Clearing out, letting go

New view.

I started out the new year in a new home. There were a lot of reasons why I decided to move after five years in my last home, the biggest one being that my neighbourhood- while beautiful and I loved my house – was too far away from…well, everything. It was a gorgeous, natural area full of trees and wildlife, but with lots of residential development, no amenities and very little local services. To get a cup of coffee, I had to hop in my car and drive nearly 10 minutes. The closest store was a gas station convenience store a good 20 minute walk away. The neighbourhood just got a transit route this past fall, and up until then my kids had to walk 20 minutes to the nearest bus stop.

I also had to make this move for “heart-centred” reasons. I needed some mental and emotional space from that area, as a lot of change and negative experiences have happened over the past few years and I needed a fresh start, a chance to give my soul some time and space to heal and recharge.

But in preparing for this move, I noticed some major clearing out and letting go happening. I got rid of A LOT of stuff. I made three trips to the local charity thrift store with 3-4 boxes of items each trip. I got rid of about eight garbage bags of trash. I made several trips to the recycling depot with a ton of stuff, and my recycling curbside pickup day had my curb piled high. And it felt SO good, but also very transformative. I realized I was letting go of a lot of things that I owned because I had young children, and my children are not so young anymore. When I moved into my last home, my kids were 10 and 13. They are now 15 and 18, and a lot has happened since then. I noticed that the framed photos I had were all of them as babies or little kids, and I felt it was time to change that. I had things that reminded me of when they were small, but that served no purpose anymore, like their childhood comforters for their beds with sweet little cars and trucks or bright polka-dots on them. As much as I loved these things, I realized they were not needed anymore, and many of them could be replaced if needed. I also felt that I needed to honour the place my children are at today, and that the things in my home needed to reflect who we are now.

I sold some furniture that I bought with my former husband for our home when we were a young family, and I sold my kids’ childhood bedroom furniture. The modern-style black leather sofa I loved so much went to the cutest little hipster couple with a three-year-old little boy. When they came to pick it up, we talked about how the sofa had seen many sleepovers and movie nights with my kids, and they said they were thrilled to get it and be able to enjoy it in their new home too. I was so happy to see it go to them. My son’s old dresser went to another couple who bought it for their young son, another nice little family starting out. (Sidebar – apparently the Ikea Hemnes dresser is pretty high in demand! I posted it online for sale for $40, and I was inundated with messages. I had a buyer who picked up and paid within the hour. One person who messaged told me the dresser usually sells for at least $120 – kind of kicking myself now, but I really just wanted it gone, and I liked the little family who got it, so I was happy to see them get a deal!)

While I kept a box for each of my kids that contains their baby items – their hospital bracelets, going-home-from-the-hospital outfit, first blanket, first stuffie toy, etc, I let go of a lot of things in my home that defined me as a young mom with a young family. Goodbye, snow sleds. Goodbye, plastic dishes. Goodbye, Disney-print sleeping bags.

As I packed these things into boxes to be donated or thrown away, I realized my heart hurt a little. It was a little painful to pack away those things and acknowledge that those days were over and life is different now. Many of those things also reminded me of the happier times when I was married, a time that seems so far away, and I was a different person then. I felt a little pang of jealousy for those young families who bought my things for their children, remembering how wonderful those years were. Although I am happy and looking forward to moving on, it was a little bit of a surprising revelation just how much has changed, how much we have changed, and how much my home was changing to reflect that.

My new home, while smaller, is cozy and organized. Instead of making plans for new years eve, I stayed home and unpacked boxes and made my new home. I didn’t want to wake up to a giant task ahead of me on the first day of the new year, so I dug in and worked all afternoon and evening. It seemed fitting that right at midnight, as the clock ticked over into a new year, I finished the last room, my bedroom, and had just put fresh, clean bedding on my bed.

I’m now in a neighbourhood where I can walk outside and get a coffee next door. I can walk to the grocery store, and even to work. There’s transit on my block, and my friends are excited that I’ve shaved off 15 minutes of travel time when they come to see me. The view from my balcony looks west and I’ve been treated to some pretty beautiful sunsets already.

It was touching to see how excited my friends were for me to make this move. Many people sent lots of messages of encouragement and true happiness for me and the changes I’ve been making. It was a leap of faith, and I’m not done here. There’s more to come, but in a major way I’ve let go with love, said goodbye to a closed chapter, and made room for new things and experiences to come. I can’t wait to see what’s next.

One last word on decluttering: I’ve joined a month-long decluttering challenge, From Chaos to Peace 2018 taking place in February. If you want to declutter your home, your business/paperwork, your online life and offline life, check it out and join the challenge!

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