Take the Challenge
Barry A. Dennis

New York Times – Jane Brody

Personal Health: Progress Report on a Decluttering Project

By JANE E. BRODY

Source:  New York Times

 

Link to Article:  Read

In a column last fall, I announced my intention to rid my home and myself of a half-century of accumulated ”stuff” – everything from papers, books, clothing and shoes to packaging material and shopping bags. I’m happy to report significant progress.

Scores of old files, letters and mementos have been recycled. Bags of books, clothes, coats, shoes and linens have been donated to charities. New and hardly used kitchen equipment has been given to those who need it more than I do.

A decision to re-carpet three of the most cluttered rooms in my house forced me to move – and remove – hundreds of long-unused items. I replaced oversized and impractical furniture and containers with smaller, more useful items less likely to become reservoirs of dust and clutter.

With the help of a friend who has furnished several apartments with items from Ikea and another who knows how to put the stuff together, I saved thousands of dollars on decorator fees and costly furnishings and ended up with clean, simple, practical work surfaces and storage units.

My formidable yarn collection, for example, which had been stowed in five large opaque bins, is now housed in four all-glass cabinets, easy to see and easy to access. They occupy the space once held by the many file cabinets I’ve emptied, which were picked up by scrap metal collectors almost as soon as they hit the street.

Progress indeed. The task of decluttering has been helped greatly by ”The Hoarder in You,” a very practical book by Dr. Robin Zasio, but it is far from over. I still have too many clothes and shoes and face what another author, Barry Dennis, calls ”The Chotchky Challenge.”

Mr. Dennis, a motivational speaker, relies on an expanded definition (and Anglicized spelling) of the Yiddish word ”tchotchke,” which refers to a trinket or knickknack; he uses it to mean ”stuff that gets out of control.” In his view, a tchotchke can be almost anything that takes up space, both mental and physical, that might better be occupied by something else or nothing at all.

Accumulated tchotchkes, in the broadest sense, waste time and energy and cause stress and irritability. Just the other day, I couldn’t put my hands on my favorite jeans, which were hanging right there in my closet, hidden under a dozen others. Recently I spent 20 minutes trying on one pair of shoes after another, unable to decide which to wear. I wasted an hour a few weeks ago looking for a report that was hiding in a pile of documents waiting to be filed.

Redefining Clutter

Most of us have little idea how many things in our lives keep us from enjoying life more. But one’s life can be cluttered by more than household objects. The irritating extras can include activities that are no longer rewarding but are continued out of habit or guilt. Perhaps it’s time for a more extended kind of housecleaning.

Mr. Dennis cites several ”tchotchkes” I might never have thought of: electronic equipment that keeps us from living in the moment; people who are an emotional drain instead of a joy; piles of CDs and DVDs that are never watched or listened to; food that gets stuffed into an already satiated body; and unwanted or unloved gifts from people you nonetheless care about.

On a recent trip to Antarctica with one of my sons, 28 years my junior and fully reared in the electronic age, we both chose to avoid access to the Internet and our cellphones. What freedom!

Many fellow passengers came fully equipped, spending hours monitoring e-mail and world news. We read books and missed not one excursion, lecture, vista or conversation with an interesting shipmate.

As I watched others buried in their iPads, laptops and smartphones, I wondered what people did on vacation before we had this plethora of electronic equipment keeping us ”in touch” 24/7. Perhaps they telephoned now and then to see how the dog was faring.

Not knowing about problems back home or at work surely meant vacations were more relaxing, a real break from daily stress.

As Mr. Dennis points out, far too many plugged-in people now wander through life oblivious to their surroundings. They don’t see the trees, hear the birds, notice the people or even the traffic. I’ve rescued two women recently who walked into the paths of oncoming vehicles while entranced by their phones.

And while e-mail clearly has major advantages, when it takes the place of talking with people face to face or on the phone, something essentially human about communication is lost – a tone of voice, a laugh, a sigh, a grimace or a smile. I refuse to dine with people who insist that a phone call or text message cannot wait until after the meal. If anything is that urgent, at least excuse yourself from the table to deal with the matter.

Helpful Hints

Lightening one’s physical load can brighten the mind and lift the spirit.

Mr. Dennis urges people to think twice before buying anything. ”Everything we bring into our lives, we will eventually have to get rid of,” he writes. ”And that is much, much harder to do than bringing it in.”

He maintains that a clothes closet should never exceed 80 percent capacity. Gather ”everything you haven’t worn more than once in the last 12 months and give it away,” he says. ”There are people who actually need those clothes.” (I would make an exception for dressy clothes worn only on special occasions.)

