This blog features over 300 articles by international bestselling author and leading clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui and healthy home expert, Karen Kingston.

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The curious phenomenon of clutter blindness

Clutter blindness

“Looked-but-failed-to-see” is a major cause of road accidents. And there’s something similar, though fortunately not as potentially fatal, that can occur in our homes in relation to clutter. It’s called clutter blindness, and just about everyone suffers from it in some way.

How clutter blindness develops

It happens so easily. You arrive home one day with something new. It doesn’t yet have a place where it belongs so you put it somewhere “just for now”. And there it stays, sometimes for weeks, months or even years. Eventually, you get so used to seeing it that you don’t notice it anymore. It becomes “part of the furniture”, as they say.

Or you acquire something new, give it a place where it belongs, but never actually use it. You’ve paid money for it so still want to keep it, but don’t realize it was clutter from the day it arrived.

Or you acquire something new and do use it, but only for a while and then forget about it. There it sits, taking up space for no reason at all. In Chapter 13 of Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, I give the example of a grand piano that’s never played, clogging up someone’s living room. There it is, in plain sight, but the owner had learned to see through it as if it wasn’t there.

When you start decluttering, you see with different eyes

What happens when you decide to declutter your home is that you start to look through different eyes. During my 21-day Fast Track Clutter Clearing online course, many participants have epiphanies such as this:

I have learned what clutter is! Even in the first few days of the course, I would suddenly spot something on the dresser (an unwanted gift from someone no longer in my life) and realize: ‘That’s clutter’. How could I not see that before?!  So my ability to see has changed. This enhanced clarity is life-changing. I feel in the driving seat at last.

Clutter does, in fact, have an anesthetizing effect. When you live surrounded by stagnant energy, it causes a dulling or numbing of emotions. When you start to clear it, you feel more awake and experience life more fully. You begin to rise above the mundane level of existence that clutter keeps you trapped in. You feel more alive.

What photos reveal

One of the best ways to see your clutter through different eyes is to photograph it. Stand in the doorway of each room of your home and take a photo. Then open all your cupboards and drawers in each room and take photos of what’s inside them too.

The best way to view the photos is not on your phone but on a large screen — the bigger the better because it will show the most detail and be the most revealing.

What you are looking for is any items that belong in the four categories of clutter:

  • Things you do not use or love
  • Things that are untidy or disorganized
  • Too many things in too small a space
  • Anything unfinished

This technique allows you to see things more objectively. If you still can’t spot any clutter, try imagining that a national TV company is coming to your home tomorrow to make a film about how you live. What would you want to tidy or change?

Other ways to overcome clutter blindness

Another good way to see your clutter with fresh eyes is to take a good look around your home after you’ve been away on a trip. Things that have become clutter will stand out more than when you saw them every day but didn’t really “see” them.

But the best way of all to overcome clutter blindness is simply to start decluttering. After a while, you will naturally start to notice items that you never “saw” before. Things that previously just blended into the background will suddenly be revealed for the clutter that they are.

Related article
How to create clutter-free zones in your home

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Copyright © Karen Kingston 2019


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How to survive house-sitting and cluttered Airbnbs

How to survive house-sitting and cluttered Airbnbs

This article is for anyone who plans to do house-sitting or stay in an Airbnb.

The attraction of house-sitting

The main attraction of house-sitting is that you get free or reduced price accommodation for a period of time.

This can be very useful if you are doing nothing in particular with your life, wish to experience living in a few different places, or have fallen on hard times and need somewhere cheap to live while getting back on your feet. It may also suit you if you are not quite sure which direction you want to take so don’t want to commit to a long-term rental or owning a place of your own.

House-sitting often involves watering plants or looking after a pet, so if you enjoy doing that and are good at it, if can be a beneficial arrangement for both you and the owner of a property.

The downside of house-sitting

There are downsides to house-sitting, however. The main one is that you have to live surrounded by all the owner’s possessions. Most of the closets and drawers may be full so there is nowhere to put your own things, and if the choice of furniture and décor is not to your liking, there’s not much you can do about it.

