All That Stuff in Your House (And In Your Head): Here’s Help

Bellingham’s Carolyn Koehnline is a journal therapist, coach, speaker, teacher, and a licensed psychotherapist with more than 25 years in private practice. Her books include “Confronting Your Clutter” and “The Bear’s Gift.” Shares her most recent book, “Clearing Clutter as a Sacred Act,” at 4 p.m. Saturday at Village Books, 1200 11th St.
Since I know Carolyn and I’m familiar with her books, I asked her how does this book differs from what she’s written in the past about clutter.
“My first book on clutter clearing, ‘Confronting Your Clutter; Releasing the Excess Baggage from Your Home, Head, Heart, and Schedule,’ was first published in 1996 and updated most recently in 2009,” she says.
“It was a helpful introduction to the topic and was designed to decrease shame, increase inspiration, and help the process of clutter clearing feel more doable. So many people have shared stories with me of how that little book helped them.”
“But in the past few years, I’ve felt ripe to write a fresh book that would incorporate what I’ve learned since, weaving in not only poems and essays, but also photographs, examples, and 21 of my original paintings.”
“‘Clearing Clutter as a Sacred Act; Essays, Poems, and Practices”’ goes deeper and wider than my first book. It partly grew out of the writings I’ve been doing in my online newsletter, where each month I explore fresh aspects of clutter clearing and ways to address it. It also grew out of the work I’ve done with numerous groups and individuals, and my personal process of clearing clutter to make room for those things that matter to me most.”
I asked her what’s changed over the years in her perspective on and approach to clutter clearing.
“I wouldn’t say that I’ve made a 180-degree shift. My perspective and approach just keep evolving as I incorporate what I’m learning about the relationship between clutter-clearing and some profound life questions: What if that chapter of my life is over? Who am I now? How can I be in a better relationship to my home, time, the limitations I’m facing, the unknown? How can I make peace with my past regrets? What do I want? What’s important to me?”
“I encourage people to treat clutter clearing as a sacred act. When you’re discerning what to keep and what to let go, it inevitably brings up some deep questions. It helps if you prepare your heart and mind to be in the best possible place as you navigate it. The sacred stance I invite could involve the reverence of lighting a candle or saying a prayer. Or it could involve the playfulness of writing a letter to and from a stuffed tiger your child used to love. I am fascinated with helping people find what practices are genuinely helpful to them as they navigate the practical and emotional territory of clutter clearing.”
“In the 10 years I’ve also gotten certified as a journal therapist. I’ve learned so much more about how to use brief writing processes safely and effectively to access clarity, self-compassion, and the many brilliant ideas you didn’t even know were in there.”
For those interested in coming to her reading and wanting to purchase the book, I wanted to know what can people learn from what she’s written.
“This book has multi-layered. It can be a fairly quick read that gives you lots of practical strategies for clearing various kinds of clutter. But for those who wish to go deeper, it provides many tools and processes for exploring what matters to you, what’s in the way, how best to release it, where you want to go, and what will help you get there. Each time you read it you are likely to pick up on different things. I hope this book can be a friend for life, there each time the next life transition arises.”
Her website is under construction right now, so she says the best way to reach her is by email,