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Extreme Otiti 

Our Blog

An ongoing series of informational entries

The Horse Before the Cart: Understanding Our Stuff by Ellen Lancaster

January 15, 2020

The other day it hit me, I may be doing it wrong. I have been clearing extra unused stuff from my home little by little for over a year and a half. Approximately 80% of our home makes me feel at peace. I have figured out why I want a clear and simple home with only things in it that I use and love. But what I have not dug deep into is why I acquired and kept extra stuff. Experts say that understanding this gets to the heart of the matter and could prevent falling back into accumulating more clutter. Some reasons I have extra stuff:

  • It was a gift
  • It might be useful someday
  • I never got around to fixing it so bought a new one and never threw away the old one
  • Didn't know we had this item (took too long to find, so just bought another.) Now we have duplicates.
  • Never sorted through items used long ago but no longer currently use
  • They are sentimental and have good memories associated with them

I really didn't want to psychoanalyze myself and dig deep into my feelings. I want a clear space, darn it! Just start moving stuff out, was my attitude. These last two areas of my home (basement and garage), still have clutter and I have not taken action for months. I have the excuses down. I'm busy, it is not a priority, I don't see it daily. Why is it a sticking point? I want the whole picture-- 100% clutter-free home. I have not been reflective and looked at my internal reaction to getting rid of stuff. I haven't ever wanted to do this. After all, this isn't therapy. Or is it?

Doing a bit more research looks like the number one reason for extra clutter in our home is fear. This is not what I want to hear. I want to close it up and shut it in the closet door and never open it. Thank you very much! I know.... I am supposed to face my fears.

This quote from Sarah Parish might get us all moving, “Living with fear stops us taking risks, and if you don’t go out on the branch, you’re never going to get the best fruit.” Will you join me and take action with your fear/stuff? This week I am going to clear off the workbench in the basement. What good is a workbench if you can't work on it? What fear will you face? Please share what you are working on. ~Ellen

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To be sure of yourself is an understatement. There will always be a sense of fear... By Otiti Uwagbai-Wright 

December 17th, 2019 

Many of you know my story as I have been transparent over the years. Why do I share so much? Well, the title of Social Media explains it all- SOCIAL. Two, I use my platforms not only to display both of my businesses, events, products, and services- but to be a beacon of light for someone else. Not all of us have the support that is needed to be the best version of ourselves. Many struggle with our mental health, financial health, emotional health, physical health, family health- You get the picture.

Many of us are seeking love, seeking peace, seeking happiness, while many of us haven't made not one beneficial decision. What I can tell you- get yourself in order and do what is best for you and not others. Work more on your mental health- understand the tiny details that are often overlooked. Know that you are never alone - connect with a professional. Sometimes, our family and friends offer advice that's more harmful than good. Yes, pray about it, but maybe you need to sit on someone's professional couch and talk about it.

Know the difference- A Life Coach cannot help you with depression, mental health/illness. After reading "Should You See A Therapist Or A Life Coach," this pretty much sums up my thoughts- Understand and again know the difference.

As we approach a New Year- think about all of the great things you accomplished over the past 9 years. I am quite sure you have something to be proud of! Celebrate in that moment. Lastly, make sure you begin to let go of what no longer serves you. Connect with like-minded individuals who desire more! Stop beating yourself up and go for it! To be sure of yourself is an understatement. There will always be a sense of fear

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Heirloom Re-Purpose by Ellen 

December 4th, 2019 

Millennial’s don’t want their parent’s stuff. Thrift stores are overrun & recycling is not cost effective anymore. So what do we do with all our extra stuff?

Here is my Thanksmas gift for this year using my mom’s old china cups. My mom passed away over 20 years ago. Yes, it took that long to figure out what to do with it! Can you believe it? One sister had it for a time and I then the dishes came into my hands several years ago. We use the plates, but not the teacups. No one else wanted the china in our family, like many other families, but could I break up a set? I felt I needed to keep them together. 

Why I don’t know. I finally realized that my basement could use more space and gave myself permission to get rid of the cups and saucers. Thanks to my friend Lisa who gave me this idea. Now everyone in my family has a succulent in a tea cup to remember my mom!

