About 3 years ago, my sis, Lyn and I had to sell our family home- very quickly! I think it was about 4 months from being told it had to be sold to walking out the door for the last time. Needless to say, it was very stressful, especially for Lyn who was 6 months pregnant at the time! We moved in with my Dad for a while until we got ourselves together, refocused and were able to figure out the next step. Life goes on and the past is the past but last week, we were brought back there!
We had left boxes of our ‘stuff’ in my Dad’s house for the past 3 years. He had been very patient with us, but there were two whole rooms in his home taken up with boxes and he had started to remind us every time he saw either one of us! Anyway, we agreed and we set a date- we would tackle our stuff and get it sorted!
As I tore the brown tape off box after box, there were loads of ‘ooohhhhs and aaahhhhhs’ but mostly I was wondering why I still had all this stuff! I had boxes of notes from college courses I had done almost 10 years ago, I had clothes that I hadn’t worn in about ten years (it was a bit depressing to see how tiny the tops were and perhaps a bit embarrassing as well!). Basically, I had piles of crap and so did Lyn.
It was a great lesson for me in how much I have changed in the past few years. When we had to sell the house 3 years ago, we had been so reluctant to let anything go and we had packed up box after box, clinging to our ‘precious’ stuff. Scratched cd’s, old clothes, old cosmetics, broken ornaments & videos! Now, I will admit that I am sentimental and that I do have old shoe boxes with pictures, cards and keepsakes that mean something to me but what we found in those boxes was really pure shit!
But this day was to be a major overhaul and de-cluttering initiative. There would be no mercy and we had three options: Bin, Charity Shop or Keep.
It really got me thinking that when we embark on a major de-clutter, what we are actually engaging in is a complete re-evaluation of our lives. We’re letting go, paring down, purging, prioritising, re-evaluating, discovering, risk-taking by letting things go and even developing a new level of trust in ourselves. So this de-cluttering day actually became an extensive tour of our entire lives — past, present and future.
Our mam died ten years ago and we had a lot of her clothes packed away. Clothes that we would never wear but 3 years ago, we had thought that if we threw it away or gave it to a charity shop, it would be like snipping the umbilical cord and letting her go, shoving her off into the cosmos saying ‘Thanks a mill, see ya around! Bye!’ There was so much guilt at the idea of getting rid of ‘stuff’- especially stuff that we feel connected to in some way.
But what we realised during that day was that we had fused together our mam and the jumper that she used to wear. Putting her jumper into a bag for charity doesn’t mean we love her any less. The emotional connection and sense of closeness we have is to our mam — not her old jumper with the holes in it! And of course, we have so many other keepsakes which we enjoy so much more than a bag of clothes gathering dust in the attic. We were ready to let a lot go and as I said, it was a great lesson for both of us in how much we had changed in the past few years. After the realisation I had with being able to let go of a lot my mams’ ‘stuff’, I was easily able to let go of my own stuff aka crap!
And on the other side of the clutter purge was…a wonderful sense of freedom. I really think that the more we let go, the more space we open up for new stuff to grow in our lives. At the end of the day, we only have so much emotional, psychological and physical space. But clutter and holding onto ‘stuff’ represents so much more than just that — it’s symbolic and energetic too. The ‘letting go’ forces us to trust that the unknown or the future will be ok. We can’t let go of boxes of old college notes unless we trust in our own decision that we aren’t going to pursue that particular path. For example, last week I sent very expensive law books to a charity shop and recycled a huge box of notes. I had been holding onto them just in case I lost my mind and went back to law but this time, I was ready to acknowledge that there was no going back for me! Onwards and upwards! Consequently, each box I packed for charity was an exercise in deepening my confidence in myself and in my future.
Each time we choose to get rid of a possession, we are taking a symbolic pair of scissors and cutting the energetic connection we have with the item. To do that, we have to make some choices in our life and examine who we were and what we were about in the past, who we are and what we’re about today and about who we want to be and what we want to be about in the future. The more we trim down all our stuff, the closer we get to living in the present moment and being comfortable in the current reality. You see, the more we purge, the less we attach to the past and the less we attach to the future. We’re making the decision to live in the present moment. The past is over and can’t be changed, the future is ours to make of it what we will…and we trust ourselves to blossom without a backup supply of jeans that no longer fit you, broken suitcases, videos, scratched cds and 12 half used bottles of perfume!
We felt so energetic and lighter at the end of our de-cluttering day. We really hadn’t realised how much we had changed in the past few years, but we were able to acknowledge it that evening over a bottle of wine! Now, we’re living more in the moment! We were able to let go of a bunch of stuff that represented old dreams, unfinished projects as well as stuff that caused guilty twinges from an impulse buyer’s heart! I actually felt much calmer and freer from clearing all that space in my Dad’s house that I’m already pondering tackling the junk room in my own place next week!
I hope you enjoyed this issue of Progress! I’d love to hear your feedback so get in touch!
Until next time,
Make some space!