"I hate it," I said to my friend Kristi on one of our recent walk and talks. I was referring to a plant my husband “adopted" fifteen years ago from a family member who moved out of town. To me, it was the flora equivalent of Pig Pen from the Peanuts gang. Messy, unkempt, and dirty. With its unruly brown leaves sadly wilting over the old brown pot, it has lived in the corner of my living room for years.
"Then get rid of it," she said matter of factly.
"Just toss it?" I asked with a pang of guilt, “I mean, it is a living thing”.
"Put a ‘free' sign on it, and someone will take it," Kristi said breezily. She then went on to explain to me me to the wonderful world of Offer Up and Facebook Marketplace. Kristi is a master of re purposing unwanted stuff.
I took her advice and got rid of the plant. The minute it left my house, an immediate giddiness floated through my body. Joyful with the thought I was going be able to sit in my living room and not have to look at that plant, its dusty leaves no longer taunting me like mean girl Julie did in junior high.
That moment of lightness caught my attention. It brought to the forefront just how anxious I have been feeling. COVID aside, certain events have transpired in my life recently that have been having a heavy effect on me. Nothing dire, but challenging life stuff nonetheless. Things in which I have very little control, sending that familiar energy pulsing through my body. A constant adrenaline drip making me feel like a hamster on a wheel. Always moving and going nowhere. Aware this craving for control when I feel out of control is a dangerous place for me, I immediately commenced “Operation Self Care." Writing, massaging, mediating, walking, and Netflixing in an attempt to calm the frick down, but even a Nurse Jackie binge has not succeed in alleviating my amped- upness. It only served to distract me from my thoughts, temporarily tamping down the "what -if's" that so often threaten to occupy my headspace.
But donating that plant made me feel like Pretty Woman Julia on her Rodeo Drive spending spree. Rebellious, powerful, and in control, with a little F you thrown in for good measure.
And that where that plant donation has led me the past few weeks. Donating, tossing, consigning, and reorganizing. Letting go of things that I realize now have been creating cluttered chaos not only in my house, but in my mind and body. I recognize the manic purging has also served as a distraction but the satisfaction of tossing unnecessary crap is powerful. Stained pillows with worn cases. Threadbare towels from years of washings. Plastic bins and containers that have meant to organize but only tend to store more crap. Mismatched silverware with sharp edges. Shoes with no mate. Gone, gone, gone. And if my husband comes looking for his set of plastic Oregon State University collectors tumblers, I have no idea where they are—just saying.
But this process of purging has also stirred up a lot of emotions. Happy memories from a simpler time. An antique chair where I spent long, sleepless nights rocking my boys to sleep. My Nancy Drew book collection I’ve held on to "just in case." Clothes, shoes, and handbags, most of which my mom gifted to me in the years before she died, sitting unworn and unused in my closet as the thought of donating them has made me feel like I am discarding her memory. And pictures. So many pictures.
Regardless, as I have tossed, recycled and repurposed, I have not only found space in my closets, my drawers, and my cabinets, but I have found space in my own home to breathe. Sitting in in a clean, tidy, organized place has allowed for some clarity of thought. A sense of perspective that ha made me feel less overwhelmed and more like my rationale self. It has been a relief.
Recently my friend Ann, knowing I am going through a challenging moment in life, reached out via text to offer a walk or coffee date. An invitation I would usually jump at as hearing about her crazy life stuff would be a chance to avoid dealing with my own.
"Thank you for the invitation," I texted back, "but I think I need to sit with myself a bit. I have done a good job distracting lately, and now it's time for me….. to deal with me."
Ann, my sweet friend with her infinite wisdom replied;
"Remember, all of this will make you stronger, more connected, and real. Life is about emotion. We are supposed to feel it all."
Feel it all.
I have found the space to do just that.