But the biggest downside is one that most people don’t even consider. It is that we rest our consciousness on the physical structure of the building we live in and all the items in it. So a house-sit situation can never truly feel like home. When you live in someone else’s home, you are resting your consciousness on their possessions, not your own. This means you never feel like you can fully own the space, and the knock-on effect of this can be that you don’t feel in control of navigating your own life.

Some people handle this better than others, it’s true. If you’re the “wherever I lay my hat, that’s my home” type of person epitomized in the pop song made famous by Paul Young back in the Eighties, or the digital nomad type of entrepreneur who only needs a WiFi connection in order to function, you can make your home anywhere.

But even so, you will probably grow weary of this over time and want to find a place to put down roots.  With the exception of a few ethnic tribes who naturally have a deep connection to land energies and prefer to move around than stay in one place, most people feel fatigued by not having a place to call home.

Airbnbs

Airbnbs are not house-sits but can present many of the same problems that house-sitting does. This is because a surprising number of owners use the property they rent out to store things they no longer use but can’t quite bear to part with.

One example that Richard and I came across was a classy Airbnb where it turned out that the only closet available for storing clothes was locked. When we asked the owner about it, she admitted that it contained the overspill of her own clothes that she no longer wore but still wanted to keep. That was a shame because we would have stayed longer if there had been somewhere to unpack our things to.

In another Airbnb we stayed in, many of the drawers and closets were packed full of worthless things belonging to the owner, dating back several years to when it had been his own home. He just couldn’t be bothered to clear them out. Of course, none of this showed in the online photos on Airbnb’s website. It only became obvious after we arrived and started trying to unpack.

Looking online, I’ve found many other comments from Airbnb-ers who’ve had similar experiences. With so much clutter in the world, it’s pot-luck what you get.

So what can you do?­­­­

Here are some tips to improve your experience of staying in a house-sit or Airbnb rental that is full of the owner’s belongings….

Pack the owner’s things away
This won’t work for tiny properties or short lets but is a great solution for larger, long-term rentals. Photograph everything, including inside closets and drawers, then box everything up and store it somewhere where it won’t be in your way. When it’s time to hand the property back to the owner, unbox everything and put it back where it was before.

I did this myself a couple of times when house-sitting in my twenties. It took some time and effort but was very worthwhile because I was there for a few months, not just a week or two.

However, it meant that an entire area of the feng shui bagua of the home was clogged by the owner’s stuff and I noticed this did have a corresponding effect on that aspect of my life. So in my next house-sit the following year, I went one step further and used some of the rent money I was saving by living there to put the boxes in a commercial self-storage facility instead. I found that worked much better.

Strategically position some personal items of your own
The next thing you can do to make the property feel more like home is to place some decorative items of your own in prominent positions, such as the first thing you see when you enter, the centre of the dining table, on your bedside table, and so on. This works particularly well if the rest of the surface in that area is completely clear of the owner’s stuff and the items you choose are ones that make you smile and uplift your energy each time you see them.

Another tip comes from the time when Richard and I rented houses in the UK for a couple of years. A treat we gave ourselves was to remove the landlords’ cheap plastic toilet seats and replace them with luxurious buttock-friendly soft-closing toilet seats made of oak.

Forgive the graphic detail that follows but peeing and pooing is one of the ways the animal part of us grounds our energy in a place, so a simple thing like changing the toilet seat to something you really like can make a heck of a difference to how at home you feel. And the great thing about toilet seats — apart from the silly square modern designs that don’t fit anyone’s anatomy — is that they are usually a fairly standard shape and size so can easily be moved from one property to the next.

Clear the energies of the bed
Over time, a mattress becomes deeply imprinted with the energy of whoever sleeps in it. In a house-sit, this will be the owner’s energy. In an Airbnb, it could be multiple imprints left by the kind of people you would never consciously choose to share a bed with. In both cases, the remedy is a technique I call bed-thwacking.

