Free Your Space: Declare Your Independence

If you are an American who owns...well… anything, you are an American who knows the importance of the freedom that we are so very fortunate to enjoy. That being said, knowing it and enjoying it are two entirely different affairs.
The protection of our way of life blesses us with great abundance. A trip to your local grocery or drug store is an easy glimpse into how much is available and how our competitive market makes it all so affordable. In the book, “The Paradox of Choice,” Swarthmore College Professor, Barry Schwartz relates his experiences:

“My neighborhood supermarket is not a particularly large store, and yet next to the crackers were 285 varieties of cookies. Among chocolate chip cookies, there were 21 options. Among Goldfish (I don't know whether to count them as cookies or crackers), there were 20 different varieties to choose from.

... I left the supermarket and stepped into my local consumer electronics store. Here I discovered:
• 45 different car stereo systems, with 50 different speaker sets to go with them;
• 42 different computers, most of which could be customized in various ways;
• 27 different printers to go with the computers;• 110 different televisions, offering high definition, flat screen, varying screen sizes and features, and various levels of sound quality;
• 74 different stereo tuners, 55 CD players, 32 tape players, and 50 sets of speakers. (Given that these components could be mixed and matched in every possible way, that provided the opportunity to create 6,512,000 different stereo systems.)

And if you didn't have the budget or the stomach for configuring your own stereo system, there were 63 small, integrated systems to choose from.”

And Barry’s book was published nearly 10 years ago. Imagine all the products that have hit the shelves — and our homes — since then.
With a seemingly endless variety and a continuous bombardment of sales we barely stand a chance. And so we load our carts, real and virtual, push through our front doors with arms full of all the great buys we’ve stumbled upon throughout the day and squeeze ourselves into the last bit of living space we can find as we lock the door behind us and pray that no one will come knocking unannounced. In this light, our freedom seems a bit less freeing.

Perhaps, in order to enjoy freedom, we should first know what freedom means. The Oxford dictionary defines it as such:
Pronunciation: /ˈfrēdəm/
• the power or right to act, speak, or think as one wants without hindrance or restraint
absence of subjection to foreign domination or despotic government
• the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved
• the state of being physically unrestricted and able to move easily
• (freedom from) the state of not being subject to or affected by (a particular undesirable thing)
• the power of self-determination attributed to the will; the quality of being independent of fate or necessity
• unrestricted use of something

So I ask: As a free American, do you enjoy your “unrestricted…power…to act…without hindrance or restraint?”
If your answer is no or you are not quite sure, I would like to suggest that we celebrate our liberty by making July 2012 a month that we actually demonstrate how much we value our freedom.
Here are three small and easy ways to show that you honor the value of your freedom:

1. Make a gratitude list. What is it about your life that you truly enjoy and love? Don’t just think about a list; actually write it down. Now take your list and take a tour of your home. Look around for items that match the values on your list. Are there pictures of family, tools for hobbies, mementos from travels, games and toys that you use and enjoy? If your home and your list don’t match up, ask yourself if there’s something you want to change, add or remove.

2. Clear space. If you are normally jostling for a little elbowroom and a clear spot to sit and eat a meal, make this month the one where you reclaim some living space. Begin with your kitchen table. Let go of junk mail and fliers for things you really don’t need right now, put the bills together with your checkbook, throw out trash and useless clutter and give the remaining surface a good scrub. Finally, to encourage the preservation of this re-claimed free space, add a small patriotic center piece - for mealtime, a bowl of blueberries, strawberries and a dollop of whipped cream will work.

3. Do something. What is it that you like to do? Getting caught up in routines of work or home life can rob us of the choices we so strongly value. We work and sit and repeat the patterns, no longer taking time to decide what we want. Can you write down three things that you like to do or want to try? Choose at least one of those things – read a book, visit a park, play a game of chess with someone, learn to knit - and make July the month that you do it.

Freedom is freedom only when we enjoy it. Live and celebrate your life and have a Happy Independence Day.

* To contact Annette Reyman for organizing work, productivity support, gift certificates or speaking engagements in the Greater Philadelphia area call (610) 213-9559 or email her at
Reyman is a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO®) and Board Member of its Greater Philadelphia Chapter.
Visit her website at or follow All Right Organizing on Facebook.



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