By Kimberly Edwards
While many people are trying to apply the “new” in New Year to the fullest extent through resolutions, I have planned on looking at the new year against the grain. That is, my 2017 isn’t going to officially start until I get all this unnecessary shit out of my space.
Excuse the profanity, but that’s what I have realized has been bothering my overall mood and life balance for quite some time. There’s so much crap I’ve accumulated over the years that I have had to use the past several months to simply let go.
Of course January 1st wasn’t going to be a finite deadline for getting everything done. I don’t have the luxury or the patience to do that. And besides, who’s gonna check me to see if I’m actually done by the first?! I will say, though, that I’m about 70% done with what I’ve set out to clean. That’s passing for those who remember the “C’s get degrees” mantra.
So, what am I even referring to when I talk about cleaning, clearing, cleansing, etc.? I’m referring to the all too famous correlation between clutter and emotional clarity.
Over the past year I’ve learned quite a bit about myself, as well as my sensory and emotional boundaries. I have anxiety and OCD (real OCD – not the “oh I like to use black pens and only like even numbers” kind). I’m considered highly functional, but some of my behavior, especially when anxious, is ritualistic and focused on order. As for anxiety, I have GAD (General Anxiety Disorder), and I’m medicated, but I knew that just medication wouldn’t alleviate the minutiae in life that others may overlook.
Another tidbit you may know about me already is that I have taken up yoga as a huge hobby over the past year. It’s really good for me, and centers my feelings of being overwhelmed, whether for reasons large or small. Accompanying yoga has been meditation and understanding balance in my body and mind.
If this seems too strange or occult for you to understand, that’s completely fine. I’m not here to preach the benefits of yoga or meditation, but only to establish the connection between what I’ve learned about myself and how that pertains to my space.
So, what have I done about it? What am I currently doing to get my life, and shit, together?
For one, I’m appreciating negative space: I don’t mean negative as in bad, but negative as in empty.
I now hate clutter and I’m trying my hardest to get rid of what I can. For many of my friends, this means giving away bags and bags of clothing and shoes – and yes, I still have more to give. Around the house, I’m loving the feeling of having walls with minimal decoration and space that is intentionally blank. I don’t find that the couch needs 20 throw pillows when 3 are just as effective.
Now, my home still isn’t perfect, but it has gotten a little better over the past few months, and I hope to keep it this way.
In terms of my phone and technology, with which I’m inundated and there’s just no escape, I limit things as much as possible – lots of unsubscribing to e-mail lists, deleting apps and contacts, and being okay with it. My phone is essential to my daily life, but I’m positive in knowing that my 8th grade history group project member doesn’t have any need for my phone number right now, and vice versa. So bye.
The second component of this clarifying life change has been to eliminate the crap that I consume. I try to make a conscious effort to minimize time on social media and/or on my phone each day, especially during work hours. It keeps me task-oriented and mindful that more conversations mean more directions in which my mind goes when I should be prioritizing.
With food, I’ve been trying to stay consistent (I say that knowing that the holidays have completely messed up this pattern) by keeping an 80/20 clean to crap diet. This doesn’t mean I can’t or deprive myself from enjoying good food, but just not making it a habit.
This particular aspect has proven difficult especially with regard to cost, but I think it’s worth it. I’ve made a major shift to organic and local foods, and eat organic/local as often as possible, starting with milk and meat. I no longer eat chicken because of an allergy, but with milk and meat, if it’s not organic I don’t want to talk.
So what am I doing, anyway? Am I just out here deleting people, throwing things out, and spending money haphazardly? Nope. I’ve got the intention to really keep my mind and space clear not only this year but as time progresses, and here’s how I’m doing it.
I’ve got a 3 question approach to this thing, and I ask myself these questions aloud whenever faced with an “I’m not sure” situation:
- Have you used/worn/needed this in the past 6 months?
- Will you use/wear/need this in the next 6 months?
- Does this stress you out?
If I can’t answer all three of these questions within 10 seconds of asking them aloud, then I assume the answer is, “Get rid of it.” If I contemplate its purpose for too long, then it’s not worth it. It’s not needed in my immediate space or my space in the near future, so I have to do myself a favor and let go.
So, as this year commences and you find yourself trying to take on new endeavors while feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath, ask yourself these questions, and clear out the clutter.
Photo Credit: Lee Chapman