The trouble is, where does one begin? I am blessed to own a large old home, which we never imagined we would fill. Six years later, I have a strange collection of “things I might use” or “memories I can’t just throw away” or “papers that need to be organized.”
Outer order contributes to inner calm.
Decluttering means you are making room for something new.
In consulting Dr. Northrup’s website, I learned a bit about the Feng Shui aspect of decluttering:
“Terah Kathryn Collins, the founder of the Western School of Feng Shui, reminds us that our things “talk to us” energetically. Do you have furniture that you’ve inherited from a parent that is dark, old, and depressing, but you keep it because it’s been in the family forever? Do you like what it’s saying to you? Listen closely. One of my friends had an old dining room set that constantly reminded her of the family dinners she had as a child when everyone yelled at each other. She realized that keeping it and eating her meals there was not very nourishing. All the old vibes and conflict seemed to live on in that table. Another friend of mine gave away nearly all of her old clothing and jewelry after her husband died. She was in her 40’s then and felt the need to shed the trappings associated with a difficult time in her life.
How do you know what to hold on to and when it’s time to let go? Terah suggests when looking at an item, whether furniture, a book, or clothing, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I love it? If not, don’t keep it!
- Do I need it?
- Does it reflect who I am now in my life and who I want to be in the future?
- Does it act as an environmental affirmation for me? For example, do I feel uplifted and energized when I look at it? Or does it make me feel sad and depressed?
- What positive or negative emotions do I associate with it?
- Does it need to be fixed or repaired, and if so, am I willing to do so?
- If I were to move tomorrow, would I take it with me?”
With that in mind, I looked at my basement. It’s awful. It’s the easiest thing in the world to throw objects down there, and not see them for weeks, months, years.
I decided to to attack my pile of old journals before anything else. I have been carrying them around for years, going on decades. I didn’t want to throw them away or recycle them, it felt so weird to me that they would exist, that I might be exposed somehow. So I carried all the old wounds around, moving them from box to box, basement to basement. It feels like I can’t really declutter unless I get rid of the oldest, toughest things first.
I finally decided I didn’t need them anymore. And I lit a fire.
(In my fire pit. I don’t recommend lighting a fire randomly.)
These books were a chronicle of all the difficult passages of my life so far, and they deserved a bit of ceremony. So I invited a special group of ladies over and we drank, laughed and burned! It was FABULOUS.
I opened an old journal, read a page to myself, instantly remembered that moment and gleefully threw it onto the fire. Goodbye, decadent navel-gazing! Goodbye sad, timid wallflower! Goodbye, old obsolete versions of me!
Man, that was more satisfying than I ever imagined it would be. If I were a smoker, I’d have lit up.
In the days since, I have relived some of the more painful growing moments. The relationship I refused to leave, even though it was toxic. The friendship that took much more than it gave. The academic endeavors I never completed. I suppose you can’t stir up the pot without bringing some sludge to the surface. Like any kind of detoxification, you usually feel crappier before you feel better. I am remembering some of my less-than-brilliant moments, and having to forgive myself all over again.
But I do feel a lot lighter. I have not forgotten my history, but I do not feel weighed down by it. I am free to reinvent.