Once this goal is achieved, for every new garment or pair of shoes you buy, an old one must go.

To people who insist on offering gifts that you neither want nor are likely to use, you might explain your desire to declutter and suggest alternatives that take up no space, like a movie pass, dinner out, a yoga class or a service like baby-sitting or help bagging books to give away.

I especially appreciate Mr. Dennis’s food challenge. Look through the pantry, freezer and cupboards, and discard all food that is likely to make you ”clogged up, toxic, sluggish and fat.” Pay attention to the quality of the food you eat, and don’t eat more than your body really needs.

This is a more complete version of the story than the one that appeared in print.

Vegan Magazine

Below is from article from Vegan magazine, where Barry speaks to how “Excess” weighs us down, keeping us from living the life we truly desire …

spring flowers daisies

We all know that clearing the clutter in our lives feels good — even freeing — and spring is the time we get inspired to do it.

But according to internationally renowned spiritual teacher Barry Dennis, it’s more than old clothes we need to get rid of.

“Excess” weighs us down, keeping us from living the life we truly desire. Excess can take any form — shoes, shampoos, unhealthy foods, unsupportive people, too much technology, and unwanted gifts, to name just a few. And all this leads to negative thoughts, which are a most debilitating form of excess.

Dennis calls this junk “Chotchky” — anything that intrudes, clutters, or distracts us from our soul’s highest purpose — and says it makes us stressed out, irritable, and exhausted. All that wasted energy could be used to fuel the life that we know is possible, but has been just out of reach.

He says it’s time for some spring cleaning of the soul and shares 7 spring cleaning tips that will increase your happiness:

Your bathroom. What percentage of your hair spray, hair gel, toothbrushes, toothpaste, hair colors, soap, makeup, lotions, shampoos, over-the-counter medicines, prescriptions, and vitamins have crossed the line? It’s bathroomotchky! Go through your drawers and cabinets and get rid of everything that’s collected dust. Empty and recycle the glass and plastic containers.

Your closet. It is not uncommon for people to feel overwhelmed by their bulging closet and actually say, “I have nothing to wear.” Crazy, huh? That’s how confused we have become. I call it “apparelyzation.” Use this rule of thumb: your closet should never be filled to more than 80% capacity. Put all those clothes, shoes, socks, and accessories you haven’t worn in the past year in a bag and deposit them into the nearest Goodwill or Salvation Army bin.

Your cupboards. How much food do you feel is truly empowering you, and what percentage is “foodotchky?” Get a big “glad bag” and throw away everything that doesn’t contribute to making you feel happy, healthy, and energized. If the junk isn’t there, you soon won’t miss it.

Your storage spaces. Do you have corners of your garage or basement that are filled with things you haven’t used for years? Drawers that overflow? Or worse, do you have a storage unit somewhere else that you actually pay for each month? It’s time for a sale. Sell it all, and if there’s anything unsold you can put on it your curb with a sign that reads “FREE.”

Your media. Be careful what you allow onto your Internet menu. Every website is an affirmation, every search is a meditation, every chat a prayer. All of the information you feed to your brain through TV, movies, YouTube, and such seems normal. But is it soulful? We are bombarded by excess information. If Mozart, Da Vinci, and Thomas Edison had been distracted by Facebook 5 hours a day, would they have found time to express their genius? Informotchky is insidious and clutters the most precious storage space we have, our mind!

Your calendar or ecalendar. Are you wasting your time with peopleotchky–humans who don’t support you, believe in you, and may actually encourage destructive behavior? Life is short and your time is precious. Make sure you surround yourself with true “Soul-Mates,” friends who support your very soul. Anyone who doesn’t has become excess!

Your consumption. Finally, start to be more conscious about the things you acquire. When you are at a store and you want something, or you’re offered a piece of cake after a large meal, ask yourself, “Do I really need this? How will this feed my soul?” The more conscious you are about what you purchase and consume, the happier and less encumbered you will feel.

As you begin to get rid of the Chotchky surrounding you, you will start to notice that your heart feels lighter, and your mood is brighter. You will find you have become more focused and clear. Your priorities rise to the surface and you suddenly have the time and energy that was always missing to channel into your heart’s true desires. It is truly liberating.

Besides, at this stage in the game, the less we consume the healthier we become in body, mind, spirit, and earth. As we take this challenge we reach what may be the highest state of consciousness possible, that of “liberotchky,” the complete and total freedom from all things Chotchky!

