Updated: Dec 12, 2022
By Brenda Riojas, I Start Wondering Columnist
No matter how often I clear a surface, it acts like a magnet. My dining room table–my desk at the moment–stands cluttered with leftover sweetbread, two new bottles of wine, a raclette grill, a box of chocolates, a glue gun, a candle, and a stack of plates.
My mind, prone to distraction, struggles to maintain focus.
While many of us reflect on our year and make plans for a new one, I suggest we also take some time to clear out the old, declutter the excess, and make room for the new. For some motivation, I pulled two books from my bookshelf: The Joy of Less: A Minimalist Guide to Declutter, Organize and Simplify by Francine Jay, Miss Minimalist and Theology of Home: Finding the Eternal in the Everyday by Carrie Gress, Noelle Mering, and Megan Schrieber.
In The Joy of Less, Jay offers a chapter titled “Less stuff = more freedom.” She notes, “things can be anchors. They can tie us down and keep us from exploring new interests and developing new talents. The less baggage we’re dragging around (both physically and mentally), the more living we can do.”
The authors of Theology of Home write about the sacred space that is home and our impulse to create beauty in the everyday. In the chapter on “Order”, they note, “Creating a beautiful life at home requires consistent attention to mastering little details.”
Taking Up Space
Consider what is taking up space in your life? What is essential and what can you let go of?
Sometimes we hold on to things that no longer serve a purpose. We may even hold attachments to unhealthy memories and emotions. All of this can build a gate that blocks our path forward.
When we get rid of what weighs us down, we create space for something new, for possibilities, even for space to breathe and think more clearly, for space to grow. Think of how you feel when you walk into an uncluttered room. I think it’s one of the reasons I like to travel and explore new places. I get to leave all the distractions and daily clutter behind for a moment.
Making room also includes saying “no” at times to requests from others or to projects you want to start. We need to consider carefully how and to whom we commit ourselves. Keep in mind that there are instances when saying “no” to something is saying “yes” to some balance in your life, for the space you need for yourself, family, friends.
As we set goals for the new year, let’s prepare for a fresh start. Let’s clean away the clutter to make space for what may come.
Take a moment to consider what attachments—including past goals, unfinished projects, or unhealthy thoughts, relationships, or habits– you have that could be released? What clutter is getting in your way?
Consider a space that brings you peace. How could you replicate that feeling in your own life?
Recognizing that this takes time, we can set some manageable goals. For example, consider what is one thing you want to work on decluttering in the first half of the year? Then monthly, ask yourself: What is the one thing I want to declutter this month?
For more immediate releasing, get a broom, an empty box, a dust cloth, or a cup of coffee to enjoy while cleaning up long-neglected email accounts–whatever is needed to clear your physical area, digital devices and virtual storage.
Be selective. Practice detachment, realizing that you are making room for what is important to you—and what you want to bring more of into your life.
Begin to consider what you will say no to this year/month.
And of equal importance, what will you begin to say yes to because you have created more room in your life?
Pace yourself. Making space starts with a plan. It does not happen overnight. Start with one area. Set weekly goals. Challenge yourself.
We invite you to join the I Start Wondering “Making Space Challenge.” Let go of 22 items—whether one item a day or everything over a weekend— during the first 22 days of 2022. Be sure to share your progress on Instagram or Facebook with the hashtag #istartwonderingletgo.