Making space

Some people like to clean when they are feeling stressed and overwhelmed. Others reorganize their sock drawer. I purge. I start tossing stuff out, left, right and centre. 

Recently, with the relaunch of my business and coaching, a freelance design project, a corporate contract, and trying to facilitate moving my mom into a retirement home, things have felt really hectic, stressful and just "too much". In addition, for the last seven years, I have been working my way through my dad's estate which includes about ten galleries worth of artwork (he was an artists as well as a contractor), and a sea of other treasures not even yet accounted for. While it is a labour of love, it has been draining at times.

It was time to make things lighter.

I like to be relatively organized (but not obsessively so), and I have always kept on top of my organizing and have done seasonal purges. This summer, however, it felt like things had to take a drastic turn in the purge department. I attribute his in large part to work I did recently with a Neuro Linguistic Practitioner (should out to Cherene Francis!). Suddenly, after some intense coaching sessions, I just HAD to get rid of stuff. Not just the obvious stuff - the ugly mugs you got from your odd aunt Rhoda - but the stuff buried waaaaaay deep and long forgotten. That jean jacket I hand-painted in grade 9 with Betty Boop on the back? Had. To. Go. 

At the time the urge to purge started to hit, a friend gave me the book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Now this book has a cult following, with many devotees of the KonMarie method of decluttering. And I can tell you, Marie is extreme. There is no "well, let's just tidy up this little pile here". No. According to the author, you need to do things in big swoops in order to really feel the benefit of living with less. And while I didn't do things exactly as she instructed, I did dive into this book and stay open. And I will say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The best takeaway is this: when deciding if you should keep something or get rid of it, ask yourself "Does this (item) spark joy?". This really is a magical question that makes decluttering so much easier. You are leading your decisions based on emotions, and I love that. It totally works.

Some of the things I tossed recently (or gave away): 

  • said jean jacket (given away to a lovely neighbour, so that made me happy)

  • my wedding dress crinoline (still have my dress, not ready to let it go just yet)

  • most of my dad's framed prints that used to hang on his walls (that was tough, I admit)

  • about 4 garbage bags of stuff from my home office alone, and same amount in recycling

  • my Twilight Barbie collection (um, I didn't buy those, but I did appreciate them at the time. Funny story...)

  • my mom's vintage coats

  • about 50 pieces of jewelry (less does feel like more)

  • about 10 boxes of housewares and random crap

My husband and I had a garage sale which got rid of about half our total pile of stuff we no longer wanted. Garage sales are not for the faint of heart - they are a ton of work - but it was worth doing and we made a total of $400. What we didn't sell went to charity. Old towels and linens went to an animal shelter, and a few random things were sold on Kijiji. Note: I tried using that app 'Let Go' but I found it was a huge time-waster. Most people wanted things for basically free, and the chat-style communication just dragged out transactions.

So what has happened since the purge? (full disclaimer: still more purging has to be done, I am about 80% there)

I feel lighter. I feel clearer. I walk in into my office and instantly feel organized. I feel I have made space for 'new' and given myself permission to move forward. In a weird way, I feel I have forgiven myself, though I am not sure for what. It just feels like a clean, new slate. And while I have done big purges before, this feels different. I think because I let go of some shit I have had for decades. That stuff was holding me back. And interestingly, a couple of random work opportunities have come my way that are in complete alignment with my new business. It feels good. Actually, it feels amazing.

There is just no point in letting those non-joy-sparking things from the past take up valuable space in your home - or your heart. It is time to let them go and move forward, brave ones.