Barry Dennis is an internationally known inspirational speaker and spiritual teacher. His new book is The Chotchky Challenge: Clear the Clutter from Your Home, Heart, and Mind and Discover the True Treasure of Your Soul (Hay House, April 2012). Learn more at www.BarryADennis.com.

 

Maria Shriver – Architects of Change

She really gets it! She has also named me one  of her “guides” for “architects of change”.  Just click on “Our Guides” to see  my funny face.  Her site is called “Ideas, Inspiration and information for  ARCHITECTS OF CHANGE”.  It’s really cool.  I feel very honored to be featured.   My book will be available in book stores April 30th. Until then, I hope you will  give this a “thumbs up”.
……

Tips for Transformation

An Easy Way to Achieve Peace of Mind

By Barry Dennis

Whether I’m working with a Hollywood celebrity, consulting with a spiritual leader, or speaking to congregants at Celebration Church in Portland, Oregon, I always encounter the same question: How does one achieve peace of mind?

I believe I am getting closer to the answer, and it begins with getting rid of excess “stuff” in one’s life — whether it’s material things, unfulfilling activities and people, or useless information.

If you try to only fill your life with things, people, and activities that feed your spirit, there will be a lot less junk standing between you and peace of mind. Now I travel the country motivating and inspiring people to do this.

My own journey toward peace of mind began on April 3, 1998, at 3 am. It was possibly the best day of my life. My wife performed the miraculous that day: the act of giving birth. I made a solemn promise to that 8.3-pound boy the first time I laid eyes on him. I would never parent out of anger.

And, I must say, I have done well living up to my promise. Except on one day, possibly the worst day of my life, six years later.

The first thing I remember that morning is all the shampoos. Why so many bottles? What should I use? Maybe I could use a shower gel for my hair and body! Radical. And then came the hair gels, lotions, and toothbrushes (Which one is mine?).

Upon opening my closet door, I was overcome with a full-blown episode of “apparel-yzation,” which is the act of staring, immobile, into one’s bulging closet shackled by the thought “What to wear?” Which is sometimes followed by the nutty notion, “I have nothing to wear.”

The encounters with chaos continued. There were pieces of mail and other random papers on the kitchen table and counters, enough cereal boxes to open my own Kellogg’s outlet store, and my boys playing with the latest version of Xbox something or other while the outdated versions lay in heaps, half in, half out of drawers.

I tried to simultaneously pick up after them and get them ready for school.

It all came to a head when I opened the door to my son’s room to see before me what looked like a testing ground for nuclear weapons. I was late for an appointment, and my son had already missed the bus. He was supposed to be in his room getting ready. “CJ, where are you?” There was no reply. This time I yelled, “CJ, WHERE ARE YOU?”

A squeak came from behind his closet door, “I’m in here, Daddy.” I opened the door to find him in a sitting fetal position, overwhelmed, surrounded by refuse from the ghost of Christmas past. He explained, “I’ve been looking everywhere, but I can’t find my pants.” A tear rolled down his cheek.

But I couldn’t see it. I was blind, turning green like the Incredible Hulk as I yelled, “GET UP NOW, RIGHT NOW! I’M LATE BECAUSE YOU CAN’T FIND PANTS? GIVE ME A BREAK! THIS IS RIDICULOUS.”

We drove to his school in total silence. That had never happened before. The rest of the day I felt like a lowly worm at the bottom of a compost heap. What had happened? That was not me.

A few weeks later I shared my frustration with a good friend, Dr. Harold Bloomfield. I told him about all the stuff, from the shampoos to the floor of my son’s room, and how it all seemed to pile up in my mind, creating an overload that turned me into a rageaholic monster. “What is it?” I said.

His reply changed my life. “Oh” he uttered, shaking his head, “you’re talking about Chotchky.”

It’s an old Yiddish term. I’ve come to understand it as anything we have in excess that intrudes, clutters, or distracts us from our soul’s highest purpose. Chotchky isn’t just clutter. It can also be unsupportive people, too much technology, unhealthy food, unwanted gifts, and regrettable decisions, among them. But the junk in your house is the easiest kind of Chotchky to identify.

What my son and I were experiencing was the “Chotchky Effect.” Too much Chotchky can leave us stressed out, irritable, and confused. No one wants to be on the receiving end of the Chotchky Effect.

You see, I wasn’t angry at my son. In fact, we are almost never angry for the reasons we think we are. There is usually something behind the anger. Often, if we’re willing to look close enough, we will recognize that “something” as some form of Chotchky.

