Some time ago I read in Vickie White’s Feng Shui blog, “Life Design Strategies,” that “Clutter holds your dreams.” It sounded good, but I wasn’t really sure what she meant. Today my friend Steve and I had a yard sale. Both of us felt a need to clear out our houses, so we prepared for a while for this. As the time for the sale drew near, my house seemed to fall apart. It suddenly felt like one of those “Messiest house in the country” TV show houses. There was way too much stuff in here, all of a sudden. Once I took things out of closets and could see what I had, I was completely overwhelmed (and remain so to this moment). Let me think this through a minute.
I began upstairs in my bedroom, with the closet that I never open because it’s too full. I took everything out and looked at it. I found at least fifteen (15) bags. Everything from leather purses to canvas giveaway bags from teacher conferences. I have held onto those for years, never using any of them, yet holding onto the idea that I might. Those leather purses were nice. In the closet. Never on my arm. They were out. Hanging above them were clothes, most of which I hadn’t worn since about 2004. They were nice quality things – Liz Claiborne, Flax, Hot Cotton, some nice stuff. Linen and wool and even a little silk, I imagine. Unworn for the last six years, at least. Some didn’t fit, some just didn’t fit my style (what style?) any more. Out they went. Over the past few months, every time I put on a piece of clothing that didn’t look good on me I said “Not wearing this ever again,” and threw it into a pile. All of it went out to the yard sale pile. It’s all hanging there on the right in the picture, and stacked on that table. In a box in that closet I found some unopened quilt batts and two vintage quilt tops that I had forgotten all about. I guess I thought I would quilt those tops someday, but that was at least 19 years ago, when I last quilted. There they are, on that table in this photo. The list goes on and on. The office supplies that I’ve had on a shelf in the office closet were not being used; neither were the 16 little binders and all those dividers. Out they went. The more I put out there, the more something else seemed to take its place. I became immobilized by the sheer magnitude of it all. Squeezed.
I realize now that I will probably feel squeezed for a while to come. I have an entire bookcase of kids’ books that no one in my family wants any more. Another equal quantity of Young Adult novels that my reading maniac granddaughter is not especially interested in because she didn’t pick them. My own grownup books are another mountain, oozing out the pores of my house. And what about the huge collection of Sun Magazines? I love that magazine, and at one time I thought I’d use them with my students. But I never did, and now that I teach Junior High I never will. None of that went into the yard sale because who buys books at a yard sale? They continue to squeeze. All of this stuff and way more I had intentions for. I meant to read them or make things out of them, but I never did. There were too many of them, really.
So, now I can see two pretty great things about all of this. I only earned about $50, so it wasn’t the money. One thing is that I am on a path to releasing these old dreams to make room for new ones. All those things I intended to do and never did need to go so I can do something else in real time. Now. What a great thing to realize!
The other great thing was the people I met today. The first person to arrive was a woman who couldn’t stop coughing, who is staying at the Women’s shelter. She bought a Japanese fan for 50 cents because it reminded her of her Japanese father who recently died, and the Kibuki (sp?) dancing she did as a child. Then came a Latina woman and her three little daughters. She is trying to build a house cleaning business. I gave her kids all the school supplies and binders they wanted and took her card, just in case my budget will stretch to hiring a house cleaner every so often. There was a great young couple who rode the most comfortable bikes I’ve ever been on (Trek 7701). I rode hers around a little while she looked at our stuff. That bike is a new dream for me. They were very interested in the old quilt tops, but their budget didn’t stretch far enough to buy them. I ended up giving them to them. That was an especially sticky dream to release. Then there was the man I’ve seen on all the dating sites I’ve gone on, who seemed perfectly lovely, who bought my old Salvadoran hammock. The stream of people went on quietly until noon, when we closed it down and took all the rest of the stuff to the Salvation Army. By then it was hot and we were tired and hungry, but satisfied. I understand now what Vickie meant when she said that clutter holds your dreams. As long as I hold onto those old ideas of what I’m going to do, there is no room for any new ones. I know now that I will continue to release them, layer by layer, to get to the fresh place. The place where new dreams can be found.