Something else you can do, if circumstances allow, is to use your own pillow and bedding instead of the landlord’s. This may not be practical for a short stay but it’s definitely something to consider for a longer stay. Bedding materials are a very individual choice and it is much more nurturing to sleep in the bedding materials you like, even if you have to put up with a bed frame and mattress that wouldn’t be your own personal choice.

Space clear the property
Something Richard and I do in every property we stay in is to space clear it soon after moving in to remove the energies of the previous occupants and instill new, higher frequencies that support us.

In today’s mobile lifestyle, space clearing is an essential twenty-first-century life skill and the most effective way I know to take energetic ownership of a space. In a house-sit situation, this is absolutely essential. It will remove any stagnant energies that surround the owner’s belongings, and depending on your level of space clearing skill, it will also remove the historical imprints in the walls, furniture and the owner’s belongings.

Towards the end of a house-sit, it’s a good idea to space clear again to clear out your own energies and hand a fresh, energetically clear property back to the owners. Most of them really appreciate this and comment on how nice it feels but I do remember one man who complained to me that his home no longer felt like home. All I can say about that is that it’s one of the possible downsides for owners. When house-sitters stay in your home, for better or for worse, when you return it’s very unlikely to feel like the place you left.

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Copyright © Karen Kingston 2019


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Why parents need to lead from the front, not herd from behind

Simplicity parenting

Somehow the practice has evolved in western cultures that to be a good mother you have to become a slave to your children’s needs.

This is absolutely fine for the first few years of life when a child needs all the love and care you can give it. But it baffles me why so many parents continue to do everything for their children long after they can do things for themselves and then complain that their life is no longer their own.

Third world parenting practices

A memorable example of parenting practices I can share with you comes from the time when I lived in London many years ago. During the course of a week, I was visited by an Indonesian couple and their small toddler and, a few days later, by an English couple with a toddler of the same age. Both children were well-behaved little boys who could walk and say a few words.

In both cases, the parents and I chatted away as the child amused himself playing with a toy on the floor, and at one point during each visit, each of the boys developed a runny nose that needed wiping.

The English mother broke off the conversation, crossed the room to get a tissue from the box, wiped the child’s nose, then put the tissue in the bin.

The Indonesian mother told her son to fetch a tissue to wipe his nose, showing him what to do by pretending to wipe her own. She then pointed to the bin, told him to put the tissue in it, and that was that. The child did everything for himself. He was learning what tissues are for, what bins are for, and what to do if his nose ever runs again. With a bit of practice, he’d be able to do it for himself.

The English child, by contrast, remained ignorant and helpless, dependent on its mother to continue wiping its nose, probably for quite some time to come.

Jean Liedloff’s childrearing studies

I saw similar instances of parenting on a daily basis during the 20 years I lived on the Indonesian island of Bali. This has also been documented by Jean Liedloff, author of The Continuum Concept, a classic study of childrearing practices that challenges many western assumptions. It was based on the two and a half years she spent living with an Indian tribe in the South American jungle.

She visited Bali in 1972 and was interviewed about some exchanges she witnessed there between parents and children. One instance she marvelled at was of a 5-year old child sitting in his father’s lap while the two had lunch together, both eating from the father’s place:

There was perfect calm. You can imagine in our culture having a five-year-old on your lap, saying, ‘I want this, I don’t want that’ – and the usual tension between the child and the parent saying, ‘No, you have to have this, ‘Don’t touch that!’ ‘Eat up!’ ‘Sit still!’…

He was totally at home sitting on his father’s knees, almost as though they had one body. One would have a bite, the other would have a bite. There was just no conflict. It was total welcome – complete acceptance of the fact that they were on the same team and have the same interests. There was perfect ease and serenity. Nobody trying to prove anything to the other; no jockeying for control.

Why parents need to lead from the front

Something I hear again and again from clients I work with who need help to clear their clutter and organize their home is that they did not learn these skills when growing up. Sometimes this is because their parents or caregivers did not have the skills themselves, but in a surprising number of cases it is because the mother did all the household tasks herself — shopping for food, cooking, washing dishes, cleaning, vacuuming, tidying, organizing, doing the laundry, ironing, taking out the garbage, and all the other chores that are part of running a home. Then the child grows up, leaves home, and has no idea how to take care of themselves.

