I’ve been taking part in a really cool de-cluttering project- 40 Bags in 40 days. Ann Marie of White House Black Shutters has been running this challenge for a few years, but this is the first time I’m doing it. The idea is easy- get rid of ONE bag of clutter, every day, for 40 days. Since my house is FILLED with stuff that I haven’t touched for a long time, I decided that this would be the PERFECT time for me to do something about it! I made a few rules:
So far, I’ve been doing GREAT! I’ve cleaned out many cabinets, closets, drawers, and areas of my house. With every single bag and box going out I feel lighter. I’ve learned that just because something was given to me, I don’t need to keep it. I can appreciate the thought, while not keeping the items. I gave it a lot of thought, and realized that one reason I held onto to so many things is because I grew up rather poor, and moved cross country with just a suitcase of my “things”, so when people gave me things, they became important. Learning what really WAS important is making it very easy to decided what to keep, and what to give away.
One thing that I realized most of all is while things aren’t important, people are, and while things used to have power over me, so did people. There were people in my life cluttering it up with their negativity and spitefulness. I spent a lot of time worry about my relationship with them, or lack thereof, and it was costing me peace. Then I realized that releasing people is as important as releasing things.
This past weekend I was invited to a birthday party for my favorite cousin. I wanted to go to celebrate my cousin turning 40, and looked forward having fun with her. But, to tell the truth, I was a little nervous. You see, My Mom had 7 brothers and sister, and before her death, we all used to be very close. Since she’s passed away, 10 years ago, we’ve fractured and many of us no longer get along. In fact, there is strife and drama everywhere. I was able to remove the trouble makers, for the most part, from my life, but being in close quarters with them made me uncomfortable. I felt that they would continue to be judging me about everything, from my dress, to my behavior, to even my dancing. I talked to my husband about it, and he gave me some great advice.
“These people haven’t been part of your life for years, why are you giving them power over you?”
OMG, he was so right. (Yes, I married a smart guy!) Whatever power I had given to them in my life was just more clutter- except it was cluttering up my soul. I made a decision.
I let it go. (Cue the song in your head. I’m sorry.) I let go of the expectations that simply because we share blood, we need to be close. I let go of broken deathbed promises made to my Mom, and broken promises to God. I let go of any kind of guilt I felt for not sucking up the wrongdoings of others because they were family and took pride in the fact that I was doing what was best for me, and my family. Even better, I let go of all the feelings I had for these people- good and bad. I don’t care for them, no, but I don’t hate them. In fact, I wish them well. To be honest, I wish them exactly what they deserve out of life. I know they’ve had health issues, so I wish them good health. There are new babies, and grandbabies on the horizon. I’m happy for them. But I wanted them out of my life, fully. Out of my head and my heart- like all the other clutter that was filling up all the spaces I needed to find peace.
I let go of those people- my “family” who were no longer family. It made all the difference! I was able to walk into that party with a light step, a ready smile, and joyous heart. I laughed, I ate, I drank, I talked to those I wanted to talk to. I celebrated with my family, those who are there for me no matter what, and with no expectations. I realized that family isn’t about sharing blood, but it was about sharing hearts. I had a fabulous time! I celebrated my new-found lightness.
No matter how many bags and boxes of STUFF I get rid of, getting rid of people who can bring me down is the most important.