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I don’t eat waffles, poached eggs or paninis. Yet, the gizmos to make them were in the dark corners of my kitchen cabinets. My children ate those things. They are adults, now, and moved away years ago. The cookware, china, stemware, platters and gadgets I used to feed them, their friends and other guests remained. These days, my idea of cooking and entertaining is meeting friends at a restaurant. What was I doing with all of this kitchen stuff? Hanging on to the fantasy that I would prepare elaborate meals for lots of people again.

Do you have a treadmill, weights, foam rollers or exercise bands, but your idea of a workout is going to the gym or taking a walk? The fitness clutter belongs to your fantasy self.

Is your closet filled with designer heels, handbags and dresses, but your evening outings are usually for dinner in yoga pants? Or is it filled with size 6 clothing, but you’ve been a size 10 for years? The clothing clutter belongs to your fantasy self.

Do you have skeins of yarn that you were going to knit into a sweater for your young nephew who is now 27 and married with a child? How about that box of magazines you were going to use for a vision board? The project clutter belongs to…guess who?

Your fantasy self has time to be a gardener, painter, pastry chef, camper, family archivist, photographer, guitarist, general contractor and golfer, as well as read voraciously and entertain like Jay Gatsby. But are those priorities for you?

All of us have fantasy selves who guide us to buy and keep things that we’ve used in an earlier life phase, rarely, or never. Some of it belongs to our aspirational selves and some to earlier times.

Our needs and interests change. Yet, it’s easy to fantasize that we’ll be returning to these things someday. We won’t. We’ll be moving forward.

She / he doesn’t exist.

Why am I allotting space for things belonging to someone who doesn’t exist?

Decluttering her belongings will not only rid me of her stuff, but also the expectations that are attached to it. I don’t have to bake a Bundt cake in the pan I’ve never used, or wear the heels that pinch my toes. And I don’t have to continue to feel guilty about any of it, because there’s no more pressure to do things I no longer want to do.

Ditch your fantasy self — eliminate physical clutter and the psychological baggage that’s attached to it. You’ll gain clarity about who you are, and how you want to live, now.

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