Mothers, meanwhile, put their own lives on the back burner, and they email me to ask what they can do to escape the never-ending drudgery their life has become.

The answer lies in teaching children to help around the house. This frees up parents to have time for themselves and helps children to develop essential life skills. It’s a win-win no-brainer, and as my story about the Indonesian boy shows, the earlier you start, the better.

The natural order of things

Many women devote years of their lives to raising their children, making them the centre of their lives.

This leads to two main problems. It leads to empty nest syndrome after the children grow up and leave home, because the woman has no idea who she is or what to do without the needs of her children to fill her daily schedule. It also raises children to have a sense of entitlement without having to earn it, who tend to lack respect for their mother because she is not a role model for them.

John Rosemond summed up the solution beautifully in his 2016 article, Why your kids should not be the most important people in your family:

The most important person in an army is the general. The most important person in a corporation is the CEO. The most important person in a classroom is the teacher. And the most important person in a family are the parents.

The natural order of things is that the leader leads and the followers follow, not the other way around.

Resources
Kim John Payne offers highly effective methods for tackling this issue in his excellent book, Simplicity Parenting.

Related articles
Do you walk your dog, or does it walk you?
How to teach your children to live clutter-free
Back from Bali – A conversation with Jean Liedloff

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Copyright © Karen Kingston 2018


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Catch the New Year clutter clearing wave

The New Year period is one of the most effective times to do clutter clearing because you can ride the momentum of the “out-with-the-old-and-in-with-the-new” wave that ripples around the planet as the calendar changes from one year to the next.

New Year wave

Start the new year afresh

First to go can be any unwanted gifts you received this Christmas, before they even take a hold in your life. Make this the year you sincerely thank the giver for the thought but let the item go instead of politely keeping it and always feeling disappointed whenever you see it.

Next to go can be any items you’ve kept for some time that you no longer love or use. We’re talking all the things you keep stashed away just in case they come in useful someday. But years have passed and they never have.

Donate all these items to charities, give them to friends who can use them, send them for recycling or, if they are no use to anyone at all, dispose of them in the trash.

By the end of January, aim to have in your home only the things that truly reflect who you are and the person you truly want to be from now on. Take the time to set the space in your life for this to happen and to open the door to new possibilities in the coming year.

Clutter clearing help

Clutter clearing can be a solitary process so if you need help with this, I warmly invite you to join my next Fast Track Clutter Clearing online course which starts on January 5 and has been timed to catch the 2019 New Year wave.

In a survey I conducted recently, people said what they most need help with is:

  • Getting started
  • Keeping going
  • Making decisions about what to keep or let go

That’s exactly what the course is designed to do, with the added bonus of the wonderful camaraderie of a group of people to share your clutter clearing challenges and triumphs with.

Unlike social media platforms, where everyone knows everyone else’s business, the course takes place on a specially created message board where confidentiality is assured. It’s the next best thing to having me visit in person and help you in your home.

About the course

Each course consists entirely of posts, with the option to upload photos. There are no complicated downloads of any kind, or any audio or video components. You can log on to read my posts and comments and make your own posts and comments at any time of the day or night during the course, and it is entirely up to you how much time you put into actioning the steps. There is no need to log on at any specific time. Many participants find it works well to visit a couple of times per day (for example, morning and evening), but you can do so as often as you like.

It’s great to get a new step every three days and to actually do the changes in my own home and my own life. The interactive part of making posts, sharing with all the participants, getting support, and being able to ask questions is powerful too. Just posting has strongly shifted something within me. – Previous course participant

The interactive dialogue between myself and the participants, and between the participants themselves, is an essential component of each course. I post a new step every three days, and each person then actions it and makes a post about it within three days or asks questions if they get stuck. All the steps remain online until the end of the course so that if anyone falls behind they can catch up as soon as possible. On the last day, to safeguard privacy, the entire course will be deleted.

