Phase: 1 Detach & Spy: Part 2 Espionage
So that happened! If you started Phase One: Part One - Yay! If you’re doing a “let’s don’t and say we did” thing? That’s better than nothing. At least your reading about a process can inform and bring the idea of personal reinvention to the forefront. That’s still a positive start.
Before we move on to the next phase, I’d like to address some of new thoughts that we know come up at this point, in this phase, along with comments from folks who’ve been through it too.
Remember, this purging process is not another abstract therapeutic “who am I, stare at the ink-blot, blame my parents, discover the meaning of why I just can’t be happy,” kind of thing. Please!
Also, just know, that the purging process isn’t supposed to feel like a total downer, where someone is trying to take away your toys.
Quite the opposite. It’s also not supposed to be a tedious, anal-retentive home-organizational thing. As I’ve said before unused, organized crap is just an in-home landfill, LOL.
I intentionally call the process RightSIZE UP (yay) to clearly distinguish it from the past idea of “downsizing”. (boo) It’s no longer about just living smaller, but self-curating a quality of life that better aligns with each and every individual.
RightSIZING is an objective, tangible, hands-on, engagement and interaction with the real three-dimensional things you’ve dragged under your roof until now. So as you re-choose what stays and what goes, you see direct results at every phase. More importantly, the real purpose is to begin to also reactivate the most powerful, life-enhancing tool you have…your personal creativity. Without it (still buried under a lot of fear and judgment, past conditioning, social pressure and fatigue) …upping your quality of life quotient is almost impossible.
Unlike Downsizing (often driven by economic or aging issues) today RightSIZING is part of a much bigger, historic seismic shift happening right now in our culture to people of all ages.
For the first time every other person (one out of every two citizens) in this country is truly questioning and vetting the quality of life issue. Yep. right now. So there's never been a better time to reinvent. It’s not political (although everything happening beyond our front door does in some way effect the decisions we make under our private roofs) it’s just personal.
We are taking a long hard look at the jobs we do, how much time we spend doing them and the proportionate effect it has on your daily lives.
We’re no longer making it others' collective responsibility to dictate what quality of life means to us individually. Only we know that and only we can privately answer those questions for ourselves. It’s what this particular purging process tries to address.
So RightSIZING is about re-finding one’s new essentials. Through creativity (versus just economics) it’s about allowing one to make personal choices to live a far more intentional life from a more relevant and stronger foundation.
So do it, don’t do it, think about it--it’s up to you. Just don’t let me hear you bellyache that you’re quality of life sucks when you actually could be doing something about it. Ha.
OK! On to Part 2 of Phase one.
If you’ve done your Meryl Streep best to detach yourself from your stuff so you don’t have a three-hour self-deprecating cringe fest, that’s excellent. You’ve made your first home invasion.
“It took me three times to walk out side and re-enter (my home) like a stranger with total objectivity. I just couldn’t help suddenly seeing my stuff with no illusions without doing the shame, blame thing. But then it clicked and got really interesting seeing how I lived through someone else’s eyes. Also, there wa
s stuff I didn’t even know I had so it became a bit of a treasure hunt too.”
For those of you who need to do it a few times we suggested you write the following down on their pad:
“There is no right and wrong here. This is only about clarity. I’m simply making room for the life I actually didn’t think I’d get or could never have imagined then. But I’m ready to re-imagine a new lifestyle NOW!
Many claim that a whole lot more came up than they’d ever imagined.
“I noticed a huge lack of concentration and getting sidetracked was an issue, which made me feel like I wasn’t taking this exercise serious…like I actually didn’t care about my life enough. Finally I cleared my schedule and turned off my cell-phone.”
This first pass through your home does take time and concentration, like any good performance does. The first part of this process is designed to ease ourselves into seeing what’s real and telling ourselves the truth in a way that empowers us rather than plummets our self-esteem. That’s why you must keep repeating to yourself, “It’s not my stuff. It’s not my stuff. I’m just observing what these things say about who lives here.”
“I actually loved what I saw through clear eyes and started tweaking the arrangement of things only to realize a week later that while the place was stunning, it had nothing whatsoever to do with me…anymore. It was actually an unlivable and uncomfortable stage set, illustrating an old narrative storyline I’d grown out of years ago. I kept things the same more because everyone else who visited loved it.”
This exercise has nothing to do with taste or emulating someone else’s life. It’s not about trends, it’s all about truth—getting your physical interior realigned with your mental and spiritual one is the real issue here, not the interior design choices you once made. One’s home can visually look gorgeous but if it has nothing to do with who lives there then what’s the point?
“I wrote down some pretty harsh stuff about the person who lived there. Lazy was a big one, pack rat was another and then I wrote, I could never live this way. Then I realized, wait! I was in fact, living this way everyday.”
Remember, the whole point of this first exercise to make the “invisible” “visible” once more. Seeing your home with the same objectivity as someone who may visit for the first time can be eye-opening…yes, sobering too.
The New Living Math:
While you go over your notes from your first espionage, its time to begin considering the new math.
Unlike commercial property square footage, we often think of a residential dwelling we pay for in terms of how many rooms we have. This is “real estate” math but not actual “living” math. In truth, living “huge” in small spaces has nothing to do with square footage or even the number of rooms you can afford.
I know people who have rooms they never live in, filled with great stuff that they see only occasionally when they happen to stroll through them. Meanwhile they only go from the bedroom to the bathroom to the kitchen, while vast public spaces never get used.
Conversely I’ve seen people in average sized homes that are crammed to the ceilings where every surface is taken up by things they’ll never use, thus robbing them of valuable living space and ultimately personal comfort. Not only have their garages never seen an actual automobile, but they also have a storage unit across town.
