Posted in 2011 Great Release Challenge!

Great Release Program — Room Roulette!

January 2012 — Great Release Challenge

memories made here by Silver RavenWolf
Creating a Loving Environment is the Most Powerful Magick of All!

17 January — What Doesn’t Belong In This Room?

by Silver RavenWolf
copyright 2012

We’re into the third week since the closure of the 2011 Great Release Program and I’m still chugging along.  This week-end my husband finished cleaning out our oldest son’s old room and our youngest son’s old room.  Boy, that’s a mouthful!  I have no idea what motivated him to do it — but, garbage bag in one hand and vacuum cleaner in the other, he marched up the stairs and disappeared for a few hours.  After he finished, I toddled up after him and bagged those herbs that have been drying since our September harvest.

Done.  Done.  Done!

While he was upstairs, I went back down to the basement and plowed through three more plastic tubs of super old junk.  The only thing that survived?  The cake topper from our wedding over thirty-one years ago.  I gave away some books and tossed the rest.  I also managed to finish that knitted stuffed snake toy (three feet long) that I started two weeks ago for my granddaughter.

Oh yeah!  Done.  Done.  Done!

Why are we still motoring along?  Like the sign says:  Memories Made Here — both my husband and I are trying to make an environment that our grandchildren will remember with happiness.

What Doesn’t Belong In This Room Challenge

This past week I decided to make a game out of what I have left to do.  I call it the What Doesn’t Belong In This Room Challenge.  I picked the easiest rooms first — the bathroom and our bedroom.  By easiest, I mean that the room has a basic function that I haven’t really changed.  This won’t be the same for everyone.  I realize that our lifestyle’s are different and that a single room can serve as an environment for several activities, particularly if you live in a small space, or share a house or apartment with someone (or many someones).  For years my desk area squatted in my bedroom because it was the only place to put it where my work wouldn’t be touched by errant fingers and where I could shut the door for peace and quiet.  In those days, my husband sat outside the door on many occasions to keep family members from constantly interrupting me while I was writing.  (No kidding.)  As time moves forward, room functions change.  Eventually, I was able to move my writing area out of the bedroom and into its own room, although this room revolved around the house to meet the needs of the growing children.  Now, the bedroom is just that — a bedroom, and my packed craft room is where I write.  Yeah, I know…I’m working on that.  Sigh.  Which is why I decided to do the minimal function rooms first.  That way I can feel like I accomplished something quickly and have more energy for the craft room (when I get to it).

The What Doesn’t Belong Challenge is easy.  You just stand in the center of the room and visually look at the room with your mind on its function for you.  Ask yourself this question:  What doesn’t belong here?  Take your time with the answer.  There is no right or wrong — there is just an issue of do you want to change the environment to make life easier for yourself?  That’s all.

At this point, you may wish to change a function of the room.  For example, if your bedroom is serving as a hobby room as well, you might want to go through all of your hobby things, clean out the clutter, sell what you won’t be using any time soon, and toss stuff no one will want.  After you’ve cut down the amount of stuff, you may decide that you can actually utilize another area of your living space that might be easier to access, or more private, or whatever…and remove the hobby items altogether from their current area.  That’s entirely up to you.

The sticking point I’ve noticed here is that once you set up a room for a function (or multiple functions) the amount of stuff can be so overwhelming that your brain rails against the thought of shifting it to another area.  I know this from experience.  When you hit this mental glitch you want to stop before you get started.  Don’t let yourself be thrown under the bus by your own brain!  My craft room has actually, at one time or another, occupied five different rooms in the house.  First it was downstairs.  Then it was upstairs.  Then over to another room, then expanded into a different room.  Then it moved downstairs again.  Every time I had to move the vast amount of stuff I balked.  Take this type of challenge one step at a time.  Clear the clutter.  Clean the area.  Throw away stuff.  Take it a day at a time until you plow through it.

