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Love your house again in 31 easy steps

'Too Much Stuff' in your house can become a problem even if you aren't a hoarder. Stephanie Cordova has been posting daily challenges to an ever-growing number of St. Albertans to help them clear out the extras from their lives, and much of it is going to benefit local social agencies like the St. Albert Food Bank.

Pack rats, you’ve been challenged more than a dozen times already, and there’s still 18 to go. Get rid of your stuff.

It's all a part of a month-long movement on social media that is drawing a lot of attention to the messy business of 'Too-much-stuff Syndrome'. At the same time, it's helping people become philosophical about achieving goals with the added benefit of helping local social agencies too.

Stephanie Cordova, a professional organizer whose business Where It Belongs helps people clean up and clear stuff out, explains the 31-Day Declutter Challenge has higher purposes to it, even though it starts with getting people to ditch their piles of old National Geographics and other accumulated materials.

"I just posted for today, where I posted not just about cleaning out your closet, but also about setting an intention," she started, referring to the Where It Belongs Community on Facebook, a private group that now boasts 275 members, double what it was only two weeks ago. Most of the members are from this city, but Cordova noted there are some from Edmonton and even a Floridean and a resident of the United Kingdom listed.

"We talked a little bit about some spiritual principles about the Law of Use and spiritual laws of energy and all those kind of things. When people set an intention by releasing the stuff they're not using, they can open themselves up to more good."

She also talked about the Law of Attraction, a theory that ‘like attracts like’.

"When you are giving, you will get. When you are letting things come and go and flow from your house with gratitude, you will receive back in return. When you hoard and hold on to and resist letting go, you also will feel that same resistance back. How we are in the world is what we also get out of the world. When we give willingly and when we let things go willingly, we receive willingly. Everything is with ease."

The challenge is meant to help one and all, though people with a hoarding problem might be in a better position to benefit. Stuff accumulation happens to the best of us, Cordova added, pointing out things will always come into your life. If things aren't going out at the same rate, it has no choice but to pile up, she says.

On top of the tripping hazards, clutter can also have some profound psychological effects. It impacts sleeping habits, mental health, anxiety levels, and relationships in general, she averred.

Cordova is a big proponent of staying local and offering help where help is needed. When her clients get rid of clothes or household items, often she offers to deliver the goods to Lo-Se-Ca's I'm Unique Thrift Store. On Day 6 of her challenge, people decluttered their pantries with much of the proceeds headed to the loading dock at the St. Albert Food Bank.

"If we're not using things and we're blessed to have more than we could ever use, give it to people who can use it. I think anytime we can give to people less fortunate, or people who are putting money back into the community, in that sense, it's good for everybody."

Other "bite-sized" challenges have focused on specific rooms of the house like the linen closet. She does this challenge periodically throughout the year, but thinks she'll skip the garage, what with the Polar Vortex on its way.

Day 15 will be about grabbing any box and going through it.

"I want people to at least get rid of three boxes in their house, especially if they have dust on them. If you have a box with dust on it, chances are you don't need what's in that box."

There has been a ton of positive response to the challenge, with some people praising Cordova for helping them to love their homes again.

"That struck me. Our home is supposed to be the antidote to our stress, not the cause of it. The world is stressful out there. Our home should be the place we come in, we feel peaceful, we feel comfortable. A lot of people don’t. They walk into their house and they feel anxious and the constant to-do list. I don't want that for people. Life is too short to feel that way. I want people to love their house. When that person said that I just about was in tears," she continued, adding, "I also want people to be able to sit at their dining room table and have a dinner with their family. I believe in that and some people’s dining room tables are dump zones."

Of course, you can declutter your home any time you want, but Cordova is thrilled that people have taken to riding the wave of enthusiasm that her social media group has mustered.

'It's kind of taken St. Albert. I've had a lot of people be like, ‘Wow, this has really taken off.’ I'm like, ‘I know, I should have charged for this,’” she joked.

Scott Hayes

About the Author: Scott Hayes

Scott Hayes joined the St. Albert Gazette in 2008. Scott writes about the arts, entertainment, movies, culture, community groups, and charities. He also writes general news, features, columns and profiles on people.
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