The anger directed at my son started with an excess of shampoos and built from there. Besides, who bought him the Xbox’s, the toys, and all those clothes that overwhelmed him and me? Hmmm.

Think of your conscious mind as a sacred shelf. It can only hold so much before it starts to bend. Everything we surround ourselves with, that we come into contact with, is placed on our sacred shelf.

One shampoo is enough. The other nine in the shower that day were Chotchky and they took up space on my sacred shelf. By the time I got to my son’s room, the weight of the Chotchky Effect was taking its toll. My sacred shelf snapped.

Give yourself and the ones you love a blessed gift. Eliminate all the Chotchky in your life, one room at a time, and donate it, recycle it, or throw it away.

Doing so will lighten your load, unburden your soul, and give you peace of mind.

 

7 Decluttering Tips to Feed Your Soul

http://www.bestofyoutoday.com/energy-tools/7-decluttering-tips-feed-your-soul

Barry Dennis Visits the Children of Zimbabwe

Operation of Hope 2009In October 2009, Rev. Barry Dennis, his wife Heather Westing, and youngest son CJ completed their second trip to help the children of Zimbabwe with Operation Hope. Operation of Hope brings love and joy to children with congenital defects. Those beautiful spirits, however, reciprocated with more love and joy in return right back to those who served them, as we witnessed from Barry and Heather’s fabulous and deeply moving stories from the 2008 Zimbabwe trip.  Below are links where you can learn more about the trip and Operation of Hope, and where you can donate to Operation of Hope. Below is a moving letter from Rev. Barry as his family prepared for their mission. 

Read daily blog about 2009 Operation of Hope experiences

Watch 11/6/09 video of CNN’s Jenny Harrison talking with CNN producer Jessica
Ellis about Operation Of Hope’s mission in Zimbabwe

Read 11/25/08 story by Jim Springhetti of the Oregonian about their 2008 trip

Visit Operation of Hope website

Massage Magazine – 10 Tips

10 Tips to Rid Clutter and Enhance Your Happiness

by Barry Dennis (adapted from The Chotchky Challenge)

Source:  Massage Magazine   Ponte Vedra Beach, FL 32082

 

Link to Massage Magazine:  http://www.massagemag.com/News/massage-news.php?id=12629

Do you have too much “Chotchky” in your life? Most of us do. Chotchky is anything that intrudes, clutters or distracts us from our soul’s highest purpose. An incredible amount of what we actually buy, accept and allow into our lives is Chotchky. Chotchky includes material things, unhealthy substances we consume, meaningless information and distractions, and even nonsupportive people.Being surrounded by useless stuff robs us of our energy. The more Chotchky there is in our life, the more disorder, stress, ambiguity, tension and immobilization we will experience. The good news is, clearing away the things that are cluttering your life will leave you feeling lighter, clearer, calmer, healthier and more connected.Here are 10 spring-cleaning tips to re-energize your life and make you happier.1. Fill up “glad” bags. Grab three bags: one to donate, one for recycling and one for garbage. Find places in your house that are weighing you down. For example, how many hair products, lotions, makeup items and pills do you really use in your bathroom? In your sock drawer, how many pairs of socks would you have to wear every day to actually run out before the next wash?2. Build in a pause. Before you make a decision to bring something into your life, whether it’s dessert, a relationship, a pair of jeans on sale or a mindless TV show, ask yourself, “Does my heart truly desire this? Will it make my life better? Happier? More fulfilled?” Pausing before you acquire or consume can prevent every type of clutter from overtaking your life.

3. Hold a storage unit sale. This is one of the easiest ways to lighten your load. If you’re actually paying someone to store your unused junk, you don’t need it. Throw a sale and use the money for something that will add to the quality of your life like a nice dinner out with your family. Let it go; don’t hold onto it.

4. Declutter your closet. How much time do you waste deciding what to wear? How many shoes collect dust in your closet? You don’t need a bigger closet; you need fewer choices. Your closet should have no more than one hanger every 2 inches to avoid overload. Don’t let your closet exceed 80-percent capacity. Give that dress, belt or pair of boots to a friend, or donate it.

5. Clean up your diet. We eat too much, and sometimes we feed our bodies junk that’s full of chemicals and fat. Look in your pantry, freezer and cupboards and get rid of all the food that’s not empowering you. When you eat out, pay attention to what—and how much—food you put into your body. Try to consume food that makes you healthy and energized, not clogged up, toxic and sluggish.

