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Gentle Virtues


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08/01/2012 - For the most part, l am a good natured person. I find many things to

be funny. I like to laugh, tease and smile -- especially with my family. Even

through tough times, our home resounds with cheerfulness. But one thing

can wipe all that goodness away and almost instantly. It is clutter. Here is

my confession: "I mutter over clutter."

My dear mentor, Noah Webster, agrees with me. He does not give

clutter high marks. In his 1828 American Dictionary of the English

Language he defines it as a "heap or assemblage of things lying in

confusion". That goes along with its Welsh root meaning which comes from

the word "cluder" and it literally means "to heap".

For the sake of keeping order and sanity in our house, my family

knows it will serve them well if they place their shoes neatly by the front

door or in the closet, carefully hang up wet towels and put away items used

in the day. They will not only enjoy a nice home, they will enjoy a nice


Over the years, I have observed something about clutter. It not only

looks messy, it messes with the mind! Around clutter, I can't think straight

nor can I cook well. Why? Because it accommodates confusion. In Latin,

confusion literally means "to mix together". And it is not a nice sort of mix

and mingling but a stirring that stirs up anxiety and strife.

Clutter is anything that no longer has use or value to us. It drains us

of our mental energy, takes up valuable space and makes us sidetracked.

Clutter can be a heap of lids without matching containers, dull disposable

razors set aside, long forgotten books buried beneath the stairs and broken

items not likely to get fixed. With living space going at a $100.00 or

more per square foot, clutter is a bad investment.

lf you are finding yourself easily irritated, confused or fatigued, I

encourage you to assess your surroundings. Look for clutter. Downsize.

Deep clean. Take back your space and your life. It is worth the time and the


While I am opposed to heaping up clutter, I am in favor of heaping up

something else. It too (in the Dutch language) has the root meaning "to

heap". And that is to hope. If you want to accumulate anything in great

measure, I suggest you hope. Pray and believe. Be optimistic. Experience

the pleasure and joy that hope brings. It is so much better than living with

disorder and confusion. When we live with a heap of hope rather than heaps

of clutter, we can have a cheerful home regardless of any current difficulties.

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