Get ready for an inspiring yet practical discussion on the life-changing magic of decluttering. Organizing guru, Star Hansen, joins midlife minimalist, Wendy Valentine, to explore the emotional side of letting go of stuff. They discuss grieving past versions of ourselves, embracing change, and finding freedom. Star reveals her unique path to becoming an organizing expert and shares her best advice for decluttering at a comfortable pace while honoring your emotions. Her new book, “Why the F*#@ Am I Still Not Organized?” aims to uncover why clutter keeps coming back and offers a free copy to listeners. Tune in for wisdom and stories to motivate you on your own decluttering journey.
The Nuggets of Midlife Wisdom from today’s show:
- You have to figure out how clutter is helping you, especially if you have recurring clutter.
- Once you see how it’s helping you, then you can actually get that need met. You’re going to stop beating the drum of the clutter and you’re going to move into meeting the need.
- Once you know the deeper cause of your clutter, any system will work. And if you don’t know the cause of your clutter, no system is going to work.
- What’s tricky about this layer of clutter, and this chapter of life is we’re redefining ourselves. What that means is we have to grieve the former versions of us. Honor it, be present to it, and honor the complexities of it.
- In our twenties and thirties, we were nesting and making space for future baby birdies. But now in our forties, fifties, and sixties, we’re shifting into a different phase of life. We want that weight off of us, that burden off of us, and it’s a reframe.
- We want to start building a life that works for us versus trying to just fit in or do what we should do. There’s no should.Embrace who you are and create systems around that.
- Wait until there’s a hell yes. Hell yes of what you want to organize. Hell yes of what you want to bring in your house. Hell yes of what you want to get rid of. Don’t be in such a rush. Allow your natural intuition to guide you in making those choices.
- The number one thing that stops us from getting organized is the emotions that come up. So, you learning to be present to those emotions, having a process for managing your emotions, self regulation, any action you need to take, and going slow.
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Check out highlights of our convo below!
Star Hansen is a certified professional organizer who specializes in tackling clutter
Wendy Valentine: I cannot wait for today’s convo. You’re going to love this woman. Today’s guest is Star Hansen is a Certified Professional Organizer (CPO©) and Clutter Whisperer on a mission to help you banish your personal Clutter Monster, take control of your stuff, and create a life you’re truly proud of. Star looks at the deeper meaning of your stuff to help you figure out WHY you feel overwhelmed by your clutter in the first place. Star’s best selling book, “Why the F*#@ Am I Still Not Organized?”, has inspired countless individuals to tackle their clutter head-on and find lasting solutions. She has appeared on over 30 TV shows, given a TEDx talk, and shared her fitted sheet folding secrets with Oprah & her fans. Her unique methodology has helped thousands of people get (and stay!) organized when nothing else worked.
First of all, Star, welcome to the show. Second of all, we need you. I’m going to tell you why I think we need you. Well, it’s called the midlife makeover show. So we’re here at Midlife, and when you’re in your forties and fifties, most of us have birdies leaving the nest. And then we end up with this huge nest with all this stuff left over in our nest. And whether we downsize to a smaller nest or we stay in a big nest, we have got to kind of start decluttering a bit. I know it was a challenge for me.
If you have recurring clutter, I promise you it is doing something to help you
Star Hansen: If you have recurring clutter, I promise you it is doing something to help you, and that is a new concept for people. So for some people, it’s communicating for them. Some it’s helping them remind themselves of a task or who they really are. For some people, it’s protection. I will share a story about a client who, no matter how many times we organized his office, it would just get cluttered again. Because the deeper cause was he had a break in and he was using the clutter to protect his valuables.
Wendy Valentine: Interesting.
Star Hansen: Yeah. You show me recurring clutter, I will show you how it is helping you in some way. And then the cool thing is, once you see how it’s helping you, then you can actually get that need met. You’re going to stop beating the drum of the clutter and you’re going to move into meeting the need. Like he needed protection. So once we made sure that his possessions were protected and safe and sturdy from an invader, then the clutter didn’t need to exist anymore. It was gone within a session. So once you know the deeper cause of your clutter, any system will work. And if you don’t know the cause of your clutter, no system is going to work.
