Out with the old
I don’t know about you, but I tend to get overwhelmed this time of year. And it’s not just Christmas and all that comes with it. More so, it’s that the coming and going of Christmas means the coming and going of the entire year. A whole 365 days. Now not only do I have to make sure I’m ready for traveling/hosting/gift-giving, but I also have to reevaluate my entire self and make some resolutions and throw out all of my old bad habits and tackle that never ending list labeled “next year”. Whew. That’s a lot. Anyone else?
There can be something lovely and motivating about seeing another year pass. It’s a built-in fresh start that people the world over are participating in. So rather than let ALL OF THE THINGS that we want to start in the new year become overwhelming - and inevitably be put off until another year - why don’t we look at how to make room for them? And be open to our goals, dreams, and to-dos?
When you think about all of the reasons you might not start a new hobby or pursue a big goal for the new year, the physical clutter in your space probably doesn’t top your list. You’re tired, you’re busy, and yeah there’s some “stuff” you could get rid of - but that’s just another item on the never ending to-do list. The truth is that all of the extra “stuff” that’s taking up your precious home space can actually be making you tired, making you busy (all that laundry for all those clothes you don’t really like anyway), and clogging up your to-do list so that its hard to add to it. An empty drawer or clear workspace can be incredibly inspiring. Having an open physical space can translate into having a mind open to trying something new. So why is it so hard to clear that space?
My book club is currently reading A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles. In the very beginning the main character, Count Rostov, finds himself quickly needing to downsize his belongings. He owns a beautiful collection of expensive furniture, family heirlooms, and books, and shares thoughts on why he’s finding it hard to leave them behind.
'Tis a funny thing, reflected the Count as he stood ready to abandon his suite. From the earliest age we must learn to say goodbye to friends and family. We see our parents and siblings off at the station; we visit cousins, attend schools, join the regiment; we marry, or travel abroad. It is part of the human experience that we are constantly gripping a good fellow by the shoulders and wishing him well, taking comfort from the notion that we will hear word of him soon enough.
But experience is less likely to teach us how to bid our dearest possessions adieu. And if it were to? We wouldn’t welcome the education. For eventually, we come to hold our dearest possessions more closely than we hold our friends. We carry them from place to place, often at considerable expense and inconvenience; we dust and polish their surfaces and reprimand children for playing too roughly in their vicinity--all the while, allowing memories to invest them with greater and greater importance.
This. Ugh. This is so true. And hard! Of course you want to keep that hat that is torn and that you never wear any more. Because you wore it that one time you met your husband and he thought it was cute. And yes, that old typewriter that is too big for your office and takes up all of your spare closet space came from your parents house and its where you typed your first story and if you passed it along you might as well throw away your childhood. It’s scary to get rid of our things. But your memories and experiences are yours to keep and cherish. Even Count Rostov eventually concludes, “But, of course, a thing is just a thing.”
Faith Roberson talks about this idea in her podcast Organize with Faith. In episode 19, she talks about how we attach experiences to our things. I encourage you to give it a listen (and the rest of her podcast is amazing as well!)
Also, this video talks about how we endow objects that we own with special qualities and therefore have trouble letting go of them. It’s super interesting.
So. There are a lot of reasons that we want to hang on to these things that we don’t need and that are no longer serving us. But what are the reasons to let them go?
Chances are that your dreams and goals for 2018 might need “things” to make them happen. Are you going to finally start that yoga routine? Do you need a place to store your new yoga mat? Work out clothes? Are your drawers currently stuffed with old t-shirts that are misshapen and pajama pants that were gifts that you never wear? Could you use that drawer to store a new hobby's supplies, or a new team uniform? You also need energy and inspiration. Is that pile of clothes that no longer fit - that you have to dig through to get to the clothes you actually wear - giving you energy?
So here’s my challenge to you right now.
Close your eyes. Think about your resolutions for the new year.
Now think about your home. The space you live in everyday. Can you imagine yourself pursuing your new goal in that space? If not, what would need to be different? If you had an extra storage or work space, how would you use it?
Letting go of things - letting go of “stuff” - doesn’t mean you’re letting go of all of the memories. Letting go doesn’t mean you’re a bad friend/daughter/nephew for not hanging on to everything passed your way. You’ve been mindful. You’ve appreciated. You’ve learned from. And now it’s time to grow. And to grow you need space. And you absolutely deserve that.
Out with the old. In with the new. Cheers to 2018 everyone.