Clear Tip of the Week
A study conducted by scientists at University College, London in 2000* concluded that significant brain activity occurred when subjects viewed photos of loved ones. Four parts of the brain were involved.
The regions showing activity were deep in the cortex of the brain: the medial insula (which is associated with "gut feelings") and in part of the anterior cinguate, which is known to respond to euphoriainducing drugs. Deeper into the striatum, two other areas, which are active when we find experiences rewarding, were also stimulated by viewing pictures of loved ones. Even more significant, the right prefrontal cortex, a region where activity is heightened in depressed patients, became inactive when the pictures were viewed.
In 2007, a British psychologist reported his findings when querying subjects on their mood before and after they ate chocolate, drank wine and gazed at photos of loved ones. Only the photos gave a noticeable lift.
All the more reason why it's important to cherish photos of those we love. And why it's important to keep those photos clean, fresh and clutter free. You can't focus on the image if it's in a sea of stuff or the glass on the frame is dusty or cracked.
One of the most asked questions at STUFF-ication workshops is: "What do I do with all my photos? I have boxes of them and don't feel right just throwing them away but they are taking over." Here is what I suggest to help get a handle on photos:
  • Select one photo of each loved one to display. More is not better it's just more. Don't confuse your focus with multiple images.
  • Keep the photo current. You won't be disloyal by not keeping every school year snapshot of your grandkids. If the loved one is deceased, pick your favorite of them to display.
  • Get rid of yellowed or faded mats and cracked glass. Simple floating frames go well with every decor and they are easily updated.
  • Display your photos on one shelf or area of honor rather than have them scattered throughout the house. If you prefer wall frames, choose one wall vs. multiple ones. Be sure to include a favorite photo of you in the mix.
  • Avoid using the refrigerator as a collage board. If you must put photos there, pick just one of each loved one and use matching magnets vs. assorted magnets from Joe's Auto, Mack's Insurance, etc. Thin magnetic frames are also a good choice for keeping space divided.
  • Take remaining photos and divide them into manilla envelopes by subject. Family reunion, travel, school days, etc. If there are LOTS of Aunt Sue or Uncle Fred give them an individual envelope. Label the outside according to category. Place all envelopes in a file box or tupperware bin.
  • When time permits, take out the contents of each envelope and sort thru the photos. Keep only photos that are special to you. Write on the back of each who is in the photo and date if known. Tell the story of the photo if you care to. Do this with each envelope. If you have grandkids, nieces, or nephews; the next step is to prepare an envelope for each of them and select photos from your collection that would have meaning. Some day they will appreciate your effort.
  • Scan photos into your computer to save on storage space. If you don't have a scanner, take photos to your nearest copy service where they will create a CD for you. Label the contents.
  • Due to the coating on photos they are NOT recyclable. Keep a small amount in a folder to REuse for craft projects, greeting cards, bookmarks, etc. If you have vintage photos, you can donate to SCRAP in NE PDX. Contact SCRAP.
Honor your loved ones and the healing power of your connection by keeping your photos clean and clear. And don't forget to smile and send love to your own shining face every time you walk by ... it will make you and your place lighter!
*The study was presented at the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies meeting in Brighton, and reported in New Scientist magazine. 7/2000. Survey source Mindwise, 5/2007.

"I have started little bits and portions of clearing, as you suggested in your workshop. Every journey begins with the first step. Thank you for being the gift the universe intended at that moment! Keep up the good work."

Elaine S., STUFF-ication workshop, May 2010

Stuff-i-ca-tion ™

noun~ 1condition caused by objects crammed and stored at home or office.

STUFF-ication WORKSHOP. chaos to clear!

Tuesday September 7th
6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Garden Home Community Library
7475 SW Oleson Rd. Portland
Refreshments provided. Invite a friend!
Attendance is free - registration is required.
Call the library at 503-245-9932 or
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