S.H.E.D.

This is a very good book about house-clearing; about our emotional attachment to “things.”  I do not recall exactly when or where I purchased this – or even at exactly what point I started working with it, but I did at least start, although I never went very far with it.  There is a website connected with the book (www.juliemorgenstern.com) [which on my last check doesn’t seem to be working]; below is the “profile” I generated from the website.

SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life 


S.H.E.D. Profile


Step 1:  Separate

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Definition of the step: Separate

Separating the treasures gives you an opportunity to reflect on your situation and identify what’s actually working. Buried in even the most oppressive clutter, there is a small percentage of stuff that has practical or emotional value. These objects present clues to who you are. Taking the time to unearth them (before throwing everything away) positions you to make a more complete transition, rather than a temporary fix.


Diagnosis: “Need Improvement”

It’s easier for you to identify treasures – the 10 to 20 percent of items that have practical or meaningful value – in some areas, than it is in others. Perhaps you can instantly find the treasures in your closet, but have a harder time when it comes to your schedule, or vice versa. On average you tend to be a bit overgenerous in your definition of what’s truly valuable. This tendency could result in your hanging on to too much, failing to create the space for something new.


Chapters to Pay Special Attention to in WHEN ORGANIZING ISN’T ENOUGH

Take your time going through Section II, Separate the Treasures. Pay particular attention to the subsection “How do I Know It’s a Treasure” in Chapters 4,5 and 6, which will guide you in developing very clear criteria for what is truly worth keeping in your life, and what is obsolete. Then push yourself to distinguish between “true” treasures and things that are “close, but not quite.”


 Step 2:  Heave

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Definition of the step: Heave

You can get organized without throwing things away, but you can’t SHED without opening up space. Heaving is fundamentally about releasing old attachments, whether those attachments are items in your physical space (like shelves full of books you haven’t read) or related to your schedule, in the form of commitments you resent, roles you’ve outgrown and projects that shouldn’t be on your to-do list.


Diagnosis: “Trouble Area”

You are uncomfortable getting rid of anything, even if it’s something that is obviously broken or irrelevant to your current situation. As much as you like having options and the tools on hand to manage any situation, you’re not attached to the specific items in your home or activities in your day, so much as the volume of stuff you have acquired – the abundance in your closets and the over-packed schedule you keep.

You worry that heaving objects will cause you to forget who you are and what you’ve done, or that you won’t be valuable without your old role and responsibilities. Letting things go also makes you feel guilty, like you are shirking responsibility, while your current state of abundance makes you feel important and needed. For all these reasons, you might often feel overwhelmed, overloaded and burnt out.

Your identity is wrapped up in the clutter, which is serving as a very handy distraction that keeps you from moving forward. In your mind the status quo is cozy (however obsolete) and much more comfortable than some unknown future. You might get so far as being able to identify items to heave (but never get them out the door) or you will continue to layer new, more relevant items on top of old, defunct things in your space and schedule. Ultimately, this load will slow you down and prevent you from opening space for something new.


Chapters to Pay Special Attention to in WHEN ORGANIZING ISN’T ENOUGH

Pay particular attention to Chapter 3, “Pick Your Starting Point”, where you will identify the pockets of clutter, or “points of entry”, that are candidates for your heave. Then, zero in on Chapters 7, 8 or 9 (in Section III, Heave the Trash) depending on whether you are releasing attachments to physical, schedule or habit clutter. Keep in mind that a successful heave requires you to harmonize mechanics, emotion and momentum. Recruiting a friend or family member to lend an extra pair of hands and moral support will make it easier for you to let things go.


 Step 3:  Embrace

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Definition of the step: Embrace

Embracing your identity is a chance to reconnect to who you are, without your stuff. After you’ve lightened your load in “Heave”, the goal of “Embrace” is to fortify your self-confidence as you remain exposed to the world without the comforts of your old shell.


Diagnosis: “Trouble Area”

You never really had a chance to develop a clear sense of yourself growing up. You consented to other people’s expectations and allowed societal norms to guide your decisions. You got good grades, went to a choice college and pursued a profession that others prescribed.

Since you haven’t had a chance to define yourself for yourself, it’s hard for you to embrace the moment. You tend to be consumed with worry about the past (Did I do something wrong? Am I in trouble?), or anxious about the future (What should I do next? Is this the right decision?) Your identity has been defined for so long by outside forces – a job, material acquisitions, a neighborhood, a relationship – it’s hard to imagine your life being any different from how it has always been.

Stripped of your old attachments, carving out a new identity for yourself will at first feel intimidating and disorienting. Anticipate the anxiety that accompanies any major change (in this case the release of old objects, activities and habits) and find the courage to stand empty handed. You have to give yourself more credit for the fact that you are who you are, without your stuff. Take time to savor the empty space, and fill it with self-discovery? You’ll be surprised how close answers to the question “Who am I?” you really are. Take heart in knowing that you will eventually fill your empty spaces with objects and activities that are more relevant to your theme for the future.


Chapters to Pay Special Attention to in WHEN ORGANIZING ISN’T ENOUGH

Section III, Embrace Your Identity, will help you fortify your self-understanding through a series of exercises that provide insight about your style and obstacles. Pay particular attention to Chapter 10, “Trust Yourself”, a confidence-booster that will ask you to remember situations when you’ve excelled, even though you were “empty-handed”. Chapter 11, “Discipline to Deliver”, will help you get out of your own way so you can deliver on your potential, while Chapter 12, “Live in the Moment”, will school you in the art of living in the moment.


 Step 4:  Drive

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Definition of the step: Drive

Drive is the time to make tangible progress on your theme. It’s an opportunity to experiment with new activities – to see what works and what doesn’t – without the fear of failure. Drive is a two-steps-forward, one-step-back kind of experience. As you chart a new course, you are bound to make mistakes, but armed with a strong sense of self and a keen vision of the future, you will have all the tools you need to keep yourself on track.


Diagnosis: “Need Improvement”

You are willing to try new things and learn new skills, but you tend to stay within your comfort zone – moving forward but usually on the same basic path you established for yourself long ago. If you’ve always loved Beethoven or the Beatles, your idea of adventure is studying Mozart or the Monkeys, rather than exploring something totally off beat, like sculpture or the solar system. It’s hard for you to think beyond your normal purview or try anything that is too far flung from what is already familiar. This resistance to trying new things is often connected to a deeply rooted fear of failure. You stick within your comfort zone, because you like to excel at everything you do. This fear creates hidden limits on your ability to chart a completely fulfilling direction for your future.


Chapters to Pay Special Attention to in WHEN ORGANIZING ISN’T ENOUGH

Focus on Chapter 13, “Breaking Your Mold.” This chapter is designed to help you expand your blinders and give yourself a chance to succeed (or fail!) at something totally different from your regular roles and responsibilities. You’ll be encouraged to do something you’ve never done before – learn to cook, ballroom dance or even sign up for trampoline lessons! Experiencing failure, even a little bit at a time, will help ease your fear – you’ll also be able to imagine yourself doing brand new things you never thought possible.


 This is such an overwhelming task.  Will I ever get it done?

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