30 Days Of Purging…Part Two

The benefits of living in a home for over 35 years is that you don’t have to pack up your stuff very often and move. The drawbacks of living in a home for 35 years is that you don’t have to pack up your stuff and move.

Let me give you an example of the level of excess going on in my home. At Christmas time I decided to decorate a small fake tree. Thanks to practicing the art of “out of mind…must not have one so go buy it syndrome” I purchased a new small Christmas tree. I then logically thought I needed ribbon and decorations for this tree, so purchased them as well. In the back of my mind I knew if I wanted to dig through the black hole under the stairwell I would find enough holiday knick knacks to put everything together, but I decided on all new this year since 2020 had been less than stellar.

Sharon and I agreed to “creating space” as our topic for January 2021. We alluded to the topic in our second podcast titled “Obligations, Traditions, and Making Space for Joy”. New year, new decade might as well clean the slate to gain some much needed space. What I didn’t count on was the level of work it was going to take to tackle this properly. I have attempted to “downsize” my possessions in the past and they just seemed to creep back into my house and life. This time I wanted to be more purposeful and permanent with the attempt. 

Like in the past, I started with a list of things I needed to buy in order for this to be a success. I needed storage bins, shelves, organizers and so on. I was about to go and purchase these things and then stopped…wait a minute, isn’t the objective to get rid of stuff instead of get more stuff? I had to think about this, my past behaviors and determine that I didn’t need anything but strength, determination and will power to get this party started.

Why do we always start with the physical and tangible things when we decide to create space in our lives? I have a theory, it’s because we can see the carnage. Well, let me clarify, we can see the borders of the carnage, what’s underneath is anyone’s guess.

The door under the stairs leads to a magical place of mystery and intrigue. Actually, it leads to a whole lot of things that haven’t been interacted with for two years or more. There is a couch in front of the door with many other items to prevent me from easily opening it. Baby steps everyone, this is a big project here. I pull out everything and try and organize it into piles of keep, throw away, sell and give away. 

I soon realize I have four Christmas trees plus the one I just purchased. To some that might not seem like many. To me? I had no idea that I had bought – some time in the recent past – almost exactly the same small tree I bought this year. I had almost 40 rolls of ribbon. Again, I had bought more ribbon this year. I am not going to go item by item here. Let’s just say there was a lot of stuff hiding in that magical black hole.

To make this easier on myself I have committed to a little less everyday for 30 days. So far? This is day 3. I have kept a little and made several trips to the Goodwill Store so that someone else can enjoy my excess. I have been brutally honest about if I really need something or not. I am leaning toward the “not needed” pile. Wish me luck. I am hoping it won’t take all year to complete this mission, and for now, I have committed to 30 days. I thought I would let you peek into my stashes just a little, so enjoy the excess while it lasts.

30 days of Silently Purging A Path To Clarity-Part One of Two

This year’s mission is to reclaim space. It will have to be a slow and steady process of sorting, evaluating level of connection and then making the decision…keep, sell, give away or turf. I can’t even fit this blog post into one post.

When things are physically apparent in excess it’s a bit easier to evaluate their worth and potential for future use or to purge. The piles can be seen, compared, and then dealt with as appropriate. What often gets missed is the things you don’t see. I know of people who rent storage units to hold onto momentos and family history. That makes some sense. I even got a notification that suggested I up my iCloud storage account as it was getting full. What? Something I hadn’t given much thought to was my digital storage footprint. It’s so easy to keep thousands of videos and pictures when you don’t print them anymore or save them to disks. You can even specify, in you will, what you want done with your Facebook page.

Here’s the thing about possessions – they come with a price tag and it’s not the one you think. In order for you to possess them you have to give up the space they occupy. The space can be tangible or intangible. The more you accumulate, the smaller the space becomes and sooner or later you either run out of space or find yourself trapped in a corner behind layers and layers of things you don’t value anymore.

One of the last places we tend to think about spring cleaning is in our minds, and yet it’s one of the most healthy things we can do to improve our quality of life.

We have all heard of Steve Jobs wardrobe preferences. Dress the same everyday to free up your mental state to concentrate on other things. It’s scientific fact that our brains only have so much capacity to concentrate on any given number of thoughts and concerns about anything and everything going on in our lives. If you are skeptical about this concept I recommend you try a weekend silent retreat. I won’t torture you with an invitation to take a seat in my mind during one of these retreats. Heck maybe your monkey is worse than mine?

As with anything, a whole lot of practice can create habits. Habits become routines. A regular routine of purging that which no longer serves me is a direct route to clarity in my opinion and my mind, body and soul.

I have routinely attended weekend silent retreats over the last few years. It usually happens in February and is hosted at a local convent. The place is on the edge of the coulees, nestled into the side of the hills and is cut off from outside noise. It’s pure outside noise deprivation for 3 days. Now, this either scares the heck out people or lights them up with eagerness to join. The first day is like going through withdrawal symptoms just like someone who is addicted to a substance. You don’t realize how loud your life is until it’s not or you take away the source. You don’t realize how loud ambient noise is or the degree of stimulation that bombards you daily until it’s cut off completely.

By the end of the first 24 hours you might experience headaches, physical pain or nausea as the noise purging starts. The practice begins each day with awakening before dawn (4:30am). The first meditation begins at 5:30 am and continues with the rising of the sun until the breakfast gong rings at about 7 am. There are 3 group meditations each day, afternoon naps, personal time and shared silent meals. Every movement of your body is tracked in your mind on purpose. One of the purposes is to recognize connections between your physical, mental and spiritual self. By day 3 you are becoming comfortable with the silence. If you are lucky you have purged some of your monkey mind. Believe me when I say that 3 days of listening to the crap of my inner musings is enough to make any sane or otherwise person exhausted. The retreat, if you can call it that, gives you a taste of what it would be like to decompress and let go of all that internal and external clutter that takes up space in your mind, body and spirit.

So for the month of January in the 2021 year I am starting a practice of letting go. Any good purge starts with some rituals that help to make them stick. We will share our journey and insights as we go.

Follow along with us as we delve deeper into the excess and discover that which we will choose to keep or let go of. We will also explore what is behind the door that connects to my basement stairs and other interesting crevices in my house and Sharon’s.