“Shame is the most powerful master emotion. It’s the fear
that we’re not good enough.” -Brené Brown
If you’re not familiar with the Hawkins Consciousness Scale, what I’m about to say may seem like a stretch, but please suspend your disbelief and imagine that emotions have an associated frequency which is measured on a scale from zero to1000. At 20, shame vibrates at a very low frequency. Joy – Marie Kondo’s ultimate goal – vibrates at 540.
There’s a wide gap between shame and joy and it manifests in
our lives like this: shame stops us from achieving our most heartfelt goals,
whereas joy frees us up to possibilities beyond our wildest dreams.
Moving past shame toward joy can happen relatively quickly in the decluttering and organizing process. Much depends on the willingness to allow for possibilities beyond the current reality. Even if at first this is done through imagination.
What is your vision for your ideal home? Playing with this question can be the spark that begins raising your emotion on the scale from shame toward joy.
Well, we’ve moved into our wonderful new home. I’ll write more on that in a future post but in the meantime, I want to share a post I started writing much earlier but didn’t have time to finesse. With moving, birthdays and holidays getting in the way, this post ended up at the end of a long list of priorities. I’ve decided to post it anyway since it contains info I want to share about my downsizing experience, so suspend your disbelief. Here it is:
As the move out date draws closer, some things are proving harder to part with than others. Household items including gardening equipment, hardware, and storage shelving no longer serve a purpose in a bite-sized condo environment so it’s time for them to find a new home.
It’s all the stuff imbued with emotion that’s so much more difficult to relinquish. The process of parting with this stuff has been a real challenge. For one thing, my son has lived in this house since the age of 3: he’s now 16. That’s most of his life! He’s not the sentimental type but for me, saying farewell to mementos that have been touchstones of the13 years we’ve shared in this home is challenging and it’s slowing down the process considerably. I’ve asked a friend to help me filter through all the stuff and she’s been wonderful! Yes, even organizers need help sometimes: we can all benefit from objective support in times of transition.
The emotional charge associated with so many items has brought up fond memories – of shared activities and numerous firsts – I’ve taken time out to honour them, but now we’re parting ways. And of course, there are the ‘not so fond’ memories associated with the emotional weight of marital separation and divorce that are also part of this process. These memories? I happily part with the objects associated with them.
I decided to get rid of everything in one fell swoop by organizing a content sale and it was well worth the trouble: not so much for the financial gain but for other benefits. For one thing, people came and took away my unwanted stuff, and happily paid me for it! By the way, don’t host your own sale if you still have emotional attachment to cherished items. The person buying them will see only the items and not the years of associated memories and this may bring up all sorts of deep-seated feelings. If still attached, leave the work to a professional organizer (like me) whose objectivity moves the process along while respectfully honouring your limits.
The sale was a huge success. Lots of stuff remained though and so the purge continued with numerous trips to neighbourhood charity shops and calls out to friends with offers of free stuff until only those things destined to move with us remain. The house sounds different now in its relative emptiness and that feels so strange but so exhilarating all at once.
At last – I can see the light at the end of the tunnel!
If you read my last post, you’ll know that my son and I are moving after 13 years in the same house. We’ve begun the process of downsizing with purging. This should ensure that everything that goes into our new 700 sq ft. home aligns with the quote made famous by 19th century architect /designer/renaissance man William Morris:
“Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”
Alright Mr Morris. Those are laudable ideals: I will try to rise to the challenge, but just how do we make this happen in the brief time we have to purge roughly 80% of our belongings and move the remainder into our tiny (by comparison) new home?
I have an overwhelming impulse to walk out, close the door behind me and turn my back on every last bit of it. I imagine inviting friends over to pick through and carry off everything of their choosing and to donate the remainder. It would simplify the process by saving so much time and emotional stress.
This may still happen if I run out of time, but until push comes to shove, I will do what I’ve done professionally for others. I will edit and edit again the items we will move into our new home. This includes putting all ‘like-with-like’ items together and choosing one or two favourites to keep from a grouping. Everything else will be sold, donated to charities throughout the city, or given away.
I’ve often thought of myself as selective with the items I’ve brought into our home. Wow, was I ever wrong on that note! The reality is that we’ve accumulated a lot of stuff in13 years, in addition to the stuff that came with us when we moved into this house. Although I’ve periodically made an effort to get rid of worn out, outgrown, out-dated and broken items, I absolutely cannot believe how much stuff remains!
Basically, what’s important to remember – not just for me, but for anyone going through the downsizing process – is that the luxury of space we have grown accustomed to will no longer exist to accommodate massive volumes of stuff in a much smaller home. This means that either we let go of the majority of belongings, or we continue to hold onto them and move them into our new home where they will simply take over, dominating our new space. Envisioning our new home as a ripe opportunity for a fresh start is the main impetus for letting go of stuff now. The payoff will be worth it!