What about re-purposing an item you want to keep rather than sitting in a box or throwing in the garbage? Just learn from me and don’t wait 20 years to do it! HA!

Good luck and please send me photos of your projects. I need inspiration for next year’s Thankmas! ~Ellen

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Thanksmas by Ellen 

December 4th, 2019 

Several years ago when things were tight with my immediate family we reached out to our extended family and discussed a couple of ideas regarding that year's Christmas gifts:

1. Skipping individual gifts and instead give one gift per family

2. Exchange homemade gifts (the same homemade gift for all families) only

Everyone agreed and it worked out well. We got together with this part of the family on Thanksgiving every year but not Christmas. So we have our little Christmas exchange the day after Thanksgiving and make gingerbread houses or decorate sugar cookies together. Because this get together is part Thanksgiving weekend and part Christmas we have been calling this exchange Thanksmas.

Now over 10 years later we are still exchanging homemade gifts. We revisited the idea of purchased gifts a few years later, but we all seemed to enjoy the homemade gifts, so we are continuing. It has been SO nice over the years to make 4 homemade gifts and be done. It doesn't always eliminate the stress as I sometimes still procrastinate making them!

I think this was one of my better gifts: garden art

Do some homemade gifts turn to clutter? Yes, of course. But what is given to you as a gift is yours? I have also been on the lookout for practical & useful gifts. Edibles have been popular with our family: soups in a jar, jams, nut butter, cookies in a jar, etc.

Is everyone crafty? No, but that is okay. Some ideas are found on Etsy, sometimes I find inspiration in craft stores, in magazines or in retail stores & recreate my own.

Can you find something that your family can agree upon for the holidays to reduce the clutter, reduce the spending, reduce stress, and BE more with our families and friends? 

A friend of mine does an annual Thanksgifting party where the goal is to give away the best white elephant gift! There is even a prize for the best (read worst) gift. I love it! Talk about making clearing clutter fun! My Aunt donates to a charity in the name of her granddaughter. I also heard about a family that gives experience gifts. They draw names from a hat and spend time with that person and give an experience with a limit of $25. What a cool idea! What does your family do to limit holiday overwhelm when it comes to gifts?

Here's to increasing our love while reducing the number of gifts (future clutter) this holiday season! ~Ellen

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Christmas Boycott by Ellen 

November 20th, 2019 

After High School my father stopped giving me and my siblings Christmas gifts. I mentioned this in Adventurous Lasting Memories: Sister's fund. At the time I remember being upset over this. Looking back, this was admirable.

Recently, I saw a sign for plastic cups for sale. I was upset with the attempt of guilt to sell. Ugh! Does not buying plastic cups really make us a grinch? Will these just sit and be clutter in our homes? How many other gifts do we give that are turned into clutter?

There has been a push for reducing waste and preserving our environmental but at the same time families are feeling pressure to spend 2 works worth of their salary on Christmas. What a dichotomy! According to this article, 680 billion is spent on Christmas in the US. But in a couple of days it is mostly forgotten.

What are you doing to reduce waste and clutter this holiday season? Make a plan, talk to your family and friends and share your ideas.

PS You are NOT a grinch for NOT buying more stuff you don't need. You are an ANGEL for helping save the planet and reduce clutter! ~Ellen

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Clearing Cluttered Thoughts by Ellen 

November 14th, 2019 

This blog has been about the clutter in your home, however, today let's look at mental clutter. Before decluttering the physical stuff, we may need to declutter our minds.

My book group this month is reading Devised by Doreen Dodgen-Magee. She reminds us of the constant information we have access to and how there is never downtime with our smartphones. If we are bored, waiting in line, or have free time, we fill it in. This NY times article references to research on creativity that comes out of boredom.

I was listening to Melanie Wahlberg speak on Never alone: how spiritual ideas work in us mention uprooting stagnating thoughts to make space and room for inspiration. We all want inspiration. YES! Let's remove the shame or negative self-talk within us.

