simplify - decluttering


How did we get all this stuff?

As we age, there seems to be less attachment to possessions, or the need for possessions.  In the first half of life, I was consumed by being a consumer.  I had to have the latest “stuff”.  Even when I turned fifty, the entry point the afternoon of life, and we moved into a smaller condo during a relocation, the deal I made with my wife is that I could buy any electronics items that I wanted.  And I did.  We had gadgets everywhere.

When we moved to Pittsburgh ten years ago, we bought a four bedroom home for the two of us mostly to hold all of the stuff that we had bought in. Our sizable condo that we were moving out of was filled with books, electronics, photography gear and the matting tables and printers to support my professional fine art photography experiment.  But then we added even more to fill the deck with outdoor furniture and build out my home office as I launched my coaching practice. I was attracted to the idea of seeing clients in my office on the lower level of the house, which I have done for the last two years.  So we had filled up our space with stuff.

Downsizing and the opportunity to declutter life

We are now downsizing.  And like many things in life it came when we hit a tipping point.  Last week in this series I wrote about the knee injury that brought my awareness to the present moment back into focus and the need for mindfulness.  That silence and reflection finally got me in touch with the absurd lifestyle that we are currently living.

So we have decided to downsize, and in order to do that we are in the process of decluttering the house as many people do prior to listing it.  But we are going further than that.

In my research on how to declutter, I found a common theme of advice.  Look at every item you own and ask yourself” is it some thing that I need?”,  If not,  “is it something that brings me pleasure?”. Be honest.   If the answer is yes to both – then – “where am I going to put it in my home”?

Horcruxes in the Muggle World

In the Harry Potter series, J.K Rowling invented the term Horcrux as an object that “he who must be not be named” placed a part of his soul in.  I the series Tom Riddle – aka – Voldermort had placed his soul in six objects and in two other persons and he would live on until all of the  objects were destroyed.

I have a similar take on the same concept.  We place our energy, our soul in objects that we buy and those objects either enhance our lives or detract from it.  If our soul is partially placed in another person as it is in most marriages – it can be a positive placement or it can be a negative one. In the case of objects, we become burdened by all of the objects that we have sacrificed our soul for over the years.  It is easy to look around and ask myself, “What was I thinking?”.  It turns out – I was not thinking.  Just consuming.

If you now look at these objects and ask yourself if it is making your life better, really better. Then keep it.  But if it is making it worse, get rid of it.  What part of your soul have you given up to buy it and will releasing it heal your soul? Can you be grateful for it and then pass it on to someone who might be able to use it?

As I sit in this office, I am looking across the room at two clocks, a fountain that does not work, a Papago Indian basket with coasters in it, a cute sign that says “It wasn’t raining when Noah built the ark” three glass candle pyramids containing oil,  A Samsun flat screen TV (that already is not working well), sound bar, blue ray player, Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, three candles and a “peace” plaque – and these are just the items out on the credenza across from my office – the office that will be downsized.

None of them are needed.  One of the clocks was given to me in Utah by an admin that I relied on.  The Peace plaque is a gift from my daughter, the Arc sign was bought  at an arts fair in North Carolina at the outer banks, the TV equipment is an asset owned by my company because I used it for clients and educational material.  In a simple world all of these objects could be given away.  For most people if they move they will keep them and cram them somewhere.

What do you need to do to simplify?

I think that the answer for how to deal with these objects is simple.  The clock form my admin – I can write Regina a note and thank her for her service to me twenty years ago and give the clock away.  The Peace plaque can be moved.  The TV and other electronics gear will probably fit in the office that we will share when we move as it is depreciated now anyway – or move to the office that my business will open next year.  The other stuff is of no real value and is not needed and holds no semimetal value.  We will keep the TV (if it can be fixed) because the TV in my wife’s working office is from the Clinton Administration and weighs three hundred pounds being one of the first HD TVs in 2000 – but it still works..

How do you simplify?

