I got a call on Saturday from a dear one. What started out as, "What do I do with sentimental items that make me sad?" turned into a two-hour clearing out session over Facetime.
She's been feeling overwhelmed. Like there isn't enough mental and emotional energy to handle life, work and relational obligations. I've been there. It's paralyzing. That foggy internal place makes dealing with the physical space so difficult. So, on Saturday, we cleaned house.
This morning, I got another call. Interestingly, her clearer apartment seems to have created some inner clarity. When a confusing relational situation came knocking on her door yesterday, she felt space. There was margin. Room for understanding and wisdom. The ability to care and also let go.
Here's my idea: perhaps clearing space in the simpler places of our lives, can help the more complicated parts feel lighter and clearer too.
If you're interested in clearing out an area of your home, here's a practical approach.
P.S. There are dozens more out there, if mine isn't your cup of tea. Particularly, if you're looking for a more in-depth approach, I would highly recommend Erin Boyle's Simple Matters.
1 | Tackle one category at a time. (I like to do this so progress is being made in every room.) For example, if you start with shoes, which can end up in almost every room of the house, you will have improved each room by the time you’re done with that category.
2 | Organize based on use. Make a pile of items you use:
• Every week
• Every Month
• Every Six Months
3 | Put items away based on frequency of use.
• Make the items used every week accessible and visible.
• Make monthly items less visible, but still accessible.
4 | Sort infrequently used items. Put items used every six months or less in three piles.
• Keep — Label and store these items. They don't need to be too accessible.
• Donate — Put these items into bags or boxes and immediately take them to your car (if you have one) so they are out of the space and ready to go to the collection center.
• Trash — Bag the trash and take it out to the bins immediately. Get it out of the space!
For sentimental items:
1 | If you are keeping it for someone else's sake, don't. Your space is for you, not them. Tip: This is the same with emotional and mental storage.
2 | If you are keeping it for you, ask if it's practical. Can it be used? If so, wonderful! Get it out of storage and put it to use. If you’re already using a similar item, keep the sentimental version, and donate or trash the duplicate.
3 | If it’s not practical, is it beautiful? Can it be displayed? If so, set it out to be admired.
4 | If it's not practical or beautiful, ask how often you will look at it and treasure it. If not more than once a year, it's probably safe to part with it.
For items from past relationships:
I suggest a burning and shower ceremony. This would be for items like a unity candle or cards from a previous marriage, Valentine letters from a previous relationship, photos, gifts, etc. These are difficult things to release. From experience, it is very freeing to let them go. If you can, burn them. As you do, wish as much love and light to those who gave to you as you can. Find gratitude for the lessons. Find forgiveness for the heartache. Drink a glass of wine to both celebrate and grieve. Then shower. Cry. Wash it away. Let it burn. Let it go with honor and dignity.