Mess was everywhere! Things were stuffed, tucked and smashed into corners. My closet was swollen, about to burst like the mouths of hungry squirrels storing too many nuts in their cheeks. I was tripping over shoes, and constantly being pummeled under a falling volcano of folded sweatshirts or tumbling shoe boxes. This weekend, I decided that I had had enough. Some things had to go.
Allow me to set the stage for you. I own a four bedroom house, but the closets in this house is better suited for a single, food-deprived, college student who owns a cat. Why a cat? I don’t know. Just roll with it. It seems metaphorically right.
So, this closet has two shelves, which makes for three levels of clothing. That sounds like a lot until I tell you that my husband and I can just barely stand in this closet at the same time, and we better not intend to make any moves that require us to turn around while another one is grabbing something off the shelf. That is an open and accepted invitation to get an unintentional elbow to the eye, chest or knee. So, when I tell you this closet is small, it’s small okay. Giant in a treehouse small.
I decided that the only way that I was going to get anywhere was to pull everything out, take inventory on what was and was not serving me, and make decisions about what I allowed to stay in that space.
Of course there were clothes, but there were also shoes, and coats, and hats, and belts, and ties, and handbags, and store bags, and receipts, and of course, all the snacks I buy that I have to hide from my children if I want any chance of enjoying them. Hey! Don’t judge me. Judge yourself. As a mom, I have very few pleasures, and hidden, Little Debbie Cakes in my closet is one of them.
Anyway, as I was cleaning, I realized that this was not only therapeutic, but it was necessary, as my closet mirrored my life: crowded and stuffed with stuff that I no longer needed or used. I mean, it was once relevant, but the time, place, and space once required was no longer needed, but yet, I held on to it. Most times, it was filed under the “just in case” clause. My lesson that day was to start with my closet, but to finish with my life, and to apply the same strategy. I needed to sit down and evaluate everything that was taking up space in my life and decide, ask three questions: 1.) Do I keep it in my bedroom close? 2.) Do I move it to another space in the house where it’s not as close, but I can go grab it when I need it? 3.) Do I usher it out of the house completely never to be seen again?
So, I evaluated my life using the same strategy I used to clean out my closet.
1.) Pull everything out: Every life experience, every conversation, every incident, every heartache, heartbreak, disappointment, success, triumph, every argument, every failure….all of it. I pulled it all out. I wrote it down. I literally looked at everything that was “crowding my life”.
2.) Take inventory on what was and was not serving me: I had to then decide to continue to hold on to each piece or to let it go. Some of it was hard to do because I’ve had it and carried it for so long. Some of it I have replayed in my head every day since it happened; so, it still felt fresh like an open wound even though it was decades-old pain. This is not to make light of my tragedies. They did hurt; they do hurt, and they come with an everlasting sting, but I realized that some stuff just wasn’t serving me. Instead, it was hindering my relationships with new people because of old people. Some things were keeping me in a place of fear or comfort, afraid to fail again, to look foolish in front of folk. So, I had to decide, “Am I going to use this?” or “Am I going to allow it to keep taking up space in the head, my heart and my life when I would rather have some joy or love there instead?”
3.) Make decisions about what I allowed to stay in my space: Like my closet after clean-out, I honestly feel lighter. I finally have some breathing room. I am not naive enough to believe that life won’t hand me more experiences and people to replace what I have just re-located or thrown out, but that’s when I know that I’ll have to take inventory again.
I don’t know if it’s the end of the year or if it’s the beginning of a new season of my life as I teeter on the brink of turning 40, but whatever it is, I am thankful for the understanding and wisdom this era of life has brought me.
I wish you all love, peace, prosperity, and, of course, a day to put yourself first and free up some space in your head, your heart and your life if it’s too crowded with stuff that no longer serves you.