I do not think that we need to declutter as a political statement.  Or forced minimalism. I am a capitalist and I believe that people should be allowed to buy and consume whatever they want and I do not think we are going to save the planet by not being consumers.  We have bigger problems than “American style consumption” with the planet, and frankly I think we might be too far along the path to mass extinction for this planet in this isolated spot in one of many universes.  I am more concerned with our individual and collective spiritual journey’s of our timeless existence.

What are we supposed to be learning right now, right here?  How are we, as “conscious components of the universe” expanding our awareness? The baby boomers era of conspicuous consumption is ending just as the Millennials who supposedly shunned it are beginning to embrace it in their own unique ways.

The survival of the planet is a much bigger question. As boomers in the afternoon and early evening of life, we need to declutter so we can experience life in such a way that we are expanding our consciousness and awareness and not escaping from being in contact with the people around us.  I think that is what Thoreau meant when he penned, “simplify, simplify, simplify”.  Perhaps then we can give some of our wisdom back to the planet an help others grow and solve our many problems.

What do you do first?

So what do you need to do?  The best advice I encountered is to take all of the objects from a room and put them out so they are visible and go through them.  What can we give away? What can we sell? What do we want to keep and where are we going to put it?

Then deal with it – right here, right now. Photograph the objects you are going to sell and list them on Craig’s list, eBay or somewhere else you like.  Put the items for donation together list them out for tax purposes and take them to your favorite charity.  Put the things you are keeping away with a new found respect and gratitude for the items that made the cut. Some items that are moving to another room might need to be moved temporarily to that room until you do this  for every room in the house.

We will start the process this week for the room in our house that is going away – our utility room.  Over the next eight weeks until we list the house in January, we will do the same until we have the first pass of the entire house done.  As we pack for the move into the new home, I am sure that we will encounter additional opportunities.

Of course if you are not moving yet, you can still enter the new year clutter free in your existing home and it will refocus your whole approach to the holidays form what am I going to get to what can I give away and free myself of the responsibility of ownership.

What about you, what do you have to simplify?  I plan on coming back to this theme as we live through this “simplify” process and experience the gratitude and holiday seasons that we are entering.  Hopefully we can simplify that as well.


How Motivation Helps Forge the Path to Your Vision

If you wish to achieve your vision, it is important to understand your core values. In fact, in order to successfully define a vision that will result in personal happiness and fulfillment, you need to first identify your core values. Failing to understand your value system will likely lead to focusing on the wrong things. Even if your vision happens to align with your values, you may lack the motivation needed to persevere to achieve this vision. It is therefore important to fully realize and identify with ‘THE WHY’ (the motivation behind your vision), in order to stay focused through the challenges that will inevitably occur.


Motivation is the reason you have for acting in a way that supports your actions towards achieving a goal. Motivation is your desire to execute or complete those actions. Motivation is determined by your WHY. Your WHY is tied to your core values. When you identify with your core values (Piety versus Power, Perfection versus Tranquility, etc.), you begin to understand your purpose. Everyone has a unique purpose, and therefore unique motivations. When you’ve identified your WHY, you’ve identified your purpose. When you identify your purpose, you can more easily identify your vision. And when you have a solid vision to work towards, one that is aligned with your values and priorities, you’ve created a self-sustaining circle where your motivations support your actions, which support your priorities and vision, which support your WHY.

Sometimes obstacles get in your way from making progress towards your vision. These obstacles are often in the form of fear. Fear in the form of avoidance of pain. Fear of losing something, fear of not being good, fear of rejection, or fear of being overly successful. When your motivations are strong and aligned with your values and vision, these obstacles tend to be minor distractions.

When we allow these obstacles to get in the way of our motivation, to hold us back, not only are we not living a fulfilling life, we are living a dull life. A life of fear is not a life that lends itself to joy, happiness and fulfillment.


Do you let obstacles get in your way and prevent you from making progress towards your vision? Do you give up, do you give in, or do you get down on yourself and/or others? Do you lose your motivation? None of these are a healthy response to an obstacle.

