What’s Buried in YOUR Clutter?

“So THAT’S where that went!”  I often hear this when I’m working with an organizing client.  It’s one of the benefits clients are often not aware of when they hire a professional organizer-they find things they thought were long gone. Or they will find duplicates (ahem or triplicates or…eh, you get the point) of other items because they didn’t realize they already had a four-pack of scouring pads.  Sometimes there’s a little embarrassment because they realize their clutter costs them some of their hard-earned money.  Speaking of money, sometimes we find little caches of cash too.

Of all the finds though, there is one that is my favorite, hands down. I was working for a lovely young professional couple.  They decided they wanted to be able to park in their garage.  The piles in there weren’t too bad and I felt we could conquer it with one three-hour session, especially since both were participating in the session. (Often, garages can take 8 or more hours.)

We did our initial strategizing on the overall plan and then set about digging through every shelf, pile and storage box.  I gestured toward one box that looked a little on the gnarly side. It looked spidery and had a mish mash of items in it.  The wife flashed me a look.  “That one scares me,” she said with a nervous laugh.  “Let’s git ‘er done,” I replied.  In truth, it made me nervous too but this is why I wear work gloves.  I didn’t want to meet up with a black widow.

One by one, I pulled the items out and we sorted them accordingly.  This goes to the shed.  This gets pitched. Oh, hello, what’s this?  It was a crusty old work glove all by it’s lonesome.  I picked it up cautiously and we all heard a “CLINK!”

We peered into the box. And then there were squeals of delight. The husband held it up triumphantly and then they hugged and did a little happy dance.  The wife hugged me.

“We thought this was long gone!” they said.

It was his wedding ring.

They had replaced the ring several months previous but never liked the new one as much as the original. And judging by the looks of it, this was a high end band and no doubt worth way more than the fee they were paying for organizing services.

It was truly one of the best moments in my many years of being a professional junk thrower-outer.

One of the reasons I am so passionate about simple living is that clutter not only distracts us and robs us of time when we are having to look for lost items, it keeps us from the pleasure truly important treasures give us.  Sure, maybe it’s not a lost wedding ring. It may be the favorite tee shirt you thought got lost.  Or a meaningful totem like I keep on my desk to remind me of my mom.

Now, I see that hand at the back of the class.  What if everything seems to be important to you?  Trust me on this.  If everything is important to you then the reality is this: nothing is important.  Any meaning or specialness gets washed away in the excess.

By the time someone calls an organizer, there is usually some pain prompting it. (I refer to these as the three Ds of organizing – downsizing, death or divorce.)  But they are ready to pay the price, both monetarily but also in the bravery and vulnerability it takes to say, “Yes, this is me.  I’m buried in clutter.”

What they don’t understand at that time is what they will GAIN.  And this far exceeds the cost.  A fresh open space.  Clarity of mind.  A guest bedroom that can be put to use for something other than a catchall.

And yes, sometimes, finding a wedding ring.

What treasure might be buried under your clutter?

Theresa Winn Lode is a professional junk thrower-outer and delights in helping people discover hidden treasure buried in clutter. She helps folks declutter their heads through life coaching. When she isn’t getting amped up on too much coffee, you can find her doing the junk-thrower-outer thing between Prescott and Scottsdale or at www.theresalode.com

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