Time to spring clean our lives?
Happy spring! This is the time of year when nature demonstrates the miracle of regeneration and renewal. The days are brighter and longer, and we begin to see new growth everywhere as brown grass turns green, bare trees regain their leaves, and flowers push through the soil and blossom. Sensing the invigorating energy of spring reminds many of us of the need to revitalize our personal environment. It may very well be the time to do some spring cleaning within our lives!
About two years ago I made a conscious commitment to simplify my life and decided to do a major downsize of all my material possessions. I had thought about it for many years, but I knew the time had come to move past feeling overwhelmed and take action. I was actually feeling physically bogged down by all the stuff that had accumulated during the 23 years my husband and I lived in our home. Our house was clean and organized, but I constantly had the cumbersome awareness that we had too much of everything. While I knew that de-cluttering and downsizing would involve a lot of time and energy, I had no idea what an enormous impact this project would have on my life; emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually.
The process of de-cluttering, downsizing, and simplifying my life was such a life transforming experience that I would like to share with you some of the many things I learned in the process. Hopefully, my recount of this experience will inspire you to stop procrastinating and take action on that long overdue decision to move out of clutter and into clarity.
Consciously surround yourself with things
that make you feel good.
Emotionally: I came to realize that clearing space can help to heal emotions. Material things actually hold energy of past memories and events. Sorting through your things is the ideal time to acknowledge the many emotions that are associated with the material objects surrounding you. I found that allowing myself to feel the nostalgia was very healing and allowed me the choice to let go of the past and become more available to the present moment. Downsizing and de-cluttering affords you the opportunity to consciously decide to surround yourself with things that make you feel good. I also discovered that sorting through my “stuff” was a very special time to express profound gratitude for everything and anything. I realized that both the positive and negative experiences helped to make me who I am. Then there was the wonderful quality of generosity in donating and sharing items that I no longer wanted or needed. Words cannot describe the joy I felt in asking my children to choose what was special to them; driving around and dropping off items at homeless shelters; and donating furniture, blankets, clothes, bedding, and towels to veterans organizations, animal shelters, and thrift shops.
Mentally: I became aware that we need to clear our minds, as well as our physical surroundings, in order to be peaceful. Though we tend to associate clutter with material things, we live in a world where our minds are immersed in an endless sea of communication overload: emails, voicemails, text messages, faxes, computer games, and the list goes on and on. It feels like everywhere we turn, we are inundated with information, requests for an immediate response, and overall mental stimulation. I decided to create some time every day, away from technology, to be with nature; or, at the very least, to sanction an hour each day to be in a peaceful, quiet space where I can simply take some deep breaths and clear my head.
Physically: I became aware that it was much more relaxing to be in a room with “less stuff.” The things that I had chosen to take with me to my new home were only the things that I either liked, needed, or wanted. When I sorted through my belongings, I asked myself three questions:
1. Do I need this?
2. Do I like this?
3. Have I used or looked at this within the past two years?
If the answer to any one of these questions was, “no,” I knew I was kidding myself about needing to hold onto it. I also came to realize just how temporary situations in life tend to be. Sorting through massive amounts of paperwork was a particularly poignant example of this. Many papers that at one time contained important information had become obsolete. If also felt good to get these papers out of my personal space and back into the mainstream through the process of recycling.
Getting rid of clutter frees the soul.
Spiritually: I discovered that getting rid of clutter frees the soul. Clearing your physical space actually brings in more light and opens you to a whole new world of possibilities. Whether we are aware of it or not, it takes a lot of time and energy to maintain, look at, use, move around, and store “our stuff.” Freeing up this energy creates a void. Since the nature of life is to fill voids, open space is the optimal environment in which to be creative. Without so many visual distractions, we can look at life from a new point of view. It is literally easier to breathe in a clear, uncluttered environment.
While I have shared all the positive aspects of de-cluttering my life, I must, in full disclosure, share that this process of downsizing and moving was one of the most physically demanding projects I have ever tackled. It was a huge undertaking because I chose to truly downsize (I donated, recycled, or trashed about 2/3 of my physical belongings) to move to a smaller, more manageable home. Even the enormity of the project proved to be a spiritual lesson because I realized the power of teamwork and cooperation. Many of my friends and family members pitched in to give me tremendous assistance. Note: Do NOT attempt to downsize by yourself!
That being said, deciding to downsize and de-clutter my life is proving to be one of the most healthy choices I have ever made. Because I don’t have to clean, maintain, and deal with so many things, I have more time to spend with friends and to do things I enjoy. I feel more healthy, more creative, and free. Most importantly, when I wake up in the morning, I no longer feel that awful cloud above my head reminding me to clean up my life. I have finally honored my commitment to myself to “lighten up.” Like spring, I am in the cycle of regeneration and renewal.
Love and Light,