This week, I was inspired (um, as usual) by my BFF ElizabethPW who has had her own stuff to deal with in the home she moved out of a few months ago to move to San Francisco.
Her experiences reminded me that I had been coasting on a false sense of “Stuff Under Control” syndrome.
Some background: Last year, I went to town on my house. When my now-ex-husband moved out, I did the room-to-room thing throwing out whatever wouldn’t bring tears (of any sort) to my eyes. Big things, small things, furniture, papers, clothing, dishes, winter coats, shoes – stuff, stuff, stuff — you name it, I had it and threw it out.
I emptied my two-car garage so that it could actually fit two cars (before, one could barely squeeze in there).
I was feeling pretty freakin proud of myself.
No stuff here.
No clutter for this girl.
Post-divorce stuckness? That’s for the birds. I am in action, moving stuff around, clearing space, getting ready to make stuff happen.
And for a while I was so coasting on this sort-of smugness that came from thinking I had tamed the Beast of Stuff.
And I had.
But here is the thing with the Beast of Stuff: He doesn’t die. He just hibernates. And unless you are like Thoreau and ditching every last thing to go live in a cabin at Walden Pond, your Beast of Stuff isn’t going too far either.
The Beast of Stuff. He isn’t a hog or even a bad beast. More like an inevitable part of our stuff-filled existences. (By the way, I am calling him a “he” as easily as I could call him a “she.” I love men and just tossed a coin here. Don’t hate.)
So back to Elizabeth. As we texted back and forth on the day she was moving stuff (and I am certain she will share much more in her own blog), I felt I could give support not only because I am committed to unconditionally supporting her, but because I had gone through the same thing less than one year ago.
That smugness came back because I was feeling that in that moment my Beast was controlled to the point of being a non-entity.
But something just didn’t feel right.
At the same time, somebody I trust deeply and who advises me on business and related matters (and who is far less of a public open book than EPW or myself) had challenged me to declutter this week. Not just physical things, but things related to time and habits as well.
In my mind, I focused on the time and habits part, certain that the physical part didn’t apply to me.
So it hit me just yesterday, as I was coasting on something like four hours of sleep, that certain messes I thought had been eradicated were slowly but surely rearing their heads again.
See, stuff is like a forest fire. It can be contained to a slow, non-raging burn, but sometimes it is never extinguished entirely. And unless we douse it regularly, it can rage up again at any time, either suddenly or subtly.
My stuff was expanding again and I hadn’t been tending to it.
A little here, a little there and whaddya know — my stuff had reached critical mass.
All of these realizations came to a head last night somewhere after the time my foot stepped out of the car on the driveway and before my legs took me into my house.
I spent a frenzied hour ruthlessly throwing stuff out from my garage: Cables, old tiles from a floor I no longer have, beach toys no one has touched in five years, a picnic basket that I kept for 15 years because it was so cute but truth be told I’d never actually used it, 6 boxes of 4 each acrylic three-tiered jewelry boxes (don’t ask), more cables, a printer that is probably in perfect working condition (yes, I know I could probably sell it on eBay), the box my dog’s cage came in, old plastic containers for pool chemicals (don’t yell at me if this was un-environmentally friendly) and my wedding dress.
Yes, my wedding dress.
I think that needs to be its own blog post so I won’t go into it now. Suffice it to say that in this very moment as I write this, there is a box out on my front lawn that says “Wedding Gown” and that allegedly houses a $4,000 custom-made wedding dress that has not been touched or handled (or see for that matter) since it was cleaned and “restored” (?) in 1996.
So…..what am I getting at?
The simple truth I knew before and you likely did too: Fill your space with great stuff or with not-great stuff. Then, reap results accordingly.
Choice is all yours.
Clearing stuff and making space for new, better stuff is a key component to growing and moving forward. No two ways about it.
The more stuff you have, the less available space you have.
The more sh*tty stuff you have (and by “sh*tty,” I mean old or outdated or broken or toxic or unwieldy or dangerous or ugly or….) the more sh*tty your life is.
Sh*tty quality of stuff = sh*tty quality of life
So-so quality of stuff = so-so quality of life.
You get the picture.
Your space is yours and yours alone to fill. I can’t tell you what your space should look, feel, taste or be like. I can only tell you that I’m insisting that nothing but the very best for my space.
I will inhabit and dwell in only the most delicious spaces possible.
My space is limited (so is yours), so I will be damned if I am going to waste it with stuff that doesn’t work on some level. And by “stuff,” I mean anything and everything from people to work to furniture to appointments to thoughts to self-talk to underwear for that matter.
I also know that I don’t need to fill every last nook and cranny of my available space. I am learning to love and crave empty space as much as I love and crave space filled with stuff I love. For it is in the emptiness that our opportunities make their way in.
What I did last night, huffing, puffing and sweating like a girl in Florida in a hot garage clearing frenzy, was say goodbye. To stuff that wasn’t serving me. So that I could make space for more stuff. Different, better, more “me” stuff that will accompany me and serve me until it is no longer “me.”
The maintenance required in the “Stuff Department” is ongoing and never-ending. Sometimes it is drudgework and often it is something we’d love to put off. But the rewards are potentially dazzling.
So I ask you: What stuff are you holding on to? What stuff are you afraid to let go of? What stuff lifts you up and energizes you? What is keeping you from ditching bad stuff?
Let me know. And also know that I love you and all your stuff no matter what.