I'm continuing on the path, though with the approaching holidays, I've taken a few detours to enjoy time with the kids, after all THIS is the entire reason for wanting a clean, neat, streamlined space.
We took a day trip on Sunday to gather a few, focused Christmas gifts. On Sunday, rather than attack my normal cleaning and organization route, we went to a nearby lake and hiked instead. Of course I could have dove into the last few disaster areas, but I figure they can wait a bit longer. A big part of getting rid of excess was to enjoy my life, without having to constantly launch house reclaiming projects. By maintaining, picking up and keeping things tidy during the week, I can coast for a bit on weekends. I've been keeping myself to a pretty strict routine: nothing on the counters at night, all items out of the dish drain, kitchen table clear, all laundry folded and put away, floors picked up, bed is made, nothing on the bathroom counters, closet is organized, clothes are hung up, all shoes are in the closet. I broke routine last night. We cozied up in the living room, watched a movie, laughed, and enjoyed our night together. It took me one night to get things lined out. One. Not a week or a month. One night and everything is back in order. This was something I only dreamed of a few months ago.
Sometimes it's good to break away, just for a bit. It helps counterbalance burn out. I've been following a pretty tight schedule and as a result, I've been efficient. It's a fine line for me though, especially given the fact that I am "fluid" by nature and that I prefer not to have to follow a schedule. I'm embracing that more left-brained approach though because I do see the value in it. I see that getting up at the same time every day and having a morning routine does help feel as thought I am accomplishing more. I see that my body is naturally inclined to go to bed around the same time and yes, I may sleep better if I stay in such a routine.
It's been a little over a month since I started the clearing and I must say, I've greatly enjoyed the sense of freedom and clarity that has come through. Even though a lot of what I've gotten rid of wasn't visible, I'm still feeling the effects of the release. One wouldn't think that old Country Living Magazines, books, papers, shoes, clothes and purses would have that much effect on someone's space, but I'm beginning to reconsider what it's done and what it is still doing for my life to let that stuff go. I've noticed a tangible "lightness" when I walk in the door. I've also noticed that I am much more clear and focused when I have a project that I need to complete. Of course there are many factors that direct and determine clarity and focus but I think having fewer objects around me makes a difference.
Here's the really cool thing and I do believe there is something to the idea that when you get rid of one thing, you make space for something else. As I was going through each item, my focus wasn't to make room for material items. I have clear goals in mind that have absolutely ZERO to do with "things." I placed my focus on these aspects and went to work. I never know how things are going to show up in my life, especially after a decluttering rampage. I've been at this awhile now and anytime I've cleared out clutter and excess, there's always a BIG shift, I just never know what it will look like, what form(s) it will take. Sometimes there's upheaval too. That's disturbing at first, especially if I'm resisting the very change I've asked for. Once the smoke clears though, I can usually see the uprising was a good thing and that breaking down process was really a breakthrough...and life goes on.
I must say there have been some destructive aspects with the latest clutter clearing project. When we let go of things we don't need, it seems to give our lives permission to move ahead. If we've been stuck for a long time, this can seem like quite a jolt. Our possessions are imbued with memory associations so when we decide we're "done" and we get to the place that we're good with letting those things go, it's as if we turn on a light in a dark attic. We see things that we didn't notice before, we remember forgotten hopes, wishes, dreams. We suddenly have access to awareness, ideas and inspirations that were forgotten or maybe buried. When we declutter our homes, we really declutter our lives and our emotions. Perhaps this is why so many people are willing to live with excess. When we get really clear and real with our "stuff" we are facing down the barrel of past choices, right wrong, good, bad. We're the ones that have bought the items, or entered into the relationships or taken that job, bought the vehicle, had the baby.... we're now responsible for all of those past choices.
Seemingly "out of the blue" I received two checks. One was for a deposit that I'd made a long time ago and the other was for an item that I sold. I didn't worry about the money, in fact, I forgot about it. I focused on my goal of downsizing and decluttering and.... I feel as thought I've made space for more of what I DO want to have in my life, which includes $! (Yes, I gladly receive and accept it!)
Now, it did cross my mind to immediately cash these two checks and spend them on Christmas gifts for my kids. I haven't though. I've restrained myself. I love to buy for my kids. However, after spending the past two months going through all of the items that I've bought them, I am seriously questioning this idea. I've certainly noticed the panic that has risen to the surface when I thought, "Oh my Lord, I have nothing for them for Christmas!" It's true. I don't. I had an amazing adventure in mind for the following week of Christmas, one that included fun, food and motel rooms. That won't be happening now though, we've had a schedule change. They will be with me for Christmas and I'm SUPER excited. They also have no presents to open..... that doesn't exactly qualify me for "Mother of the Year".......
Or does it? What if we bypass the tradition of buying gifts? What if we do something entirely different? It's not like they don't have nice things or that they never get anything? Parker and Pryce both got new shoes last month. Pryce has new jeans (its NOT capris weather she tells me). All three of them received MHC basketball gear (no one wanted to wait for those items, it IS basketball season after all!)
I caught myself, just this morning, looking at items I could get them. I really had to hold off and STOP. I'll have to think about this because I don't want any purchases to be out of obligation. I really have worked hard to let go of so much stuff that I'm not in the mood to bring more in. I want the purchases I select to be meaningful and useful, but most of all I want our Christmas to center around connection, love, laughter and precious time together.
My idea of filling space has little to do with material items. My idea of freedom isn't to add additional items or have to move or rearrange anything. I no longer wish to be constrained by items. I don't want to spend time organizing. There are SO many things to do, places to explore and experiences that I want to live totally unencumbered by STUFF. I'm not there yet, but I am well on my way.
From the conversations I've had lately, I don't think I'm alone. Many of us are feeling the need to unburden ourselves, lighten the load, and truly live the lives we came here to experience. This has been an intense year, one of the most challenging I've experienced. I can see growth, even in the midst of change. I can clearly see where I've been, where I've wasted energy, time and resources. These have been valuable lessons and they've helped me get really REAL with myself. Where I am currently, where I'm headed next and ultimately where I want to be. There are many things that I want to change, shift and be done with. The fastest way to get there has been to be discerning with my energy, time, talents and focus. I've had to be brutally honest with myself and at times, this hasn't been easy. In addition to material items, I've let go of things, people and situations that also weren't supportive. My effort to lighten the load is paying off and yet, I'm not about to settle. There's a lot more to go. Loss can be hard to take, but it can also be very liberating. In what I've released, I've gained incredible insight, inner peace and strength.