As I mentioned before, I’ve been working this month on emptying a storage unit. This might not seem like a daunting task to those of you have a small unit somewhere, however, mine was the size of a semi-truck trailer and packed wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling. I’ve had it since we moved here from another state, 7 years ago. There was no room in my then-boyfriend’s house to bring all of the furnishings of another house in. So, the kids and I chose the items that were most important at the time and we boxed up the rest and stuffed it into a giant locker to deal with later.
Now is later and we have had to go through each and every one of those boxes and choose how to deal with all of the furniture, most of which I still don’t want. It’s been quite the process. At least 80% of the unit consisted of items we either threw away, burned, or drove directly to the nearest Goodwill. I have a small pile of several Rubbermaid totes in the corner of the dining room now that contain items I need to get on eBay. The kids have their memory books from elementary school, Irreplaceable photos and other precious mementos. I have my great-grandmother’s cedar-lined chest.
However, most of the items we thought we “needed” 7 years ago, were completely outdated to fit into our current life. One of my daughters was still a student when we moved and is now married and a mother of two adorable boys. Her needs and even wants are drastically different than they were before. The same was true for all of us. At the time of the move, I was a size 10. Now, after quitting smoking and sitting an architecture drafting desk 12-15 hours a day for 5 years, I am somewhere around a size 20. It’s definitely going to be a while before I’m back in that size 10 and the clothes are out of style and/or not appropriate professional attire anyway. There were at least 15 boxes of stuffed animals. When we moved, my kids were… well, still kids; now they’re all young adults and have moved beyond their old toys. There just wasn’t much left for us in the unit.
It was an important lesson for me. By locking the things of our life (things we thought were meaningful enough to carefully box up then pay someone to move and store) up for 7 years, most of them weren’t important of even useful anymore. We develop such an attachment to things in our life. We worry about them, dust them, display them, move them around, insure them, and then constantly worry about them. Once they’re tucked into the drawers and corners of our life, we stop noticing the drain that caring for them has on our life. It’s easy to forget that there’s a drawer somewhere full of things you haven’t used in years, but might need someday. These things seem harmless, out of sight and out of mind, but they weigh us down, much the same way as my storage unit was weighing me down. when I saw it finally empty, I didn’t feel sad, I felt relieved that it was finally done. But I’m not stopping there. I’m starting the process of doing the same thing to every drawer and corner of the house. I’ve gotten through a few already.
I’ve set a goal in my Level 10 life plan (Physical Environment sector) to go through 5 drawer or cabinets a week and eliminate everything that isn’t useful, or beautiful or doesn’t bring me joy. I may end up getting rid of 80% of my clothes during this process, because many things I once loved don’t fit right now or don’t make me feel beautiful. I once had the mentality that if I loved it once, I would love it again someday. This process I went through today clearly illustrated that that is not likely to be the case and now I feel better about letting it all go to make room for the things that are meant to be in my life now. I’m not suggesting the mementos need to go, I’m definitely keeping my great-grandma’s chest; but I’m feeling better about letting go of what is no longer meant for me.
I will now have room, and a little extra cash, (that storage unit was expensive every month)in my life for all the things I intend to bring into it. I will no longer hold onto the things that have come to me by default, simply because they were helpful or useful at the time I acquired them. Freeing myself up for the future I’m designing feels amazing and I hope some of you will join me in finally getting rid of all the excess draining your life’s energy.