(re)clearing space for the here and now
For the past three months, there has been a pile of stuff in the middle of our living room, which is in the middle of our quite small home.
The landladies hired a variety of contractors to do a bunch of work on the garage and the storage room off the garage. The stuff we had been storing there had to live somewhere while the contractors were doing their work.
We came home from our recent trip to a delightful surprise. The work was all complete (at least, for now, knocks on wood).
But that wasn't the actual delightful surprise.
The landladies had decided to offer us the storage room as our spot to store all our stuff (as opposed to having some of it in areas of the garage, shed, and storage room).
Since they told us, I've been reorganizing and moving stuff from the middle of our home into the storage room.
Most of the stuff is camping gear and some extra backpacks and duffels. There's also snow tires for my Prius (ha, yes, for real – and they actually really help). Gardening supplies. And then some stuff from our pasts.
It's funny, the stuff from our pasts doesn't take up much space.
Nathan and I moved out to Washington state from Chicago five years ago only with what could fit in his 4Runner and my Hyundai Elantra. We lived in a huge three-bedroom apartment so we let go of a lot of stuff.
(We did leave two containers and a bicycle with a Chicago friend but ended up asking the friend to recycle everything in the containers and sell the bike, which he kindly did.)
We drove the SUV and towed the compact car on a U-Haul tow dolly. After getting the two front wheels up on the tow dolly at the U-Haul, the U-Haul employee tells us the most important thing to remember is that it can't go backwards.
Nathan and I were completely perplexed by this and realized that parking it on our city street for the night might be harder than we realized. Oh and driving it across the country. But we also figured it was an apt metaphor since we already had decided our Chicago chapter had fully ended.
About halfway through our drive (the Dakotas? Wyoming? Montana? neither of us can remember where exactly), winds were so strong that my car alarm kept going off. I gripped my car key and kept clicking the alarm button off.
Okay, back to that pile of stuff in our living room.
Before moving the stuff out of our living space back into storage, I gave myself the best gift: I told myself I didn't need to let go of anything if I didn't want to or wasn't ready. I could simply move the stuff out of this space and into the other.
There were a few things we were ready to donate. A metal laundry basket I got through a Buy Nothing group that we had never used for anything other than storing extra bags. Boots of Nathan's I had said I'd put on eBay but Nathan said we could simply donate them.
Even these ready-to-donate items I put in the storage room to wait until I know I can plan to drop them off at the thrift store.
I was no longer going to let this stuff take up space in my living space.
A past version of me would've said, "Oh, leave the donation stuff right there in the middle of the living room so you are forced to face it every morning until you push yourself to drop it off!!"
A past version of me would've decided to look through every single box, hold up every item, and ask "does this bring me joy?" à la Marie Kondo.
I have done that before with great success.
But this current me knew that wasn't what was needed in this moment.
Nathan, Ernest, and I needed our living space SO MUCH more than we needed the inches more that would be ours if I gave away a few of the early childhood education books I didn't need anymore.
Sure, in theory, I know we could get our living space back and also those extra inches in the storage room. In reality, though, if I hadn't given myself permission to simply reshuffle and move the stuff back, all that stuff would still be sitting five feet away from me because going through it all, item by item, isn't what's needed at this time.
I love decluttering, don't get me wrong. It's simply not where my mind's at right now.
To move this to a more metaphorical place,
(which is my main reason for sharing it with you 😉), sometimes what's needed is simply shifting the clutter away to make space for the here and now!
Not getting rid of the clutter. Not sorting through the clutter. Not thanking each item in the clutter for the beloved memories it gave you. Simply, for the time being, shifting it away into another room beyond your present life space.
Yeah, sure, I fully closed the containers and the books are all upright. I didn't simply shove it all into a heap in the newly repainted and tiled storage room. Everything is easily findable and in spots that make sense. It all looks nice in there.
My energy through this process has been directed to making more space for more living, rather than getting into the claustrophobic clutter weeds.
These past few days with the renewed open living room have brought more surprises. For one, the bookcase all that stuff was piled up in front of looks smaller now – and maybe a bit lonely?
And all that space in front of the bookcase has hardly been touched by any of us. It's like our bodies want the space to simply be for awhile... to air out.
Ernest hasn't even lay down there. He slept there often pre-pile-of-stuff.
We all are simply letting the space be space and nothing else.
So, do you have a pile of stuff taking up your living space, too?
What permission can you give yourself so you can have more living space and less clutter?
Take it literally or metaphorically or maybe both!
Where can your pile of stuff be stored for awhile? A notebook? A cabinet? A computer file?
Who can support you and gift you delightful surprises (like an empty and ready-to-be-filled storage room) so that you can gracefully move that pile out from the middle of your living space?
Sure, maybe they are the same people who initiated the pile of stuff being moved into your living space but we all are interconnected and interdependent so that's bound to happen and there need not be any blame. And at the end of the day, the pile of stuff is ours not theirs! 😊
Second to last, how can your (re)newly cleared space be given its own space to breathe, air out, and simply be?
Moving the pile of stuff out from the middle of our home has given me space to see that I can now return to the cleaning and decluttering maintenance of all our living spaces. It's actually given me space to see that I want to return to all that regular tending.
So, lastly, what opportunities might this (re)newly created space reveal to you about the other spaces in your life?
Maybe you're catching on at this point... I like to reflect and ask questions. With each note, I invite you to take what works and leave the rest.
I write to resonate, reconnect, and cocreate with you!
Til next time,
P.S. I always love knowing what resonates with you.
If you have no piles of stuff in the middle of your literal or metaphoric living space, yay you! I mean that sincerely, not sarcastically. Here's to all of us having the living space our lives desire.