The Princess Of Garbage Day.


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I am cleaning out my basement. I clutch my box of Hefty Ultra-flex Garbage Bags, inhale the musty aroma and repeat the mantra – it’s good to let go.

I unearth achievements from old newspapers and unopened gifts that I kept out of guilt. I exhume the exalted size four jeans, with a hole in one knee. I stumble over my college textbooks; their bindings as pristine as the day I purchased them.

I come across a 1995 instruction manual for the telephone system, where I was an office temp in between acting jobs.  This reminds me, my agent hasn’t called in seven years. They dropped me the day I told them I was pregnant.

One of the things that surprised me about motherhood was the unanticipated disappearance of my old self.  I attribute it to many things; weight gain, lack of sleep and time to myself, giving up a career that I loved, but I felt deeply that I wanted to be home with my child and that required letting go of things that I identified with.

I sift through an old photo album and admire myself in costumes or at parties with other youthful, enthusiastic performers and I wonder what happened to “that girl”.  It is as if she was absorbed into the fabric of who I am now. And somewhere, in the process of that melding, I released much of her sarcasm, selfishness, and anger.  Though sometimes I miss that feisty, sharp tongued, do almost anything on a dare, girl.

Yoga teachers often talk about cleaning out our inner closets. The practice helps us to uncover physical and emotional baggage and release what does not serve us.

We sometimes hold onto what we know because change is frightening and challenging, and staying with the familiar, even if it makes us ill, and unhappy, feels better than venturing into the unknown.

Springtime is filled with cultural and religious traditions that symbolize rebirth. Lent, Maha Shivaratri, Passover, and Songkran all pay reverence to a time of renewal; as we attempt to purify the mind, heart, and home, remove negativity, and celebrate.

Feng Shui is a practice that urges us to live in harmony with our environment. Feng means wind. It represents the unseen in our lives. Shui means water and symbolizes the manifest.  It teaches, what we amass reveals something about our inner health; old letters and photographs prove that we are loved and befriended.  Heaps of things that might “come in handy” signal a lack faith in the future.

Too many things hanging from hooks or door jams indicate depression, an excess of spiky plants or sharp corners make visitors feel unwelcome and create anxiety, cracked or dirty window panes can affect the way you view life, restrict insights, and even create eye problems.

Equally important is where we accumulate our clutter. If our basement is brimming, we may cling to the past and the subconscious mind weighs us down. An overcrowded attic often restricts high aspirations. Jam-packed junk rooms might represent the experiences we haul, and constrains choices for our future.

The home reflects the spirit. The list of things that need repair, and the objects we cling to for security or status—leave us feeling stuck and drain us of Prana.

I empty out another box and hear the familiar jingle of my old dog’s collar. I read the tag, hold it close to my heart then put it in the keep pile along side my son’s red handprints shaped like a heart, and my fathers copper bracelet that he wore to ward off arthritis pain in his hand.

The next plastic vault reveals documents that may tie my family to Sicilian royalty. I scrutinize the details in an old family crest and make a note to join My grubby baseball hat seems a feeble proxy for my tiara.

I am not so enlightened that I can let go of all my memorabilia but choices strengthen my connection to the things I decide to keep. Somewhere between the cobwebs and the keep box I realize that if everything is “important” then nothing is.

The day I entered my first yoga class I was under the impression that I had something to acquire; a fit body, a spiritual path, like-minded friends.  But I have not attained, I have let go; releasing beliefs that do not serve me, forgiving myself and others for mistakes, and relinquishing control over life’s moments, allowing them to flow through me, as they are, not as I insist they should be. (I guess I am still a little feisty.)

Yoga creates space in the mind and body, which allows us to receive, process and offer energy– unencumbered by fear. Inside this sacred space we can develop the faith that we will be provided for and cherished without the aid of material things.

Releasing the past with reverence and intention creates room for the new and cultivates faith in the future.

Practice letting go; you may not discover a jewel-encrusted crown, but you might find that you are a princess on garbage day.

Join the mailing list at CHAKRAS YOGA

Read Marylee’s other pieces; Sing Out, Clara, Letter From A Bully, I Hate Handstands, The Apprentices Gift, and Where Sleigh Bells Ring.


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Marylee Fairbanks

Marylee Fairbanks is a columnist for Gaiam, elephant journal, My Life Yoga, and, Her essays explore Motherhood and yoga, but mainly focus on her experiences with her young son and the many ways he helps her grow. She is a registered yoga teacher and founder of Chakras Yoga and The 24 Things. She teaches Chakras Balancing workshops and yoga classes. Prior to having her son, she performed in Broadway musicals across the country. Marylee lives in Massachusetts with her husband, son, and dogs. Find her on her website and follow her on twitter.


61 Responses to “The Princess Of Garbage Day.”

  1. soybean5 says:

    I love this article, it makes me want to clean the clutter in my attic and basement. And maybe my garage! Thanks ML for the reminder of what is important in life.

  2. Kim says:

    perfect for a beautiful Spring-like day. xo

  3. Love this, Marylee.

    Posting to Elephant Yoga on Facebook and Twitter.

    Bob W.
    Yoga Editor

  4. Just posted to "Featured Today" on the new Elephant Yoga homepage.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    Fabulous. I truly have the urge to get moving and clearing the clutter, both in the house and in the heart. Great article for heading into a beautiful Spring weekend!

  6. Wonderful, Marylee! Perfect timing, too, as I begin my spring break staycation w/my son out of school, attempting to unplug (as much as possible), enjoy these last days of my son as a 9-year old (10 on the 27th!) and unclutter my mind. Looking forward to reading more!