In our case, some of the functional moves (shifting stuff from one room to another) were to placate a crotchety family member, which just made everything worse.  An emotionally forced move charges everything with negative glop and leaves a slimy film that can last for years if you aren’t careful. There’s nothing like feeling that your stuff has no respect due to the behavior of a family member.  It is wounding, there is no doubt about it.  Should you find yourself in this position (and I realize we’re slightly off topic here) look for the positive opportunities presented with the move.  They are always there, you just have to look past the hurt to see them. Take the great opportunity to completely cleanse and clear both areas (where you moved it from and where you move the things to) which can actually energize the environment in positive ways and help to dissipate some of the original emotional garbage that forced the move in the first place.

Back on topic!  By moving things around generated by your own choice, you are already adding healthy energy to the chi of the environment.  Once you’ve cleared out the room, take the challenge again.  Breathe deeply, close your eyes and “feel” the room.  Do you have any negative emotions or… is it all good?  Open your eyes and do the visual test again.  Look for what doesn’t belong.  What objects seem to be disrupting the energy of the room?  Why?  Can you move them?  Get rid of them?  Make your changes accordingly, then cleanse the room with incense, holy water, prayer, etc.  Whatever you like best to make an area sacred.  Then, do the test one more time.  At this point, you should feel content and relaxed.  If you don’t, something is still out of place.  If you can’t put your fingers on it right away, walk out of the room and let it set for twenty-four hours, then try the test again by closing your eyes and “feeling” the room.  You’ll probably be able to pick out immediately what no longer belongs there.

When I did this in the dining room I couldn’t figure out why one area seemed to be so heavy.  I realized (finally) that I hadn’t cleaned out the deacon’s bench in over a year.  I just never thought to open it because we use it to sit on all the time.  It is amazing what can weight down a room!

Five Minute Bedtime Clean-up Routine

I’ve kept up the five-minute walk-through routine right before bed, where I roam around the house and pick up anything out of place, maybe start the dish washer if it wasn’t running already, put the leashes for the dogs on the hook, hang up winter coats and hats we’ve used as the day progressed…flap hand…yada yada.  I even made a Crap Catcher Basket for this purpose, which I also use throughout the day.  The highly decorated basket (hey, gotta make it fun) sets in the most used room of the house.  During the day, as things begin to clutter, I put objects that belong in other rooms in the basket.  As I move from room to room, I take the basket with me and put these objects away.  At the end of the day I grab anything else that wandered where it shouldn’t and walk around the house with the basket, putting things from the basket where they belong.  My goal right before I go to sleep is an empty basket!

This doesn’t mean that everything goes where it is supposed to.  I still have those two drawers in the dining room that manage to fill up with junk.  The difference is that I clean those particular drawers every few days now, rather than every few months.  My biggest troublemakers are hair clips, earrings, receipts and mail.  I’ll get there!

My Goals For This Month

So far, my goals for this month included keeping the program going with projects that couldn’t be done short-term in the month of December.  Last year and this year I wasn’t able to finish the basement or my oldest son’s room.  Just not enough time, and when I did think about it after the thirty-day program ended, I was doing something else.  Those areas continued to sit and fester for an entire year.  I decided I didn’t want this to happen again, and with the additional time we’ve finished my son’s room and made a huge dent in the basement clutter.

My second goal was to entertain at least once a week.  By inviting your friends and family over for various activities, you are forced to keep the clutter at bay.  Normally, in the months of January through March, entertainment here ceased.  Bad weather, single digit temps, and a desire to recover from the holidays usually brought on a hermit-like existence.  Not this year.  I decided to return quickly to our normal schedule of Crochet Night and Healing Circle Night, which helped to chase away those winter blues and keep the de-cluttering projects on track.

My third goal involved finishing those little things that I just kept passing over.  Bagging up those herbs I mentioned earlier involved one of those tasks.  I just kept walking by them and thinking “tomorrow” — which never happened for four months.  I could have just tossed them; but, after I put in all the effort to grow them, I felt it would be a stupid waste not to finish the final stage of separating leaves from stems and bagging up the remainder.  Granted, I gave much of the harvest away to friends in September and sold a few of my mixtures on Etsy, so I felt I’d already gotten mileage out of my efforts — still, I just hated to see something that could still be useful headed to the trash.  I told myself — “Either you finish this today, or you trash it.  Your choice.”

