So, here it is, the first big reveal, the result of my coaching with Julie Morgenstern, author of SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life: A Four-Step Guide to Getting Unstuck.
Remember my theme, “root to flower”? I kept it in mind as I sorted through box after bag after dusty basket. I’d set an aggressive 8-hour goal to Separate the Treasures and Heave (steps 1 and 2 of the SHED process), and Julie helped me break it down into sessions of a couple of hours at a time, based on each activity.
I began by eliminating the stuff that was 100% obsolete, to which I had no emotional attachment: the chest of drawers I’d started painting, the magazines and magazine holders, the decorative items that no longer suited my style. That took about 3 hours, which included dropping things off at friends’ houses and Goodwill. I was amazed at how fast that first session went.
The second was slower — piles of paper, most of which turned out to be old mail, but had to be gone through piece by piece. I spent about 4 hours on that. (I bought a shredder to facilitate this step, and it now helps me organize my mail, daily. Instead of piling things on my desk, I immediately shred the junk mail and sort the rest into to-do piles, which I then deal with each weekend.) The last two hours I spent shopping for and creating a simple storage system for my stuff.
And like magic, in 8 hours, 20 years’ worth of stuff was gone, leaving behind only the treasures, the things that make me feel excited and energized. When I mentioned to Julie in our second coaching that it seemed fast, she said that’s typical. Identifying your theme beforehand, and setting up ways to immediately get rid of your things after they’re separated, means you can fly through Separating and Heaving.
She warned me about the panic that would set in once I let stuff go. It’s normal, after clearing your space, to want to grab all your stuff back to you for safety.
I didn’t expect to panic — after all, I was so *ready* to release. But two days later, I started to feel wobbly and frightened.
As the days passed and I found my feet, I also found a new, utterly surprising desire had surfaced: I wanted to buy a house.
Until two weeks before I started organizing, I was content to rent. I didn’t want the responsibility or the cost of a house. And I sure didn’t want to spend time house hunting!
But I uncovered something important as I started Embracing My Identity (step 3) and figuring out who I was without my stuff. Those books, boxes, clothes and other unused *things* had, for the 20 years of my gypsy marriage, been my roots. And without them, I wanted real roots: not boxes but bricks.
That week, I started house hunting and last Sunday, I put an offer on a house. The sellers accepted and I move in on June 15! I’m utterly thrilled with my little ranch on half an acre. It suits my modern-meets-traditional style and gives me room to more fully embrace my identity and move through Step 4: Drive Yourself Forward, connecting to myself in new and creative ways.
Talk about a lot of fast changes. But the good news? I don’t have to move all those boxes!
Check back next week for what happened when I sorted through 20 years of books, the things I’d identified as having the highest level of emotional attachment. How many of *those* will I be moving? Here’s a sneak peek of my newly cleaned-up bookshelves.