Thursday, February 03, 2005


The new you!

This post is a version of an e-mail I sent to one of the declutter lists I'm on, in response to a question about what I meant by keeping the "wrong" stuff for who I am.

The short version: I've undergone a lot of change over the past several years, and sometimes I'm still lugging outdated "stuff" around with me.

For example, I graduated with my PhD in 2003. I didn't go into academe, but rather started my own events business. I also teach dance, and tantra, and do freelance writing. I don't teach or TA at the university anymore. So, I got rid of most of my old notes, and other academic papers. I kept one copy of each syllabus for the classes I taught, because I sometimes get asked to teach or lecture. I did keep a box of dissertation notes and a huge bookshelf of academic books. I'm not quite ready to let go of the these academic books as I still get joy from knowing they are there and I can find all kinds of cool info if I want. I look at them sometimes, so I still feel justified having them. (And I found out I may have a review job that means I'll need a handful of tomes that are hard to find at libraries.) But if I cease to use them, eventually I'll pass them on.

Clothes are another example. I need to dress up to teach dance (i.e. nice pants that show the leg lines and dress shirts), but the rest of the time I can wear jeans, or outdoor clothes etc. depending on the event I'm running. So, why have clothes that don't fit the lifestyle I have now, just because they are "good clothes" and I spent "good" $$ on them?

Old crafts supplies and abandoned hobbies fit this category for lots of folks, too. Maybe you used to be a quilter, or birdhouse maker, and now you are merely someone who has a big pile of material and wood scraps.

I believe that your books, clothes and other possessions should support the person you are now, and who you want to become, rather than reflecting who you were.

It's easier said than done, as letting go of things also means letting go of our identification with what they represent (e.g. the old suits that meant you were high up in management, the wacky graduate student mugs that lined the wall for late-night coffee breaks, the tiny clothes that implied you were a good mom who cared about how your child looked her first day of kindergarten etc.).

Try this affirmation (or rework it to make it your own): My possessions support who I am and who I would like to become. I easily release that which does not reflect who I am now, or who I am becoming.

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