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Get Real by Watching a Cartoon…

Balloonhouse I don't often write about movies, but last time I did it was about Wall-E, and this time I want to talk about another Pixar movie, the latest one called UP. I have seen it twice, which I also don't often do.

You may have seen from the previews that the curmudgeonly main character, Carl, uses thousands of balloons to carry his entire home through the sky. He's an elderly man who has lost his wife, and I won't spoil the story by telling you much more… but what absolutely grabbed me by the collar was a scene in which Carl quite literally JETTISONS all of his stuff from the house. He pushes every stick of furniture out of the doors and windows, every last bit of his old life…things we have seen him meticulously caring for throughout the movie. The helium in the balloons has dissipated throughout his journey and the house can only hover low near the ground. It's only after he realizes the stuff is actually just ballast and throws it out that his house can fly again. Once the past is pushed out, the house speeds upward and rushes to meet the needs of his new friends and his new life. He becomes nimble and mobile and able to live fully in the present.

Is your stuff weighing you down? Maybe it is. It does take bravery to face it. Your memories might be really painful. You might have to admit that you never succeeded at that business, or that marriage, or that you miss a special person so much it physically hurts just to think about it.

But as much bravery as it takes to face the past, it takes just as much or more to face the future too. If you got rid of the stuff that is crammed into your closets, your garage, your spare room, your office, or your bedroom, would you LOSE YOUR EXCUSES of why you're not living the life you want to live right now? Think about it. I am being tough on you guys this week, but I'm keeping it real… Are you afraid that getting rid of the clutter in your life is the first action toward a new life that is scary and uncertain? Even if the past is painful, at least it's familiar. Your new future is the great unknown. You can look at it as a adventure like Carl, or you can let that fear keep you stagnant and never grow beyond your current state.

This is why we say our clients and members that take action and follow our program are some of the bravest people we know.

IS THIS RESONATING? Let me know in the comments. I really loved this movie on so many levels, and I would love to hear your thoughts too. (photo from Pixar's UP movie site)

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I haven’t seen the movie yet, but your post certainly gave me a great visual representation for how to move on. I have never really been able to look at my stuff as “dead weight”, despite your excellent analogies regarding a “clutter diet”. Don’t know why this description brought it home, but it sure did! Thanks!


Wow! Powerful stuff. I’ve recently lost some lbs and got rid of a **bunch** of clothes over the last few weeks. Separation anxiety ensued…but I’m so glad I did it. Can’t wait to see this movie.

Sharon Lowenheim, Organizing Goddess

Lorie, I couldn’t agree with you more! I’m giving a talk next week on the same subject — how clutter is rooted in the past, and how much of it just reminds you of past failures: the clothes you can’t fit into anymore, the projects you never finished, the relationship that went south, the job you got fired from.


Oh Boy! Can I relate to that!
At one point, I had stuff from my grandparents house, my mother’s house, misc. stuff from other family members, gifts, and, and, and.
Finally I said, how many momentos do I really need here? I mean I’d like to have room for my own stuff, of my own choosing.
I got rid of a lot. Somedays I want to do what Carl did – just throw EVERYTHING out. I think that is going to happen to my closet real soon….

Shannon Phillips

I too loved the movie UP… I will definately see it again. It also was very moving for me to see Carl let go of his stuff for the purpose of having a New Adventure…. thanks for your thoughts they are giving me more food for thought!!!

Lana Kehr

I saw this movie last week and loved it! Normally, I am not a “cartoon” movie person, but this one was entertaining as well as teaching a lesson for everyone who has ever held onto “everything” from the past, not realizing that some of these “priceless” things can really weigh us down. It can feel very liberating and bring a real sense of accomplishment to let some of these things go! Thanks for your help and great ideas!


This certainly does resonate with me. After two years (!) of procrastinating, I’m finally having a yard sale this weekend. I’ve enlisted a friend to help me put the items out into the front yard first thing Saturday, because left to my own devises, I’d try to find a reason why every single item is not ready to “go.” Wish me luck?

Stacey Kannenberg

Stuff was definitely weighing Up down!!! I have three problem areas in my house and plan to tackle each of them by the month — this month is my office and I must say — an hour a day is truly making a difference!! 🙂

j mckown

My clutter problems aren’t about keeping too many things, which most clutter advice refers to. Due to a brain injury at birth–some call it attention deficit–scheduling, keeping on task– starting & completing– are deficient. I hired someone to help but was told to push my bed back; it was too heavy, esp. w/ a back surgery. I feel rather lost unless I find a live-in & that may not be worth it.


Wow! I finally found my pantry/laundry room. After X number of daily reminders I finally got to the job. As a caregiver to my husband and watcher beautiful grand children I finally made time Hurrah!

Sue in Texas

Wow, Lorie – You have really hit it on the head this week! I’ve read zillions of decluttering books, tried program after program, and never really understood why my clutter kept coming back.
I even lost most of my possessions in the New Orleans flood after Katrina, and now, less than four years later, I have nearly as much stuff clogging up the closets and cabinets in my new house as I had before the flood. And I never understood why, until today.
The clutter is AN EXCUSE THAT LET’S ME OFF THE HOOK so I don’t have to do the things I don’t want to do, or am ambivalent about, or am afraid of being successful at. I use my clutter as an excuse almost daily – can’t do this because I can’t find X, can’t do that because I need to spend time working on my clutter problem, can’t do something else because it’s in there somewhere but I don’t have time to look for it today…
I can’t think of one thing my clutter is enabling me to do, but I can think of many things it is enabling me to NOT do. That’s a very powerful insight, and it turns my perspective on how to tackle this on its head.
Thank you!!! Sue

Henry in Edmonton, AB, Canada

WOW!!! I stumbled on this article and was not expecting much, maybe a snicker or two, but certainly not the revelations and new understandings I have read about and even experienced today!
I have been a “Procrastinator” and “Collector” for many years and have recently been labeled a “Hoarder”. What a negative feeling that comes with! Boy do I know what it means to be weighed down by clutter!
I have gotten pretty good at ignoring most of it, but I have tried to move twice in the last three years and have become completely overwhelmed and had to give up both times! I even lost my $550 deposit this time because I backed out of a lease agreement, before I unloaded there first loads from my car and trailer.
I need professional help, but at least know I have a better understanding of why it is so hard to let some things go.
Thanks a billion!!! 😉


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