Part 2 - Taking Risks and Facing Fear head on...
“We must be willing to get rid of the life we’ve planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.” – Joseph Campbell
In my last post, I demonstrated how to use the SRD TOOL© (STRETCH, RISK and DIE TOOL). I gave you an example of how I used it to move forward, ever so slowly, gaining confidence along the way. The STRETCHES spurred me on to dig deeper (literally) into decluttering. As I dug through my historic compost heap, I really got excited about MY GOAL of a decluttered life. I was fertilizing my freedom.
I got out the SRD TOOL again and began to make my next plan of action. This time I would brainstorm STRETCHES and add some RISKS.
1. Go through kitchen cupboards and drawers and get rid of duplicates (like, how many whisks does one really need?)
2. Label a box - "Give away" for all the useable discarded items
3. Label a box - "trash" for all broken or unusable items
4. Begin packing boxes and labeling for storage
5. Breakdown boxes for recycling that were not usable for packing
STRETCHES are not always easy. They can be downright hard. Reminder: STRETCHES are things you know you can do, you may have done in the past, and you just have not done them recently. I think the physical work matched the psychological work. I knew what I wanted. I could see it. I could feel it. But getting from where I was to where I wanted to be would take some tough work to get there. I sometimes wondered would I be up to the task. Could I really accomplish this daunting task? Was it worth it? I know that FEAR was on patrol in my life, whispering lies about this uncluttering project. I was keenly aware of these lies and I just kept moving ever so slowly toward my goals.
As I began this part of the decluttering, I became more aware of just how much stuff I had that I did not use. I often became overwhelmed with the task at hand. I repeatedly needed to refocus and return to the image of what I wanted the end result to be. I also began using a tool that my psychologist taught me. As I worked on my decluttering and I would feel overwhelmed I would tap the heart area on my chest and say "This is an act of self-care, this is an act of self-compassion". I repeated this as often as I needed each day. I also used the timer method - I would set the timer for 15 -30 min, at which time I could stop to drink water, get a snack or just sit down in my recliner to rest. I have back pain that exacerbates with much activity and standing so this was a necessary action to keep myself going. Each day the packed storage boxes and give away boxes began to pile up. A visible sign of my accomplishments!
Now to brainstorm some RISKS.
1. ASK for help (this bordered on a DIE)
2. ACCEPT help when offered (This meant swallowing my pride and risk being judged)
3. Clean out my storage unit (I had not needed or missed anything in there since 2005 when I first rented the storage unit.) (mind boggling - how would I begin to go through all that was there? how to decide what to keep, what to trash)
3. Move storage racks from Garage to Storage unit (I definitely needed some muscle here)
4. Clean out garage, Needed it for a staging area.
5. Declutter the paper piles, Clean out my file drawers and throw away years of accumulated papers, notebooks, conference binder etc (total overwhelm set it every time I thought about it)
6. Prepare client files from a previous business for shredding and/or burning
7. Set a date for moving out of duplex. (GULP! this was getting REAL!)
Step one: ASK for help
Asking for help is not something I do frequently. As I have grown older I find it a bit easier to ask for help in some areas but not others. I can ask for help at the airport i.e. chair assist to avoid having to walk far at a rapid pace while carrying a bag. I swallow my pride and ask. It makes for an easier experience and a whole lot less pain and discomfort on the ensuing flight. I can ask for help when it comes to chores that required climbing ladders i.e. changing ceiling lights or smoke alarm batteries. Asking for help for things that I think I should be able to do on my own...now that is a horse of a different color.
I found myself hesitating when asking for help with the storage unit, garage and decluttering the piles of paper, clearing files, etc. I did not want to bother anyone because I envision them as being busy. Why would they come help me? I should be able to do this myself. There goes the expectations, the excuses again. I should... They're busy... that definitely was fear talking. I needed to change my thoughts, choose freedom and begin setting some intentions instead. I am willing to practice asking for help. I am willing to practice accepting help when it is offered. I am willing to practice being open to allowing others the opportunity to help me.
I called a friend whose husband had helped me in the past. He was willing to help and we set a date and time. We accomplished a lot in 3-4 hours. The storage unit got cleaned out. Trash was taken to the dump. And my friend was gifted with tools and other useful items that he thought he could use or knew of someone who could use them.
My methodology for accomplishing this daunting task was simple and yet risky in so many ways. Each box I opened I would make a decision to either trash it, save it for future going through, or just give it away if it contained items I no longer needed or wished to hang on to. My thought process was clear though. I had not needed or missed what was in these boxes for over 10+ years. Yes, there might be treasures hidden amongst the papers or at the bottom of the box. Would I regret my choices? I again turned toward my goal of having more freedom and less stuff. I was ruthless in getting rid of entire boxes once I peaked in. It was exhilarating and felt like a weight had been lifted. I ended up keeping only 2 boxes which contained photos and photo albums. Everything else was either given away or trashed. I think we filled two pickups with all of the discarded boxes.
Now to tackle the paper clutter. I needed lots of help here. I envisioned long hours of sorting and deciding. I had put it off long enough, action was required now. I put out an email to some nursing colleagues and my students at WSU. I was amazed at the response. 9 students signed up to help in between taking their final exams. They came in groups of 3 -5 and worked about 4-5 hours each day. I had 2 trash barrels one labeled for shredding or burning and the other one was for trash. My instructions were simple, Anything that had personal identifiers on it went into the shredding barrel. Anything else went into the trash barrel. I also asked them to keep a look out for anything that looked important that I should see before they trashed it such as business forms and tax information. They were fabulous workers. After about 4 days they had completely emptied all file drawers and separated items into the two barrels. AND they had fun doing it. I had a pizza party for them when it was done. I was excited that months and years of paper clutter was gone. I felt lighter and freer than I had felt in years.
Two nursing colleagues agreed to help me on the day before I was actually moving out. They helped pack some boxes and vacuumed and dusted the rooms that were emptied. Their husbands even helped to lift the heavier items and take to the storage unit.
Asking for help was a big risk. And I was blessed with many helpers who came to help in the process. I owe them a debt of gratitude and will repay by paying it forward. On my last day at the apartment I was taking some items out to the car when a neighbor came over and asked if there was anything she could help me with. Jokingly I said "I have 2 bathrooms to clean" and she said "I love cleaning bathrooms, let me go get my cleaning stuff" I was stunned, she was serious, she really did love to clean bathrooms. So she spent the next 2-3 hours cleaning and polishing my bathrooms. My back thanked her and I thanked her. I had no idea how I was going to accomplish that task. You never know where help will come from. I put it out to the universe that I needed help and it arrived in many surprising ways.
I started the decluttering process in early November and was all moved out (Minus the clutter) by second week of December. Once I started I gained momentum and was motivated to get it done. I kept my vision ever before me. Less stuff, no clutter, freedom to travel and do whatever I wanted.
My next blog will give some tips I learned as I decluttered that might help someone else.
Questions for reflection:
1. What is your vision for 2020?
2. What goals would you like to set for yourself? personal and/or Business/career goals
3. How might it feel to have less stuff and more freedom in your life?