Coming Clear: Confessions of a Packrat

Coming Clear: Confessions of a Packrat

“When you take care of the clutter on the inside, The clutter on the outside takes care of itself.” –Stephanie Bennett Vogt

I am a packrat.

There, I said it.

Yes, squirreled away in the dark recesses of my house I still have boxes of things I haven’t seen or used in over twenty years. I have food in the freezer that is over six months old. I have postage stamps issued during the 1984 Olympics when it cost 13 cents to send a letter first class. I have a cigar box full of those tiny keys you get when you buy a new suitcase – each pair neatly secured with a twist-tie.

I hang onto more bubble-wrap and cardboard boxes than I need “just in case.” I have computer “diskettes” with God-knows-what dating back to the early 90’s (without the technology to open them even if I wanted to see what was on them). Stacked neatly in the corner of my desk drawer is a year’s worth of price tags for clothes I’ve bought …and washed… and worn…

Most people who know me as the space clearing expert, a healer of homes, a teacher, author, and devoted messenger of hope to the clutter-weary… are surprised when I tell them I am not clutter-free.

Your home may be free of all excess, or be super organized and neat-as-a-pin, but if you live in a body that thinks thousands of thoughts a day (not all positive), feels pain and loss and fear from time to time, gets out of balance, or loses itself in the worries of the moment, I hate to break it to you: you’re not clutter-free either.

The fact is, most humans suffer one way or another from a condition called “holding on.” Me, I was born with squirrel tendencies based on a deep fear that there is not enough to go around. Softening the hard wiring of my past is my Hero’s Journey – my spiritual pathway that involves consciously clearing one suitcase key, postage stamp, and freezer-burned-lump-that-passes-as-food, at a time.

But this is good. The past fifteen years have taught me that we can soften our grip of attachment – slowly and gently – by first naming and feeling the object of our stress and distress. We can release the charge that these issues or patterns hold by taking them less personally and seriously. We can change our relationship with any thing by clearing it, or just moving it from the floor to the drawer. Yes, even a single paper clip has the potential to change our lives.

I’ve learned that by shedding light on the places we resist in ourselves, we can bring our home, and our world, back into balance – one thing, pile, and thought at a time. It’s a journey of a lifetime that we can, if we choose, even enjoy!

Would you like to lighten your load? Try this:

  • What is one thing or issue about yourself that you would like to release that may be a little embarrassing to share publicly?
  • Write it in the comment box of this blog.
  • If you feel bold enough, press the submit button.
  • If you don’t feel bold or safe enough to share it publicly, write it down on a separate piece of paper and release (burn or toss) it with awareness and compassion.
  • Notice how you feel after you’ve pressed the submit button (or let it go on your own).
  • Allow sensations, observe the thoughts, experience any emotional charge.
  • Allow any and all feelings to arise without doing anything to fix, personalize, or second-guess them.

Name it. Feel it. Let it go.  This is “clutter clearing” at its essence.


Stephanie Bennett Vogt

Stephanie Bennett Vogt, MA., is the author of Your Spacious Self: Clear Your Clutter and Discover Who You Are and a leading expert in the field of space clearing. She writes and teaches internationally on topics of tending the home, restoring balance, and cultivating what she calls "spacious detachment."

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

Get Dr. Greene's Wellness Recommendations

Sign up now for a delightful weekly email with insights for the whole family.

Got an idea, tip or a comment?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *