Here is the May 2017 edition of my Confronting Clutter newsletter. This month I share a "behind the scenes" example of how I use my journal when my words and work start to feel flat.
This Month's Topic:

A Page from My Journal
A behind-the-scenes glimpse at how my journal is a helpful companion when I'm feeling stuck.

When I'm overwhelmed, drained of purpose, or caught up in mental clutter, I often turn to my journal to help me out.

The other day I was trying to revise my website text. As I wrote about "clutter," "transitions," "journaling," these words that I've said so many times were starting to feel flat and meaningless. 

I decided to give myself a break from trying to sound like an expert. Instead, I went into the private space of my journal where I could freely explore without having to be perfect.

I asked each of those familiar words to share with me, in a few sentences, what they meant and what their role was in the bigger picture of what I offer. Here's what came out:

Clutter Speaks:
I am a metaphor. I am the problem that brings people to your door. I am the humbler. The one who makes them believe they need fixing. I am the shame inducer. I am the heaviness and the stuckness. The weight. The door-blocker. The distractor. The embarrassment behind the scenes. I hold clues to what needs a goodbye and what is still waiting to happen. I'm mixed in with treasures. Sometimes I come in the form of physical objects. Sometimes other forms.

Transition Speaks:
I'm a reminder that this is a process. I am the background context who finds meaning in the messiness. I make sense of confusion and feeling lost. I make sense of the discomfort that can come even with a happy change. I am constantly expressed in the natural world. I am a hopeful model. I am about spring coming after winter, and new beginnings coming out of endings.

Journaling Speaks:
I am the vehicle. I am the patient one who waits for you. The flexible one. The respectful one. The one who reveals what's emerging. Doorways into different rooms inside. The bucket going down into the well to bring up gifts, inspirations, inner wisdom from the underground stream. I can take you where you need to go. If one way doesn't work, I have lots of other ways in. I'm a revealer of the secret treasure inside. To share me is to teach people to fish instead of giving them a fish.

I kept going with other words. Therapy. Coaching. Classes. Gentle Approach. What was blurry began to organize itself into a coherent shape. All those flat words sounded juicy and interesting again.
"We do indeed know more than we may consciously understand or remember, and writing brings this underlying wisdom to our awareness, where it can be accessed and used." —Kathleen Adams, Scribing the Soul, ©2004

Journal therapy has taught me that when one type of writing isn't getting me anywhere, it's time to shift gears and try a fresh strategy. And when I'm trying too hard to sound smart, wise, interesting, or like I've got it all together, that is a type of clutter and it's getting in the way. 

My journal gives me privacy, room to play, and full permission to not know anything.
Then it provides me with lots of processes to choose from, helping me access my deeper knowing.


Carolyn Koehnline's Journal: An Indispensable Tool in Examining the Meaning of Your Clutter.

Please send me an email ( or post to my Confronting Clutter Facebook page to ask your clutter-clearing questions and share your strategies for helping yourself through stuckness, boredom, and whatever muddles you get yourself into. Also, I'd love to hear about any ways you are using your journal to clear the clutter to make room for what matters.


Sending you gentle support,

PS: Interested in reading past
Confronting Clutter newsletters? They're listed here.


Clearing Space to Write

A 4-week online class offered through the Therapeutic Writing Institute, July 27-August 23.

Writing requires dedicated space, time, and focus, which can be easily taken over by clutter—the piles of paper covering your desk, a jam-packed calendar, or a head filled with too many ideas competing for your attention. In this workshop, designed especially for writers, you’ll practice applying brief, time-tested journaling processes to identify and clear distractions from your writing life. You’ll also learn ways to use journal writing to support clearing clutter from the rest of your life. 

CEUs available
Required Text:  Confronting Clutter by Carolyn Koehnline available at

Click here for more information and to register.



If you're tackling a clutter-clearing project on your own, clutter coaching can help that process be more efficient and effective. I'll share tools, resources, creative processes, and practical tips as needed. My intention is to support you in being a wonderful support person to yourself, inviting whatever clutter-clearing you're doing to make way for what is emerging in your life.

I offer one-hour sessions to help you form a clutter-clearing plan or get unstuck if you've gotten hung up in your process. I coach by phone, Skype, through writing, or at my office in Bellingham, WA. You may choose to do a one-time consultation, or connect weekly, every-other-week, or monthly for a few months. For those potentially seeking ongoing coaching for a stretch of time I offer a free, 20-minute consultation to determine whether my approach will be a good fit for you. If you'd like to set that up, just reply to this email.

Artists in the Bellingham area wishing to donate, sell or purchase used art supplies may want to check out the Allied Arts Studio Sweep, May 19-20.
Copyright © 2017 Carolyn Koehnline. All rights reserved.
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