Saturday, January 2, 2010

Cleaning House

Every year around this time, we go through the kids' toys. It's unbelievable how much junk they have accumulated in their short lives.

Yes, they are blessed with plenty of great stuff. But so much of what spills from the closets and litters their bedroom floors is just junk--cheap plastic figurines from fast food restaurants, useless trinkets from the obligatory birthday party goodie bags, stray pieces from games and puzzles we threw out last winter ... you know, junk. And then there's all the stuff that used to be good--those once-loved, well-used, toys now abandoned because they have simply been outgrown.

What's amazing to me is that as the kids get older, it gets harder and harder to convince them to part with things. At 3 and 4, they were generous, even cavalier with their belongings. Sometimes I would secretly rescue a toy they'd casually tossed into the giveaway box. Now at 5 and 8, they are more cautious. This year, we had to reassure them, repeatedly, that we would not force them to let go of anything they loved, or that they still needed.

I can relate.

Cleaning house can be scary. It's hard to let go of what we used to love or need, or what we are just used to having around, even if it doesn't now (and maybe never did) bring us any joy.

On the other hand, when we can do it, getting rid of the clutter brings a certain freedom. In discarding what we don't need, we often discover some treasures we didn't realize we had, or thought we'd lost long ago. These, we can dust off and put back on a more spacious shelf, where they can be accessed that much more readily.

In 2010, there's definitely some "junk" I'm ready to get rid of. My cupboards are overflowing with it. Maybe I thought I needed it once. In most cases, it never gave me any joy. In any case, at this point ... it's just getting in my way.

Self-doubt, for example. The persistent low rumble of self-criticism. The habit of comparing myself to others. The compulsive need to turn sideways every time I pass a mirror, to see if my belly is showing. A lingering dissatisfaction with my eyebrows. In other words ... Vanity. Perfectionism. Fear.

In doing so, I hope to make room for the things I need much more of in my life. Those that do serve me well but that so often get lost amidst the junk. Things like courage and playfulness. Love and generosity. Creativity. Acceptance. Integrity.

So how about you? What's hanging around, tripping you up? What are you still clinging to that you've long outgrown? What gems are there, waiting to be found?

1 comment:

  1. You've inspired me to clean out the crap... in June when I am still doing it, I will curse you, silently, of course