Here I am contentedly sitting cross-legged on the floor of my treatment room amongst bins, boxes, piles of papers to be categorized and files to be sorted, feeding page after page of now obsolete info into my paper shredder; the one with “ferocious” shredding power.
Occasionally I linger over way out of date financial records, client lists, appointment books just long enough to appreciate that all of these people and associations have helped me develop my therapeutic practice. They were my teachers as much as I was there therapist. Some relationships continue to this day while others were passing experiences. And I feel deep gratitude towards them all.
The air becomes silent. The most gratifying sounds of material being chomped, crunched and devoured; music to my ear for the past 2 hours, has come to a dead halt.
I turn the machine off and let it rest while I putter about making order out of the chaos strewn around me.
When I turn the shredder on again the little green light shines and I delicately offer up one folded paper, placing it gently into the mouth of “ferocious” but… nothing. Even its little red light, indicating overheated, has fallen dull and lifeless.
It is with great sadness that I announce the passing of Mailmate a plucky little shredder that, now I find out, “will handle 51-100 uses per day.”
Well, its ferocity couldn’t match my enthusiasm for clearing clutter.
You see I am working through Soul Coaching - 28 Days to Discover Your Authentic Self by Denise Linn; actually doing all of all the exercises. What with a business association come to an end, work being slow, and having just gotten through Mom’s most recent health crisis I find myself declaring, “I am so done.”
And, with this declaration comes the greatest sense of release! The timing couldn’t be better.
Who am I? Where am I going and why have I, all my life, been in such a hurry to get there? What am I doing with my life right now? Can I not allow myself to enjoy every day as it unfolds? What have I got to be grateful for?
It feels as if I have a lot of stuff – material, mental, emotional and spiritual - to clear out of my life because it’s worn a too familiar pathway in my psyche, bogging me down and draining my energy. How can I make way for new possibilities if I keep doing the same thing, thinking the same thoughts? Who I am is clearly in need of an overhaul.
For 2 and 1/2 years, as a house-sitter living in Victoria, B.C., I moved on average every 6 weeks, more or less. Our co-op house had disbanded and as a house-sitter I lived in and took care of other people’s houses – pets, gardens, and on my first instance 1 teenager – in lieu of rent, while they were away.
I rented, for $50./month, a studio space in Xchanges Gallery (when it was located above Canadian Linen on North Park St.) where I kept a mattress, my essential record player and record collection, a cinder block and board bookcase and all the art supplies I needed as a cartoonist – the portable drawing board my brother made for me, art board, pens, ink etc. Some house hold items got stored in the basement of my first house sitting assignment.
Other than that every item I owned I carried from house to house transported in green garbage bags. I was affectionately called by my friends an “aspiring bag lady” or the “little hunza” (which I was told was a group of small, sturdy, sherpa-like people).
How quickly I got tired of packing and unpacking; carrying everything I owned literally on my back. Soon I began to question just what was important, useful, desirable, necessary or simply treasured. Some items never made their way out of my garbage bags from sit to sit. So things just fell by the wayside as the time went on. Two garbage bags became one and any item that I desired to add to my stash meant that another would have to be released.
And here I am today having accumulated so much stuff that I don’t even know just what I have let alone appreciate it.
On day 2 of the program, rejecting one of the suggested options - “Dance with wild abandon for 10 minutes” as being too familiar, I have vowed to do “Clutter-clearing for 30 mins per day” for the duration of the commitment.
The criterion I am using to determine whether it stays or it goes are these:
Financial – get rid of anything beyond 7 years ago.
Treatment related – get rid of files over 10 years old, unless the client has seen me within the last 10 years.
Active files are those clients who have seen me within the last 2 years.
Files for storage – between the 2 & 10 year period
- have I used the item in the last 6 months
- do I love it, appreciate it or does it please me to have it
- Does it have positive associations – do I feel good when I see it. If I feel bad or my energy feels drained out it goes.
- does it represent who I am now or is it simply memory of days gone by (been there done that – bye bye)
- Does it move me towards a future possibility – does it give me a sense of expansion
Although the duration of the program is 28 days, I am doing all 3 levels for each day so triple that = 84 days. Some of the exercises have taken me more than one day. So with an attitude of “it takes what it takes” I’ll be sorting out for more than 3 months guaranteed.
Linn says that de-cluttering resides in the aspect of air and is associated with “clearing mental debris”. Believing that the best beginnings start with good endings, as I release each item I do so with appreciation – for at one time, whether I am conscious of it or not, they served some purpose.
This is taking me on a journey into every nook and cranny of my house both literally and figuratively. It is more than just clearing clutter. Think of it as a Spiritual Detox.