Week #1: Clearing the Behind-the-Door Spaces
The REAL Age-Old Legacy of Saving and Storing
The house I grew up in had one of those attics that could only be accessed by pulling a string attached to a small door carved into the hallway ceiling which had a foldable and rather flimsy hinged wooden ladder attached. The space in the attic was not only unwieldy to get to, but it was one in which we could not stand fully upright and which had a floor formed by a mix of scattered plywood and exposed pink insulation.
I remember the time I was watching TV in my parents’ bedroom and I saw my dad’s entire leg come through the ceiling of his clothes closet. He was putting holiday decorations away in the attic and mistakenly stepped into a space that had no floorboard. Whoops.
As much of a pain in the neck as it was to navigate that darn attic, we never hesitated to throw things up there. Literally throw them. I can still envision my mom pulling the attic hatch halfway down and tossing trash bags of God-knows-what into the dark opening. With no garage, what were we to do? Saving and storing was a must. Holding onto things is part of an age-old legacy, right?
When Marty and I bought our second house, we not only had a huge walk-in attic with easy access from the bedroom level, but we also had a three-car garage. Now we were talking. We would never run out of places to store our stuff – yay!!
When we sold the house and made the move last April, my “yay!” transformed into a “WTH?!” Let’s just say we definitely did our part to preserve that age-old legacy in the 15 years that we resided there. We filled two commercial-grade dumpsters to prove it.
Why Do We REALly save and store?
Most of us have a tendency to save things. Our shared resistance to part with possessions is no doubt a result of more than one dynamic, not the least of which is society’s consistent message that more stuff equates to more success and more importance (even if the stuff is hidden on the shelves of our closets).
Aside from the relentless push to amass a large volume of material wealth, we each grapple with our own unique brand of neurosis that plays into our attachments to certain objects. Whether it stems from anxiety, obsessive-compulsive thinking, a childhood filled with poverty and hunger, or an unconscious need to overcompensate for some perceived area of lack in our life, we each have a handful of individualized demons that perch themselves on that one shoulder and encourage us to forever hang on tightly to everything that is ours.
Our REAL Hang-Ups
I think we can all relate to at least one of the following reasons behind our collective struggle to let go of things.
- They have sentimental value: we attach things to memories, they remind us of people and experiences (we should try taking a picture of an item if we need more than a mental image of it in order to sleep at night).
- We feel guilty getting rid of them: we associate objects with loved ones and feel disloyal discarding them (we should sharpen our REAL perspective: are we REALly showing respect and gratitude by letting those things collect dust?).
- We worry we might need them again (we should get REAL honest with ourselves – when is the last time we truly needed them? Could that potential need be met another way?)
- We attach previously treasured (a.k.a. old) dreams and hopes to them (we should REALly think about this: do these items accurately represent the REAL lives we are looking to build now, today?).
- We saw the Toy Story movies too many times (we should be REAListic about what happens to objects after we discard them. We can curb the guilt and worry by recycling and giving away as much of it as we can).
We Can Inspire a New & REAL Legacy of Letting Go
Simplify before you solve.
Many people try to solve their most pressing issues and challenges from the same space that they were created in. Similarly, when it comes to setting intentions and goals, people attempt to add new dynamics and experiences to their existing situations.
In almost all cases, the common result is a sense of frustration and a gradual loss of momentum to do the work that supports their desired outcomes.
It is next to impossible to build a solid and sturdy structure onto a foundation that is rotting and weak in some areas. With a bit of re-organization and refinement, however, any foundation can be reinforced and renovated to support new designs and additions.
We can clear the way to build our REAL lives.
Clearing and purging combine to form the crucial first phase in any reinforcement and rebuilding process. Paving the way to intentionally construct our REAL lives is no exception. The acts of physically cleansing our living and working spaces and emptying them of no-longer-useful things serve as REAL-time training for the mental and emotional unblocking and releasing that awaits us a little further down the road.
We will begin with cleaning our outer, tangible spaces in a literal way, which will prime us for the future scrubbing up of behaviors, beliefs, and inner environments that we will eventually get to in the later phases of REAL-life detox.
This is transition training at its best, friends. True to the cornerstone approach that REAL living embodies, we will move forward at an easeful and manageable pace. We will fully embrace, yet not rush, the process of letting go.
Clearing the Trash to Make Room for the REAL Treasure: Detoxing Our Fridges, Closets, & Cupboards
We kicked off our REAL-life space detox ritual this week, and I am eager to share my approach and my subsequent learnings with you! I encourage you to share your insights and revelations with me as well. It is a REALly beautiful thing to be traveling on this journey together, and trading our thoughts and ideas along the way will help us all to grow.
A REAL Basic Approach
As I moved from space to space and assessed each item I came across, I paused and reflected upon the following:
- Do I see this being useful and valuable to the REAL life I am now creating?
- Will it fit into and support my vision for the new and improved experiences I will manifest in my REAL life?
- Does it/will it make my life easier and simpler?
- Does it make me feel good, content, happy, peaceful?