I finished it.

Another one of these small goals involved the selling of the rubber stamps I wrote about in the last blog.  I wasn’t using them and didn’t want to throw them, so I put them up for auction on E-Bay with 25% of the sales going to a Wounded Warrior program.  Last Saturday my daughter-in-law and I stood outside in the frigid cold and arranged the stamps on the picnic table so we could get natural light pictures.  Then we boxed them and put them in the craft room.

Yeah.  I know.  But, they’re just there temporarily.

I wrote a quick listing and put the stamps up for auction.  This turned out very well. Five of the auctions have successfully closed and there are six yet to finish at the writing of this article. By the end of this week all those stamps will be gone!  Done!  Done!  Done!

My fourth goal?  I’ll write about that one next week!  Keep me posted on how you are doing.  If you have any ideas to help others, please write and let us all know!

Posted in 2011 Great Release Challenge!

Release Challenge — Knowing When To Let Go & Dealing With Your Favorite Collection

Release, Keep, & Organize Your Collection for More Enjoyment!

January 2012 — Great Release Challenge
9 January — How to Know When To Let Go

by Silver RavenWolf
copyright 2012

Officially, we spent thirty-one days together, you and I, tornado-ing through our homes, offices, garages or vehicles in an effort to reduce the clutter and handle the daily stresses of our lives in a more spiritual way.  Several folks posted that they either fell behind due to illness or family business, or wanted to actually begin the challenge program in January.  Others indicated that steady support would be very helpful in the coming months.  Perhaps I could write other articles that might tie into the Release Program?

Eliminating the clutter from my life this year brought me more energy than I thought possible.  As I tossed bag after bag into the trash and continued to do the five-minute nightly de-clutter run through the house and the what-can-I-do-in-one-minute-or-less challenge during the day after the program was over, I realized how much of really living life I’d been missing due to wading through a house filled with far too much stuff for its size.  With year three under my witchy belt it dawned on me that the more I’ve run through this program, the better I feel, and the more I can concentrate on those things I love to do.  (Like right now I’m knitting a stuffed snake for my granddaughter — its going to be so cool — bells, dazzle tail — I’m on a roll.)

By the end of the program this year I learned that less is actually more.  The less junk I have lying around, the more space I have.  The more space I have, the better I feel.  I realized that living in a mess is a major distraction that I don’t need.

The First Week of January — Parting With Something You Like or Something That Initially Cost You Money

When we finished our program, I didn’t stop.  The first week of January found me continuing to drag almost 30 years of crap from the basement and out to the curb.  I’m still working on that!  I also finished cleaning out a cabinet I didn’t get to during the program.  On Thursday night my husband asked, “What are you doing?  I thought the program was over for the year?  Don’t tell me we’re gonna keep going.”

Yep.  And right then and there I called my daughter-in-law and asked her if she minded helping me with a few things in the coming week, including going through my vast rubber stamp collection, boxing it, and offering them on E-Bay.  I haven’t used them in a year and I’d hate to throw them out.  Not only did I love collecting them, I really enjoyed using many of them.  However, I realized that they were taking up valuable storage space, which was constantly dusty because I had to crawl over other storage boxes to get to them, and that even though stamping was something I very much enjoy doing, there are projects I’d like to complete that won’t involve this type of craft form any time soon.   I realized that the stamps fulfilled a need for art expression at the time; but, now, I’d like to fulfill that need in a different way.  Still…

Letting Go Is Hard to Do

One reason why many of us won’t let go of things is because of the amount of money we spent to get the stuff in the first place.  Especially if we went without something else to own the item.  If we don’t somehow receive a return on our initial investment (in our minds) then we have trouble parting with the object.  Sometimes this return is emotional, and other times we consider the return in financial value.