6. Clear your mind. If you respond to every ring and buzz of your mobile device while you’re eating breakfast with your spouse or kids, you remove the possibility for meaningful conversation. If you text while you walk, you’re not observing the world around you. Manage your technology consumption to allow for empty mental space. While watching TV, mute the sound during commercials and have a conversation or do some stretches instead.

7. Ungift. How much unwanted stuff have you received as gifts? Instead of acquiring more, you can gracefully say, “I really appreciate the love with which you give. That love is the real gift to me. Thanks.” Then tell them you’re trying to let go of things and you’d prefer a gift that doesn’t take up space—a basket of fruit, tea, movie passes, a meal out, a yoga class, three hours of babysitting, etc. When you give a gift, make it a gift that gives back.

8. Invest in your soul. Every time you are tempted to part with your money for something you really don’t need, stop. Write down the amount and walk away. At the end of the month, tally up your savings. Put that money toward a dream, your favorite charity or anything else that lifts your spirit.

9. Sweep out your schedule. I don’t have enough time to follow my dreams. Really? Somehow there seems to be enough time for TV, Internet surfing, movies, dinners out, texting, drinks and all the other activities you do that may not be feeding your soul. You have enough time. Maybe what you’re lacking is commitment.

10. Precycle. Precycling is the act of returning something to the earth before it was even taken, saving our resources and creating a brighter future. Before you buy anything, consider all the resources it took to make. Recyclable plastic water bottles, for example, use 17 million barrels of oil each year. Use the faucet and a repurposed glass bottle instead.

Barry Dennis is an internationally known inspirational speaker and spiritual teacher. His newest book is The Chotchky Challenge: Clear the Clutter from Your Home, Heart, and Mind…and Discover the True Treasure of Your Soul (Hay House, April 2012). Learn more at www.BarryADennis.com.

Tame Mental Clutter

Next Avenue is a website launched by PBS targeted people over 50. They  expect 8 million visitors.

5 Ways to Tame Mental Clutter

By:  Barry Dennis

Source:  Next Avenue

Link: http://www.nextavenue.org/article/2012-04/5-ways-tame-mental-clutter

Overscheduled lives and too much information sap our energy and distract us from our higher purpose

Barry Dennis is founder of both Coexist Celebration, a multidenominational movement celebrating all faiths as unique expressions of love and peace, and Celebration Church-Portland, an independent New Thought church in Oregon.

On a family cruise around the South Pacific a few years ago, my son C.J. was playing with the light saber app I had downloaded for him. With his back to the ocean, he was waving the green beam of light around like Luke Skywalker in an epic battle with Darth Vader, when his arm accidentally knocked into mine. The next thing I knew, the light saber — that is to say, my brand-new iPhone — was sailing through the air, up and over the ship’s railing.

A sick feeling overcame me as I ran to the rail and watched it hit the water far below and float peacefully down, down, down. Here’s what went through my head in that instant: No calls. No emails. No texts. No social networking. No instant weather reports or headline news. No camera, music or videos. No games or apps to twiddle my thumbs with.

By dinner, the news had spread throughout the ship. One fellow approached me and said, “Oh man, I never let my children come near my phone. If they threw my phone overboard, I’d kill ’em.” I was taken aback by the intensity of his remark. Later that night, C.J. said to me, after I had completely forgiven him: “Dad, maybe what happened wasn’t such a bad thing. You were getting way too attached to your phone.”

First Step: Admitting You Have a Problem

It may seem ironic that a 10-year-old boy would be telling a man more than 30 years his elder that he had a phone addiction, but C.J. was right. Like so many of us, I had allowed myself to become fixated on my electronic toys. And my mind had become cluttered with way too much information.

When I thought honestly about it, I was forced to admit that my iPhone was actually keeping me from being in the present, on that ship, with my family, in a beautiful place.

I like to think of the conscious, waking mind as a kind of sacred shelf — or let’s say, it should be held sacred, but more typically, it gets filled up with trivial data and preoccupations. Sometimes we remember to clean off and reorganize our shelf, but too often it takes a crisis to remind us what’s truly important.

Recognizing Mental Overload

A daily barrage of useless, superfluous information weighs us down. It saps our energy and distracts us from our higher purpose and pursuits that really matter. Mental clutter functions exactly the same way that physical clutter does. And the consequence of too much stuff isn’t just a lack of space.

A cluttered life can lead to the inability to feel happy because you’ve got too much on your mind. It can paralyze you when your to-do list and deadlines encroach on your personal time. You can feel that it’s less trouble to send an email to a friend rather than have a heartfelt conversation with him over dinner.

