by Michelle Passoff
New Year’s is historically the holiday for
people to set new directions in their lives. If the idea of achievement is to
lose weight, reduce debt, exercise regularly, get a new job, go back to school,
or clean clutter and get organized, New Year’s is the time to draw a line of
demarcation from the past and to launch a fresh start. Breaking ones promises at
New Year’s is also part of the tradition.
For many, dreams are forgotten by the end of
January once "real life" sets in and other "priorities" or
"emergencies" displace true desires. Would it be better to just forget
about making New Year’s resolutions in the first place? Should you just
dispense with this precedence if it means not having to expose yourself to yet
In my opinion, the tradition of the New Year
is worth keeping. Any opportunity to reassess our lives and consider how we can
advance or improve is a healthy, dynamic way of engaging with life. But, it doesn’t really matter if we do
this at New Year’s, or on a birthday, or because it is springtime. I believe
exercising the ability to create life and design environments that are
supportive and nurturing of fulfillment is something we should do at every
chance. If there is no holiday in the offing, then any day is a precious time
for consciously and deliberately electing what we want and taking actions to
fulfilling our potential.
Should you get distracted from your goals in
the course of everyday life, declare a holiday. Reset your goals. And structure
your life and your time to provide the space for delivering on your promise to
yourself. One way to have space for what you want in your life is to literally
clear out the old and bring in the new. Move through your dwelling from top to
bottom and edit out what has collected in your basement, attic, garage, closets,
desktops, counters and tables. While you work contemplate what you are making
room for as you move ahead and let go of what is irrelevant to your goals and
intentions in life. Give to charity or sell what you no longer want, need, use
and love. Integrate what you keep into the your dwelling in such a way as it is
both functional and aesthetic.
Then tip a toast to the New Year. Maintain
the attitude that your home is a sacred space, but dispense with the notion that
your home is your safe haven away from the world. Instead, invite the universe
into the space you create -- in the form of friends, families or neighbors for
dinner, or, via the internet on your desktop computer. And, when you go out to
go to work, or you go to your place of worship, or you go to perform errands or
good deeds in your community, remember this: home is wherever the heart is. Keep
Michelle Passoff, author of LIGHTEN UP! Free Yourself From Clutter
(HarperPerennial) and founder of a company by the same name, became a clutter consultant in 1991 after a 20-year career primarily working as a
public relations consultant on behalf of consumer products companies at leading agencies in New York and in her own business. Her work as a
clutter consultant started unexpectedly after two different friends coincidentally asked for help cleaning clutter in preparation for a move in
the same week. She helped one friend on a Monday, another friend on Saturday, and by Thursday, started her clutter consulting company by
hanging a sign on the bulletin board of her neighborhood copy shop on the Upper Westside of Manhattan.
Soon, Michelle expanded her marketing reach to include hanging signs at bus
stops up and down Broadway, a popular form of local advertising. Her business attracted a colorful clientele of New Yorkers - Broadway stars and
Park Avenue socialites; doctors, lawyers, authors, artists and business people, and working and stay-at-home moms around the Tri-state area. Eager,
healthy-minded and accomplished people who saw the virtue in cleaning clutter as an effective life-management tool and as a vehicle for serenity
in their lives grew and the LIGHTEN UP! Free Yourself From Clutter audiotape was produced. A clutter workshop was soon created and
readily accepted into the curriculum of the Open Center, one of the country's leading holistic learning institutions. Since then, private consultations
and seminars have been conducted throughout the country including Interface in Boston, Oasis Center in Chicago, Oakwood Farm Retreat in Selma, Indiana,
and at the Natural Gourmet Institute of Food and Health in New York. Ms. Passoff also teaches at Baywinds (Tampa, FL), The Knowledge
Shop (Orlando, FL and Boston, MA), Open U (Minneapolis, MN), Fun Ed (Dallas, TX), Leisure
Learning (Houston, TX) and Learning Annex (New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego).
Michelle began working on a project to write a book in 1993. LIGHTEN UP!
Free Yourself From Clutter was released by HarperPerennial, a division of HarperCollins in spring of 1998. The LIGHTEN UP! Free Yourself From
Clutter Visitor's Center, a virtual retreat where declutterers can get away from all their stuff and learn, think and grow is located at
LIGHTEN UP! Free Yourself From Clutter has its origins in a personal
interest by its author to simply lead a fulfilling life, a prospect challenged by a chaotic world Nonetheless after years of examining issues
of being human, relationship, business, and spirituality, she concluded that without clutter in the way the future was bright for all of mankind.
Given that clutter in the physical environment is the easiest to get your hands on, Michelle started experimenting with how cleaning it there could
foster personal growth and greater aliveness in all aspects of life including the less tangible emotional, spiritual, and psychological parts.
It is on this basis that her consultations, classes and book are built. Michelle is frequently interviewed by the media. She has been featured in
The New York Times, The New York Daily News, The Los Angeles Times, The Associated Press, The Washington Post, and many service and business
magazines. She is a graduate of Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Communications and lives in New York City, the place she affectionately
calls "The Clutter Capital of the World". When she is not crawling around in attics and helping clients burrow out of their basements as well as
lecturing throughout the country for companies and organizations, Michelle enjoys the sun in the Bahamas, international travel, spiritual pursuits,
movies, and dinner with friends.
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