February 11, 2015

Cleaning closets and culling inboxes

I've been plagued by a false sense of obligation to the emails and empty shoeboxes taking my up life.

Getting rid of stuff puts me at ease. It always has. In elementary school I used to wake up on Saturday mornings and drag everything out of my closet. Every nook and cranny was emptied, wiped and vacuumed before I sorted and reorganized every shoebox and bin and found it a new place.  I still love doing it. Overhauling the physical stuff gives my mental stuff a little extra space too.

Before Christmas I felt overwhelmed by my stuff. Between juggling responsibilities and other unblogged challenges, it became too much. I couldn't shake the feelings of obligation – to everything! My full inbox. Cluttered closets. My mind was full, heart heavy. I was focused on maintaining my status quo instead of doing what I could to make it better. When I finally hit my limit I did what I always do: I cleaned.

On a quiet evening I pulled everything out of our spare room closet and sorted through it, reorganizing what I want to keep and creating piles of everything being thrown out or donated. Stacks of magazines and empty shoeboxes spilled out of the space so I ripped out pages of recipes and exercises, and recycled the old musty boxes. In an afternoon I went through everything in my closet and filled four garbage bags' worth of stuff I don't love or don't fit and gave them to a local thrift shop.

My inboxes and feeds felt cluttered too. More and more, I grew tired of following accounts that looked the same and left me with a lingering sense of obligation to fit a specific aesthetic and sartorial mold. Unfollowing a few left more room for my creative juices to simmer and bubble and pay attention to what I like instead of what I feel I should like. Dozens of unread email subscriptions have been trimmed. Rather than continually deleting the same emails over and over, I unsubscribed.

Purge. Purge. Purge. With every garbage bag I dragged to the trash or carted off to a charity and every time I hit "unfollow," I felt clearer. Lighter. Better.

I can handle more with less. Cultivating a simpler life is my goal. Less stuff, fewer obligations and a lot more of what I love.

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