Hi! I'm LynnH, the founder of Toss-it Team. It's a private, in-depth outgrowth of a public Facebook group I've run since January 2012, named Toss-it Tuesdays. (Feel free to join us there if you like.)
My Own Clutter-ful Story
I spent over 50 years in a self-made chaotic environment. I knew it was pulling me down, but just didn't know how to fix it. I would set aside a day or even a week to "whip this place in shape" and then I'd find myself sorting pencils by color or length instead of throwing away the empty boxes full of empty bags taking up space I could use for other things.
My big picture and small-detail focus were not in balance. I seemed unable to climb out from under my history and my stuff. I would judge myself more harshly than my outer critics.
One Christmas in my young 20's, I invited loved ones to our house to celebrate. People were more important than my pride even then, though I was embarrassed by the mess. I had piles of newspapers lined up along the walls of the living room. I put sheets on the piles to make them look better, and we sat on them like they were benches.
The harder I tried, the more I tried to "whip it" or "kill it," the meaner I was to myself, and the more rules I put on how I had to handle the clutter. One day I found my book "File, Don't Pile" in a pile of papers. Although I did see the humor in this even then, it was clearly unmanageable alone.
My Moment of No Return
One day a few years back, I couldn't find keys that I had lost in the last few hours. I had been teaching a beloved adolescent how to sew and the keys were buried in sewing supplies. I found myself telling the youth "Don't be me!" As a mentor, I failed right then. That was my moment of truth.
You know, I've been teaching freelance for decades. I've taught computers, art, knitting, history, baking... you name it. I do not allow my students to insult themselves. I explain that they are not stupid even if they feel they are. They are untrained. When I insulted myself in front of the lovely youth who I was mentoring, it was time to heed my own advice. No insults allowed!
A Kind and Gentle Path to Ease
I've since done research on habit formation, willpower, clutter management, and the ability of humans to change. I've pulled together the parts of each book, teacher, mentor or group leader which have helped me best.*
Some of Us Need Company on the Journey
Have you read Gretchen Rubin's book "Better than Before?" It talks about how we respond to expectations outside and inside ourselves. One group of people (including me) does best by having outside accountability. We need to touch base regularly with others who are paying attention to our process. We need appointments, meetings and structure including others.
(My mother called this "Social Butterfly" and thought of it as a weakness. Gretchen Rubin calls us "Obligers." Thanks to Ms. Rubin I now understand why I do best in structured communities. Perhaps you also benefit from external accountability? Our weekly meetups could be a big help.)
A New Life
And now my living space is full of ease. It's not rigid or pristine, because I'm an artist with many passions and possessions... but it serves me.
I can find things most of the time and I have systems that are relatively comfortable. When I'm sick or out of town, things get a bit cluttered but putting it back into order is no longer a strain. My goal is ease and gentleness, not rigid rule following. The change to self-compassion (and sharing with others who understand) has changed everything!
If I Can Do it...
You know, when I walk in the back door now, I can see the floor without clutter, all the way to the front door. This was one of my goals. I delight in this view! I notice it and celebrate it. I wish the same for you. Here in the Illuminated Team Space, we nurture that same culture which took me to this better life.
Why Do it This Way? Privacy, Kindness and Peers
This Toss-it Team site happened by accident. I needed to de-clutter and de-stress my living environment. I started the public Facebook group to find "My People." It grew and thrived, yet some of the members wanted a private place to share more deeply and do more concentrated work.
One day, one of those members told me, "I'm doing a Couch-to-5K to slowly train for running a race. That's working great... but I need a Couch-to-Clean-House!" The metaphor was perfect... gentleness and gradual growth toward a goal that might feel too big otherwise. This site was born.
I think of Toss-it Team it as a gift to the Lynn I once was, and all of her soulmates still searching for understanding community.
A Member Illuminator of the Team said... "We toss the Shoulds with the trash!" Oh, yes, and then some. The power of community is amazing.
Are you sure I'll feel safe?