After a flood of a finished basement over 20 years ago, I learned about the wisdom of Feng Shui from a book gifted to me by a friend, The Western Guide to Feng Shui: Room by Room by Terah Kathryn Collins.
In a series of deep “aha” moments, I realized the remaining items saved and spared from the flood looked like a mixed-up, uninspired bunch of misfits that needed new digs where they’d be cherished. The simple idea that I could live with belongings I loved awakened me to confronting and releasing the hand-me-downs I loathed.
Looking even deeper, I observed I had created a hand-me-down life from instructions of other significant people in my life I desperately wanted and would not ever please. Other people profoundly influenced several paths I took even as my still small voice and heart had begun to defy their dictates.
I chose to be a full-time parent at a time in which cultural expectations for women included an impossible trifecta of devoted caretakers of children, the aged, the ill, CEO glass ceiling breakers, and domestic engineers. With the support of my then husband, I chose mothering and care for our home. Intuitively, mothering felt like a soul-calling, a pathway of necessary healing and transformation from the inside of me and in relationship with my young children and then husband. As a lifelong learner, I knew I wanted to integrate fresh ways to love and nurture my children and heal past traumas.
In a liberating purging process after losing many items damaged by the flood, I released more belongings and the expectations attached to them. I experienced incredible relief and joy. I did not immediately rush out to replace what I had previously seen as stuff. I became deliberate about choosing only belongings I loved whether it was a coffee mug, a throw rug, or a pair of jeans.
My children joined me in these practices of “Donate/Keep” as I gave them lots of permission to let go of items they never liked or used. I honored my children’s choices and assured them their items would go to other children who may have had a whole house fire or flood.
I remember being silently present with my four-year-old son as he sorted through his toys. He handed me several toys he no longer played with, and I refrained from asking him about a toy in a bottom drawer that he had not ever touched. A couple weeks later, he toddled down the hallway with that exact toy in his hands and gave it to me. “Donate this one, Mommy.” He arrived there in his time and in his way.
Your home can be filled with a mixture of items you love, items you got on sale with the tags still attached, belongings inherited from other people, including the deceased. A junk drawer or drawers fill up. A bedroom becomes a junk room. A closet gets filled to the ceiling with brand-new, unopened Christmas wrapping.
Now surrounded by unnecessary, unloved, unused items, you notice your mind might be racing with unnecessary, scattered, confused thoughts, and your heart unable to fully feel or flow buried emotions. Breathing might even become a bit shallow as a stressful, chaotic physical space often creates distress and a dampening of joy. The experience of creativity might come to a complete halt as an unexplained lethargy settles over everything.
Releasing belongings takes courage because people’s stuff isn’t just stuff. The stuff sparks stories about people’s lives. Many things in a living space come with an emotional tale of who you were with, where you were, what happened when you acquired the item. Realizing you’ve imbued inanimate objects with feelings and associations, you can begin to untangle the items from the stories, especially if the stories burden your heart.
Your home can become a mirror of who you are today, the person you are becoming, an affirmation of the love you generously share, the opportunities you graciously and gratefully receive. Every emotion you’ve felt so far on your journey is likely attached to a belonging in your home. When you begin to free these unloved, unneeded, mixed-emotion belongings, you free your heart to grieve, love, and beat stronger than ever.
Your home can support your vibrant, loving, warm, and welcoming energy presence. Your home can become a reflection of your beautiful heart.