The Essential Decluttering Tool: Introspection.

erin vanderkooy power

By Julia Williamson

The essential decluttering tool: introspection.

Lest you think that it’s all minimalism and cheerfully doing without over here at Unclutter Coach HQ, let me tell you the story of the red leather ball. A fairly insignificant possession that has caused me hours of agonized ambivalence.

I owned this ball for many years. In fact, it’s possible that I still own it, since I’ve had such a hard time getting rid of it.

It was part of a controversial present.

For years I’d casually collected spherical objects; one Christmas my mother set out to expand my collection for me and presented me with a dozen balls made of metal, marble, plaster and wood. And this one, made of leather.

As I unwrapped ball after ball, Mom exclaimed that she’d had “such fun” finding these lovely spheres. I bit my tongue and didn’t tell her that I absolutely understood the fun of finding cool-looking round things – that’s why I collected them!

And for me the joy was in the finding, not the owning.

In fact, after receiving this present I pretty much gave up collecting spheres. The magic was gone. At some point I got rid of the uninteresting or not very sturdy, and moved the whole collection into the garden, where I could enjoy them again.

All except the red leather ball.

It epitomizes everything I loved about the spheres. But – it’s a completely useless item. It moved around the house, as I tried to find a home for it. I wanted to gaze at it.


This ball had come to represent a lot of things. My mostly happy relationship with my mother, and the ways in which she didn’t get me. Her generosity. My possible brattiness. My apparent inability to practice what I preach re: ditching stuff that doesn’t add value to my life.

My warring desires to surround myself with beauty and own fewer things.

I kept trying to give it away but would snatch it out of the donation bag at the last minute. I wanted to give it to someone, but I needed that someone to love it as much as I did. This went on for longer than I care to think about.

I think I finally tucked it into a box heading for my favorite thrift store. Though I wouldn’t be entirely surprised to come across it in a cupboard someday.

This, my friend, is tension.

This is being possessed by a possession.

This is very common.

Sometimes we just have too much crap and the challenge is taking the time to wade through it and figure out how to get it out of the house. But then there are these objects, our own little white whales, that have become so imbued with emotion that to get rid of them is almost to cut off a piece of our own flesh.

This is the good stuff. This is where you get to dig into your relationships, or your ideas about what is ethical, or how you want to break free of convention.

I believe that decluttering can change your life. Not just because you’ll have a tidier home, but because you’ll learn basic truths about how you move through the world.

If you want to make changes in your life, start by cleaning out your closets. Then figure out why your closets are so full to begin with.

I’m expanding. I’m cracking wide open. I want to help you with ALL the aspects of letting go of what no longer serves you. The time commitments. The shoulds. The maybe somedays.

If you just need to get rid of a bunch of stuff, I’m here for you. But if you’re interested in looking into the why of that stuff and what it says about your priorities and your path forward, let’s dig in.

About Julia

I’m a decluttering nut. While getting rid of stuff is helpful, getting to the root of why we surround ourselves with So Much Stuff is even more helpful. Getting rid of unhelpful habits, relationships and ideas isn’t a bad idea either… I’m down for the deep dive. Want to let go of ALL the stuff that’s weighing on you? I’ll help you cut through the confusion and pare down to what you really want to hold on to.

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