By Gord Riddell and Kathy Ryndak
As Nature has been doing her job of spring cleaning with our April showers, it is now our turn to consider doing our part. While we may think of spring cleaning as removing the dirt from winter, tidying up the yard and washing the windows, it is a great time to consider de-cluttering your home and your life. There really is a correlation between the clutter of our external environment and the clutter of our internal space, our minds. When people remove much of the clutter from their personal and even work spaces, they usually will tell you how freeing the experience was.
Many of us accumulate, collect, hoard and generally turn into the proverbial pack rat over the years. We hang onto things that are rarely if ever used and yet we hang on just in case we may someday need it. Whether it is your closets, garage or basement it is amazing the things we hang onto. Moving sometimes alleviates this constant collecting but usually only if we are downsizing. Even then we will gradually start to refill the new space with stuff we may just need.
Letting go of the old
Some ideas to free up your space, inside and outside:
- Start small. Pick an area that is not overflowing with stuff. You will get more accomplished when you feel you are making progress. A home office spilling over with files, books and articles can be enough to make anyone turn around and close the door. Starting in an easier and slightly less cluttered area will help to motivate you and you will get things done more quickly.
- You need to be ruthless if you are serious about this spring clean up. You need to make quick decisions about what is really needed to hang on to, what you may want to sell, donate or recycle and what is garbage. The trick here is once you make a decision on the ultimate destination of something, you need to stick with the choice and move on.
- Be realistic. When going through your wardrobe, the rule of thumb is, if you have not worn it in the last year, you probably will not be wearing it in the coming year. Although fashion may sometimes reappear and recycle itself, are those jeans from the 80’s really going to be fashionable again? Even if they do, as with most of us, are you still the same size as those 80’s fashions. It is time to pass those clothes onwards.
- Sorting through photos can be the most difficult as they depict many of our memories. The fastest and easiest way to get through photos is to get rid of all the duplicates first. Do we really need twelve shots of Grandpa’s boat sitting at the dock to remember our childhood summers? That one picture will have a lot more significance when we don’t have another eleven to sort through to move onto the next picture. The most important thing is do not turn sorting through photos as trip down memory lane or you will never get anything done. Remember be ruthless and then you can put everything together from your past and have a clear pictorial history of yourself.
- While going through all your things, your mind will bring up all kinds of reactions and feelings from nostalgia to trying to convince you that you really, really need to hold on to these things. Our mind, especially the unconscious mind, wants to keep everything the same, maintain the status quo. It can be become quite insistent when we try to change things. The important part is to keep moving forward and letting go.
Our external world can very much be a metaphor or even a mirror for our mind. Often when we are holding on to and collecting lots of things for our home and office, our mind is doing the same thing. Holding on to and collecting things which we really will have no need for. Not that we want to let go of memories or our history but old hurts, angers, grudges that we continue to hold on to clutter our internal space. They can interfere with our ability to be creative, to be inspired and to move through our world in a healthy way. Sorting through our internal space has an equally freeing feeling as de-cluttering our external environment. It is often not as easy to let go internally but it can be done. Many of the old feelings we may be holding on to can be let go of to make room for newer feelings and experience.
This internal clearing opens us up to more possibilities, to live in the now and really be present for our life. Much like the new cleaned up house allows us lots more room to move around in.Starting with the inside of our self may be more problematic to start a cleanup but starting with our living/work space definitely has a ripple effect on our minds. As you sort, recycle and discard your things, the feelings of freeing up space will happen on the inside as well. So a nice way to give your mind and spirit a clearer space is to start clearing from the outside. A word of caution, this spring cleaning is an ongoing activity. Don’t start accumulating more things inside and out without letting go of other things to keep a clear space for yourself.