Column, Funologist

Emptying the room

The Funologist’s guide to getting ‘unstuck’

By Sandra Dee Owens

The smallest room

My brain is approximately 6” long. A rather small space to keep organized it would seem, yet of all the rooms I own, this one is the most cluttered.

By Sandra Dee Owens
‘Sweeping Should’ — ink /acrylic /oil

Merriam Webster’s definition of clutter is “to fill or cover with scattered or disordered things that impede movement or reduce effectiveness.”

Whenever my mind feels unclear, cluttered, or stuck about what I want to do in my life, I notice that my brain is filled with scattered thoughts that impede forward movement. Likewise, there are physical spaces in my home and property filled with disorder.

As an experiential learner, I looked for a way to declutter my home and mind at the same time.

I found it. I call it emptying the room. It’s a combination of mind and house therapy. First, I pick a room in my home (studio, garage, etc.) that feels as cluttered, inefficient, and confused as I am. In other words, a room that is stuck. Then, I get to work.


A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single thought.

Since this is mind therapy as well as the decluttering of physical space, it is important to address the elephant in both rooms.

I close my eyes and take a few deep breaths, then imagine a calm, peaceful conversation with someone poised to give me pushback throughout the process.

The “should” gremlin. If I let it, this invisible being will sit on my shoulder, and whisper—all day long.

“You should keep that, your dead aunt gave it to you when you were 6.” Or, “You should have this project done within two weeks.”

I give “should” notice that she is no longer allowed in the room. In essence, I am shifting my relationship with this gremlin. She is no longer in charge.

Once I have established a new relationship with “should,” I sort everything in the room into piles; donate, return, share, keep or trash.

I store the “keep” items out of the way because emptying the room is a therapeutic process and therapy takes time. I don’t want to trip over my stuff.

Then I notify family and friends to come and get what they want from the piles and proceed with donating and returning until those piles are gone.

Filling cardboard boxes with the “share” items, I write “FREE” in giant letters on the box sides, then walk them to the edge of my driveway. For the next week or so, I enjoy watching people drive up and take them away. Bye-bye things, enjoy your new home!

This step is very important, as it pulls “stuck” up by the roots, untethers me from the past, and allows me to move forward—freely. It is so freeing, that I find myself looking for more things to give away.

I take the trash to the dump, and the room is empty.


Once the physical clutter is gone, I am in an empty room.

With “quiet.”

Quiet is who I need to spend some time with. It is difficult to envision the future (of a physical room or my potential) when cluttered with the past.

Emptying the room allows me to hear my heart’s desire.

I start a soothing meditation on my cell phone with the volume so low that only my subconscious mind can hear it.

Then I grab a broom and sweep. While whisking, I imagine any remnants of “should,” “have to,” and “can’t,” being swept from the corners of my mind as well.

Then I ask myself one question — “What do I want to do?” I will ask myself this question many times over the next few days and weeks as I work through this process.

I am not making any decisions at this point. I am just seeking clarity. Because now I have the cleared space to be deeply honest.

I always find clarity. Not in an instant or an hour, but bit by bit she emerges, having been there all along. Buried in the clutter.

To learn more about Sandra Dee Owens visit:

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