I don’t make New Year resolutions. Instead, around my birthday in October I reflect on my life and think about the things I would like to see different. How I would like to grow and change as well as how I would like to rearrange the furniture or replace our dinner plates. All pieces of me are opened up and looked at, examined, given value and then I decide if I’m ready for the shifts needed to make the changes I want. Sometimes, like in the case of new dinner plates, it’s easy. Other times, especially when it comes to my personal growth, it can be a lot more challenging.
I didn’t do that reflection this year. I turned forty and instead of thinking about what I wanted to change I basked in the glow of what I love about my life. It felt good to have this shift. I had an amazing party, surrounded by friends and all our children and honestly, I think it was the best birthday party I’ve had to date. I felt whole. I felt loved. I felt my community and my family. There was nothing missing, nothing in the days and weeks surrounding my birthday that I wanted to change. Life was just as it needed to be in those moments.
The holidays came and went, with much activity on my part and the my family’s. Revelations were made about past traumas. I found comfort and safety in my little family. I had some growth. Life was good for the most part, although I was finding little things I wanted to change or shift, but I wasn’t sure how to make the shifts that I wanted to see. These shifts I wanted to make revolved around a sense of fear, a sense of feeling incomplete and empty, and a sense of feeling unsafe in the world in general.
January came and a few friends posted and talked about their new year’s resolutions of purging and cleansing and clearing. Getting rid of stuff. Not feeling overwhelmed by stuff or schedules or life. Letting their bodies and minds and souls heal a bit more. I was inspired. I needed to clear. I needed to cleanse.
So by the end of January I had a plan: every month I would focus on one room in our home and clear it out, go through everything in it, pass on the things that no longer have a purpose in my life. The last week of January I started in our office and to be honest a LOT of things were passed on to the shredder, recycling and garbage. The room was cleaned and cleared and free of clutter within three weeks. I spent twenty minutes a day cleaning, clearing and or organizing. One day a week I would spend a full hour. I now have an area to meditate and do yoga. I have my study chair in a place where I can look outside at our little forest behind our home. I moved some furniture out and some in. It is now my favorite room in the house.
Next I cleared out our linen closet and passed on to friends some comforters, pillowcases and sheets that we don’t use. Then I moved on to the master bedroom. After the master bedroom will be my daughter’s bedroom, and so on as I move through the house. Passing items on. Making space for us. Making our space our own. Feeling more and more at ease in our home and less burdened and overwhelmed.
The impact on me of having these rooms and spaces cleared has been profound. I feel more peaceful. More calm. More at home in my home and my body. I can focus better in the rooms that have been cleared and notice how my anxiety and stress rises in the rooms that have not been. It’s more than just having the rooms clean. It’s having the clutter gone. It’s having the space to move about. It’s having open space where my mind and soul can open too.
In the past, I have tended to be a little bit of a hoarder. Not to the extent that we can see on tv, but certainly, I have held on to many things that I don’t truly want. Yet I couldn’t get rid of them. I didn’t know why, until a member of my cohort, in a completely unrelated conversation, used the phrase “coming from a sense of lack”. The idea being, if we come from a sense of lack, nothing is ever enough, we can never feel full and at peace.
This struck me. Certainly I have held on to a LOT of things because of this sense of lack. This sense of needing to be filled up. Of feeling empty and alone. Of not feeling all the love that others have for me. It’s not a fun place to live. It’s lonely. It’s sad. It’s empty.
When I heard those words, something clicked in my head. And along with my friends performing their own clearing, I realized that I can’t live in this sense of lack any longer. To be whole, I need to live in a sense of abundance. To realize, I have more than I need. To open my soul to the love of my friends and family.
I would have never thought that getting rid of things would help bring me to this sense of abundance. However, approaching every object in my house with the attitude of “does this thing make my life feel brighter in any way?” has truly shown me just how much I do have. How whole and complete I am starting to feel. How I don’t need a bunch of things to feel whole or loved. It’s an amazing feeling.
This is not to say there aren’t things that I can’t seem to let go of yet. I have a few items of my mom’s or one or the other of my grandmother’s that don’t seem to serve me and yet I can’t let them go. I’m working on ways to repurpose these items, so I don’t need to let them go, and am able to find a way for them to bring me joy. I have also passed a few things over to my sister, to let her make the same choices I am. Putting it out of my hands and space. Giving her the opportunity to find some joy in these items or if she doesn’t, to pass them on.
It’s a work in progress. I’m good with that. I am beginning to appreciate the sense of wholeness and abundance that comes from letting things go, as well as opening the space to let new things, be they experiences, emotions, people or actual objects, in.