A Winter Break.
For the last few years my partner and I have taken a week in January to do our annual apartment purge. For one straight week we don’t do anything except declutter and clean. It started one year when Ashley read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. She suggested that we use Kondo’s method on our own apartment. I begrudgingly agreed to give it a try. [btw, her follow up book Spark Joy is incredible and I recommend them both for sure]
It was, in every sense of the word, life-changing. I’d spent my life up to that point associating wealth with material things. I wanted to appear wealthy (who doesn’t?), so I worked on acquiring “nice” things to fill our home with. Working at Target for so long didn’t really help. All they do is make cute, trendy, cheap things that you can fill your home with, only to replace it with the next line of cute, trendy things they come out with.
If you haven’t read Kondo’s books, absolutely do it. The basic idea is that you shouldn’t go through your home looking for stuff to get rid of, but instead you should find the things you want to keep. She presents categories for you to go through one at a time. So, for example, the first category is clothing, and first subset of that category is tops. You go through your entire house and get all of your tops. Everything in your closet, in your dresser, in the guest bedroom, in storage…everywhere. All the tops. Then you dump them on the floor in your living room and, one by one, pick up each piece of clothing as ask, “Does this bring me joy?” If the answer is yes, you keep it. If the answer is no, you get rid of it.
I had never done anything like this and, quickly, I found it exhausting. One major benefit of going category by category, instead of room by room, is that you can see how much of a particular thing you have spread across your entire house. When it was time for us to do skin care products, I was literally shocked at how many bottles of lotion, facial masks, creams, serums, and oils I found. Once we finally were finished carting it out of the bathroom, our bedroom, and my office, it had filled most of the living room floor. I was devastated. Much of it had never been used, much of it was expired, and, most shockingly, I didn’t know I even had bought most of it. I felt like a hoarder who had no concept of the space I lived in. I felt embarrassed, frankly.
That’s when I changed. Something in me clicked and I knew that I had to complete this process. Every new category brought unique challenges. When we got to the “hobby” category, it was time to go through all my knitting supplies.
Buried under my massive yarn stash was a zippered bag that had belonged to my Nana. It was many skeins of acrylic baby yarn in pale yellow, and she had begun crocheting a chevron baby blanket. I was given this bag after she died, and I threw it in my yarn stash.
But, it was time to deal with some realities. First, I’m kind of a yarn snob and I don’t ever use acrylic yarn. Second, I can’t crochet very well at all. I certainly can’t read a crochet pattern.
And, beyond the practical concerns, I had a lot of emotional baggage tied up with that yarn. When my Nana was dying, I had the opportunity to go see her. I decided not to, mostly because I have a really hard time with emotional situations, especially death. I don’t know how to process it and it makes me feel terrible. My Nana died before I could change my mind and go see her. I carried such guilt over that for years and years. Now, every time I opened my yarn storage and saw that bag, I remembered that painful memory of my Nana.
Working with Kondo’s book, I realized that my Nana would never want me to be burdened with these feelings and she wouldn’t want me to remember her in that way. So, I had to get rid of the yarn. I donated it to a second hand store so that someone could, in some way, use the materials, but not before sitting in the middle of my floor and full on ugly crying for quite some time. It was cathartic, to say the least.
That first apartment purge was so painful. I forced myself to deal with all these old gross emotions I had connected to objects. By the end, we had parted way with more than half of what we owned. During that week my consumerism died. At the end of the week, I felt things I’d never felt, like knowing exactly what we owned, where it all was, and that I didn’t regret owning any of it. It was truly magic.
Every year since we’ve done a much smaller purge. Still, we go through every category like Kondo suggests. Still, I hate every single minute of it. But every time we find bags full of things that are weighing us down and it feels so good to thank them for their service and send them on their way and out of our lives.
We just finished our most recent apartment purge. We were able to get rid of a surprising amount of stuff and free up a significant amount of storage space. Our whole home feels bigger, lighter, and more pleasant to be in.
This year, though, felt more intense than usual. I felt like something major in me has changed. I was able to get rid of things that had hung on through previous de-cluttering efforts and, in doing that, I was able to make more space for things I love that I had previously stuffed away in a closet. Now, my knitting supplies, my big bin of Legos, and even my saxophone are in plain view on shelves in my office. By getting rid of things that no longer serve me, I’ve been able to make my space feel more like, well, mine.
But it’s more than just our annual apartment purge. I have dedicated the month of January to tying up loose ends across my life. I’m planning on finishing my Spirit Guide ebook and YouTube series. I’m almost done with my aromatherapy certification course. I’m planning to start recording podcasts again. To make space for all of this, I won’t be going to any fairs this month. I’ll be working from home as much as I can to complete as much as I can.
And, in the process I want to share as much of that as I can with you. To start the year off right I’ve created a simple digital planner you can use on your computer, tablet, or smart phone. When I couldn’t find a planner I loved, I made my own, and I ended up digging it so much that I thought I’d offer it to anyone who might find it useful.
Also, in the spirit of planning and problem-solving, I’ve taken 25% off my Intuitive Coaching sessions. Book your session now to take advantage of the price and to get a head start on having your best year yet!
By popular demand, some of my tarot readings are back! Grab one now and save 20%!
And, because I’m doing a sale anyway, I figured why not take 25% off everything else? That’s right—for the rest of this month you’ll get 25% off of almost everything on ZuFoos.com. Yay!
2017 is going to be, well, challenging, but we can handle it. Take a moment, a day, a week, or the whole month if you can to remind yourself that you're a warrior and you can handle whatever life throws your way. Take that time now for meditation, reflection, and planning. Let's take a break, get ourselves together, and hit the ground running.
May your January be filled with joy, bringing closer what you love and removing what you don't.