Decluttering Under Duress: Make Downsizing a Choice
Decluttering under duress happens as a result of a natural disaster or when housing situations beyond your control occur. This is not the way you want to declutter, by being forced into it.
In 1994, my family and I were at the epicenter of the Northridge, California earthquake. It was the long holiday weekend, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. We were actually going to break ground that day for our first ever pool in the backyard. At midnight, we had watched a comedy fundraising marathon during which we had pledged money to help others. Four hours and twenty-two minutes later, the area surrounding our home became the center for the National Disaster Relief assistance. It was declared a National Disaster site.
It was winter, and all of us spent the next week in one room, with no electricity, huddled together. We ate from the two week disaster preparedness kit I had made. It had been continually updated, in case of an emergency such as that. I had been part of a triage team made up of mental health professionals, law enforcement, and doctors. We gave talks in our area on how to remain safe in a natural disaster, specifically during earthquakes. We were prepared.
People used to tease me for having a 72-hour EQ kit in each of our cars and a 14-day one in our home. During this earthquake, a gas line had burst so no candles could be lit, nor fires made for cooking outdoors. We were without electricity for a week. Following that very stressful week of aftershocks, my husband made arrangements for us to fly out of state to stay with a friend. We had 4 hours to pack whatever was meaningful.
Packing the Essentials
I packed the photo albums and the video tapes of the children first, before adding my wedding gown, my swimsuit and a favorite pair of winter boots. Then I stood there, unable to move for about 20 minutes while I calculated the value of all of my “stuff.”
Books, my art, and our kitchen appliances and whatever china and crystal could be salvaged from the smashed contents of our home, were the next order of importance. The kids’ toys and their clothes were packed into the last of the boxes before adding our clothes and sentimental gifts.
We never went back. The rest of our belongings were set to arrive about a month later. Only half of them showed up as much of it had been stolen.
Take Charge of DeCluttering
Clear clutter by your own choice. Downsize and only have what matters to you in your home. In the past few years, with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma, so many people were forced to evacuate with none of their possessions and only the clothes on their backs. I can tell you it’s an emotional task, made much worse when there is the element of safety factored in as well.
For this week’s Enchanted Breath, close your eyes and take a deep breath in and exhale, releasing tension. Repeat. During the next few minutes, consider what possessions of yours are most meaningful. Open your eyes, maybe journal about it or make a list to leave in a reference place if you should ever have the need to decide quickly what things matter to you.
You’ve taken one step toward clearing your path.