Letting Go...Embracing Change...

Living the Life I Dream

Full

Posted by on Nov 24, 2014 in Blog | 2 comments

Full

Lately my life has been full.

My oldest is home with all his worldly possessions after serving five years in the Marines. My middle has taken over the entire basement with his art studio. My youngest, who is wrapping up her last year of high school, is barely contained in her girly suite.

We have four cars with a fifth one in the plans and a two car garage. Getting in and out requires a game of musical cars from time to time. My and my husband’s home offices are buzzing with activity. Then there’s the holidays with extra food, decorations, and gifts being tucked away in every available crevice and corner.

I find myself holding onto things I normally don’t hold onto. Larger boxes to wrap Christmas presents, the set of dishes I haven’t used in several years, towels, pots and pans, and random glasses and bowls. I keep the two benches that don’t have a purpose, chairs that don’t match, a side table I no longer need, and picture frames, lots of picture frames. There’s a tangle of Christmas lights in a box and cache of gift wrap in the upstairs closet.

And I feel full, almost stuffed to uncomfortable. I itch to load it up and haul it away. To clear the rooms. To make space.

Then I remember.

The holidays will come and go and the larger boxes and extra food and gift wrap and tangle of lights will be put to good use. They will induce smiles and laughter. They will bring us together in ways we can’t yet imagine and in their wake create memories we will hold onto forever.

The oldest is making plans to go to college and get a house. He’ll leave taking all his worldly possessions plus one of the cars plus some of the towels and pots and pans and random chairs and picture frames. I hope he finds a need for a bench or two and will be grateful to see things I no longer need put to good use as he starts his new life in his new home.

The middle will move and the art studio that hums along with his creativity will once again become any empty labyrinth of rooms that I won’t traverse. He’ll take a car and a bed and a couch and a television. He’ll take the shelves that hold his cans of paint and the paint covered tables on which he works. The hum in the basement, the artistic energy, will dissipate leaving a void in it’s wake.

The youngest has college in her sites and will be moving into a dorm next fall. She’ll take a car, her clothes, and the futon from the basement. I anticipate that she’ll keep her room here, at least for another year or two, but the stuff she uses everyday will go with her and the room will be a place she visits on occasion and no longer a place that she lives.

And the rest? The things they don’t take? All that remains?

I will load it up and haul it away. I will clear the rooms. I will make space.

It will feel good and a little lonely and somewhat sad.

Somewhat sad.

Full will not last forever.

So, I decide that today I going to overlook the clutter, I won’t worry over items crammed into crevices and corners, and I’m choosing to ignore the things that have not yet been put to good use. Today I’m playing musical cars with a smile as I walk past the shelves that are over flowing. Today I’m enjoying full.

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Decluttering: The First Step

Posted by on Nov 20, 2014 in Blog | 4 comments

Decluttering: The First Step

Stop buying new stuff.

If we really want to get a handle on the stuff we have, we have to stop adding to it. We have to commit, for a month, a week, a day, that before purchasing anything new we will make sure that 1. we don’t already have one, that 2. we don’t have something else that can get the job done just as well, that 3. we can’t wait and make the purchase later, or that 4. we maybe, just maybe, can get by without the item.

Not buying stuff is challenging. Not running to the store to get that thing-we-are-convinced-will-make-our-lives-oh-so-much-better is a difficult habit to break. Making due is not always fun. Not distracting ourselves from the grind of our lives with a trip to the mall to look at pretty stuff and letting go of the high we get from the purchase isn’t easy. None of this is easy. I know first hand.

So, why should we stop buying new stuff?

We stop for the peace and clarity of mind that comes from knowing how much stuff we have and being able to find it when we need it. We stop because having less stuff means we have more money and more time to invest in the people and things in which we truly care. We stop because we want to live lives that are focused on people and experiences, not things.

Easier said than done? Always. A constant practice? Yes. Worth it? Absolutely.

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Making Space

Posted by on May 5, 2014 in Blog | 8 comments

Making Space

“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ~ Lao Tzu

My daughter finally chose her dress for prom. A lovely black and gold number that I’m sure she’ll look stunning wearing. As she finalized the order, she realized she would need new shoes. She has a pair of strappy, silver heels, but they would clash with her dress.

It occurred to me that I might have exactly what she needed. Excitedly, I hurried to my closet and pulled two plastic shoe boxes down from the top shelf. Each box held one pair of shoes. These were my fancy shoes. Since we wear the same shoe size, one or the other should be perfect.

As she tried on the beautiful, beaded sandals, I had to agree, they would clash with her gown. She dubbed the black pointy-toed pumps “ugly,” She was right. They were ugly and not in the style of the minute.

Shoe shopping trip planned, I placed my fancy shoes back in their plastic boxes and tucked them neatly on the top shelf of my closet. Over the next few days, even though they were out of site, I couldn’t keep them out of mind. I questioned myself as to why I was holding onto these two pairs of shoes.

I couldn’t honestly remember the last time I had worn either pair, and even after careful thought, I had no idea where I had bought them or how long I had owned them. I tried on both pairs again and teetered around the house to my husband’s amusement. Neither pair was the least bit comfortable.

Since they were in good repair and I have the space to store them, I argued (with myself) that I should hold onto them just in case something comes up. Every girl needs a pair or two of fancy shoes, right? Finally, I had to admit that in reality if something did come up, I would probably go out and just buy a new pair of shoes.

I’m a professional organizer, and while I’m sentimental, I’ve never even come close to being a hoarder. I throw things that are damaged or stained in the trash. I happily give away items that others can use. I’m on a first name basis with the employees at my favorite donation center. I encourage my clients to do the same.