Owning an object doesn’t immediately give you a return on your money just because you can touch it whenever you want to.  Holding onto an object doesn’t mean its value is actually working for you.  The six big reasons for keeping or letting go of any physical object are covered in the following Object Review List:

1.  Does it bring beauty into my life that I consciously welcome on a daily or cyclical basis (Spring, Summer, Winter, Fall, Religious Holidays)?
2.  Am I currently using this item?  If not, when did I last use it?  If more than six months, consider tossing, giving away or selling.
3.  Is this item necessary for my (or my family’s) survival?
4.  Will I be required by law to keep this item for a particular amount of time?
5.  Does this item have something to teach me that I wish to learn?  If this is true, when did I last invest my time in this subject matter?  Again, if you haven’t looked at the material in six months, you most likely will never get to it, and even when you do, the information you are hoarding will be probably be out of date.
6.  Is the item broken?  If yes, have I bothered to fix it in the last six months?

Notice that our Object Review List doesn’t mention monetary value?  That’s because we’re discussing ordinary objects that often become clutter — not the Rembrandt hanging on the wall.

I have a few other questions I’ve learned to ask myself when reviewing whether to keep or let go of any object, particularly if I am having trouble letting it go:

1.  Is this object of monetary value after my death?  You must realistically answer this question, because in most instances the answer will be no.  The twisted metal cat that I bought at the novelty shoppe for $10.00 brand new is not going to raise itself in value any time soon.  Probably never.  And right now, if I took it to a flea market or swap meet I’d get a buck or two for it.  If the answer is an absolute yes (like a family heirloom) then who do you want to have it?  Consider giving it to them now (which means there won’t be anything to fight over after your demise).

2.   Was this an impulse buy that I’m now ashamed of (at worst) or uncomfortable about (at best)?  Ah-ha!  Didn’t expect that one, did you?  Yep, our emotions rule what we keep.  If we don’t want to admit we allowed advertising to sway our purchasing power or that we foolishly exhibited the kid-in-the-candy-store mentality on a particular item, we may emotionally dig in our heels when trying to let go of an object.  Here, we really already got our money’s worth because we were going for the emotional high at the time; but, we don’t want to admit that such an impulse cost us monetarily.  The one very nice thing about asking yourself this question repeatedly when clearing your clutter is the next time you have that gimme-gimme-impulse, you may not succumb to it.  Granted, this takes a while to become ingrained; but, if you ask yourself the question enough times when shopping, eventually you will be able to walk into a store and NOT fill your cart with say — the latest rubber stamps — because you know darned well you’re not going to use them anytime soon.  Being able to say no (I can tell you from experience) is incredibly empowering.  Eventually, you will walk out of a store grinning because your common sense prevailed.

3.  Did I make money off my investment?  Did I use the object in some way to bring money into the household?  If I did, have I covered my initial expense?

Let’s go back to my rubber stamp collection and answer all those questions.

1.  Beauty?  No, haven’t touched them in almost a year.
2.  Currently in use?  No.
3.  Do I need rubber stamps to survive?  No.
4.  Will I be required by law to keep my rubber stamps?  No.
5.  Will my stamps teach me anything?  No.
6.  Are my stamps broken or damaged?  No.  Some are new, some are gently used.

Okay, let’s ask those other three questions.

1.  Are these stamps worth money after my death?  No.  Rubber cracks and dries out.  They won’t make it that long (hopefully).
2.  Were these an impulse buy?  Yes and No — some were, some were not.
3.  Has any income gained by using this object covered the initial expense?  Yes and No.  Some designs more than covered what I spent for the stamps, other stamps did not.  Collectively, however, when viewing the entire group, the answer would be use, I at least broke even.

One of these nine questions will be your “kicker” question if answered honestly.  It could be any of the above (or one I  didn’t think of), and, for different objects the “kicker” question will also vary.  When you hit that question and are truthful in your response, you will know whether or not the time is right to give away, toss, or sell the item.

