For Now

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When I committed to the year-long purge in January, I truly just wanted to lighten up, get rid of stuff. I felt bogged down by things. I couldn’t find what I needed or remember where I put something because there was just too much. I knew I’d come up against obstacles like time and urgency, that I would resist and that organizing one space would require nearly every other space to become disorganized for a time.

I agreed with myself that I would trust the process and not abandon it. Turns out abandonment is part of the process, but only for a short time.

I find myself in that space of complete disarray. One room (three if you count the two bathrooms) is neat and clean without anything “extra” in it. The rest of the house is in organizational flux. Boxes have been pulled in from the garage to go through and purge in the living room. My room has been the repository of all things mom, along with the I’m-just-not-sure-where-to-put-this-so-it-will-go-here stuff. For now. The guest room bed is covered in old family photos waiting patiently to be organized, the kitchen is in constant use and various stages of purging and we will not be addressing the dining room here today. That is the work space of Larry and a complete health hazard.

Back to that tiny little sentence above: For now. I’m against it.

There are some instances when you have to do something just for the moment, but when it’s announced, “I’ll just put this here for now,” I know there is a deeper pathology at work. Even if I’m the one announcing it. It means, this thing that I’m placing here does not yet have a home, so I’m gonna lay it here while I think about that. Then forget about it.

We are working hard at finding homes for everything we’ve decided to keep. It is much easier for me to let go of things than it is Larry. He’s afflicted with that I-may-need-this-some-day gene. I prefer to pass things along I am no longer using, sometimes to people I know, often to a charity store. But sometimes I hold on too.

Something happens when you take possession of a thing. It becomes yours. And because it’s yours it now has value, but it’s just a thing. Even that 3 carat diamond ring is just a thing (not mine, don’t have one). The value is financial and emotional. The monetary value slides up and down depending on the emotional attachment.

Let’s take Grandma’s set of dishes that we use every Thanksgiving and Christmas, that she used on special occasions. They’re fine china we’ve been told, even says so on the bottom. They’re priceless, clearly. But in actuality, with the missing gravy boat and lid to the soup tureen the set is only worth about $50. At the most. It feels insulting. It’s the emotional grab. In truth if I were shopping for dishes I wouldn’t even consider these, they’re not my style. But when I use them they feel special.

This is the process. Each item is to be considered. This is where I am. I have culled the items that hold no sway – clothes, books I’ve read, unused greeting cards, Rubbermaid food containers and various other items, now I’m down to necessity and heritage.

Letting go of the things does not mean I am letting go of the memories or even tradition. Truly if I had 15 minutes to grab whatever was meaningful to me and get out of my home, after my pets it would be my computer, camera and artwork done by family members.

Is the myth of the memory more important than the freedom and space of letting it go? Is being bogged down by DVDs, old letters, family heirlooms more grounding and nurturing than wide open space in which to be creative and light?

I’m getting to it, the right balance for me. For now.

 

 

This

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I had the day off today, really off. I was not required to go anywhere and the husband was working so the house was mine. The plan was to relax a little, study what I will be teaching tomorrow a little and clean a lot.

It started out well.

I got the laundry in around 8:30 AM. I set myself and my laptop up on the patio since it was overcast and cool enough to be outside, and I went over all my notes for tomorrow’s class.

Then something happened.

I still have a ton of my mother’s stuff to go through – mostly papers now – and it feels imperative to my purging process to take care of this. So I poked around my room a little to see if there were any boxes or notebooks stuffed into corners that needed attention.

Let’s just say 8 hours and two recycle bins later I am ankle deep in unplanned sorting and purging. Lucky for me, I fantasize about organizing. So this has actually been… fun? No, rewarding maybe. Productive? Satisfying. That’s it.

What I noticed about myself, my thoughts really, during the process is how they jumped from project to project while I was attempting to work on this one. Cleaning the house was back-burnered in favor of this impromptu purge, but laundry continued amidst the shuffling of papers.

There were future projects and current concerns also vying for attention. And I still wanted to clean.

While I was pulling the laundry from the washer and carrying it out to hang on the line, I would catch sight of my room and think, “I really want to put crown molding in there,” or “I need to get those two boxes out of the garage and go through them too,” or “If I switch the hood out on the kitchen remodel I can save almost $1,000,” and on and on.

