How to super-charge your gluten-free energy

I like to call our cellar the “Silence of the Lambs” cellar.

No, it’s not what you think. It’s just that our house was built in 1918 and the cellar is unfinished. It is  full of dust, cobwebs and giant spiders who have established residence in those cobwebs. I am scared of spiders.

And up until last week, it was full of eight plus years of junk and construction trash.

The cellar entrance

Yep. I’m not proud of it, but it’s true. It was freaky.

I haven’t been down in the cellar for … years.  I knew what was down there, so I always made Doug deal with the furnace or the hot water heater or mouse trap recovery. Lucky him!

Fed up with having to change his clothes and bathe after going down there (yes, this is starting to sound eerily like an episode of Hoarders, but I assure you, we really haven’t gotten to that stage of freaky with our clutter) Doug did the only sensible thing. He decided to hire someone to take care of it. Within an afternoon, everything was removed from the cellar including 12 large bags of construction debris and one truckload of wood and scrap metal. Which was kind of amazing, because the guy who did it was much smaller than me and he barely had any help from us.

The junk

During the clean-up, I stood in our backyard and looked at drawers from the bottom of the bed frame I had hated. When we bought a new one we decided to use the drawers for storage in the cellar. What were we storing? A cell phone museum, apparently. Every cell phone we have owned since we started using cell phones (including the large bagged kind) was in one drawer. Old phone cords were in another.

It was a wake up call, pun intended.

The amazing thing to me was the immediate lift in my energy when it was all removed. I didn’t see that stuff everyday, but I knew it was there, and somehow, knowing that it was gone (or going to be gone) immediately made me feel better. I don’t think this was an accident.

Here’s what Karen Kingston, the author of “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui” (which I highly recommend) writes about clutter in cellars and basements:

Your basement or cellar symbolizes your past and your subconscious mind. A cluttered basement symbolizes issues from the past not fully dealt with, often very weighty issues (people tend to put their heaviest junk in basements). … Feelings of hopelessness, depression, lethargy, aimlessness, or feeling burdened in your progress are just some of the unfortunate side effects of having subterranean clutter.”

What was interesting is that my energy lift was immediately followed by feelings of overwhelm, precisely described by Karen. I think this was because the stuff from the cellar needed to be disposed of properly and it wasn’t removed entirely from the property.  Instead, it was now out in the open.

Meanwhile, A fine layer of dust had settled over our kitchen and we declared it unfit for cooking until we did (literally) a top-to-bottom, every-drawer cleaning job. I’m still working on a few storage cabinets. I barely got any work done last week because the whole thing felt like “too much.” But as soon as the first load of trash went out, I started to feel better and I expect to feel even better tomorrow when we take a big load to recycling and the dump.

So, how does this story relate to your gluten-freeness? Well, if you have celiac disease or any health issue you may struggle (as I have) with keeping up your energy.

Your physical environment is a physical representation of your energy and when you start to clean up your physical space and discard the stuff that you no longer love, space opens up for what you do love in your life and that creates more energy.

Here are my five steps to clearing clutter:

1. Get help. If you haven’t dealt with something for eight years, chances are there is a reason. Read a book and consider hiring someone to help you clean out your junk. It was money well spent for me.

2. Choose your own speed. I went through every single paper and thing in my office until it was done. It took me six weeks because I only did a half hour a day. You may like to dedicate a weekend or a day. I found that I could only do a small amount at a time but I was consistent about it. That was the key.

3. Ask yourself two questions when you look at an item you own. Do I love it? Do I use it? Not, “Will I need it?” Your imagination will come up with all sorts of reasons why you might need something in the future. Don’t go down that path.

4. Remove the things you don’t love or don’t use as soon as possible from the premises. Do not wait for a garage sale.

5. Laugh at yourself and offer yourself some compassion. I love this clip of Kathy Griffin doing stand-up about Hoarders. It kills me. Remember, it could be much, much worse.


About Janelle

Janelle Holden has spent hundreds of hours coaching people world-wide with celiac disease and food sensitivities how to transition to a gluten-free diet, stop struggling with food, travel with food sensitivities, and do more of the things they love. She is the author of, "Six steps to grab control of your diet and love what you eat" and an award-winning journalist, international coach, and speaker.

4 Responses to “How to super-charge your gluten-free energy”

  1. Amy Bell September 29, 2011 4:16 pm #

    Hi Janelle,

    Thanks for mentioning “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui” . This book changed my life!! Starting with clutter, and then with negative energy. I loved this book!!

    • Janelle October 3, 2011 4:01 pm #

      Oh, that’s so interesting Amy that we both like this book! I’d love to discuss it with you next time I see you. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Janelle September 29, 2011 4:41 pm #

    I think this is so true. My boyfriend thinks I’m crazy because I literally cannot work at my desk if the whole room is not clean! My brain feels cluttered!!! I think I’d like that Feng Shui book!

  3. Sarah HI October 6, 2011 7:36 pm #

    Janelle, you are so inspiring! I had a mold inspector in the other day and we had to go into our basement for an look around. SCARY! While our basement is nowhere near a scary cellar, all my clutter was very embarrassing. He recommended removing all the cardboard and wood because it draws in moisture and gets sucked into the HVAC unit, which blows unhealthy air all over the house. Having a clean basement is healthy on so many levels. Well, there is a TON of work to do here, but I’m hoping it will mean for a healthier house for all of us!

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