Thursday, July 24, 2008
How to Know What to Keep, and What to Let Go
It’s the end of any vacation, and I’m repacking my suitcase for the trip home. I’ve used most of the stuff I brought, and most of the clothes were worn. But there’s always that small pile of things untouched and unneeded during my trip. In that moment, I always wish that while I had packed for the trip, there had been a little alert with a blinking red light that would warn me: “Don’t pack that! You won’t need it!”
Multiply that wish by about 100 – that’s how strongly I felt when we were plowing through all our worldly goods, choosing what to sell, what to take in four suitcases to Mexico, what to store for the future. After a while, making all those choices about each and every item got so overwhelming that I stopped feeling into each thing and started being more mechanical about the process. And as I’ve said before, mistakes were made. And that became especially evident when we got back from Mexico and unloaded our small storage pod.
The main test I had used when sorting was this: If I don’t love it or use it, out it went. I’ve used that test for many years in my organizing business, and it usually worked.
However, I’ve had to forgive myself a LOT for a few items of personal value that I released. I’m not a very sentimental gal, and using my don’t love it/use it rule, I let go a few items that had been in my family for years. It’s still hard to even write about. But at the time, I was being ruthless. Unsentimental. And I was under quite a bit of pressure. So I goofed on a few things.
Now, rather than continue to beat myself up about it, I decided to look at the lesson I could take away. And I realized the don't love it/use it rule has its limits. I didn’t love or use Grandma’s crystal punch bowl. But it did have good energy for me. And that’s a critical key. What is the energy of the thing? (By the way, if you’re not convinced that things have energy, then why do you keep looking in your closet right after you’ve purged and organized it?)
After Mexico, when we opened up our storage bin, I was surprised at some of the things we had deemed worthy of saving. A small oscillating fan, for example. It was something I used, and it worked fine. But it was dirty. You know how fans get linty and dusty on the blades and they’re impossible to clean without dissembling? Well, this fan was a mess. So I got rid of it, shaking my head at what had ever possessed me to keep it. I can see now that if I had asked myself, “What is the energy of this thing?” I wouldn't have stored it. Yes, the fan worked and I used it. But I didn’t want it blowing junk all over my space. The energy of it was dirty. Or a vase that I kept that was nice. I used it, but it had been a gift from someone I no longer trusted, and every time I looked at it, I was reminded of that. Bad energy. I later let it go. If fact, we ended up purging about another third of our small pile of things we had put in storage before leaving.
So it’s a different kind of test, and I invite you to use it yourself. What are you hanging on to that, simply put, has bad energy for you? And when are you going to let it go?