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May 7, 2014

Breathing Room: Open Your Heart by Decluttering Your Home by Lauren Rosenfeld & Melva Green. {Book Review}

Breathing Room

Note: elephantjournal.com received these review items for free, in return for a guarantee that we would review said offering. That said, we say what we want—good and bad, happy and sad.

When this book arrived in the mail for me to review, I almost jumped in the air from sheer joy.

It’s not that I am a hoarder, because I’m not, but I tend to be scattered with my things. And while I have no trouble parting with stuff, I was married to someone with innate hoarding traits, and saw that side of attachment and how things had the power to drive a wedge between people.

So between my own lack of follow through when it came to clearing out clutter, and the remnants of living in the thick of a hoarding lifestyle, I crave a home with a minimalist feel. And then came the book Breathing Room: Open Your Heart by Decluttering Your Home by Lauren Rosenfeld and Dr. Melva Green.

Dr. Melva Green is a board-certififed psychiatrist that has been featured on the A&E television show Hoarders. If you have not had the opportunity to see this show, it’s amazing. Each segment follows one or two people that have this serious mental disorder, the reasons why they have come to this lifestyle and the effects of it and how the experts on the show try to help them rise above it.

This is not just a go in and clean up the house kind of show. They truly try to get to the root of the hoarding and give each client and their families tools to learn how to manage it. I say manage, because after living with someone with hoarding traits I look at it like alcoholism—an illness that can re-manifest and relapse at any time if given the proper circumstances.

Lauren Rosenfeld, MA, M.ED. calls herself a professional soul declutterer and spiritual intuitive. She makes a living helping people declutter and has a Master’s Degree in Education, studied the Kabbalah and Zen. She focuses on the emotions behind the things we choose to take up root in our homes just as they do in our hearts.

Let me first say that this is not a typical book on how to clean your house.

There are many books out there that address organizing a home and provide tips and suggestions on how to sort, donate and sell. I know, because I own some of those books.

This book attempts to get to the heart of why we hold on to things. I’m not referring to your great-grandma’s locket or the family photo album. I am talking about the things like the lamp your ex-husband’s mother gave you on your wedding day. I’m talking about the toys the neighbor brought over for your kids because they were cleaning out their own home. I’m talking about the stuff we feel guilty about throwing out because for some reason we feel like we can’t.

Rosenfeld and Green go through each home in a typical living space and invite the reader to visualize what would be an ideal room.

What is the purpose of a bedroom? What is the purpose of a kitchen? Besides the obvious answers—to sleep to cook—we want a place we can go to retreat or an environment we can use to create and nourish. With these words and images, the authors walk readers step by step on how to eliminate the objects that do not align with what we want that room to represent.

Along with this room by room walk through, the authors highlight experiences they have had working with past clients and how each one has had a breakthrough. When I read this I found myself wishing one of them would come to my house and help me!

Finally, the book closes with 10 principles or guidelines to help the reader clear out the clutter. These principles are general rules or ideas that are to be kept in mind as we go through and decipher what makes our houses into homes.

I loved this book and I love the way it is presented. While I don’t think it is a fix for a person who truly struggles with a hoarding disorder, I do think it is a wonderful tool for people who just don’t know where to begin (like me). Anyone can clean a house, but to shape it into a place where we can breathe and live and love is another skill.

I still wish Lauren Rosenfeld would come to my house, though.

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photo Credit: Publisher’s Website

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