In Cherokee tradition the time for cleaning and clearing is in August.  Everything is geared around the time of ripening crops and in particular the corn.  Corn is considered the first woman in our traditions and the largest ceremony of the year is when the green corn turns ripe.  In honor of this and to prepare for a new year of prosperity we clean our homes, clean the common areas of the town, clean out the fireplaces, then meet together for days of celebration including a huge sacred fire which we use to light all the fire places in our homes.  We build community in this way.

However, in the more secular realm Spring is the time of Spring Cleaning.  Time to dig out from months of interior life and living, clean out the closets, sweep out the dust, and get set to open up to possibilities as they unfold.  In the Western world this also includes decluttering, which for many has become a meditational and spiritual process.  Unless your age is still under double digits, at some point you have found that you have collected items that you no longer use or have kept broken bits that no longer serve any function.  Which causes a bit of personal questioning and internal searching.  It sounds something like this:

What is this?
Why do I still have this?
Do I remember where this came from?
Oh yeah this is part of ____ which arrived here because of ____ which reminds me of when ____

There is where we start doing the ‘if/then’ part of the process.  If the ‘reminds me of when’ is a bad memory such as a childhood embarrassment, an ex, a failed endeavor, then the solution is simple.  Get rid of it.  If it can be recycled, sold, donated, great.  Please be kind to our ever shrinking landfills and remember that there is truly no such place as ‘away’ to throw things.  If it’s broken and can’t be reused in any way, well, out it goes to the landfill.  And, of course, if it’s not broke but it comes from an ex, there is always the possibility that it might get broke…somehow…accidentally…with vigor….just sayin.  These things happen.

If the memory is good there are a bunch more questions to ask and this is where people get stuck:

Have I done anything with this item in the past year? Yes/No
If no, will I do anything with this item this year? Yes/No
Did a family member, alive or deceased, make this item? Yes/No
If no, do I need to keep this item for sentimental reasons? Yes/No
Can I make any kind of decision about this item or am I immobilized holding it and staring at the spot where it’s been for however long? Yes/No

In the end, if you don’t need to keep it for any reason, if it’s not been used, and if someone else can get some use out of it, it’s probably a good idea to let it go.  The memories you attach to it are actually inside you and you can enjoy them/use them to castigate yourself/use them to motivate you later.  The item is taking up space and gathering dust or who knows what.  Let it go.

If you absolutely can’t let it go, do what the rest of us do.  Watch Home & Garden channel, listen to all the storage experts and designers, then get a bunch of clear tubs and boxes and store, store, store.