Try staring at the moon

My cousin recommended Solve for Happy, Engineering your path to Joy by Mo Gawdat. The author suggests talking back to the negative thoughts in your head. 'That thought won't do; send me another one. Give me a positive one.' I love this idea.

How do we be still and clear our minds of thoughts? Maybe it's through meditation, yoga, prayer, staring at nothing, listening to the silence, playing with a fidget toy or a combination thereof. It is not easy & takes practice.

This week let's schedule a time for silence, talking back to unwanted thoughts and see what boredom brings. We can declutter our thoughts and have peace! ~Ellen

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Analyze and Strategize or Just Dump?  by Ellen 

November 6th, 2019 

After listening to Organizing from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern, her three steps to organize hit home with me:

1) Analyze 2) Strategize 3) Attack

In a way, you may have been doing these steps without even realizing it. But maybe not and you need a gentle nudge to finish. Or maybe you are stuck on 'good enough'.

Analyze. Why do you want less in your home? How did you accumulate so much stuff? What types of clutter do you have the most of? Watch this 3 min. video to get a scope of your clutter. What makes you hold on to it? Why do you purchase something when it is not needed? Do we need to think about these questions before creating a clutter-free home? If we don't, then our habits might be repeated and clutter may accumulate again. Morgenstern asks, does every item have a "home?"

Strategy. It is important to have a plan with everything, right? This way, when things get challenging, you will know your next step. No thinking or second-guessing, just moving forward to the next area. Step by step. Do you get frustrated and attack clutter haphazardly? It is not necessarily wrong, it just makes keeping track of what is completed a bit more challenging. When can you realistically plan to do this declutter work? How do to carve out more time in the day? Get up early, go to bed later, eliminate hobbies for a period, involve family, take vacation time or dedicate weekends.

Attack. Now comes the action to make it happen. Stick to your plan and get things done. You don't want to burn out. Take frequent breaks in your cleared areas to relish in your space. Congratulate yourself on what you have accomplished and now return to your why so you will finish strong!

Your challenge is to write out these ideas for your clutter-free home!

I appreciate you reading. Thanks! ~Ellen

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Laser-Focus by Ellen 

October 28th, 2019 

Do you get overwhelmed with your stuff and not know where to start? You want a cleared house, a place to relax and your car to fit in your garage. You want it all done and you want it done NOW!

From Josh Becker's article on financial minimalism:

“Be like a stamp—stick to one thing until you get there.” —Josh Billings

This is a quote I need to read and reread. I tend to jump around my house decluttering different areas randomly.

There are many ways to declutter a home. Which works best for you? Whichever way you decide, focus on that and get it done. Maybe it is just one shelf. Don't get sidetracked or hung up on where to put things from the shelf. If something doesn't belong on the shelf and doesn't have a "home," put it in the place where you usually use it the most. You can also quickly empty the shelf by placing all items in a bag and then sort through them later. Just beware to make time for sorting. I did this once and then the bag sat unsorted for several weeks!

Another idea is to declutter one corner or small area of a room. Anytime you get frustrated with your stuff, go to that clutter-free area and reflect on how that space feels. If you like it, do another small area in that same room. The goal would be to get an entire room cleared of clutter. This will be your respite when other areas in the house get out of control. Then do another room and finally your entire home!

I know this sounds simple but doing it can be challenging. For this week, try clearing one shelf. Focus on this and hopefully next week you will have all the shelves on the bookcase finished. Stick to it. Let me know how your stickiness worked out!

Thanks for reading and please share with someone you think may be interested. ~Ellen

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Your Gift Will Make Room For You. By Otiti 

October 16th, 2019

What's your gift? I often believe that our gift, purpose, vision, passion, and purpose are intertwined together. If we are in alignment with what we believe we already possess- we achieve and win!

There is something in each of us that we need to release before we decease! I know that it is deep- but very accurate.

Les Brown said:

“The graveyard is the richest place on earth, because it is here that you will find all the hopes and dreams that were never fulfilled, the books that were never written, the songs that were never sung, the inventions that were never shared, the cures that were never discovered, all because someone was too afraid to take that first step, keep with the problem, or determined to carry out their dream.”

