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Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Spring Cleaning

Spring arrives with the promise of new life, hope and joy. It is an excitement engaging all our senses. We smell the fresh blooms opening to meet the sun. We hear the birds singing earlier and louder each dawn. We feel the warmth of brighter and longer days. And as we choose, we touch the earth. We garden. We drink in the light. We throw open the windows. Ah!

Nothing highlights the dust and clutter faster than the eastern sunrise. Lounging while we sip our coffee, our attention is drawn to the areas we neglected in our winter hunker down. By now, April, most of the northern hemisphere is looking to trade heavy coats and sweaters for less insulating wear. Making the wardrobe shift gives opportunity to review other items we have gathered and tucked away through the year (or years).

We are a nation of gatherers, and as a rule, need reminders to recycle, reduce, and reuse. We now have songs, cartoons, billboards, flyers, special bags, boxes and other containers for (in some communities) curbside collection. In previous post I have shared that I am clearing my parents home. My mother died in March and we are sorting through decades of "gatherings." I can see how I have acquired this pattern and am committed to finding a way to enjoy what I have rather than spending my days managing it.

The biggest issue is that my mother had some really cool stuff. I can't just toss it out. (My dad's solution.) The reality is, I already have everything I need. I came across a fabulous bag I really wanted. Before bringing it into the house, I decided which of the bags I already own I was willing to give up. Standing at the closet, I realized I was willing to give away five of them. (And yes, I have more. Have purses. Will travel.)

I'm learning to pick up daily. My mail was on hold and rather than bringing it all home to sort, I stood at the recycle bin and left what I could at the post office. Then I opened and sorted the mail into what needed attention, what must be shredded, and what would go into recycling. On the way to the grocer, I emptied the recycling bag.

Find ways to bring memories into the present without holding onto objects of the past. Some pretties sit about the house marking places in the past. If an item has no current significance, let it go. Many of the bits I saved over the years now decorate the garden. Stones, sand and water from distant ventures return easily to the earth. Just as easily is a favorite doll, shoe, or blanket that has lost its function.

Some days I just walk around and look at all my stuff. When I find there is something I can let go of I place it in a basket by the door. Every Wednesday I am in town I carry those items to the charity shop. Letting go allows us to feel freer, to move and live more easily.

Does it make me happy? Does it bring me joy? If not, let it go.

Do I have a place to put it, for real? No, let it go.

Am I really going to use this? For its intended purpose (mine or others)? ...

Do I have duplicates? Keep one. Recycle the rest.

Why am I still keeping this? Guilt? Obligation? Fear? I received a set of crystal stemware that belonged to my grandmother. Because I had young children I was afraid to use or display it. For a decade it was merely a burden that I carried and tended along with linen table coverings. I can finally enjoy the glassware and let go of any concerns of staining the linen. That's what happens when you use things.

Am I saving this for someone else? I know that little of what I have will interest my children. They are now adults and if they desire something I have, they need only ask. It once bothered me when my daughter said everything would be hauled out for donation, but now that I am faced with the task, I understand.

Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors' ~ Kahlil Gibran
Following the examples I listed above, I have spend the day emptying my closet. I am amazed at the number of empty hangers I have collected over the year. I switch out my clothes seasonally, usually. But the last year has been very unusual. I started paring down and de-cluttering in anticipation of leaving my job and then living with less. I have massively more. Sadly, there were even clothes that didn't get unpacked last fall/winter.

Here are a few more questions:

Does this fit me now? There is no point in saving clothes we hope to fit into another day, on either side of the tape measure.

Does this match my style? This applies not only to clothing, but make-up, accessories, books, ideas, thoughts and beliefs.

What is the point in hanging on to this? I found some cool scarves, belts, sweaters, and t-shirts. Most it can go to donation or garage sale - whichever comes first.

Finally, if I am going to store it, decide in advance where and for how long. I packed away my winter items and am airing the spring/summer wear. It has been a long and arduous process, but honestly, I feel lighter, more organized, and clearer.

Remember, the universe abhors a void. As we clear out the old, we make space for more. Let's remain thoughtful, awake and aware of what we draw and accept into this newly created space.

Blessed be!


  1. Extra hangers are a joy for clothes closets :)

  2. Oh, I didn't keep the extra hangers. I have enough clothes and they are all on the appropriate hangers. I am giving the remaining hangers away. I am discouraging the call for more clothes. If more arrive, I will have to let go of the old to make room (hangers) for the new.

    Every time I look in the closet I am impressed. I plan to spread that experience throughout the house.

    Today, I am thankful for the bright sunshine. I have been working inside and out.


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