Declutter your mind and you’ll rediscover the thrill of having more time to think, create, allow new urges to arise, connect with others, and even pursue a new or long-forgotten interest. You’ll feel more energy, hope, equanimity and satisfaction.

5 Tips for Decluttering Your Life

Here are five ways I advise clients in my congregation, national workshops and seminars to clear out the clutter in their mind, lighten their soul and re-energize their life.

1. Manage your mind’s “inbox.” The Internet is a seductress. We always want one more quick chat, one last video, another minute on a social network site as we sink deeper into a bottomless pit of information. The Internet can be a great tool for transformation if we carefully select what we allow into our mind’s inbox.

How might your inner life change if the only time you spent online would in some way raise your consciousness, make you smarter or add to your happiness?

2. Want what you already have. To use a shopping analogy, we all know the feeling of wanting to buy something — the newest table, the latest-model car, this season’s shiny shoes. Sometimes, though, what you want more than the actual item is the feeling you think it can bring you, like happiness, pride, fulfillment. This is why as soon as you get it home, the feeling dissipates and you find yourself still desiring more objects.

Researchers at MIT, Carnegie Mellon, Stanford and the British Brunel University have all identified the link between shopping and increased activity in the part of the brain associated with pleasure. But they also found that levels of dopamine (the feel-good hormone released during sex) increase even when we just window-shop.

This is a clue to our relationship with stuff: We get the same short-lived “high” whether we buy something or just imagine buying it. And in neither case will the positive feeling (usually stemming from a desire for self-love) last. This is why, until we consciously make that connection, we will continue to seek more and more, whether of shoes, money or fame.

Rather than continuously yearning for more — and never being satisfied — think about simple ways you can shift your behavior and receive a true sense of well-being and self-love without giving in to that insatiable “more” mentality.

There are countless ways to do this: through meditation, walking in serene settings, listening to music, connecting with someone you love or even playing with your dog. You may find, like Dorothy, that your heart’s desire was inside you all along.

3. Protect your empty space. The Tao Te Ching says, “It’s the emptiness in the bowl that holds the thing we want.” Imagine what’s inside your mind waiting for its turn to be discovered. Researchers report that daydreamers score higher on creativity tests than their preoccupied counterparts. If Mozart, Da Vinci and Edison had been distracted by Facebook five hours a day, would they have found time to express their genius? Immersed in our electronic universe — TV blasting, cell phone vibrating, iPad flashing — we squelch the opportunity for other valuable experiences to take place, like meaningful connection and conversation with a family member.

4. Look for satisfaction in the right places. How many times have you plopped down in front of the TV at the end of a long day, looking forward to the opportunity to unwind and veg out? Yet, after flipping through all the channels and not find anything that satisfies, you’re still there — hours later.

This is your life, the only one you have. For one evening, try ditching all the sources of mental clutter — the TV, video games, movies — that aren’t fulfilling. Give yourself over to your passions. The virtual world isn’t inherently isolating; you can use it as a tool to enhance your real life. Research your interests on the Web, find a class, go to Meetup.com and see if there’s a like-minded community, buy a book or brainstorm with a friend about it.

5. Feed your mind healthy information. Useless information is as unhealthy for your mind as junk food is for your body. How much of that data is feeding into already extant fear, self-loathing or depression? TV news is usually negative and sensational. Celebrity magazines and ads promoting plastic “beautiful” people can make us feel bad about how we look and what we don’t have. Even weather forecasts emphasize disasters.

Think of information as food for the soul — and try to avoid consuming words and images that leave you feeling negative, frightened or depleted.

Want to try an experiment? Send out an email and tell everyone that you’re going to unplug for one day — that you’re taking a vacation of the soul. It’s amazing how far away you can go without going anywhere, simply by turning everything off.

Seattle Times – Making Progress …

Making Progress Against Clutter

By Jane Brody, New York Times

Source:  Seattle Times Home and Garden

Link:  http://seattletimes.com/text/2018127960.html

 

In a column last fall, I announced my intention to rid my home and myself of a half-century of accumulated “stuff” — everything from papers, books, clothing and shoes to packaging material and shopping bags. I’m happy to report significant progress.

Scores of old files, letters and mementos have been recycled. Bags of books, clothes, coats, shoes and linens have been donated to charities. New and hardly used kitchen equipment has been given to those who need it more than I do.

A decision to recarpet three of the most cluttered rooms in my house forced me to move — and remove — hundreds of long-unused items. I replaced oversized and impractical furniture and containers with smaller, more useful items less likely to become reservoirs of dust and clutter.

