Sometimes because of my father’s military orders, and other times, just for kicks, my parents moved us at least every three years. The benefit of this peculiar habit was that we had no clutter, no closets full of unused “stuff’, and no junk piles since we sorted and purged every 1-3 years
The first 10 years of my married life, Dave and I continued in this same fashion and moved 11 times in those 10 years. We traveled light. We owned only what we actually used or cherished. Any extra stuff was donated before making the next move.
When we bought the house that marked our 11th move, I put about 15 minutes worth of thought into it. The real estate market was still ticking upwards. I knew we could sell it and if I didn’t like it all that much…no worries, we’d be outta there in a couple of years.
We have lived in that same house for 12 years. This house has become my children’s childhood home. This home gives them roots. It gives me roots. My 14-year-old recently remarked to a friend of mine how much he loves his house. Our neighbors have become our friends. Our streets are now roads that lead home.
We also have storage areas full of unused, uncherished, crippy-crap: three guitars, lamps from my daughter’s preschool princess room, outdated computer speakers, boxes of Thomas the Train parts, boxes of old books, and bins of old “we might wear them again” clothes. Every time I open a closet or a drawer in this house I’m confronted with unused or unwanted “stuff.” And this “stuff,” weighs me down. It gnaws at me. It sits on my shoulder and squawks.
In the past, I didn’t have a choice. We were moving. I had to purge and make decisions about what to keep and what to let go. In this house, I’ve never been forced to do that. I relaxed and while I wasn’t paying attention, the unwanted stuff grew up around me.
Now, when I feel my energy drain and my steps become sluggish from the weight of my “stuff”, I have to make a conscious decision to sort through my things and let go. Now, I don’t have to do it. I could keep things in their same comfortable position. And comfortable is a lot easier than deciding to part ways with things I may have once loved but no longer need.
But, even though it’s hard, I find that when I let go of the “stuff,” I feel lighter. I feel like a fog is lifting. I feel a surge of energy return. I can breathe. I can focus on other things besides the incessant squawking of my unwanted stuff. And I love those feelings.
When I wrote out my desires for 2014 – how I wanted to feel about living my life and accomplishing my goals – I knew that one of them would be:
I desire to feel lighter. Both physically and mentally.
Purging and letting go applies not only to my physical stuff, but also to my goals of what I want to accomplish in my short life. I find that I have to pare back my commitments and say no in order to clear enough space in my mind to focus on my true desires. And even though saying no can be difficult and sometimes sad, especially since sometimes I wish I had time to do what I’m saying no to, I go ahead and purge it because I know if I don’t I will be weighed down by unwanted commitments and I will never actually realize my goals.
I also want to feel lighter physically. Healthier. More energetic. Instead of setting a weight on a scale as a goal, I seek out other ways to feel lighter whether it’s my daily salad for lunch, tea instead of wine, a glass of water when I first wake up, my morning stretching ritual, or a walk down the street with my dog. And I find that when I feel lighter physically, I feel lighter mentally.
Now when I’m feeling sluggish and heavy, I ask myself, “What is one thing I can do right now to feel lighter? Can I purge this basket of papers? Can I take those bags of books to the donation center? Can I send out that invoice? Can I hire someone to fix the sink? Can I make that gynecologist appointment to talk about my erratic cycle? Can I end my commitment to the hospitality committee? Can I scout that photo location? Can I write that post? Can I write that chapter? Can I take five minutes to stretch and breathe deeply?”
And then, I do that one thing.
And each time, I feel lighter and lighter.
What can you do today to feel lighter?
PS: This summer I’m writing a series of posts around our goals, dreams, and desires. In case you missed one while you were gallivanting around the world or lying on a beach somewhere, below are the previous posts. Enjoy.
|Peaches, Basil and Baby Greens|| |
- 1 tablespoon minced shallots
- 1½ tablespoons white wine vinegar (or Champagne or sherry vinegar)
- Pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3-4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- Handful of baby greens
- ½ peach pitted and cut into slices
- Handful of toasted walnuts
- 2 basil leaves, chopped
- Optional: crumbled gorgonzola
- Mix together the shallots, vinegar and salt in a small bowl. Let stand for about 10 minutes while you prepare your salad and/or toast your walnuts.
- Whisk in your mustard, then whisk in 3 tablespoons of olive oil, slowly drizzling it in as you whisk.
- Taste. Add final tablespoon of oil and a bit more salt, if necessary.
- Put your greens on a plate. Top with peach slices, walnuts, basil and crumbled cheese, if using.
- Drizzle your vinaigrette on your salad. Toss to lightly coat.