Yet I’ve also been in many small spaces recently that live huge because everything there gets used everyday. No surplus. No duplicates. No stash places filled with “The Undecided’s”, as I like to call them. (Those are things that are out of sight and never used but are still taking up space because no one knows what to do with them).
In a small dwelling that lives big, everything owned is in the right place, where it’s needed and implemented. Everything there has a specific (often dual) purpose even if it only gives the feeling of joy. So it’s not about the square feet as much as it is about the square inch.
The good news about living with less, in smaller square feet, is that one can afford nicer things that suite one to a tee, because the dweller has learned one of the most profound lessons.
What one buys should be “instead of” not “in addition too.” They upgrade to the best, then purge what it is they’re replacing.
The other vital fact is that everything we ultimately do purchase…we continue to pay for by virtue of the space it takes up. So if everything has a daily surcharge then it better be pulling it’s own weight.
How’s that? Surcharge?
Yep. Whether you own or rent, every single thing you have takes up space, so you’re paying a continual fee on every single thing you own. No matter how little you may have paid for the item, there’s still an occupancy surcharge added to it as well. Yep, that stupid thing you only paid 5 bucks for once is actually now costing you another 50 cents a month….every month. Well, 50 cents? Please! But wait, do the math. 50 cents times a hundred things is 50 bucks a month and adds up to $600 a year and doesn’t even include the big stuff like furniture.
See we often think of our allotted living square feet like we think about suitcases when packing for a trip. How many of you have ever packed only what you need, leaving the suitcase half empty? What? No way! If you’re gonna have to lug it, dang it, then might as well, cram it full baby! Right?
Well you know, I totally did that because I figured it just gave me more options for the unforeseen circumstance that might pop up. To my way of thinking I was only taking one bag. The fact that it was the size of a refrigerator seemed inconsequential. LOL. Well, having circled the globe a few time now, I still cram the suitcase full (where it has to go in a vice grip to close it) HOWEVER, it fits in the overhead compartment of any airplane. Ta da! Better yet, I don’t waste time standing around luggage carousels any more while wondering IF my bag got on the right plane in time.
So let’s take that dresser, crammed full to the point where you need one hand to push down the stuff and the other one to push the door closed. Hey it’s only one dresser right? ---umm yeah, holding enough for a mini U-Haul. Worse you can’t find anything in it ev-er, so the first thing you do every single day, late for work…is rummage through stuff you’ll never use again, to get to stuff you need RIGHT NOW! That is, if it’s not already now living in a pile on the floor or permanently in the laundry basket, right???
When you begin to calculate using the livingmath versus the real estatemath, trust me, the decision to toss or keep gets a whole lot easier when the time comes. As you get ready to do your second tour of duty Layer 2, Phase Two Observe & Admit, keep this in mind.
A bit later I’ll get into why we hoard. It’s not just those people we see in reality shows. It’s subtler than that. Here’s a quick snap-shot overview:
The Literary Hoarder:
If it’s got print on it, you can’t throw it out until you read it even though 80% of what’s published can now be read online.
The Need to Please Hoarder:
You have it because the person who gave it to you might be offended if they don’t see it prominently displayed in your home.
The Guilty Hoarder:
You can’t part with something because it’s considered a family heirloom even if you actually hate it and no one else in the family wants it either, but no one wants it discarded.
The Sentimental Hoarder:
If any human loved one or friend touched it, it stays. Children’s shoes (up through the teenage years?), refrigerator art, and every photo image no matter how blurry can’t be tossed out.
The “It’s Perfectly Good” – the Fixer Hoarder:
You think you’ll fix that little thing and it will be like new even though no one has tinkered in your family since grandpa and you don’t even know if you own real tools.
The “Out of Sight Out of Mind” Hoarder:
As long as you can’t see it you don’t have to think about it. As long as there’s a stash room you’ll keep it even if you haven’t used it in years.
The “Everything Is Art” Hoarder:
The collector who thinks everything has the potential to be art in some way, yet they’ve never actually produced any.
The Decorative Storage Container Hoarder:
One who thinks that just because it’s in a decorative storage container and organized on a shelf that it’s a “must keep” even though its nothing more then an organized land fill full of stuff you can’t make a decision about.
The Clothes Hoarder:
Someone who keeps every item of clothing they ever bought still thinking that they’ll be invited to Buckingham Palace or suddenly wake up in the body of a 15-year old size 2.
The Gourmet Hoarder:
If it’s related to food in anyway it stays. The newest gadget to heat, store, display, serve, put meat in bondage or torture a vegetable is a must-have, must-stay.
These are just a few on the long list of Hoarders. If you connect to more of them than you think, you’re not alone. Rethinking what one owns is also about rethinking what price posterity or habits is costing or limiting one’s lifestyle options. While it’s natural to cling to reminders of the past, indulge what you’ve be calling “hobbies” or rationalize it as “collecting” when it’s really kinda creepy or just plain lazy, it’s why there are literally billions of feet of self-storage in this country.
In the end, remember, the whole point of this process is to fully reengage your creativity in rethinking what you have, why you have it and if it’s still being under your roof it’s telling the story of who you are today…accurately.
You may not yet know whom you’re going to be in your new lifestyle but you sure can start with who you’re not anymore, right?
The next post will take you through Phase 2: Observe & Admit. It’s where you once again walk through your home with the above information in mind. This time, you’ll be claiming everything there as your own. I’ll give you some good tips on how to begin to decide what goes and what stays.
We can do it!