You say midlife is the most badass chapter for us
Star Hansen: So I feel like you just highlighted so beautifully why midlife is the most badass chapter for us. Let’s be real, puberty was not fun. Like 20s, awkward as hell. I don’t care how hot you were. Super fucking awkward for all of us. Now it’s like, so we’re at midlife. It’s like, okay, we’ve achieved, we know we’re badasses. We’re standing in our power.
And what’s tricky about this layer of clutter is and this chapter of life is we’re redefining ourselves. What that means is we have to grieve the former versions of us. We have to be willing to postulate the future, which I will just name. If you have lived life to this point, you have seen some shit.
I went to a meditation the other day, and they were so sweet and positive. I feel like I showed up there like I just come from a battlefield. I was like, we’ve seen some life, and we have to choose. Like, at this point, I’ve watched people that I love die. I have lived through hell.
It is sometimes hard to put on that law of attraction. I can just manifest magic in my life. Like, yes, you can. And also horrible stuff is going to happen, and we cannot escape that. But what it allows us to do is to start to from this place of groundedness, of knowing the positive, the negative, all the shades, is we get to redefine our lives. And it’s so beautiful.
We’re not in that making babies phase anymore, right? We get our energy back. We’re not taking any s*** from anyone. Like, sorry boys, you need to go sit in the corner until you figure out what you did wrong, because we got things to do. It’s like, we are in this power generating area of our lives, and it’s so cool. The key is to approach organizing and decluttering from that state of mind.
There’s no right or wrong way of decluttering, organizing
Star Hansen: And so even in this new house I moved to Santa Fe this year, and I love it here, but I am so hesitant to buy anything for this house because I already know. It’s funny because it’s like, yes, there’s a part of me that wants a forever home, but I kind of know myself by now. And I also really go with the flow.
Wendy Valentine: I think that’s the key. There’s no right or wrong way of decluttering, organizing, none of it. It’s just knowing who you are and there’s got to be intention behind it. Once you know who you were, who you are, and who you want to be, and does that align with the life that you want to live and who you want to be?
Star Hansen: And there’s a standing in our power and knowing ourself, like having real insight about who we are. I think for decades, we often try to fit into society’s mold and I think we’re in this current chapter of realizing, hey, I don’t have to, whatever your neurodivergence is, whatever your preferences are, however you function, embrace it, embody it.
Because if you have ADHD, for example, 90% of the systems that are out there were not built for you. That is very frustrating. Don’t live in that paradigm. Create something that works for you, build something that works for you. We want to start building a life that works for us versus trying to just fit in or do what we should do. There’s no should. Embrace who you are and create systems around that.
Take your time with decluttering; don’t rush it
Star Hansen: This is the problem. I’ve done a lot of TV shows, and I will just tell you it’s not real. Guys, if I say I did a two day makeover, we were there five days. It was not two days. There is a giant team of people behind the scenes making all the mountains move. And it’s beautiful and inspiring to watch when you’re watching it, but the truth is, for you to do that at home is very different. And it would feel overwhelming for you to try to tackle it by yourself in such a constrained amount of time.
What I would rather have you do is take your sweet ass time. Look at those pictures, share them with other people. Tell your stories, call a friend. Half of my job is listening to people’s stories. Half of my job is just being present to your emotional experience, and we need that. If you have clutter and you are tired of being bullied by your loved ones who keep asking you how much you got rid of and are you organized yet? and telling you very kindly that you need to declutter and you just got to get rid of stuff, it is totally fine to ask them, hey, when you say that to me, it makes me want to hold on to things more. What would be more helpful is if you could tell me a story about something you found today or tell me why something was important to you.
Wendy Valentine: It’s like trying to rush someone through grief or a loss.
Star Hansen: Or birth. You are birthing the next version of you. You don’t rush a birth. You’re not like, oh, just get out here, baby. You are being birthed. This is your next chapter. And why would we rush that? We want to honor that and celebrate that and celebrate it. Every single time, not when you’re done. Celebrate the effort, not the completion.