But. We (fortunately) are not on a deadline. It doesn't have to be completed today or this month or even this year. Which means I can take those small steps -- one shelf or cabinet or wall at a time.
The hard part for me is living in the chaos. I very much like things DONE. I like checking tasks off, I like the feeling of accomplishment when I dust my hands off after completing something. And as Paul says, I'm already gone. Already moved in at the lake, looking at this 20-year-great-place-to-raise-kids house in the rearview mirror.
But this is a process. And what I am learning about myself is that all this task-checking over the years has been a way for me to feel more in control, a way to manage or redirect my feelings. Which is interesting, because I am no more in control when I am accomplishing things than when I am not! Perhaps this gradual, little bit at a time downsizing is helping me to learn how little control I actually have, and how life is happening now, a shelf a cabinet a wall at a time. It's all part of the process.
This is it! I'm living it, and yes, it's a little messy right now, and I'm not in control, and I'm shedding things I once held dear, and that's changing me, too.
I have always been so sentimental, always NEEDED items to remind me of loved ones, of beauty, of experiences... and today I need them less. I am learning those people, those moments -- they are inside me, a part of me. Maybe I don't need all those things after all.
Two resources for those who might be experiencing similar circumstances: THE LIFE-CHANGING MAGIC OF TIDYING UP by Marie Kondo and children's book creator Elizabeth Dulemba's Tedx talk: Is your stuff stopping you?
One a-ha moment for me during Elizabeth's talk is how we keep stuff to feel more permanent -- and isn't that what a girl (like me) might do after moving 11 times by the age of 14? I have always craved long-term and permanence. When that doesn't even exist.
Also, I don't like to admit this, but in the spirit of small steps for big change, I'm pretty sure one motivation for the things I've kept these long years has been a desire to impress others: look at all the poetry books Irene has! Did you see all that art? Isn't Irene the coolest? Yep. Another area in my life where I might be looking outside myself for validation.
Well. The new house -- the lake house -- it's not about anyone else but me and Paul. And it's about NOW, this moment. So we are keeping it really simple, aiming for utility and pleasing ourselves (joy!).... with as little clutter as possible. And I take great inspiration from one of the quotes Elizabeth shares in her Tedx talk:
“I have a hobby. I have the world’s largest collection of sea shells. I keep it scattered on beaches all over the world. Maybe you’ve seen some of it.”' - Steven Wright
Isn't that wonderful? Working on it. xo