How Many Passes Does It Take?  The Three Pass Technique

I’ve learned that where you can easily let some things go right away (trash, for instance) there will be other items that aren’t so easy to release.  They may be emotionally loaded items, or objects that are still useful (even though you’re not currently using them).  This stuttering to let go often occurs with a collection of like objects — like my rubber stamps (something I’ve finally decided to let go of) or a movie collection (that I use here as an example as well).  Sometimes, it is easier to go through a collection with a little help from a sympathetic partner (not the I-told-you-so-kind) friend, or family member.  To help me release my rubber stamps, something I used and loved, I enlisted the assistance of my daughter-in-law.  Just having her there to help separate and box cut the time in half and gave me someone to talk to while doing the task.  This made the stamps much easier to release and turned the experience into something fun (we raced each other to see who could work faster).

For any type of collection, I use the Three Pass Technique.  The first time I go through a group of related items (books, music, tools, movies, rubber stamps, old art supplies, photographs, etc.) I throw out anything broken or anything I absolutely despise.  For example, last summer I threw out a few horror movies that I wouldn’t put on for a dog to watch.  These movies were just so disgusting that I had no interest in either giving them away or selling them.  At this point, I made my first emotional break from the collection by admitting that I wasted my money on these awful movies, and it was time to move on.  Cracked DVD’s and those so scratched they would never work again also left the building.

The second pass occurs either a few weeks, or even a few months later.  In a few instances, an entire year (such as old software, when I’m absolutely sure I will no longer need it).  The second pass focuses on what I’d like to give away to someone I know who would enjoy the items.  In the movies example, we knew one person my husband works with that uses VCR tapes — he was given most of these.  I also have a large English mystery collection as well, and I knew a circle member who loves this type of film, too.  He received all of those.  This is the second emotional break — giving away to someone who you know will enjoy the item.

The third pass, for me, is the “sell” pass (if the item is worth selling) or the give to a stranger pass (if the item is in good condition).  If neither of these two instances apply, the third pass is normally where much of the stuff hits the trash can OR as in a my movie collection, awaits another Three Pass Technique later down the road.  This third pass often represents the final emotional break from the collection as it once stood.

The third pass can be tricky because many people say, “I can make money from this,” and then never go any further with it.  In this third pass, you must be in agreement with yourself that you will, within a specified amount of time that you give yourself,  sell the items if that’s what you said you were going to do.  Just setting the thing aside and saying, “I can sell this” doesn’t cut it.  Many people do not really want to put in the effort to sell their junk because it takes time and usually some type of investment (unless you find an avenue that doesn’t require an upfront expense).  However, it doesn’t end there if you are selling.  Many people have the misconception that their junk is worth big money.  Um, unless it is an antique — most likely not.  The emotional hurdle of value and how you’re going to handle it now comes into play.  Some people purposefully overprice items, particularly emotionally loaded stuff, because either they subconsciously know the thing won’t sell or because they have unrealistically attached value that isn’t there. I have found that if you have really and truly let go of something, and place it on the market at a reasonable price, a buyer will appear.  I have also learned that if you find joy in providing a bargain for someone, you will reap a delightful emotional reward.  Those movies on that third pass?  My son decided to have a yard sale last summer.  I actually hadn’t put out my movies as we were focusing on other items.  A neighbor who sells things at the flea market looked over several of the items on the table, and then, after purchasing many of our things, took the chance to ask if we had any movies we’d like to sell.  “I know you don’t have any out here,” he said, “but, I can usually unload movies pretty quick.”  I went right in the house and brought out a big box.  We agreed on a bargain price for him, and the delight of mine that I could get rid of them.

In the third pass of any collection, now is the time for arranging and labeling of those items that made it through your release process.  Use your creativity!  Look for eye-pleasing storage that is easy to access.  Alphabetize things like music, books, and movies, or arrange them by category, and then alphabetically.  Be inventive!  That’s the fun of owning a collection — working with it, rather than against it.

By keeping your collection organized, you are much more likely to use it!  That’s right!  We often don’t enjoy our collections if they are disorganized and messy because it takes too much time to find what we’re looking for within the collection. If everything is neatly arranged and easy to see, we’re apt to reach for it and  find delight in it more often.

Oddly enough, less can mean more.  More enjoyment.  More time.  More space.  More peace.

That’s definitely worthwhile!