The good news is that when you understand your WHY, your motivation, in relationship to your vision and values, you suddenly have a life map to help you navigate through these obstacles. When you know and feel the reason why you are passionate and inspired, the reason you want to live out your dreams, you then have the foundation to connect at levels that will keep you focused, dedicated and devoted to keep moving through every obstacle that comes your way.


Once you are clear with your vision, your priorities and goals, and the possibilities you are creating, it is time to dig a little deeper to really connect with your WHY. If you need any refreshers, click on the relevant link to learn more. Allowing Your Values to Steer Your Success.  The Life of Your Dreams – Imagine the Possibilities.  Mindfulness to Achieve Your Destiny.  If you are ready to connect with your WHY, continue on to the following exercise.


  • Identify your vision and your life’s dream.
  • Ask yourself what is important about your vision/dream. What values are you fulfilling?
  • Ask yourself FOUR times: What about my last answer is important to me?
  • By the time you get to the fifth time you think about what is important about your vision/dream, you should feel it deeply. You should be drawn to tears or you should be tingling with excitement. If you are not, you might want to reconsider your core values and vision.
  • To complete this exercise, to really drive your motivation home, write out this deep motivation that you just discovered – this important point that escalated your inner feelings – on a piece of paper along with your vision or dream.
  • Refer to this slip of paper regularly, daily if possible. By keeping your destination in mind, along with your WHY, you will be less likely to allow obstacles to derail you on your journey in life.

And remember, as long as you know your WHY, and continue to relate to it, you are unlikely to get lost on your journey to happiness and fulfillment.

Image – AdobeStock

Allowing Your Values to Steer Your Success

Many people in today’s society are stuck in the day-to-day demands that seem to be a natural part of life. As the world around us speeds by, sometimes it’s easy to feel like a sailboat being bounced around on rocky waters and tossed about in the wind. But this doesn’t have to be the case. You have the ability to take charge of your life and live the life you were meant to live.

If we take a closer look at the sailboat analogy, think about what helps to control the boat. There is a mechanism that allows the captain of the sailboat to adjust the sails to work with the wind, to guide the boat in the direction of choice. In other words, there is a steering mechanism to keep the boat on the right course.

We also have a steering mechanism for our lives, and that is the choices that we make. Our choices help to steer our life to one of stress and discontentment or to one of peace and fulfillment.


What provides you with the power and wisdom to gauge the strength and direction of the wind, adjust your sails, and set your day-to-day life on-course to safely reach your destination?

It’s time to be the captain of your ship! Only you can take responsibility for keeping your life sailing smoothly, on waters that are sometimes peaceful, and at other times choppy.

When the choices that you make are aligned with your highest values, you begin to experience more peace in your life. Answer the questions below to help steer your life towards peaceful waters.

  1. What are your top three priorities at this time in your life? Do these priorities align with your highest values? For example, if one of your top priorities is having a successful career, how does this align with one of your highest values – family? Does your successful career provide you with the income to provide your family with a comfortable home, security and safety, a good education? Or does your successful career take you away from your family, create unhealthy stress and poor health?
  2. Think about your schedule and then write down your key daily, weekly and monthly activities. Be sure to include all personal, work, family and community activities.
  3. Of the activities you listed, which align with your values? Which activities do not align with your values and what can you do to eliminate or decrease your participation in these activities? For example, if family is a value, what activities do you participate in on a regular basis in honor of that value? Are family dinners and movie nights part of your activities? Or are your activities of running the kids to sports games, dance classes, art classes, etc. getting in the way of your family having quality time together?


When you successfully focus on activities that are aligned with your highest values and priorities, you begin to create a space for peace to exist. To truly experience peace, the peace that leads to a life of contentment and purpose, you may need to remove things that are hindering your path to peace and replace those with things that support your sense of fulfillment.

Image – AdobeStock