Resources

At the time of writing, there are still a few places remaining on the next Fast Track Clutter Clearing course, so if you are ready to tackle your clutter and would welcome some help, you can find more information below.

If you need help with paper clutter, digital clutter, clothes clutter or with overcoming procrastination, there are other courses in the coming months that are designed to help with those issues too.

More information
Fast Track Clutter Clearing online course
About online courses
Calendar of online courses in 2019

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Copyright © Karen Kingston 2018


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News about professional practitioner trainings

For anyone who’s interested to take one of the professional trainings that Richard and I currently offer, here’s more information about them…

Karen Kingston Professional Trainings

Professional clutter clearing practitioner training

Some types of clutter are more obvious than others but everyone has clutter of some kind. The reason for this is that everything is in a state of change. In the time it takes you to read this sentence, about 50 million cells in your body will have died, become clutter, been swept away and replaced. From the cellular level up, everything morphs into clutter at some point and needs to be cleared to make way for the new.

That’s why an essential preparation for working professionally with clients who have clutter is to work through the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual levels of your own clutter issues first so that you know first-hand what is involved and are already living a clutter-free life, not just advising others what to do.

If you would like to apply to take our Professional Clutter Clearing Practitioner Training, the first step, therefore, is to take my preliminary online clutter clearing courses and actively participate in each of the steps. Even if you think you have no clutter, I guarantee you will discover aspects you have never considered before during these courses!

The next series of Foundational Courses
Fast Track Clutter Clearing (Jan 5-25, 2019 & Apr 5-25, 2019)
Zero Procrastination (Feb 5-25, 2019)
Clear Your Paper & Digital Clutter (Mar 1-30, 2019)

The next Advanced Course
Living Clutter-Free (May 1-30, 2019)

The next Professional Clutter Clearing Practitioner Training starts in March 2020 so if you have not already taken the online courses, please be aware that the only opportunity to do so will most likely be during January to May 2019. That’s because I hope to devote the latter part of the year to writing a new book.

The professional training is in two parts:

Part One (March 24-27, 2020)
Part One consists of a 4-day residential course in Perth, Australia. This part of the training includes all the skills that cannot easily be taught from a distance and also allows trainees to meet and get to know each other before embarking on Part Two.

Part Two (April 1 – September 30, 2020)
Part Two consists of a series of case studies conducted over a 6-month period via Skype/Zoom, email and a private message board.

The training is not like any other. We believe it is the most advanced professional training offered anywhere in the world for people who wish to learn to help clients to clear their clutter and — most importantly — to help them understand why they accumulated it in the first place. Without this depth of insight, the sad fact is that most people’s clutter tends to pile up again.

The training also includes advanced personal energy management techniques that are essential for everyone working in this field to know and practice, as these two articles explain:

What’s different about our professional clutter clearing practitioner training
Personal energy management for professional clutter clearers

More information
About professional clutter clearing
Professional Clutter Clearing Practitioner Training Program (PDF)

What previous trainees say about the training
Part One testimonials
Part Two testimonials

Professional space clearing practitioner training

Not everyone who trains as a professional clutter clearing practitioner goes on to take our Professional Space Clearing Practitioner Training too, but if you aspire to do so, here’s some information about it.

Space clearing is the art of clearing and revitalizing energies in buildings and I’m recognized as the world’s leading expert in this field. It is a much more advanced skill than clutter clearing and requires many years of personal work first to develop the necessary levels of perception and subtle body structures. I have been training professional space clearers since 1996 and my husband, Richard, has co-led all the trainings with me since 2005.

The date of the next training has not yet been confirmed but will probably be in 2021 or 2022 and will only be open to those who have already completed the Professional Clutter Clearing Practitioner Training and successfully maintained their skills since then.

More information
Professional Space Clearing Practitioner Training Program

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Copyright © Karen Kingston 2018


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West Perth, WA 6005, Australia

Tel: +61 (0)8 9297 6043
email: info@karenkingston.com
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