- Will I REALly need or use this a year from now? REALly?
A resounding yes? Great! Keep it, clean it, store it appropriately and in an organized way (or perhaps bring it out into the open again).
A resounding no? Options: throw it in a trash bag, a recycle bin, a donation box, or the Goodwill pile. Make the choice within 10-15 seconds, and move on.
A REAL Mindful Mindset
Every Sunday morning, I read one section of a wonderful little book I bought for myself over Thanksgiving weekend. It is called Joy in Every Moment: Mindful Exercises for Waking to the Wonders of Ordinary Life, by Tzivia Gover.
Right on time (of course), the section that was cued up for me to devour this past Sunday was all about creating and experiencing joy in one’s home. How fortuitous! The universe knows what we are up to (no surprise).
Gover encourages us to think of each room in our apartments, condos, or houses as representing our intention to feel truly at home in our hearts. Through that lens, we can mindfully refine and revise our spaces understanding that each of them is sacred ground and should contain only items and ambiance that inspire inner peace and joy.
With Gover’s suggestions in mind, I moved slowly and deliberately through my targeted spaces and silently cleared and cleansed led by the following thoughts:
- My refrigerator represents my desire to nourish my body in new ways and with more intention.
- My closets and cupboards demonstrate my commitment to securing only items that make my moments and days simpler and healthier, and allow me to function with increased ease and efficiency (efficiency being the gateway to a world in which I have additional time to spend in REAL ways).
As I dredged through my fridge, cabinets, closets, and drawers, I mentally poured every item I came across through the filters of the above criteria. I mindfully contemplated how I could change up each space to reflect peace, joy, and inspiration.
A REAL Appreciation for the Fringe Benefits of a REAL Space Detox Ritual
I knew going into this month-long ritual that the progressive cleansing and clearing would leave me feeling REALly inspired and organized, but I could not have predicted the additional positive side effects that sprung up and pleasantly surprised me throughout the process.
Clarity: When we feel clear, we are able to see ourselves and our lives with greater lucidity. We understand what is occurring for us and why, and we know what action to take to best honor our personal truth. Wiping away the fog and mess in our lives – from cleaning and clearing our homes, to cutting negative ties, to clearing away and replacing negative self-talk – allows us to return to our center and see our lives with full transparency.
Freedom: It is liberating and freeing to clear out and let go of the old and no longer useful junk. Starting with a clean slate offers a sense of both release and hope.
Productivity: Typically, our knee-jerk M.O. involves busying and distracting ourselves during time we would otherwise label as “spare.” The act of deliberate clearing and cleansing our physical spaces can help us meet ourselves in the middle. We can still do something that will keep us busy and can be categorized as productive, which satisfies our rational self. At the same time, we can approach the task in a mindful way, also using it as a chance for solitude, silence, and a sort of working meditation (which fuels our intuitive self).
Meditation & Mindfulness: The very act of cleaning and clearing can in itself turn into a subtle meditative exercise when done in solitude and relative silence. This approach can offer a chance for each of us to be with ourselves in a new way and unblock the invisible wall of busyness that keeps potentially profound insights from emerging.
Simplification– not only do we remove unnecessary and no-longer-useful items from our worlds through this ritual, but we organize what remains in a way that can create more ease in our days moving forward. As a result of cleansing and clearing, we have less to manage. Even better, what we do keep can be intentionally stored in a way that makes things easily accessible and simpler to manipulate, ultimately minimizing those tiny inconveniences and small – yet aggravating – complications that can sour our moments.
Charity: Our trash is likely another man’s treasure. Clearing and de-cluttering our spaces generate bags and boxes of items that may no longer be useful to us but might be needed and desired by someone else. We can shed our excess and give it to others who do not have enough.
A REAL Clear & Silent Space Can Speak Volumes
One week, six trash bags, three recycling bags, four donation bags, and one Goodwill box later, I stand in a clearer space with a lighter feeling and a renewed perspective. I have merely scratched the surface of my REAL space detox ritual, and I already sense the channels clearing.
I made the choice to cleanse, purge, and refine my first handful of targeted spaces in relative silence. Music was my only companion. Though there was no physical conversation, the areas I moved through did speak to me in very profound ways.
Through the forgotten items that I rediscovered, memories that were roused, and revelations that surfaced as I reflectively flowed through the process, my spaces communicated with me.
There were no words exchanged, but in the quiet and solitude I detected their sentiments with full clarity and awareness.
Cherish your friendships. Remember your ancestors.
Roll with the tide. Be the light.
Go on more picnics. Buy only clothes that express the REAL you.
Nourish your body. Uncomplicate your life.
Slow down. Be grateful. Let go.
As far as I am concerned, friends, my fridge and closets just spilled the REAL tea.
Join me next week to continue our REAL space detox ritual, and take another giant step closer to your REAL and authentic life.
Get REAL charged up about clearing your space and making room for your REAL authentic life in 2019. Check out more REAL resources in the library, and subscribe now to receive additional insights, inspirations, and videos!