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Clutter: The stuff behind the stuff

by Tina Y. Gerber - McCurley

Do you remember being at Grandma's house and she knew exactly where everything was?

Everything had some value and was utilized. She'd bake those cookies you loved from scratch. Huh, funny. When you got a scratch, she would apply a small amount of honey, as a home remedy, to prevent an infection, then cover it with a homemade bandage, from old clothing scraps. My Grandma (and Mother) would use sandwich bags to put on our feet, when the insides of our boots got wet from playing outside all day. It seemed so natural, a normal part of living, especially farm or country life. I have so many fond memories of visiting them.

They appreciated all those items and experienced utilizing them in everyday life. Nothing was wasted. The fruit cellar was stacked high with canned goods, preserves, and newspaper was piled high for the wood stove. My grandparents even had a commode, located in their kitchen, to avoid travelling outside during those cold winter months. My granddad called it his high throne, as it was lined with red velvet. My sisters and I always fought over who could sit on it, when not in use. Oh, and for a bath night, there was the cow trough which sat in the kitchen, while my grandma had buckets of water heating on wood stove. Granddad was always first, then it went by age. That was part of life, a common daily occurrence and vital for survival of northern Canadian living and rural life.

It was a real treat when we could look at the Sears catalogue, with my sisters, and dream of purchasing something. My grandma would circle items she wanted, send an order through the mail and expectantly wait months for its arrival at the post office.

Life was a challenge but those items made life easier and nothing was ever wasted. They knew a crisis could strike at any time, leaving you hungry and deprived, carried from their experience of the war. If a person had a surplus, they'd put those things aside for a rainy day or to help a Neighbour or friend. My mother valued those beliefs as well, while I was growing up.

Being organized is different than staying organized. It's about what you think about, how you feel and how you act. The stuff behind the stuff. Accumulating stuff is so much easier to do today. Access to product and rapid home delivery makes gathering mounds of stuff so simple. It's our mindset which needs to be addressed to reclaim the freedom in this present day and age.

Over the last century, when you look at technology, things have come a long way. We have international travel, diseases have been almost eradicated, we can purchase all sorts of gadgets to make our lives easier.

While this technology may seem like a good thing, it has disastrous effects of making us dependent on its effects and our mental health. The impact of clutter on mental health is a multifaceted issue and can contribute to your stress, and anxiety.

The good news is, decluttering can have a profoundly positive effect on your mental well-being. I have been decluttering, for just over three years now, and there is so much freedom in this process. If your home feels cluttered, make one or two new changes at a time. A slow and steady pace is a positive and effective way to approach decluttering. Keep it simple, this is one way which makes a difference in your home, its looks, feel and function. I have a 15-minute daily task: a reset if you will, to pick up, tidy and clean my space.

This year we engaged in experiences for my grandchildren, at Christmas time. We focused on purchasing less and doing more. I guess our grandparent did know best.

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