I liken this journey of simplifying our home and our lives to peeling the layers from an onion one by one. Each time I go back over old ground, I peel back another layer to reveal something slightly sweeter and more essential.
It has been a slow process. With each layer there are new lessons to be learned, assimilated, lived and sometimes learned again. I wonder what I will ultimately find when all the layers have been peeled away. Perhaps the process continues in one form or another all our lives as we learn to let go of geriatric hurts and corrosive habits.
For some, de-cluttering or simplifying will be nothing more than a response to an over-accumulation of possessions. For others, however, it will be a journey of the spirit and will, perhaps result in permanent, far-reaching change. Either way, let the journey be what it will be. Give it time to unfold. Focus on making steady progress, rather than meeting specific time-based goals.
Which brings us to anxiety, an unwieldy topic if ever there was one, but one we ignore at our peril, because for many of us, anxiety of some form lies near the heart of our clutter problem. We use those onion layers as insulation against fear. Most notably, the fear of not having enough. No amount of "de-cluttering' or "getting organised" is going to facilitate long-lasting change if we are not prepared to look deeper than our overflowing cupboards.
A few years ago, at her request, I spent many hours over several months helping my mother sort, store and discard hoards of possessions, like old calenders that she thought "might be worth something", plastic shopping bags full of soap and drawers of unused stationery.
It was an awful, dusty, overwhelming job and just a few months later her house was more cluttered than it had been when we began. Pushing herself to "get rid of stuff", as she put it, triggered a period of even greater accumulation and general chaos in her environment.
She recently repeated the process, enlisting the help of one of her sisters. This time the job needed to be completed more quickly as my mother was moving. At the end of it all, she seems upset that she was pushed to give away things she wanted to keep and worries that so many of her things now seem to be missing.
My advice is to respect your anxiety. Don't let it be in charge. Challenge yourself, but understand that it is a powerful force and needs to be handled with some care.