My mom used to call me Imelda, after Imelda Marcos, the woman who owned more than a thousand pair of shoes. True story.
From shoes to hats to purses to gemstones to old never-developed film rolls to birthday cards from my childhood, I’ve always been a collector of things, especially pretty things. My favorite stores were TJ Maxx and Hobby Lobby because I could walk around for hours, fill up my cart and just feel better. It’s hard to admit that things filled something for me but I know many of you reading this probably get it because it’s pretty common in today’s consumer world.
When I first moved in with Mark, that was the first time I took to heart that having as many things as I did probably wasn’t a healthy thing. It’s taken a long time, a husband that encourages letting go and an honest look at my buying and collecting habits to realize what it meant for me and how unfulfilling it actually is. So I started with one box and then another and then another.
And in the process of doing this,
I realized that my moving on meant releasing things from my life that no longer had an energy for me so that what I was left with was true quality. And this is my aim.
We’re moving in 3 days and this time around, we’re in a much better place with the ‘things’ in our lives. During our first move three years ago, we moved across town with all our possessions filling two, 26′ Uhaul trucks. And that didn’t even fit it all. Two of our friends had trucks with trailers that hauled the rest. The second move was from Indiana to Austin last year which filled a 26′ truck. This time around, we’re moving to Miami with one 20′ truck. Pretty proud of us for all the progress we’ve made.
While it’s taken time, focused energy and persistence to keep going when it got hard, it’s been so worth it. Here are a few of the main benefits I got from letting go over the past year:
You Save Money
The more you let go, the more protective you are of what you bring in. My frequent TJ Maxx trips stopped and we started saving money each month. You don’t realize how much you’re buying until you really start to be conscious of it. And when you start going through your stuff you begin seeing themes in your collecting. I noticed I had about 30 different empty journals I’ve gathered over the years and so my routine cruises through Marshalls stationary section halted because the last thing I need is another journal I’m not using.
When I buy something now, I ask myself this question, “Will buying this support me and does it spark joy for me?” I only want to add things to my life that truly mean something now, not just adding another pair of shoes just because it feels good in the moment.
It Feels Good To Have Less
After my first goodwill drop off, I came home and walked in my closet, looked around and felt happy. I saw my favorite pair of shoes staring back at me, not stuffed behind other shoes. I not only saw, I felt organization, cleanliness and space. And professionals are not kidding when they say clearing clutter in your home will clear the clutter in your mind. It just feels so good to create more open space in your home.
(one of my favorite pair of earrings)
You Appreciate your possessions more
One of the last things I did in preparation for our move was going through my jewelry. This meant unknotting chains, matching earrings and ultimately, deciding what jewelry I loved the most. It wasn’t easy to let go of the silver bracelet my first boyfriend got me or the red leather watch I got when I was a teenager. All these things held memories for me and those are the choices that are a bit difficult. But when it came down to sentimental items I would ask myself, “Does this still hold meaning in my life?” And if it was super old, I’d think of the memory and then let it go. And then all of a sudden I was finding earrings that I forgot I had, a necklace I thought I lost years ago and the jewelry that I really love started appearing. When you omit from your life vs add, you start to find the gems hidden beneath the layers of things. You uncover them and find a new appreciation for the things you really love. It’s about quality over quantity.
Overall, I feel lighter in my life having let go of things that ultimately were a hidden weight. These things held either an old emotional energy or no energy at all. Those are the things I let go of. And in the omitting from my life came an addition of joy. I can see more clearly what really matters to me. It’s not adding things, it’s having experiences, loving what I surround myself with and living my life with people I love.
If you’re feeling inspired to begin letting go of things, my suggestion is to start small! That’s what we did and it helped me to not feel so overwhelmed. Let it be a process and a journey. Start with your shoes or your bathroom items. Ask yourself if it’s relevant now in your life and if it’s adding to it (sparking joy) or has an energy. A great place to start is with the Konmari Method and the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. It’s what I read when I started all this and I still have it close to me as it’s been the best guide in helping me make the right decisions when it comes to letting go. If you want to make this a 2018 goal for yourself, you can get her next book Spark Joy.
Have you ever spent time really letting go of possessions that no longer spark joy for you?