What are you holding on to or stopping yourself from becoming? I don't care if you do not have a college degree or an academic focus- you can be whatever you like! Now, don't get me wrong, if you desire a college a degree, GO FOR IT! I have several. What I am saying is do not allow that to stop you or be an excuse.

Too many times, we pick the silliest excuse as to why we are stuck or in the same place. No one is stopping you or me! In fact, we need to get out of our own way and take a chance. We need to take a chance, and as we all know, life will require many risks. Times will be uncomfortable; we will lose friends and many of us- the respect from some of our family members. Hell, you may even have health problems due to stress, overdue bills, and $1.00 in your account- but you should keep going.

You must handle the pressure. Whatever you are seeking, you can do it. There will always be opposition, trials, and tribulations- but should you stop? The best thing in life is on the other side of opposition. The best things in life are on the other side of pain, hurt, divorce, job loss, and everything else that's uncomfortable.

Are you ready to allow your gift to make room for you?

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Labels: Hoarder, Declutterer, Minimalist or Releaser 

by Ellen Lancanster

October 15th, 2019

A friend of my sister's mentioned she is not a hoarder, but not a releaser. We watch Hoarders on TV and think, I don't have it that bad! Who is to say if we are happy and at peace with the stuff in our home, but us.

The word "minimalist" can conquer up extreme living. There are different levels of minimalism, but why do we label ourselves and put ourselves into a category? People are happy with different levels of clutter. Maybe someone isn't a releaser but at the same time, they don't have a lot of items in their home. Or people have lots of stuff in their home, but love it all and are happy. I often refer to decluttering but I also like releasing items out into the world. It feels kinder.

Words and names are important to us and we can resonate with them. I feel a certain way when a word is written or said whether it is positive, negative or neutral. Does it matter what words we use? Karen Kingston blogs about the advantages of reducing word clutter and Gretchin Rubin has a word of the year challenge.

Some of us want to be included in something larger. We want support and accountability. We want a connection with others in the same situation and we do that with association. In this way, we identify what we want.

Let's not let words and labels get in the way of our goals. If a simple home is what you want, commit to it and get help if needed! There are even 12-step programs for Clutterers Anonymous.

Your challenge this week is to identify your level of comfort with your items in your home. Here is my 3-minute video to help with clutter assessment.

Thanks for reading and please share if you think someone else will find useful. ~Ellen

For more inspiration: Clearing Clutter's Facebook page

Ellen Lancanster

Is Bigger Better by Ellen Lancanster

October 2nd, 2019

Is Bigger Better?

Houses in the US are getting bigger according to this article. But is bigger always better? Maybe we just need to get rid of 1/2 our stuff and our home will seem 50% bigger!

Minimalist blogger Josh Becker suggests downsizing and moving to a smaller home. This is after you declutter & reduce your possessions. This is a huge step and something I would not consider, however, I have two friends that are doing this right now. They are in the process of reducing their stuff so that they can live in smaller homes. This is the ultimate in letting go and minimizing and I admire them for it. At this point, for our family of four and a dog, we are not ready to live in a smaller home, but maybe someday.

My friend lives in a tiny home by herself. However, she doesn't recommend living in such a small place for more than one person. But it works for her.

Would you ever intentionally live in a smaller home? Is this considered successful?

And a challenge if you are up for it: If you were to move to a smaller home within the next 6 months, what would absolutely NOT go with you? Toss, donate or sell these items.

Ellen Lancanster

Our Latest Blog Entry

September 29th, 2019

I am honored to be the person that I am today. I know that sounds "self-absorbing" but I truly am. It took a lot to get here! Tears, pain, brokenness, low-self esteem, insecurities, and the list go on and on. I was in a funk for years and boom the winning mindset became my best friend. Literally! Over the years, I had to learn how to put me first. How to make myself a priority before everyone else. I took small actions, and began the journey for a better "ME."

