Book Excerpt: It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh
Peter Walsh, clutter expert and author of It's All Too Much, helped the drill sergeant and his wife find a new place for his childhood blankie. Now Peter is helping you repurpose -- or even purge -- your clutter!
Excerpted from *It's All Too Much by Peter Walsh. Copyright c 2007 by Peter Walsh. Reprinted by permission from Free Press, a Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc
Excuse #1: "I MIGHT NEED IT ONE DAY."
Some of us are afraid of the mysteries that the future holds. Life can take some pretty scary turns. Who knows what could happen? You can't to be prepared. You can't throw away that collection of empty shoeboxes. Your daughter might need one for a school project! You can't get rid of those skinny jeans. You might lose twenty pounds! Those old, funky clothes might be good for Halloween or a costume party, not to mention the piles of ticket stubs for a scrapbook you might find time to make someday and the broken toys you have every intention of repairing. This is "I might need it one day" clutter.
We all know it's smart to plan ahead. We all have projects that have to wait for later. And most of us experience changing bodies and changing fashions that put our clothes into what might only be temporary storage. It's hard to let go of things that don't seem to have fulfilled their purpose. You only wore those jeans once and they were expensive. This lamp works perfectly well, it just doesn't look good in this house. It's okay to hold on to one or two items of reasonable size that have a genuine chance of future life. But let's be honest. Is it really only one or two items? Or are you saving enough stuff to furnish a whole alternate universe in which a skinnier you uses that dusty abdominal crunch machine every morning before inserting all your photos into a new album and then dons that old wig you've been storing for a costume party you're hosting at which everyone will be lounging in the extra chairs that have been languishing in your basement for the last six years?
Clutter stops us from living in the present. The future is important. But you have to consider the quality of your life today and strike a balance between the life you are living today and the multitude of possible paths your life may take in the future. We hold on to a lot of our stuff "just in case we might need it one day" and we spend hours preoccupied with this unknown future for which we need to prepare. It's a future that we have no control over and that, for many, is feared. The clutter somehow becomes a life raft for all the "just in cases" we can imagine.
We become so focused on holding on to our clutter that we are unable to be truly present and live our lives fully in the right here right now. Wanting to be prepared for the future is a wonderful thing, but not when it so preoccupies us that we forget that the only time we really have is today. If we are not present in our lives, days pass in which we are barely conscious of what we have and what we can achieve. If out focus is constantly on what might be, we lose the present and the present, like it or not, is the only thing we have.
Most things that you save for the future represent hopes and dreams. But the money, space, and energy you spend trying to create a specific future are wasted. We can't control what tomorrow will bring. Those things we hoard for an imaginary future do little other than limit our possibilities and stunt our growth. When I urge you to get rid of them, I'm not telling you to discard your hopes and dreams. It's actually quite the opposite. Because if you throw out the stuff that does a rather shabby job of representing your hopes and dreams, you actually create room to make dreams come true.
Excuse #2: "IT'S TOO IMPORTANT TO LET GO."
We hold on to our possessions because we believe they're important--to ourselves, to others, to our family, to our dreams, or to our own personal story. We define this importance in lots of different ways.
Do you hold on to stuff because "it reminds me of the past"? Do you worry that in letting go of an item, you will have to let go of those memories? Has the line between the memory and the object itself become blurred? Are you afraid that if this painting, or this pile of mildewed photos, or this stack of crayon drawings is gone, you will lose that part of your past forever?
If you're the designated family historian, you're the one in charge of keeping the family legend alive. You don't feel like you have the right to get rid of the "family mementos" because they weren't given to you, they were entrusted to you. You are now responsible for what happens to them.
If these items are supposedly so important, the question is: How are you treating them? Are your "family heirlooms" hidden in your cellar? Are they taking up space in your closet? Does the place this "important item" holds in your life truly reflect the value you claim it has? Those who know me, or have seen me in action, know that this is an area which I am merciless. Don't tell me something is important, has personal value, or is a family heirloom if it's covered in dust, lost in a pile of clutter, or buried somewhere in your garage. If you value an item, you need to show it the honor and respect it deserves. Otherwise, it has no place in your home. No discussion, no negotiation--it goes! Either you value something or you do not. You have room for something or you do not--it's that simple. If we each had a palace, we'd have infinite space in which to cherish and display our prized possessions. Maybe you'd devote a while room to the porcelain figurines you inherited from your grandmother. But most of us don't live in palaces, far from it. You can't own everything so you have to pick and choose. The value you say an item holds for you must be reflected in the place you give that item In your life, otherwise your words have no meaning and the object is little more than clutter.
- latest show clips
- celebrity friends
- cooking videos
- rachael between the scenes
- backstage pass
- tips and stories
- be on the show
- set tour
- audience tickets
- rachael's bio
- what's rach wearing
- rach on the radio
- follow us on twitter
- join us on facebook