Moving is such a strange experience. Packing up everything you own sort of forces you to look at where you’ve been, who’ve you’ve been, and where you are going.
Doing this at the same time as people are making their New Year’s resolutions and the uncertainty of not knowing where I will be going makes the feeling exponential.
I’m not sure if it is a good kind of powerful or a hard kind of powerful, but the clean slate that is dangling just 30 days away feels both like freedom and fear all at the same time.
As I go through packing and labeling box after box of my things, preserving who I am right now feels like pressing pause until I decide who I am going to be or where I am going to go and I have to open up all the loose ends and uncertainty of today and go through it all over again.
Instead I decided to forge ahead through all the to do lists and uncertainty to find the freedom of un-attachment. No time like the present to discard old furniture, broken dishes, and make peace with the past.
Usually I associate unattached with ungrounded, but this time to feels more like possibility.
This time I am letting go of the weight of mismatched sheets, old socks, and the choices of the past simply because I can’t carry around the nostalgia, the guilt, the hope, or the weight of it all anymore (let alone anymore boxes of stuff I don’t really need).
It is time to let go of memories and old throw pillows, which sounds terrifying because it feels a lot like being alone.
For one reason or another the memories of the past have become like friends — there is the really fun one, the sweet one, the drunk one, the annoying but unforgettable one. These are what keep me company in the hidden corners of my mind — for better or worse.
In my adult life I have moved 19 times. Just to give you an idea of how long I can hold onto things, I still have an entire box of acrylic paint from high school (and yes, that was 16 years ago). I’m not even a painter!!
Clearly letting go isn’t one of my strong suits. P.S. acrylic paint lasts for a really long time !!
Elsa had it right “LET IT GO.”
Letting go of the past feels impossible because it feels like part of me. Then I realized the reason I can do this is because I’m not forgetting or denying the past. I just don’t need to carry the weight of it around like the abusive security blanket it has become.
I can get rid of these things that no longer serve me — I mean, isn’t that what Craigslist is for?
So I am posting my couch, my dresser, my ex boyfriends, old projects, days spent in napa, promotions, big wins and and bad decisions alongside my old curtains and dining room chairs. Come and take them if you want, these do not serve me anymore.
With so many moves and so many preserved memories I expected the process of letting go to be harder. Sadder somehow.
That’s how I know it’s time. Like an old boyfriend you wake up one day no longer thinking about, these things and memories don’t feel like mine anymore. I have outgrown them.
I’m not running away from anything. I’m not running to anything. I’m here — choosing — who I am, what I want, where I will go. Those answers are still to be determined but it feels like the right answer will come.
And if it doesn’t I would love to crash on someone’s couch. Just kidding ( …but really).
Going through closets and drawers and putting things into labeled boxes is never fun. But this time I decided to do things differently.
Every item I pick up is a chance to choose who I want to be. I am so used to being on autopilot I didn’t even realize how many things I had never really chosen (like the hand me down night stand) or outgrown (no I do not want an Ikea kitchen table anymore — no offense Ikea) or didn’t even really like (that couch was never really very comfortable, but it was $20 on Craigslist).
It was the transformational experience of working with Laura Harrison from Less Mess, More Life that first brought this to my attention.
She walked into my upstairs office and took one look at the red velvet throw pillows sitting on the couch and asked “tell me about these pillows.” The conversation continue as such:
Erin: “I don’t know. They came with the couch. I don’t even like the color red.”
Laura: “So why don’t you just get rid of them.”
Erin: “Because then I wouldn’t have any throw pillows.”
Laura: “So instead you spend everyday at work looking at red velvet throw pillows that you hate?”
Erin: “Uhhhhhhh … “
Larua: “We’re getting rid of them. No throw pillows is better then the daily reminder that you don’t enjoy the space you’re living in.”
And with that the red velvet free craigslist throw pillows were gone. They were eventually replaced by some awesome Target black + white ones (you know … because I’m fancy like that).
The simple act of letting go of what I didn’t choose, having nothing instead of something that didn’t work basically rocked my world.
Having Laura in my house opened up my eyes to how I could live now. If nothing else by just eliminating what I didn’t want. It gave me me back the choice I didn’t even realize I lost.
“You don’t have to live this way. Let it go.” she said … and something about her calm confident knowing made it possible for me to say yes.
So every item I pick up I ask myself is this for who I was or who I’m becoming? Do I choose this?
I was standing in the shower when I realized the full weight of this.
Do I choose this?
Does it serve me?
Is it for who I was or who I’m becoming?
Laura came in to change my home — not only did she change my life, she changed me.
I’ve lived in the same apartment for 4 years which is the longest I’ve lived in one place since I was 18 and is actually the first time in my life I’ve ever finished a lease. I guess you could say one of the things I’m letting go of is commitment issues.
During my time here I have seen 15 roommates move in and out (22 if you count the neighbors). I feel like I have lived 100 lifetimes in this place.
Before I lived here I was lost and broken. Here is where I found home, I found family, I found love (self-love but I’m still counting it).
I built and re-built a career until I finally got it right (if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again).
I figured out how to stand on my own two feet and reclaim my voice/identity. I became me here. Four years ago I showed up in pieces and I’m leaving put back together.
Even though nothing is new, everything feels new. Like I’m seeing it again but for the first time.
All these items I am packing away or letting go of are emotionally charged with memories both good and bad. I find myself going through boxes of old photos, papers I wrote in college, a jewelry box from an ex boyfriend. I find myself smiling as I notice the wine stain on the rug from a pretty epic girl’s night. I find comfort as I pack away my grandmother’s picture frames and the champagne flutes from my parent’s wedding.
This unknown new home represents a new chapter, a fresh start, lessons learned, and the promise of what’s to come. So I don’t want to take anything with me that I am not choosing to take.
Even reading this it sounds like I’ve been sitting in the pain of the past on an uncomfortable craigslist couch in a poorly decorated living room. While this is very far from the truth, much like the red pillows I tolerated without even realizing how much I didn’t like them, I didn’t realize how much I was carrying with me that I could just choose to let go.
Wherever you go, there you are.
We don’t just have a choice when we move or when we start over or turn the page to a new chapter. We have that choice everyday.
I just didn’t realize something so profound until I had to pack up all my earthly belongings into perfectly labeled brown cardboard boxes (which is a big upgrade from shoving everything I own into garbage bags the night before a move).
Another perk of letting go — less to pack !!!
As I think about what I want to create in this new chapter, I find myself fantasizing about how I’ll be in my new home:
- I’ll be more organized and follow a schedule
- I’m going to meal prep (which will obviously be organic, sugar-free, gluten-free, dairy-free food that tastes amazing and not the carne asada burritos I currently live on)
- I’ll go to bed a decent hour and drink less wine
- I’ll find the answer to solving climate change and world peace (yep, that’s about how realistic this list is)
Any change I want to make in my future self, I could just as easily be doing today. They are not time or location specific.
I can be a bit of an extremist (I know, I know — hard to believe). It is more like me to make drastic life changes all at once then one step at a time.
What’s the point in one small change if I can’t be a completely different person staring Monday??? (Uhhhhhhh — because small changes consistency over time are a much more effective and proven way to create lasting change)
So I’m staring with the next step. Pack one box. No, the entire house is not packed but one more box than yesterday is packed.
And I’m asking myself — What is one thing I can do right now to live a life for who I am becoming (not who I was in the past)?
Letting go always felt like less. Now it is starting to feel like more. More truth. More possibility. More choice.