Confessions of a clutter bug

by Lisa Ellisor

My God, it’s everywhere.

Empty coffee cups, stray CDs, tubes of Chap Stick, assorted magazines, clean laundry, receipts and the shoes’… sweet mother the shoes’… they’re MULTIPLYING! The clutter fairy stops by my house and plies her trade in the most insidious of ways. It begins softly, perhaps with several pairs of clean, matched socks totally ready to be lovingly tucked into my sock drawer just a few feet away. Perhaps with a few stray hair rollers hastily jerked from my hair on my way out the door (already late!).

It isn’t dirty. No fuzzy bowls of leftover cereal milk that are beginning to resemble Ch-Ch-Ch-Chia Pets. No beer bottles or anything like that ‘— it’s just junk. Papers, old rave fliers, stuffed animals, documentation for software, old schoolwork that I’m proud of, photos, clippings and other dustbunny bait.

Hi, my name is Lisa, and I have a clutter problem.

Hi Lisa.

I’m ready to be assertive over my need to gather things and organize my environment. Sources indicate that clutter is nothing more than a delayed decision. Ask my incredibly patient friends. I can’t even decide what to wear out at night, much less what to get rid of in my house. My mantra is forever: ‘“What if I need it?’” or ‘”But it has meaning!’”

The web search I did on clutter leads me to believe that this process is far less ephemeral and more psychological than I had previously wanted to think. I work about 70 hours a week, which in a lot of ways I really enjoy. I sprint from YES! Weekly’s office in Adams Farm to downtown Greensboro to tend bar three days a week. The other days I just work downtown, or do freelance graphic design, or get to DJ gigs, or do makeup for weddings’….Sigh.

When my ADD gets really ripping I’ll throw in doing my laundry, hitting the gym and trying to cook a four-course gourmet dinner and host a cocktail party in my tiny Fisher Park studio apartment. I need help, and like with most personal issues, the web has a thousand snake oil remedies for my problem.

Apparently these websites on clutter management are telling me that I’m mangling my environment to match my cluttered mind, as if to achieve some type of consistency, or perhaps I busy up my house to justify my own busyness. Just before these websites ask for $49.95 to participate in their special program to help me de-junk my life, they provide information that provides me with some ‘“perspective’” on my ‘“situation’”:

‘• Being neater and tidier is a benefit of cleaning clutter, not the goal.

‘• Physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of oneself are all connected.

‘• While we cannot literally get our hands on our emotions, mind or spirit, we can get our hands on our physical ‘stuff.’

‘• In the process of letting go of ‘stuff’ which is irrelevant to who we want to be and to our goals in life, we not only ‘get organized.’ We become free in all aspects of being.

‘• Cleaning clutter opens the space for the accomplishment and fulfillment of what is most important to us in our life.

‘• Cleaning clutter clears a pathway to personal well-being, authentic communication with others, and a connection to the natural flow of life. Instead of a one-time event, cleaning clutter is a daily practice that can be fun and add buoyancy to being alive!

‘“Stuff’” is irrelevant to who we are? Who are these unsentimental people? My ticket stubs, club fliers, and items of that ilk hold huge amounts of meaning to me. Granted, organization of such items is critical in a smaller home environment but considering that my knick-knacks are something that blocks the ‘“natural flow of life’” is a bit extreme.

I just experienced a huge transition in my life at the end of 2005, and instead of making resolutions I made a life makeover instead. I knocked almost all the clutter out of my house. Old clothes went to Katrina victims. Walls were washed and adorned (neatly) with my fliers and ticket stubs. Stuffed animals now all hang out together in an odd menagerie atop a disused beanbag that used to catch only laundry.

People who know me personally know that I live amidst chaos from work, shopping, going out and working out, and that doing many things at once is how I thrive. Somehow though, all that chaos overwhelmed me at the end of last year, and I knew I had to do something different. It was as if I stood in the middle of my apartment and channeled some superhero to blast my house with a wave of organization and neatness.

Zang. Pow. Take that, Clutterfairy.

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