This is normal for me. Probably you too. But it can be frustrating and fragmenting. I find myself trying rush through one thing to check it off to get to the next. This is my lifelong tendency. It often serves me well, but not always. It creates a false sense of urgency and what I really wanted today was to be where I was, doing whatever I was doing. In it, you know?

So I made an adjustment.

When I felt that usually helpful knot start to tie itself in my stomach I told my self, “Just do this.” And I had to remind myself a lot. It allowed a breath and a moment to refocus. A disruption.

Eventually it got shortened to “Just this.”

And then finally, “This.”

Present: being with whatever it is I am doing. Thoughts always interrupt, but it’s up to me to interrupt them to remain present. Now I have my code word when my mind runs amok with my attention.

This.

Travel Enlightenment

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Aaaaannnd, we’re back!

Not that I actually ever left, but there were many distractions and disruptions that led me physically,  mentally and emotionally away for a bit. Now that I have returned I am ready to pick up where I left off and maybe start over a little on some things.

My time away (I led a yoga retreat to India for two weeks and took a week for fun in Spain) revealed a few things to me. It always does, this is why travel is so important to me. (If travel is your thing too, you can read about my wanderings here: allisonswanderland.)

A few nuggets for my own consideration:

Whenever I’m in India I eat completely, 100% vegetarian. And I feel great. I have “been” vegan, vegetarian, paleo, and every other named dietary follower before. And I never truly stick with any one thing for long, but I have learned a lot about my tendencies, likes, dislikes and what my body appreciates.

Conclusion: I am going 95% vegetarian for the summer. Why not 100%? Because one of the things I’ve learned about my body is it doesn’t process legumes well and it loves protein, so eggs, yogurt and a bit of cheese will be my primary sources, not beans. If I get lethargic I’ll need to add a bit of meat for medicinal purposes. [Please note: there was no intention of sarcasm in that medicinal comment. I truly believe that almost any food when eliminated can be added back in, in small doses as a benefit to the body.]

Traveling also always reveals to me that I have an irrepressible need to be outside and to walk. I love to walk. Walking in cities fills me with wonder and purpose. I have also learned through my travels that I can stop in the afternoon for a pick-me-up of a fully-loaded cappuccino and half a creme brulee and still lose 10 pounds. From walking. About 10 miles a day.

But Florida’s summer heat makes me edgy and lazy and the lack of hills makes me a little sad. So I’ve crafted a plan to walk to the gym (about 1.5 miles one way) every morning super early, walk the hills on a treadmill for 30 minutes then walk home all sweaty. By the way I will be passing a Starbucks and a Panera so… can you say incentive? Maybe some days I’ll even strap my laptop to my back and stop at one of the aforementioned places on my way home to pound out a few blogs. Who can say for sure?

I cannot control anything, [insert eye-rolling emoji here] except my reaction. I ALREADY KNEW THIS, but it has been thrown in my face over and over and over again with unnatural force recently. What I continually attempt to control is my environment. I want my house to be certain way, have structure, be organized. I want the same for my office and the studio (I own a yoga studio with two other magical ladies). This is important to me, not for the unexpected visit from Elle Decor, but so I can have head space to be creative. If there is stuff everywhere I feel so tired and uninspired.

Having just acquired most of my mother’s belongings, there is nothing if not a lack of structure in my home. Getting upset about it only hinders the process and there’s so much to learn in the process.

Organizing things, sorting, compartmentalizing and yes, purging, all make me very happy. It’s this weird internal sense of things clicking into place, and it only works with tangible objects. I cannot feel satisfied by sorting through files on my computer. I have to touch and move actual stuff. The Universe has gifted me a tremendous opportunity to go to this happy place, I just need to see it as that and not the furniture and stuff shaped mound of frustration I’ve made it.

There was more wisdom imparted to me but this is plenty to work on and adopt so I’m sticking with these three. To review, I will:

  1. Eat a 95% + Vegetarian diet throughout the summer, which is about 6 months here.
  2. I will satisfy my need to wander through hill and dale (while not meandering abroad) by walking to the gym and climbing on equipment.
  3. I will take my time and practice mindfulness while organizing and continuing to purge stuff from my various environments.

I am also still deeply committed to minimizing my personal carbon footprint by reducing my trash and carefully considering all purchases.

It feels good to have a plan, some structure and goals. As soon as I finish integrating whatever I am keeping from my mother’s gifts I will resume, and in some cases restart, counting all my objects.

It was actually quite therapeutic.