Lisa Geraci Rigoni started The Organizing Mentors 15 years ago and has helped hundreds of people locally and beyond to reclaim their space mentally and physically. Her new book, “17 Spatulas and the Man Who Fried an Egg: Reclaim Your Space Mentally and Physically,” shares her story and that of some of her clients in support of her personal philosophy that decluttering your home isn’t just about your physical stuff. Understanding the reason behind why we are holding on is the first step to letting go and moving on.
She writes, “Five years into my organizing career, I recognized a universal theme around holding on and letting go: physical clutter often accompanies mental or emotional clutter. Many of us have an intense fear that if we get rid of an object, we somehow disrespect the person, their legacy, and events connected with that object. As a result, we struggle with making mistakes in choices that we may later regret.”
Lisa’s book asks focused questions that help readers let go with less stress and more personal insight. The story of “Vince,” one client that became a hoarder following a moment of deep personal pain and betrayal, is intertwined with 20 years of other client stories and Lisa’s own personal journey, as encouragement that, regardless of our own personal stories of regret, lost dreams, shame or embarrassment, “you are not alone.”
As she puts it, the process of making positive choices that enrich our lives and set us free from habits that clutter our minds and our spaces, may not be easy, but, it is simple.
Lisa created “The LITL System” to simplify the practical steps helpful in either organizing our spaces OR making any decisions in life, big or small. (See box.)
She hopes her book will inspire readers to change, do the work, and embrace anything holding them back from letting go – and it fits with this month’s theme of exploration in two ways. The interior journey you take to understand why you accumulate and keep stuff that doesn’t serve your best life can in fact free you to explore those things you would really enjoy and that would add meaning to your time on earth.
Here are just a couple of excerpts we found particularly convicting.
“Why do we pack things away in bubble wrap, in a box, and cram them on a shelf for safekeeping? We tell ourselves we’ll use them SOMEDAY, give them away SOMEDAY, or whatever “someday” justification. Grandma won’t mind if you chip or break her china. She intended it to be used and loved. So please use the china. Wear the watch. Love the dress and cherish the memories. .... Happiness isn’t about having more or the newest, shiniest thing. Instead, what is important is being intentional and treasuring what we have, what we keep, and what makes us feel at home and safe.”
“Status is another reason why we hold on to things. People keep buying and buying items they don’t need because it makes them feel important and rich. Of course, it doesn’t help that every day, those images of perfection on social media inundate us in addition to the pressure to purchase the latest smartphone, fashion trend, appliance, and car. How much do we really need, and how much money do we spend just to keep up a so-called perfect image? Letting go of a dream is difficult and often painful, as is any change.”
Some things we save serve a purpose. “I still have a few of my dad’s sweaters and sweatshirts. And I feel close to him when I wear them. They make me happy, and they are so comfy. I put one on when I miss him more than usual and need a little extra love, because that’s what my dad gave me—extra love. Wearing his sweaters and sweatshirts makes me feel like he’s there, giving me a big hug.”
But, speaking to the inner journey many take in letting go of “stuff” that doesn’t enhance but rather complicates and clutters our lives, she writes, “When we feel inadequate just as we are, we fill our surroundings instead. And, the insatiable feelings of need and fear also appear in other behaviors – too much food, too much alcohol, and being stuck in negative thoughts and toxic relationships. When all of the ‘space’ gets cluttered – mentally and physically – life becomes overwhelming, smaller and lonelier – the exact opposite of what we think people who ‘have it all’ should feel.”
“This brutal cycle of buying too much, showing it off, feeling good for a moment, then feeling ashamed, and then buying more affects all types of people: status seekers, the insecure, or anyone just trying to fit in. It will continue until we decide (or life decides for us) to take an honest look at ourselves, reclaim our power, and do the work necessary to realize our worthiness, lovableness, and happiness dwell within us. Where we always belong.”
“Using piles and piles of anything to find safety is another lie. And while it may be true that no one will come looking for us in our tiny cocoon, we unconsciously lose our essential selves among our collections, hobbies, weight and visual distractions. Surrounded by towers of boxes and papers, away from the shining sun and the sun of friendship and community, our hearts wither a little each day. Worse, the fear that led us to build this fortress of extra, often buries us.”
“Remember that we will never be truly free until we commit to the inner work and ask ourselves why we hold onto material things, weight, past hurts and family drama. Otherwise, the clutter will most likely return, and we will stay lost in our pain, not knowing why.”
You can find the book on her website: theorganizingmentors.com/book and tap into Lisa’s professional organizing services there, or you can reach her at Lisa@the organizingmentors.com.
The LITL System:
Let It Go: What items can you let go of? Start with what you know you don’t want or need anymore.
Intentional: Ask the tough questions. Why do you still own it? What does it mean to you?
Transform: You will notice you have changed your space, inside and out.
Love It: You did it! Love it and live it.