With the help of a friend who has furnished several apartments with items from Ikea and another who knows how to put the stuff together, I saved thousands of dollars on decorator fees and costly furnishings and ended up with clean, simple, practical work surfaces and storage units.

My formidable yarn collection, for example, which had been stowed in five large opaque bins, is now housed in four all-glass cabinets, easy to see and easy to access. They occupy the space once held by the many file cabinets I’ve emptied, which were picked up by scrap metal collectors almost as soon as they hit the street.

Progress indeed. The task of decluttering has been helped greatly by “The Hoarder in You,” a very practical book by Robin Zasio, but it is far from over. I still have too many clothes and shoes and face what another author, Barry Dennis, calls “The Chotchky Challenge.”

Redefining clutter

Dennis, a motivational speaker, relies on an expanded definition (and Anglicized spelling) of the Yiddish word “tchotchke,” which refers to a trinket or knickknack; he uses it to mean “stuff that gets out of control.” In his view, a tchotchke can be almost anything that takes up space, both mental and physical, that might better be occupied by something else or nothing at all.

Accumulated tchotchkes, in the broadest sense, waste time and energy and cause stress and irritability. Just the other day, I couldn’t put my hands on my favorite jeans, which were hanging right there in my closet, hidden under a dozen others. Recently I spent 20 minutes trying on one pair of shoes after another, unable to decide which to wear. I wasted an hour a few weeks ago looking for a report that was hiding in a pile of documents waiting to be filed.

Most of us have little idea how many things in our lives keep us from enjoying life more. But one’s life can be cluttered by more than household objects. The irritating extras can include activities that are no longer rewarding but are continued out of habit or guilt. Perhaps it’s time for a more extended kind of housecleaning.

Dennis cites several “tchotchkes” I might never have thought of: electronic equipment that keeps us from living in the moment; people who are an emotional drain instead of a joy; piles of CDs and DVDs that are never watched or listened to; food that gets stuffed into an already satiated body; and unwanted or unloved gifts from people you nonetheless care about.

On a recent trip to Antarctica with one of my sons, 28 years my junior and fully reared in the electronic age, we both chose to avoid access to the Internet and our cellphones. What freedom!

Many fellow passengers came fully equipped, spending hours monitoring email and world news. We read books and missed not one excursion, lecture, vista or conversation with an interesting shipmate.

As I watched others buried in their iPads, laptops and smartphones, I wondered what people did on vacation before we had this plethora of electronic equipment keeping us “in touch” 24/7. Perhaps they telephoned now and then to see how the dog was faring.

Not knowing about problems back home or at work surely meant vacations were more relaxing, a real break from daily stress.

As Dennis points out, far too many plugged-in people now wander through life oblivious to their surroundings. They don’t see the trees, hear the birds, notice the people or even the traffic. I’ve rescued two women recently who walked into the paths of oncoming vehicles while entranced by their phones.

And while email clearly has major advantages, when it takes the place of talking with people face to face or on the phone, something essentially human about communication is lost — a tone of voice, a laugh, a sigh, a grimace or a smile. I refuse to dine with people who insist that a phone call or text message cannot wait until after the meal. If anything is that urgent, at least excuse yourself from the table to deal with the matter.

Helpful hints

Lightening one’s physical load can brighten the mind and lift the spirit.

Dennis urges people to think twice before buying anything. “Everything we bring into our lives, we will eventually have to get rid of,” he writes. “And that is much, much harder to do than bringing it in.”

He maintains that a clothes closet should never exceed 80 percent capacity. Gather “everything you haven’t worn more than once in the last 12 months and give it away,” he says. “There are people who actually need those clothes.” (I would make an exception for dressy clothes worn only on special occasions.)

Once this goal is achieved, for every new garment or pair of shoes you buy, an old one must go.

To people who insist on offering gifts that you neither want nor are likely to use, you might explain your desire to declutter and suggest alternatives that take up no space, like a movie pass, dinner out, a yoga class or a service like baby-sitting or help bagging books to give away.

I especially appreciate Dennis’ food challenge. Look through the pantry, freezer and cupboards, and discard all food that is likely to make you “clogged up, toxic, sluggish and fat.” Pay attention to the quality of the food you eat, and don’t eat more than your body really needs.

Every Day is Earth Day

 

Six Ways to Give Back on Earth Day

By Barry Dennis

Source:  Humanity Healing Network

Link:  http://community.humanityhealing.net/profiles/blogs/six-ways-to-give-back-on-earth-day
Six Ways to Give Back on Earth Day

Earth Day is the day when millions of people in 172 countries all over the globe share their appreciation for our beautiful planet. What are you giving back to the earth this year?

