In case you missed it, part one can be found at There is abundance – Part 1.
The packing and decluttering continue. It is getting easier to say goodbye to items that I haven’t looked at or used in years. Even the kids are realizing that we cannot, in all practicality, move everything to the new house and yesterday, they said goodbye to our trampoline, helping to literally walk it around the corner to it’s new home with a neighbor who has young children.
Going through every closet, cabinet, and drawer is tedious and time consuming but I am trying to see it as an opportunity to be present and mindful and take advantage of whatever learning experiences exist in this process. Here’s what I’ve been learning (or reminded of):
It’s okay to let the past stay in the past.
While going through my closet I found a bridesmaid’s dress that I wore to a dear friend’s wedding in 1999. In 2009, before “ghosting” was a thing, this friend abruptly disappeared from my life, with no explanation. After years of trying to reconnect, I finally accepted that I had no choice but to let this person go. And yet, the dress, which no longer fits, from a wedding almost 20 years ago, for a friend who chose to walk away, continued to hang in my closet until last week when I finally stuck it in a bag and dropped it off at Goodwill. I have come across this dress in my closet a number of times over the years; I have thought about giving it away. Somehow, it always felt like a betrayal – that giving away the dress would mean closing a door that I somehow felt I had an obligation to leave open- just in case this person ever decided to come back.
Just. In. Case. I’ve decided those three words are more trouble than they are worth. I realize now by leaving this and other doors from the past open, just in case, that all I have done is lug around a lot of unnecessary baggage that has only served to weigh me down. I was keeping this dress as a placeholder for this person, to whom I now know, I owe nothing.
A picture may be worth a thousands words, but a thousand random photographs just take up space.
Over the past two weeks, I have sifted through close to a thousand photographs. My important photos are already in albums or have been uploaded to a digital photo site so these are all “extra” photos. Some are blurry, some are the doubles to the pictures that are already in albums and there are pictures from those same trips or experiences that didn’t make the cut to get into the album. Why have I felt the need to hang on to these pictures? It’s not as if discarding the photo creates a glitch in the time-space continuum that cancels out that moment altogether. And, these photos have been sitting in boxes and envelopes for over a decade and have barely seen the light of day. Goodbye old photos.
There is something to be said about the space we create by letting go of our stuff. If the physical space we live in is too cluttered, we can feel physically restricted and can’t really see the space in which we are living. If our emotional space is too cluttered, it is largely similar- restricting our personal growth and preventing us from seeing a clear picture of our lives. Creating space also allows us to be open to new ideas and experiences and to see the same things we have been looking at for ages in a different way.
People and relationships are far more important than things.
My volunteer work takes me out into the community, talking to and collaborating with people of every age, faith, ethnicity, race, and socio-economic bracket. It is such a privilege to get to hear people’s stories and to connect with them on a human level. I have been fortunate, in my work, to develop genuine relationships through which I have really grown as a person.
I have had to pull back a bit from my volunteer work while I get us ready to move and I have been surprised by how much I miss being out in my community forming and strengthening those relationships and the institutions that support them. I would much rather being having a conversation with a stranger about the things that are keeping them up at night or which motivate them to get out of bed in the morning than to be sitting at home with my personal belongings.
That’s not to say that I don’t value my comfortable bed, or my coffee maker, or the painting of ‘Larry the Llama’ (our family mascot) which hangs on our dining room wall. But I do think that moving forward, I would like to be more discerning about what I choose to bring into our new house- is it useful or will it bring us joy? Or is something that we will, not so far from now, look at as only taking up space. And can those resources, instead, be put towards creating and strengthening relationships and building community?
I can give without conditions.
Finally, I am reminded that I am very blessed to have more than what I need. Having been reminded that I can give up some of what I physically have and still have enough inspires me to be more generous in my giving- of time, financial resources, leadership, or of anything else I have to offer. Letting go of the emotional baggage and stepping outside of my ego means that I can give without placing conditions on that gift. I do not need the organizations or institutions that I support to be perfect in order to feel gratitude for what they have given me and to understand what they provide to others. Having created more space, I can see more clearly what it is I am protecting and strengthening when I offer my support.
Happy New Year! I am looking forward to share more reflections and insights with you in 2019!