It began as a summer project.
After years of remodeling, updating and de-cluttering every inch of our living space, it was time to tackle the final frontier: THE GARAGE!
So, we gathered up the Hefty bags, declared war on our ‘stuff’ and went to work.
Some things were easy to toss without a second look. Some made me angry. Some made me smile. Then there were those that would wrap themselves around my heart and leave me breathless and tearful.
What in the name of clutter was going on?
I couldn’t ignore the fact that my stuff had a power all its own.
There’s a television show that documents this very phenomenon. It’s called “Clean Sweep.” During each episode, experts help folks get rid of their clutter. But the drama that getting rid of that stuff brings up is what makes for compelling television.
One episode might feature a couple fighting over a tin can that Aunt Sally gave Bob 30 years ago. But Bob refuses to throw it away. While it’s easy to make fun of Bob and his tin can, we all have ‘tin cans’ we just can’t seem to part with.
Organizing experts tell us that the most common reason we have for hanging on to things we no longer use is the emotional attachment we have to them, the unresolved issues and emotions they carry.
But instead of dealing with the issues, we hang on to the stuff. But by doing so, we hang on to the past and stifle our present and our future.
I once owned a small business that ended on a very sour note. Even though I left that life for a better one a long time ago, I still hung on to many things that business left behind.
Looking at those things almost a decade later brought up unresolved anger I didn’t even realize was there! But when I acknowledged and dealt with those feelings I was able to throw away those things and cleanse myself of something that no longer meant anything to me.
But some stuff could not be dismissed as easily.
The hardest thing for me to part with was the Nordic Track workout equipment I had purchased with the small financial gift my grandmother, my abuelita, left me when she left this world.
Abuelita was a tiny woman (4′ 10″ in high heels) but she was a huge influence in my life. She left an even bigger hole in my heart when she died.
That Nordic Track had been sitting in my garage for years. I no longer used it, but I couldn’t let it go.
For “Clean Sweep’s” Bob, throwing away his Aunt Sally’s tin can would be like throwing away Aunt Sally.
The Nordic Track was my tin can. And I wasn’t ready to throw my grandmother away.
After days of struggling with an emotional workout that surpassed any workout I’d ever done on the Nordic Track, I realized the Nordic Track was not my grandmother. It was simply a symbol I’d attached to her memory. And she would never have wanted me to hang on to something I no longer wanted, needed, or caused me such emotional pain.
In fact, she’d have been the first one to tell me to get rid of it. So, I donated it to someone who could use it.
That’s when I accepted the gift that had come disguised as a piece of exercise equipment for so many years, the priceless gift that will stay with me forever — the gift of letting go and moving on.