In the past six months, I’ve redone every closet in my house, my pantry, and the garage carefully scrutinizing every item in each of these places. Tools, hardware, linens, kitchen ware, clothes, pictures, and decor were sorted through and those items we no longer needed were donated, sold, or trashed.

So, as I contemplated my fancy shoes, the ones that made the cut just a few months before, I had to ask myself why I held onto them. Even though they were in perfect shape and even though I had space, there really was no reason.

Then, it occurred to me that if I let them go, I would have extra space in my closet. An entire eight inches of emptiness. Excited, I racked my brain trying to think of what I could put there in place of the shoes, but nothing came to mind.

I realized that I would have to leave the space empty and that is when a deep, deep discomfort swept over my entire body and a knot slowly began to form in my stomach.

I know that in order to bring new, better, and right into your life you have to let go of old, lessor, and wrong. My mantra for the past five years has been “letting go…embracing change.” Yet, here I was with a death grip on two pairs of fancy shoes terrified of the eight measly inches of empty space on the top shelf of my closet that I couldn’t/wouldn’t be able to immediately fill.

I breathed deep. I settled into the discomfort. I stayed with it until it passed.

The next day, I tried on each pair of shoes one last time to confirm that they were indeed uncomfortable and out of date. Then I walked them to the dining room table and placed them there to donate.

I wondered what other things I had overlooked in my recent purge. As I poked through closets and cupboards, more and more items were added. The nearly new red shoes that I promise are filled with invisible razors and make me cry in pain at the very thought of even putting them on for one second, the plastic cup from the car dealership that nobody in my family will ever use, and several pillow cases, their mates lost long ago.

As I pulled each unneeded item, I made an empty space, and each time I felt the discomfort rise in my body, I breathed through it.

I keep going because I know that it is only in the empty space, in the quiet silent moments, in the free fall that begins the minute we let go of old things, old feelings, old thoughts, and old ideas that change can happen.

I’m making space and holding the emptiness sacred and waiting patiently for the change.

 

- Want to join in? We’d love to have you. Use #making_space and post photos of what you’re letting go of. If you want to see what else I get rid of, please feel free to follow me on Instagram or Facebook.  If you’d like to receive updates in your inbox, you can subscribe using the box on your right. -

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Moving Forward

Posted by on Apr 29, 2014 in Blog | 7 comments

Moving Forward

“All is well. Everything is working out for my highest good. Out of this situation only good will come. I am safe.” – Louise Hay

Yesterday, I woke up early and I sat in the pre-dawn hours, cup of turmeric tea close at hand, working on my May calendar. This monthly calendar ritual has become a favorite of mine. Frustrated with the limitations of every “time-keeping organizations” system on the market, I eschewed them all and created my own.

It’s a time consuming task, but I love it. Using a Moleskin, I carefully write each day and date on the top of each right hand page. Then on the top left side of every single page I write a daily affirmation. Finally, I fill in appointments I’ve already confirmed for the month leaving a space to list my accomplishments for that day.

I also have a monthly calendar pages for appointments and to help with long range planing. I tuck both into a leather portfolio given to me many years ago by a mentor. The the smell of the leather, the sound of the pen scratching out the details of my life, and the turning of each page filled with promise for the future centers me.

The night before my husband and I had a long talk. He has lovingly supported and encouraged me to find my path. I’ve been searching for my direction, but after several false starts (via career paths that were not good fits for me), it would be fair to say I’m a bit cautious. I don’t want to end up investing time and energy into something else that in the end does not ring true.

So for the past few years, I’ve treaded lightly. I’ve looked, listened, and contemplated. I’d like to be able to say that I know, beyond a shadow of a doubt where I’ll end up, but I can’t. Not, yet. But things are getting clearer. I’m beginning to own my truth.

In addition, we’ve been able to set things up at home so that I can guiltlessly take more time to delve into these interests I’m pursuing. My responsibility gene is large. It’s difficult for me to pull away from that which I think I need to do and focus on that which I was put here to do. My husband was adament, “if not now, then when?”

I knew he was right.

So, I gave myself permission to lean in a bit. I decided I would take the time and invest. I made appointments with myself to learn and explore. It was scary but exhilarating, and as I finished planning out the month it felt right…very, very, right.

Literally at the moment I closed my May Moleskin feeling braver and more convicted then I ever had, my phone rang. It was my husband. One of key pieces we had in place allowing me to guiltlessly take more time to delve into these interests I’m pursuing had fallen away.

I tried to stay in gratitude, but I was livid. At the exact moment that I leaned in, the bottom fell out. I spent a most of the day racking my mind for a back-up plan, that is when I wasn’t fighting back tears or ranting about the unfairness of it all.

It was not some of my finest moments.

I capped the day with a bit of bad TV, then crawled into bed exhausted. I woke up this morning still angry. Normally I meditate first. Today, I checked my email and popped onto Facebook for a few minutes to make sure everyone was safe and sound.

Then I meditated.

I could hear my dogs, who are always close, breathing gently. I could feel the warmth of their bodies. I allowed all the thoughts, all the feelings, all the hurt and anger and confusion to drain from my body and as I sat, empty, I realized that key piece in place or not, nothing had really changed.

There’s always going to be a bump or a wrinkle to work around. Life is in flux. Life is always in flux. Always.

I just have to stay my course. I have to stay in gratitude. I have to accept what is. I have to keep moving forward in spite of the fear…that’s called brave.

So, that’s the plan. Whether the bottom is there or not, it doesn’t matter. The details always work themselves out. I’m staying focused. I’m moving forward.

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