“I dread doing this,” I said, heaving a long sigh, “but we can’t put it off any longer.” I wrinkled my nose toward my husband. “The closet really needs cleaning.”

Rolling up my sleeves, I tackled the chore with reluctance. Items came off the shelves —a hot pink Flamenco dress from my dancing days three decades prior, souvenirs that had lost their shape and color from a trip that now faded in our memories. On I went. The growing pile of trash included boxes full of long-forgotten items, too worn even to donate to Goodwill.

I plunged forth, sweat beads trickling down my forehead. Hours later, I completed the task with a sense of great accomplishment.

“Look honey,” I called out proudly to my husband.

“Hey, with the clutter all gone, the closet has an echo,” he said.

Years later, at the age of thirty-one, another clean-up job pressed with urgency. Losing my sight to a retinal disease had cluttered my world with unwanted emotional junk.

After months of gloom, desperation and fear, I opened the closet of my heart. Taking a deep breath, I slipped on gloves of determination to rid myself of the accumulated mess.

First, I removed the notion that being sightless had put an end to a productive life. Then, with one swoop, I tossed doubt, discouragement and thoughts of defeat into the trash.

Digging deeper, I found more unwanted items: hesitation to apply for work, fear of potential obstacles, and nagging insecurities.

Passion for life now paints the closet of my new life. Darkness doesn’t frighten me anymore. Today, I see the light of optimism and the sunshine of encouragement.

“I can’t believe you travel by yourself,” a friend said recently.

“I don’t. I always have companions—faith in God, confidence, and a flair for adventure.”

Contrary to what most think, adversities don’t have to mean failure. Rather, they usher opportunities to discover creative ways to navigate through life. And the navigating is easier without the baggage that clutters the closet of our heart. When the unwanted stuff is tossed out, there’s plenty of room for creativity, wisdom and courage. They are the traits needed to overcome economic downturns, scrawny 401K accounts, mortgages that rob our sleep, and jobs that teeter on a cliff.

A cleaning is required. And when we take on the task, wisdom shines through to a new approach. You might try the following to conquer a perceived crisis:

*Take the focus off what is missing. Instead, look closer at what you have and what is within your reach.

*Invest in giving. What you get in return will multiply your assets.

*Control each thought that enters your mind.

*Gratitude first thing in the morning gives a fresh attitude for the day.

*Take each day as an opportunity to improve at least one part of your life—better habits, healthier diet, more exercise, and larger amounts of patience.

*Spend moments in silent reflection. You’ll find it refreshes the soul.

*Offer others simple encouragement—a smile at the salesclerk, a friendly comment to a stranger, or a positive reaction to a negative situation.

*Head to bed with comforting thoughts that tomorrow will bring new opportunities, new paths to explore, and new turns to take.

Dare to see life differently. Life’s changes, temporary setbacks, or losing what we value don’t define failure. Instead, they are the very springboards to take us to greater heights. They move us to embrace a new outlook and enrich our world in unexpected ways. A regular cleaning of the closet reveals those stored treasures, hidden potentials, and brand new avenues to success.


Author's Bio: 

Although blind, Janet Perez Eckles is an award-winning Spanish Interpreter, international speaker, writer and author of “Trials of Today, Treasures for Tomorrow: Overcoming Adversities in Life”—a true story of inspiration, uplifting insights and practical steps to reach success, peace, contagious joy and excellence.

As an expert in dealing with adversity, she imparts nuggets of inspiration at: www.janetperezeckles.com