variety of reasons. Some of those reasons being that we’re too afraid to let go of the familiar, codependency issues, just because it’s family even if the family member is negative and the relationship is toxic, and not having faith to believe that God will replace people that you need to release and let go of. It’s a wonderful thing to have old friends that you have built a relationship with for years that are still positive and thrive. What a blessing that is. But sometimes people hold on to negative relationships that are not beneficial and don’t add anything of value to their lives. Some doors must close before others will open. While you’re spending all your time and energy trying to make that relationship work with a man who’s not pulling his weight and no good for you because you may be afraid that you won’t find anyone else, you’re wasting opportunities to allow the right person to come into your life. Find ways to build your self-esteem and increase your self-confidence. Spend your time and energy improving yourself instead of wasting your time and energy on negative relationships and people that pull you down. Be selective about the people you choose to spend the majority of your time with, surround yourself with positive people who motivate you, inspire you, support you, and add to your life. Time to prioritize, organize, and declutter your life! Out with the Old, in with the New!

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