Last week I took our 2018 tax info out to the barn to put it away in the boxes of other long term stored paperwork. As I stepped into the barn – well we call it a barn and others might call it a large shed – the amount of stuff we were “long term” storing took my breath away.
It’s not that I hadn’t seen the barrage of stuff building up in this barn for years, but suddenly in that moment, I realized that what was a quick task to put away paperwork was about to become a quest I knew I had to conquer!
What sat there in the barn before me was generations of “stuff” that had all found its way here. Things left behind from my parents, grandparents and even great grandparents. My kids precious items from their childhood and stuff that they had brought back home when they returned after their first trip out into the world to find themselves. Now my grown children are gone again exploring their lives in other places and have left all that stuff here as well.
Between inheriting things that were hard to let go of for sentimental reasons, holding on to things of my own past, and my children leaving things behind for us to “hold on to” my stuff cup was way over flowing.
What really hit me was how things that once held meaning to me and my family someone else could benefit from the “stuff” that had been sitting here for years that was still in good shape. There of course were things that were in not such good shape and I had to make the choice of what to do with it.
I started sorting, recycling, tossing and getting ready to give a whole bunch of stuff to charity. Sure, I could have taken the time to sell it on e-bay or somewhere else but I just needed to quickly let it go while I was in the right mindset and the charity of my choosing could use the donation.
In the days that followed as I discarded many of the items, I found myself finding a part of myself that I had been missing. Who I am today was having a hard time letting go of the past because there was so much of it keeping me stuck there.
We can find ourselves buried in memories of other people’s lives. Or a life that we once had that will never be again. There can be so much sadness in the loss that we cling on to items as if they will bring that part of our life back. Of course, it won’t and only stops us from fully being who we are today and what lies ahead of us.
What I realize as I write these words in this letter to you is that all the stuff keeps us from the joy that today has to offer.
As you read this, ask yourself if there something you may find missing in your life that could be covered up with lots of stuff from the past. Stuff that, as celebrity organizer Marie Kondo says, can begin to “bring the joy” to other people that once brought joy to you or one of your loved ones.
When we can’t find the forest through the trees the time comes to clear it away in a way that is respectful to your memories and also respectful to the earth. Tomorrow is Earth day and a great time to be mindful of the stuff we accumulate because bottom-line we are not taking it with us when we leave this planet. Do we want to leave it for others to have to be burdened with all of it? Do we want to have it end up in a land fill somewhere?
And truth be told the “stuff” can keep us from fully be who we are meant to be while we are here.
While this story is to be continued as I still have a many, many hours left of my clearing work to be done in the barn I am emerging with a new perspective. This perspective will keep me moving forward to get my important life work done. Would love to hear from you and your experience with your own “stuff.”
Wishing you lots of great clearing as well in the week ahead and Happy Earth Day!
“One man gathers what another man spills.” – Grateful Dead
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