  7. Leigh Ann says:

    Great article! I'm in the middle of a "Get Rid of 1,000 Things Challenge". This time around has been harder since I did a major clean out 10 years ago when I was 23.

    • chakras yoga says:

      I love it 1,000 things! I want to do it too! Three times a year I clean out my closet and for one week i take out 3 items per day.. then I put them into a bag and if by the end of the week I cannot remember what is in that bag it goes! works great!

  8. carrie says:

    love decluttering great article

  9. From Facebook:

    David P. Greenberg God I hated that show!
    2 hours ago · Like

    Jennifer Coleman Thank you for this article. I seriously need to de-clutter and this is my push. 🙂 Thank you
    about an hour ago · Like · 1 person

    Wendy Stumpf As I sift through my recently deceased Father's home, I come across many memories: both family & personal. This article was read as I spent my first night & now first morning here in nearly a decade, as I try to sift through memories to keep, and memories to discard. This is just the article to read not only today, but this crossroads in my life now. I thank you. Namaste.
    about an hour ago · Like

    Marylee Graffeo Fairbanks ‎@ dave…lol which one?
    about an hour ago · Like

    Marylee Graffeo Fairbanks ‎@jennifer… go girl.. clear out
    about an hour ago · Like

    Marylee Graffeo Fairbanks ‎@ wendy…thank you.. sounds like perfect timing. I love to hear that. Good luck.. I remember after my dad passed it was hard to let go.. I know people who rent a small storage space put away what they struggle with then go back a year later and sift again.. sorry for your loss. sending healing thoughts
    about an hour ago · Like

    Marylee Graffeo Fairbanks namaste
    about an hour ago · Like

    Ellen Remley Wetzel Love the article and it's just what I needed when I'm trying to figure out where to begin the de-cluttering!
    about an hour ago · Like

    Marylee Graffeo Fairbanks just jump in Ellen… sometimes I will make a bag of stuff and if I cannot remember whats in it one week later…i toss it..
    about an hour ago · Like · 1 person

    Janet H. Landis What? Not your eco-friendly biodegradable trash bag? LOL I'd love to start a chat on how writer's wrestle with the challenge of using known brands that readers will recognize vs. what they REALLY use without sounding like parody?
    38 minutes ago · Like

    Janet H. Landis Great article BTW and the timing couldn't be better for those of us in northern climates as spring gently shoves winter away.
    37 minutes ago · Like I have a great rule about de-cluttering, and what to choose to keep / chuck – "If in doubt, chuck it out" 🙂
    27 minutes ago · Like Ben R by the way
    27 minutes ago · Like

    • Tammie says:

      We have been declutting for years. I want to do these and see the new possibilities open up. My Connections; with others and myself to grow, heal and become closer, my yoga practice; to spread the gift of yoga to others and teach what I have learned,
      I have started by going through my cupboards, now where to go next, a cup of tea than to decide!

  10. Just posted to "Popular Lately" on the new Elephant Yoga homepage.

  11. Karen says:

    this was really powerful. not even sure what it was gonna be about when I began reading (I stumbled this). I think I have just made a big decision.
    and let go.

  12. Check out what this cat does with garbage:

    a must see video for all!

  13. chakras yoga says:

    Princess Of Garbage Day got a lot of comments from people. Mostly private emails about letting go of things and making space for change and new experiences in life.

    I am going to let go of one thing every day starting on April 1st going until Easter April 24th.

    Wanna play?

    24 things. Do it with me.

    Log onto and tell me what you tossed and what you dream for the open space.

  14. […] Read Princess Of Garbage Day Yoga began for me as a respite from the physical celebration of performance. I was a musical theater actress and singer in New York City for many years. When my child was born I realized that the demands of being a professional actress would not help me achieve the life my husband and I envisioned. Yoga came to the forefront. My practice expanded. Teaching and writing surprised me with their joys. Yoga is now a celebration of all my life, integrating both the physical and ethereal into a higher form of self-expression. It is no longer a respite but a daily devotion, and the place where I choose to imagine my life. The narratives I write encompass my experiences on and off my yoga mat. Writing teaches me to welcome those glimpses of magic that yoga provides. Marylee lives in the Boston area with her husband, son and dogs and is founder of Chakras Yoga. Join me on>Facebook and Twitter or join the mailing list at Chakras Yoga. […]

  15. […] enjoyed Marylee Fairbanks’ poignant piece about purging her life of unnecessary items. When I saw her follow up post, I also wanted to […]

  16. […] 1. Before you start any cleaning, you have to decide you are willing and able to let things go. […]

  17. […] was quite different than the usual early morning banter of the mind. When I finally managed to find space, the silence was equally obnoxious. Perhaps my awareness of nothingness was heightened from the 22 […]

  18. laurie says:

    Thanks ML, now I have to clean my windows to have a clearer view of the world!!! Hahaha. Love this article.

  19. i wear a TIARA to clean and clear. sometimes a tutu. it makes everything more special.

    thanks for the great article.

  20. ampoirier says:

    ML, thanks for the reminder. I love to declutter yet I keep finding things that have no value or use to me or anyone! How did I acquire these things in the first place!? Making room is very therapeutic. Great article!

  21. Marylee says:

    Thanks ann! Glad you are clearing out!

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  24. […] great ideas you hadn’t thought of, but for today just check out this inspiring article from Elephant Journal to get you in that cleansing frame of mind, and check back March 1st to find out how it’s […]

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