Change always comes bearing gifts. ~Price Pritchett
Last week, I shared my experience about letting go of my wedding gown (https://coachkarenlynch.com/angel-gown/). After posting the story, I realized that letting go of my dress wasn’t just about helping others; it was also about helping me to let go as well: I was able to shed an old identity I no longer related to, that of a young bride on the verge of her new life.
I’ve been decluttering our home since 2011, yet when I open drawers, look in closets, or in garage and attic, I still see a lot of stuff that makes me feel weighted down and a bit guilty or sad these items weren’t being used. Last July, I decided to get serious about getting rid of more of our stuff and set a goal of eliminating 100 items each day. The in-depth decluttering commenced on July 1st; by the end of the day, I had tallied 100 items.
Each day, I continued to tally each item and then sorted them into various piles: Donate to Charity, Return to/Give to Someone Else, Sell, Recycle and Trash. I counted every single item: each pencil, each notebook, every single plastic green army man (37 in all) and every single Pokémon cards (317 total). You get the idea.
Some days, I made it to 100 items, other days, I hovered around 60 or 70. At the end of those 31 days, I counted the number of items I eliminated: a total of 1,998 items. The number was staggering.
After my July experiment, I continued to declutter daily, although I no longer count each item – it doesn’t bring anything of value to the decluttering process – instead, I set my timer for 15 minutes and get to the task at hand: releasing the burden of having all this stuff, carefully packed, preserved and tucked out of sight. The feeling of letting items go is exhilarating and uplifting.
I thought I had honed a well-defined declutter muscle that worked well for the basic stuff: clothes, books, toys, and miscellaneous items (“Komono” in Marie Kondo-speak) but I struggled, really struggled with the sentimental items (like my wedding gown, books from my childhood, and things related to my children).
It wasn’t until I let go of my wedding gown that I was able to clearly see identities, my old identities, that no longer served me:
Three full bins of teeny baby clothes meant I was no longer the Mom of a newborn. Nor would I ever be one again.
Old Nancy Drew books meant I was no longer a pre-teen reader. Nor would I ever be one again.
Crafting supplies meant I was no longer a “Room Mom” in my boys’ classrooms. Nor would I ever be one again.
The sentimental stuff, that had been stored, preserved, and untouched, represents the different identities of who I was years, even decades ago, and no longer reflect the person I am and who I am becoming now in my 50’s. Once I realized that, it was easy for me to let go of these and other sentimental items I had been storing.
In nature, the caterpillar transforms into a butterfly. The decision to let go of my old identities meant giving up the physical reminders of “what was”, these items were just a protective shroud; the actual memories live within my heart and soul.
Why hold on to the cocoon when I there’s more beauty, grace, and freedom in being a butterfly?