Day 1 – Monday: Taking action – the first step

I must say, whether or not anyone reads or comments on this blog, I am already glad I’ve started it. I want to be held accountable for my efforts to face my fears, and it’s working already.

I have noticed just how many little things seem scary to me and, thus, are often avoided. Letting go of this or that often surprises me in this way. Last week I had to move out of the apartment I had moved into barely six months ago. It was a place I had looked forward to being and my inability to make rent eventually led to my (understandable) eviction by my friend and roommate. I’m glad she set boundaries for herself, even if I am now technically “homeless.” (I am thankful for a temporary place to stay.)

What became clear to me as I was getting ready to move was how difficult it is for me to do just that. I have a ridiculous amount of stuff and moving is never easy. I have three storage units – two close-by, one too far to address anytime soon – and the $223 in storage fees I pay every month could certainly help me with rent. Yet it takes time to cull and clear out a storage unit. You know that axiom that if you haven’t used something for over a year, you don’t need it? Well, that doesn’t mean much if you don’t actually have a place to have your belongings out where they can be used. However, I do have far too many things I do not need.

Like most situations in life, I got into this one step (and piece of stuff) at a time and that’s how I’ll get out of it. In InterPlay, we often refer to “incrementality,” which encompasses the notion of those small steps that lead us into wherever we are and the reality that it will take small steps to get us to where we want to be. (Btw, if you have not yet discovered the wonder of InterPlay, I suggest you visit http://www.interplay.org to see if there’s an InterPlay class or community near you. It is one of the things that is changing my life in ways I could never have imagined just a few years ago.)

What became even clearer to me as I was actually moving and discovering I could not cram all my stuff into my storage units was that my choices will remain limited if I continue to hold onto everything that comes through my space. I could open an office supply store, a book store, and probably a general store with all the stuff I have. There are things I enjoy and want to keep; books and resources that will serve me well (if I can access them); and practical things that I use whenever I am in a space where I can use them. Then there’s all the other stuff: the countless, random things that I no longer need, no longer want, need to toss in the trash, or have held onto simply because I’ve been afraid to let go of them. It is my eagerness to clear these things out of my spaces that motivated this project.

So, despite coming home this evening thoroughly dejected after another possible housing option that didn’t pan out, I reminded myself that this is Day 1 of my 365-day project.

I pulled out a box of recently-accumulated papers, mail, magazines, etc. and got started. I opened the unopened mail and was able to toss most of it. (The important stuff generally gets opened pretty quickly.) I tossed other papers and magazines. Whenever I noticed myself starting to feel anxious going through certain types of papers, I replaced them in the box and moved on to other things. Incrementality, remember.

Wanting to do more than just cull papers, I grabbed a plastic tub of miscellaneous bathroomish things. Soon I found myself freely letting go of things I had hung onto “in case” I might need them. I was surprised at the ease with which I tossed a number of different things and at how good (even fun) it felt.

It’s a small step, a first step. I’m glad I took it. Now we’ll see what tomorrow brings – or should I say, releases?

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