You might believe that one person can’t do a lot. But if we take the time to change a few small behaviors, we can make a difference collectively.

Here are six ways to be part of that effort.

Precycle Before You Recycle: Avoid Buying Plastic Containers

Precycling is the art of returning a thing to the earth before it was even taken, saving our resources and creating a brighter future.

What kinds of things can you precycle? How about bottled water or plastic grocery bags?

You can drink water out of a reusable water bottle, and pack your groceries in a reusable cloth bag. You’ve just precycled, preventing two plastic items from ending up in the refuse stream. Less demand for these items leads to less production.

Flick A Switch: Turn Off The Lights When Leaving A Room

This is simple. Begin to make it a habit to turn off the lights whenever you are leaving a room.

Turn off the water when brushing or even while soaping up in the shower, then turn it back on to rinse off.

Turn off your car ignition when you’re waiting for someone.

Every time you flick the switch, you are also flicking a switch in your brain that helps to reinforce the behavior and turn it into a good habit — the habit of conserving.

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Replace It

Before upgrading to the newest iPhone or a bigger-model flat-screen TV, ask yourself if it will make your life better than if you simply kept the model you already have. Take a moment to really visualize all the earth’s resources it took to make these items.

You could save some of earth’s resources by simply waiting six months or a year before replacing something old with something new. At the end of that time, assess whether the quality of your life was seriously compromised by hanging on to that older model.

Change The Demand: Having An Effect on Manufacturers & Growers

Six Ways to Give Back on Earth Day

Our system of supply and demand is a good thing. That is, when we demand goods that are actually, well, good — good for our health, our home, and our planet. By bringing greater awareness to what we consume, we change the demand that must create a new supply.

Consider organic food, which does not use pesticides or hormones. These are not only better for our home planet, they are also healthier for our “home bodies.” Increasing the demand will change our common agricultural practices so the supply naturally shifts for all our benefit.

Want What You Already Have: The Gift of Appreciation

We sometimes think that “stuff” will make us happy, like a shiny new car or another pair of shoes. But who and what really makes you happy: your pets, your family, your friends? Your work, your leisure activities, your home? Right.

This Earth Day, think about those you love, as well as the things around you that make your life easier, more fun, or more comfortable. Give thanks for all that you have, instead of wanting more.

Declutter Your Life: If You’re Not Using It, Then Lose It

In celebration of Earth Day, walk around your house and get rid of everything that’s not useful or healthful. Go through your bathroom, closets, drawers, kitchen cupboards, garage, basement, porch, and yard. Recycle everything you can, and donate the rest.

Cleaning up your immediate environment will make you feel happier. Keep your empty space empty. The earth will thank you.

©2012 by Barry Dennis. All Rights Reserved.

This article was written by the author of:

The Chotchky Challenge: Clear the Clutter from Your Home, Heart, and Mind…and Discover the True Treasure of Your Soul — by Barry Dennis.

 

 

 

Contribute to Our Future

http://www.examiner.com/article/earth-day-every-day-1

Earth Day every day

By Marlena Rich

Source:  Examiner.Com

Link:  http://www.examiner.com/article/earth-day-every-day-1

 

Today 172 countries are celebrating Earth Day, started in 1970 as an annual day of appreciation for our beautiful planet. It is a time of recognition of the realistic state of our environment and how we as individuals and communities can contribute toward sustainability and rejuvenation. Barry Dennis has just released an uplifting book, The Chotchky Challenge: Clear the Clutter from Your Home, Heart, and Mind…and Discover the True Treasure of Your Soul, offering practical, realistic suggestions for making a difference in the flourishing of planet Earth every day, while also clearing space inside for personal thriving.

It starts with inner paradigm shifts that result in subsequent actions like these six he recommends:

· Want what you already have

· Declutter your life

· If it ain’t broke, don’t replace it

· Change the demand

· Precycle before you recycle

· Flick a switch

Just around the corner look to May 5th, which has been named Climate Impacts Day, focused on taking a global look at climate change, a connecting the dots reality check. The “Things Happen” YouTube video is well worth the 2 minute overview, and be sure to find the movie, Extreme Ice, documentary winner of Sundance Film Festival and now traveling the world film festival circuit.  Extreme Ice tracks the unbelievable speed at which glaciers are melting and contains footage taken in real time that is sure to blow your mind and clearly set a reality check not to be denied.

Collectively we can make a difference. Let’s get passionate about contributing to our future on our precious planet!