This process is everlasting and ongoing. It does not stop because you reach a certain level of success. Oh no! This process believe it or not- will show outwardly! Have you ever heard the saying what you eat will show? Well, how you feel about yourself will show. How you treat yourself will show. It will show up in many areas of your life- TRUST ME!

I had to open my mind to possibilities even when it did not look nor feel good in my life.

Creating a winning mindset is work and once you get the hang of it- it's like the air you breathe. In a nutshell, the process is called inner-peace. It's the everyday actions that you take to restore and maintain your inner-peace.

Inner-peace is both tangible and intangible. You can see and feel peace. Here are a couple of quick tips to apply to your every day living to keep your peace intact:

Be honest with yourself. POINT BLANK. Listen, the hardest person to tell the truth to is yourself. I am not saying beat yourself up- but acknowledge your honesty, truthfulness, and the roles you may have played in particular situations.

Clutter! You will never know how important it is to have your space and environment clutter-free. This is why I partnered with Ellen Lancanster of Declutter my Home. You cannot make sound decisions live appropriately if you are not organized. I don't know what else to tell you about that.

Embrace who you are both good and not-so good. You are not perfect. I am not perfect. No one is perfect. Take responsibility for who you are. You may have made poor decisions- guess what? You are not alone and chances are "poor decision-making" may happen again.

How can you show-up more for you? 

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It's Cute AND It's On Sale By Ellen Lancanster 

September 25th, 2019

I used to shop without a list. What is on sale and looks good? I also used to walk around stores if I had time to kill in between errands or waiting for the kids to finish their activities. I told myself that I'll just look to see what is on the discount rack. Many times I would end up purchasing something that I didn't need. Now I look at my closet before I go shopping to see what I need.

This JC Penny's CEO tried a retail tactic: no sales or fake increased pricing in the store. Just everyday low prices. It failed and he was removed as CEO. Why? People love to find a bargain. This Harvard business review article states that the perceived price is just as important as the actual price to customers.

One friend says she gets a dopamine rush from finding an item at a good price. At the same time, almost in the same breathe, she said that she is overwhelmed by the clutter in her home. How do you accommodate both of these feelings? What else can we do that is positive instead of shopping?

Here are some alternatives to shopping:



visit a park

take deep breaths


listen to a podcast

watch a movie

make a gratitude list

call a friend

play with your pets


listen to music or an audiobook

Your challenge: make your own list of fun, easy activities to do instead of shopping. Keep this list at the ready, in your car or on your phone. Next time you are tempted to go shopping when you don't need anything, pull out this list and do something else. Your wallet will thank you!

I appreciate you reading. ~Ellen

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Ellen Lancanster

Clearing Clutter The Right Way by Ellen Lancanster

September 10th, 2019

There are several different suggestions on how to get rid of clutter and minimize your home. Do you gather like items together and sort in a certain order? Or is it best room by room, easiest to hardest? Do it all at once as quick as possible or is it more of a marathon? I want someone to tell me what to do and step by step. I am good at following instructions. Except everyone is different and what works for one person might not work for another.

For months I was following Marie Kondo's order to tidying up the home. However, I got caught up in her miscellaneous section and stopped there. I had been overwhelmed and wanted to declutter in the right order that when it came down to it, no decluttering had been done at all. It was the perfectionist in me. I need to let this go!

I was in my sewing area recently looking for some thread and noticed it was a mess. I didn't care if sewing items were not next on my list; I had about 15 minutes and went through all my material, clothes to be mended and sewing accessories. One bag got donated and 1/2 a bag went in the garbage. It felt good. This area is much better. I'm wondering why it took me so long to declutter this area. I know, I have wondered this before.

We have all heard this before: written goals are more likely to come to fruition than non-written goals. So why not write down how we plan to simplify our home with less stuff? If we are serious about having more space in our home, it is worth it. Looking back, I wrote my miscellaneous category order list, but didn't put target dates to have them finished nor did I put the list in a place that I would see daily.

Challenge: Write down the order in which you will clear the clutter from your home. Set realistic dates to target for each area or category. Now keep this somewhere that you will see regularly (phone screen saver). We can do this together!

Thanks for reading & share with others if you found helpful. ~Ellen 

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