Congratulations to Susie F. & Andrea V., winners of the U-Neek characters!
Summer is flying by! After such a harsh winter, I’m finding the urge to squeeze every possible moment of fun and sunshine into this summer. My blogging will be sporadic the rest of the summer. If you haven’t subscribed by e-mail, please do so using the box to the right. That way you won’t miss a post!
I’m excited to share with you a new Ezine that released this week.
Impact with Simplicity and Savings offers creative and practical ideas of how you can simplify and save money so you can give more back to your community. I have a short story and tip featured in the ezine about “planned spontaneous giving.” Check out this fantastic resource curated by Amy L. Sullivan and Lisa Van Engen.
In honor of simplifying and giving back, a new office space in my basement, and the completion of a major house and soul project, I offer you the story of how cleaning the basement wrecked me.
I didn’t expect cleaning the basement to be so emotional. I also didn’t expect it would take six months to finish the job. I have a hunch the two are somehow connected.
One day in January, after tripping over a pile of junk in the basement, and breaking a stack of canning jars, I decided it was time to tackle the basement. For months, craft items, holiday decor, and household project remnants had piled up in the basement like a mini mountain range. I thought this would be a great middle-of-winter project since it was 20 degrees below zero and the kids were out of school for days on end.
Within the first hour of organizing, I realized this wasn’t a simple hike. It was like climbing Mt. Everest, and I was unprepared. So much stuff stored on shelves and spilling on to the floor. Craft supplies. Old yearbooks. Piles of pictures. Boxes of scrap booking paper and supplies. Shelves of fabric. Three large boxes of yarn.
When was the last time I scrap booked? Six years ago. When was the last time I actually finished a knitting project? I don’t remember, but I have a blanket 98% finished that I started 8 years ago. Much of the stuff scattered across 900 square feet of basement hadn’t been touched since we moved into the house 4 years ago.
I sat on the treadmill with my head in my hands. The weight of the stuff crushed me so I could barely hold up my own head.
Within a week of starting the project, our pastor started a sermon series titled Satisfied. He also released a book by the same title (Satisfied: Discovering Contentment in a World of Consumption). The series involved weekly challenges, like increasing your giving by 1%, and giving away items you haven’t touched in years. He challenged us to find the rightful owners of things we no longer used.
I surveyed the mountains of craft supplies. It would take me a lifetime to use it all. No, longer than a lifetime. Little Miss would be inheriting this mountain, and would she even want it?
Several weeks into the project, again sitting on the treadmill surrounded by piles of paper and stickers and buttons, I had a good cry.
I didn’t realize how much this stuff had weighed me down. I didn’t realize how much of my identity was tied to my things. I had so many good memories attached to this stuff. I used to spend hours scrap booking with friends. That season was over, never to return. The fabric had defined me for years. Before I began writing in earnest, I sewed in earnest. I even made a little money at it. I taught sewing classes at a local shop. All my Florida friends brought me clothes to hem or repair, and home decor fabric to be shaped into curtains and pillows and place mats.
One month, during our pizza party gathering, I looked around the room and realized that every family was carrying or wearing something I had made. Burp cloths, blankets and bibs given as baby shower gifts. A toddler t-shirt as a birthday present. A pair of slacks I’d hemmed. My handiwork was everywhere.
But when we’d moved to Michigan, God had begun a seismic shift in my heart and my life calling as well. “Write.” He whispered. “Write.” So I did. I thought I could still write and sew and scrapbook and knit and make cakes. And I do. But nowhere near to the level I used to. Now, it’s creative release or out of necessity to repair an item for myself.
Letting go of my stuff meant moving forward into an unknown future. It meant having nothing to “fall back on.”
I didn’t realize that hanging on to my stuff had prevented me from truly moving forward into who I was supposed to be.
Letting go of this stuff meant trusting God and releasing my contingency plans.
Like cutting a cable and free climbing, I boxed the stacks of paper and stickers and loaded them into the back of my car. With a lump in my throat, I deposited the boxes at a local thrift store. Not only would they find their rightful owner, the money they earned would support our local outreach ministry.
I called my mom to see if her charity organization could use my tubs of fabric and yarn to make baby items for local hospitals. She gave me a list of what they could use.
My soul felt a little lighter, a bit freer. My “stuff” became supplies for someone else to use, helping someone else to follow their calling.
This week, I finally finished the basement. Six months of sorting and crying, one garage sale, and many thrift-store-drop offs later, I’m sitting in a new office space in a clean basement. Not only is it clean, but shelving that used to bulge with stuff, now boasts empty space.
And I find there’s a bit of spare room in my soul too – room to create, room to give, room to follow a path of an unknown future to become who God called me to be.
How do you manage your “stuff?” Have you ever realized that hanging on to something, whether it was “stuff or a job or a relationship, was preventing you from following a new direction God had called you to?
Tweetables:Clearing space at home also cleared space in my soul.
What happens when you realize your possessions are holding you back?
Is your stuff preventing you from becoming who you are meant to be?