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Clear Out, Fill Up

There is nothing like a new year to help with new changes. Last year, I attempted to finally battle my stuff. While initially, I was talking about my clutter, it turned into more than just my physical crap. I began clearing out relationships and emotional blocks too. My affirmation was essentially to clear out, so that I could fill up on more of what truly makes me content. Clearing out applied to so many aspects of my life that I still have a great deal of work to do. It’s definitely a 2, perhaps 3-year goal!

The first step was unhinging my white-knuckled grip on my belongings. Sure, it’s important to have special items, whether inherited or acquired because they spark joy, yet they shouldn’t require several mega moving vans to carry them. The stuff that I have been holding onto fell into a few categories:

Memory: WAAAAY too much stuff fell into this category and therefore needed the most work.

Storage: too many bins filled with holiday decorations, frames awaiting filling, summer/winter activity gear, files/games/posters from teaching career, gifts for future giving, shoes/boots ready for next kid, school/office supplies, and much, much more.

Extra furniture: although not being used right now, they hold enough sentimental value to be held storage. For instance, my dad made a bookcase decades ago, which I painted silver for my first apartment. It’s falling apart and leans forward a bit, yet is endearing enough to keep. My dad also made a cradle that both my sister and I swayed in, along with my two daughters. It is awaiting another generation of babies to soothe. A rocking chair dates back to at least my grandmother’s childhood and comforted my babies during their nighttime stories. Hard to pass that heirloom on.

Recycling: items that are ready for actual recycling like styrofoam (finally found a place after searching for years) and old textiles such as hole-filled socks (donated, as long as they are clean and dry). And then there are items waiting for a growing group so that I can bring them to a store for recycling, like CFL lightbulbs; or shipments to Terracycle for recycling, like contact lenses and all of their packaging. And then there are heads of razors that continue to not be recycled. Not sure how much longer to hold onto them and wait for that near miracle to happen.

Beloved items: initially, nearly everything I owned fell into this category, until I broke them down into the categories above. There’s much more stuff like gift wrapping supplies (paper, bags, tissue paper, ribbon), extra pet supplies (carrier, bed, toys), unused kites, unopened small bubble containers, no longer used toys and board books–all so difficult to part with.

I like how people make rules for themselves like, “if I haven’t used the item in a year or even 6 months, I get rid of it” or “when something new comes in, something old needs to go”. I have trouble with these restrictive guidelines. However, perhaps it just means that I could come up with my own rules, that will help keep my clutter under control.

I will get there. But I also see how focusing most of my energy on my stuff doesn’t get to the heart of the matter, just like I did in this post. So when I proclaim “Clear out, fill up”, I am definitely not advocating the acquisition of more stuff. This year, I turn my focus more toward fulfilling my inner life, so that I no longer feel the need to allow my stuff to fill my outer space. My new affirmation is

I let go of feelings of failure,

and create space for knowing how