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Don’t surrender, de-clutter instead

Keeping a lamp because it reminds you of Aunt Edna? Can’t part with crafts made by kids who now have kids of their own?

Time to shed your snake skin and gallop like a horse into the Chinese New Year. Or, at least start to make the connection between your stuff and your energy, says Karen Rauch Carter, feng shui consultant and author of newly-released Make a Shift, Change Your Life.  

“What’s going on in your life is going on in your environment,” says Rauch Carter. “If you can make that connection, then you can start to see that the clutter over there is affecting you here, in this area of your life.”


An experienced designer of healthy homes and vibrant lifestyles, Rauch Carter has studied feng shui methods and modalities for more than 20 years. In her latest book, she’s helping others to understand how mind, body, spirit and environment are all tied together. It boils down to making active decisions about the things we choose to “honour” in our homes, she says.

Perhaps you recently inherited furniture or belongings. “Now your ancestors who may have never been to your house have chosen its décor and all of a sudden, things don’t line up,” she says. “But you feel obligated to hold onto that stuff to pass on to your descendants.”

When our “stuff” doesn’t align with our goals, it can be debilitating. Rauch Carter once worked with a woman whose basement was filled to the brim with items she had saved from her parents’ apple orchard with hopes of someday writing their story to pass on to generations to come. Her ambition was to get out and see the world through travel but she was stuck.

“I just held that pile of stuff up against her goals,” explains Rauch Carter. “How does ‘I have to write a book for future descendants’ fit in? Are you willing to give up seeing the outdoors and travelling so your descendants have something to read?”

Rauch Carter maintains too much clutter can turn a functioning person into a dingbat. Apply some organization, however, and thoughts will clear. You may even breathe easier. Yet the connection between mind and environment goes deeper.

“There’s an actual connection between your language and your environment,” she says. “It’s very literal, almost comical sometimes.”

If you say you’re feeling drained, take a good look at the plumbing. If you tend to say you’re not as sharp as you used to be, check scissors and knives for sharpness. If your love life is in a rut, time to get rid of the dried flower arrangement hanging above your bed.

Sometimes it’s a pile of belongings left behind by an ex. You may be inclined to give up on it, but it gnaws away at you, “upsetting your biology, your spirit, your mental capacity,” says Rauch Carter.

De-cluttering isn’t easy. According to Rauch Carter, a good rule of thumb is to create at least as much space as you have stuff. Exceed the 50 per cent tipping point, and your energy starts to slow, leaving less room for opportunity and stopping your optimal flow of money, love and general good health.

Is it time to de-clutter your home? Take a look at our directory of home organizers.

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