If you’re like me and over a life-time of maintaining a home you’ve collected just too much stuff, I know of a fun way to begin cleaning out the clutter. I call it 9 for 9 – tossing, donating, gifting or otherwise ridding your household of nine items each day for nine days. I have done this little exercise on more than one occasion over the years, and always thought it was an actual Feng Shui concept. (Feng Shui – the science of placement founded in Eastern cultures meant to create balance and harmony in one’s surroundings.) When I Googled Feng Shui, however, I didn’t find any specific references to this 9 for 9 process. My daughter, Amy, introduced me to this clearing-the-clutter method several years ago (and, actually, to Feng Shui) after she heard about it during a workshop she attended. As Amy and I discussed the fact I couldn’t find 9 for 9 on the internet, she suggested it was perhaps just the good idea of the leader of that class.
The number nine is, in fact, a very important number in Feng Shui. The Chinese have assigned a meaning to each number from one to nine, with each successive number being more complex and representing more knowledge. Nine then, is the epitome of all of this knowledge and represents completion and satisfaction to the Chinese. Given this information, I still can’t explain the reason we should discard nine things for nine days, but maybe some of you are brighter than me and can figure out the connection. I just enjoy feeling like I’m participating in a sophisticated science (plus clearing out my house)!
Though I am by no means, deep into Feng Shui, I do know that its followers feel mess saps strength and blocks positive energy. They also think broken things are impediments to vitality. Feng Shuiers strive to harmonize their energy with their surroundings; thus, clearing clutter or fixing broken things fits right in with their goals. Though not specifically about Feng Shui, other articles I have read about clearing clutter preach we should keep only the things we absolutely love, use, or which have sentimental value to us. Using those criteria makes it easy to decide what to dispose of.
Doing a 9 for 9 blast works fine alone, but I have found it is really more fun joining in the effort with a group or at least one other person, with each participant sharing their list of cast-offs at the end of each day (through FB or email, etc.). The lists can provide some great humor – e.g., (1) two straws from McDonalds with the paper cover still intact, (2) a sippy cup no one is using or needs, (3) a dog leash for a dog who has been gone since 2000. You get the idea – WHY ARE WE KEEPING THIS STUFF?!? Sharing the lists with others provides the incentive for keeping up the process for the nine days, and holds everyone accountable.
Finding 81 things to discard over nine days can be a challenge, but not as daunting as tossing 27 things each day for nine days…I did find a reference on Google for someone who proposes doing that. Believe me, nine a day is enough; and, for those of you that work outside the home a full day plus have all the normal responsibilities of running a household, you may find yourself gathering items to toss at 10:00 o’clock at night. Try to hang in there though, because you will feel so good when you complete the nine days.
See my picture below of the first nine items I am discarding as I start yet another round of 9 for 9.
- some yarn meant for mending, if needed, a sweater I no longer have – garbage
- two bracelets I’ll never wear again – donation bag
- two CDs of music for very young children and no very young children in sight – donation bag
- (love this one) billing paperwork for daughter’s college sorority – she graduated in the 90s! – shred
- a paper punch for an obsolete calendar system now that I have an iPhone – garbage
- new bobby pins which I haven’t used in years (and, why do I have two full cards of them?) – garbage or maybe donation bag since they are new
- old nail polish – garbage
- used Christmas candles that haven’t been lit for a long time and won’t be used again – garbage
- a half-empty travel size bottle of bath gel which is very old – garbage
Gotta run to start finding my next nine things. Perhaps I’ll tackle my clothes closets today.