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Making Space for New Opportunities

Posted by David A. Couper, MA on March 17, 2016 8:00 AM

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Clearing out the clutter in our lives--things we have no use for, grown out of or no longer need--can free us from the past that might be holding us back and opens us up to new possibilities.

I have just read “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up - the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo. Her approach to organization is to connect with each item you have and see if it brings you joy.

I am fairly tidy, but there are always areas that seem to defeat me: my papers in my office that need to be filed, the junk drawer, and the cables, which must belong to some gadget if I only knew which one. 

She advises tidying everything at one time, but as I have just moved house and there are still things in boxes, I didn’t want to follow her advice. So, I decided to start small.  There was a small suitcase of ties staring at me from the bedroom floor. I hadn’t got the tie-rack up yet, so the 100 or so ties which usually sat on the rack were waiting to be hung. I decided to work on them.

It was amazingly freeing. I found the ties that I didn’t like and had never liked. Those were easy to get rid of. Then there were the ties that were worn or had marks on them. Those too could go. 

Then it got tricky. Then there were those ties that friends had bought for me: the Paul Smith tie an old chum from England had got me about 20 years ago. I had liked it at the time but now I really didn’t so its time was over. In the book, the writer says that the gift was the point, not keeping it for years, and I realized she was right. I also had to let go of other memories. I put aside the tie I bought in Thailand (no pun intended) which I hadn’t worn and I didn’t like. Finally, the hardest of those ties were the ones that had belonged to my late partner. I hadn’t worn them, but it almost felt disloyal to send them to the “tie heaven”. But I did.

I felt so much lighter and happier to see that I was left with about 20 ties that I loved.  I realized that some of these beauties had been so hidden that I hadn’t even noticed them. 

I also saw that this could apply to other areas of my life. What ideas, projects or even people was I hanging on to, even when their time was over? I had a realization that a dream to travel around the world didn’t make sense right now. I didn’t need to clutter my mind with that longing even though in the future it could be great, just like the tie I was keeping for the time one day in the future I would need it. I saw that a project, which had once been exciting for me, was now past its sell by-date. It didn’t serve me. It was like the tie that I had loved but now looked tired and out of date. And I realized that an old friend who had been very kind at a certain time in my life had grown apart from me. When I met with him, I didn’t experience much joy and it had become a chore, just the same as the designer tie that had been so perfect with the suit I had bought ten years ago but which didn’t do anything for the clothes I am wearing now.

Look at where you are tied down in your life and be brave to clear out your closet and your mind. When you do, you might just find you have more focus, a freedom you haven’t felt before and new possibilities pour in.  And, if nothing else, you’ll have a cleaner house!

Image: storebukkebruse/Flickr

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