messy finding order balancing act

On One Hand: You are a mess – and you’re feeling overwhelmed. Your car, your room, your desk; it’s all become a whirlwind of who-knows-what. There’s controlled chaos…and then there’s this No Man’s Land of clutter you have on hand that would make Mr. Clean do a double-take. Laundry from last week. Scribbled-on Post-Its. Birthday cards and opened mail. You haven’t seen your table top in weeks, and you’ve started to vacuum around the piles. And it’s affecting your state of well-being.

On The Other Hand: What’s scarier than a tornado of a mess? A nook so neat you could eat off the floor. Whether it’s your bedroom or your workspace, a clear, clean space feels…sterile. Boring. And so not you. You’re a messy jumble of enthusiasm and energy, a fine cocktail of love and longing. It’s not that you don’t take pride in your things; far from it. But life just seems so much more personal when it feels lived-in. When it feels like a sanctuary instead of a tricked-out showroom. And for you, that means that things sometimes get jumbled up. You’re not willing to give up that internal feeling of home for an exterior that looks shiny.

Balancing Act: While others might tell you to “get your act together,” becoming a neat freak overnight (or at least looking like one) is not in your DNA. Some of the most creative minds were notoriously messy – Steve Jobs, Mark Twain – and a little mess can go a long way when it comes to fueling your creative fires. Einstein famously said “If a cluttered desk is a sign of a cluttered mind, of what, then, is an empty desk a sign?” There’s a fine line between too much mess and too much order, and it differs for everyone.

Before we dive too deep into the trenches of piled papers and laundry loads, take an honest look at your Messy Gal tendencies from the inside out. Is your affinity for clutter a by-product of your vibrant and creative life…or is it a way to keep you distracted from what really matters? When there’s a constant (unintentional) mess right in front of your eyes, there’s a constant problem that needs to be solved. Stewing over it takes up brain space and emotional energy, giving you something to worry about, and enables the part of your that likes to formulate excuses. Furthermore, a crazy amount of clutter could be a sign of something deeper, like avoidance of forward-motion. If you dig deep and get real with yourself and find that this is you – create a game plan. Think big. Start small. Step now. Here’s an Empower Point that can help you out, and a Breaking Out that might just be what catapults you into fearlessness.

Right now is the perfect time to find your balancing act – while the changes of the season are signaling it’s time for a change in us (for now, those transitional Fall leaves are here to stay!), before fall holidays start to jam up our schedules, and, let’s be honest, before the upcoming winter weather make us want nothing more than to crawl under a blanket and binge watch Scandal. Here are a few ways for you to find order in the chaos…and a little chaos in the order:

De-Clutter Your Digs.

Create overall order in your primary living space: your home. Sometimes our home can be a reflection of our lives, and when we don’t feel sanctuary in our space, feel supported and orderly, then it can make the rest of our life feel haphazardly mashed together. Before you tackle anything else, get your home in relative order – meaning, put away things that have an obvious place, like clothes, shoes, kitchen supplies, etc. You’ll instantly feel a little surge of success and freedom to just be you.

Prioritize and Permission-ize.

Like so many urbanistas, I pretty much live in my car. I live east, work west, and don’t have the luxury of running home for a quick change or pickup. Yet I prioritize freedom and physicality in my life – meaning that when opportunities arise, I snatch them up and wiggle them in. I have to be ready to be ready: this usually means I need to carry around a few costume changes, pairs of shoes, and hair tools in my car wherever I go. While some might find this cluttered, it actually makes me feel the most prepared I can be for anything life might throw my way. My threshold? When I start carrying around things that are no longer of service to me, that I don’t necessarily want on hand, stuff that’s now just sitting there. Give yourself permission for certain places to get messy – and define your threshold for what is too chaotic and does not align with your priorities.

Bless Your Mess

When do you feel the most at home, in your space and in your self? It’s not when everything is pristine, sparkling, in its exact place – more often than not, it’s when things are lived-in, when they’re in slight disarray. To embrace that is to embrace yourself. You can’t go wrong when you aim to feel good from the inside out instead of the outside in. “Fixing” your messiness won’t automatically make you feel less overwhelmed – it might make you feel a bit more tidy or “adult” for a fleeting moment, but what is “adult” if you don’t feel like yourself? That lived-in sensation is what your particular breed of human being wants and craves for self actualization. As they say, “bless your mess:” give the part of you that creates controlled chaos your blessing – give it permission to go about its merry way. Your space is an extension of your life. Sometimes it gets messy. Don’t sweat it. That’s what it is to truly live.

TCM Reader Tips: Did this Balancing Act strike a chord? In the comments, tell us how you’ve learned to embrace “controlled chaos” in your life – whether it’s your paper-filled desk or your bathroom drawers – or, share one step you’ll take today to bless your mess!

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