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Embracing Less

Age brings many opportunities to grow wiser if we are open to the possibilities an open mind brings. Opportunities to shift perspective–though sometimes unexpected and even unwelcome–are a part of life.

I have grown to appreciate my growing ability to move more gracefully toward the silver lining that lives just beyond the struggles and challenges I face. That is not to say I don’t grieve loss or grumble as I find my footing. I do. But I also accept change as a part of life and look for ways to ride the storms.

The past few months have certainly been an opportunity for us all to shift perspectives and reflect upon the value of embracing less. Restrictions and limitations on what we previously considered essential to daily life and on how we meet our needs have made revisions and new thinking inescapable. As we pause to consider what is most important to us, a growing need to consider the greater good of our communities and our world is also evolving.

 

We remind ourselves we are contributing to the greater good by staying home and mindfully considering what we need now and what can wait. And while the decisions each of us makes look different, a common theme is one of mindfulness and embracing less.

What if we hold on to this lesson of addition by subtraction and expand its use as we consider life transitions and choices going forward? Could embracing less be the gateway to mindful curation of an authentic, more fulfilling life? I say yes.

We can begin where we are, right now, by organizing our homes, our workspaces, and our schedules–at a pace that respects our energies, health, and budgets–to create emotional and physical environments that support, restore, and rejuvenate us. If you have more than you need, use, or love surrounding you; if you feel crowded and unsettled seeing overflowing garages and closets; if you say yes when you long to say no, it may be time to consider embracing less.

But just as pain follows surgery, the discomfort we may experience is temporary and part of the process.

When angst rears its ugly head, we may find the pesky voice of doubt asking, "What if I need it someday? What if I eventually remember what this thing fits and then I no longer have it? What if this thing is worth money and I give it away? What if I could have sold it? What if my kids want it someday? What if I move? What if, what if, what if...?"

What if I told you that there is a cost to keeping your stuff? Overcrowded spaces are more difficult to clean, limit freedom of movement, and may feel stagnant and block the energy needed for new ideas, current projects, and future adventures. And there are people who may truly need what you discard.

What if you ask yourself what embracing less could make space for in your life and what it could add to someone else’s? Would your answer ignite your decision to embrace all that comes with letting go of what no longer serves you?

Creative solutions to these challenges and obstacles are abundant. Finding motivation and sustaining momentum require that we temper enthusiasm with a pace that respects our mental and physical health. Many people seek outside help to manage time and energy and to navigate the myriad of resources waiting for what we choose not to keep.

Professional organizers and coaches are skilled at asking questions, supporting your efforts without judgment, and helping you tap into the creativity you may have lost sight of along the way.

I have seen first-hand the lightness of being that results from having less, both in my experience as an organizer coach and in my personal life. I have watched an ill client, usually too weak to lift a single box, jump up and dance around her garage and tell me how freeing it is to finally let go of the weight of boxes stagnating in her garage. I have been moved to tears by a voicemail from a client who donated her excess to a food bank. She had witnessed first-hand the most basic of needs right in her own community and was humbly motivated to continue to be of service.

I have moved homes many times in my life, and over time I became comfortable with keeping things for someday. That was sensible when I was a navy wife setting up a home every 1 to 2 years. Although masterful at organizing my stuff, my last move made letting go and living with less an essential element to my happiness. I was recently divorced and leaving behind a home of 17 years. I was starting fresh and curating an environment to support my new life. And I needed to be practical. I needed less to be more comfortable and to literally fit into my spaces.

I named my new home le petit chateau long before I held the keys to the front door. Naming my home shifted my perspective and allowed me to let go of resentment and anger and to embrace what was within my control. In the end, this move and the changes I made have added to my life in unexpected and beautiful ways. Le petite chateau reminds me that I am embracing less to have more–more joy, more calm, and more time for what I love.

The process of letting go and embracing less is like peeling an onion. We take it one layer at a time, wipe away the tears that sometimes result, and then let it sit until we are ready to peel again.

Eventually, we find the sweet center and marvel at the peacefulness of less.

 

Jennifer Raphael 2Jennifer Raphael is Certified Professional Organizer and Coach specializing in ADHD, Chronic Disorganization, and Aging. Her experiences as a Pediatric ICU Nurse, art teacher, military wife, and mother, enrich her mental toolbox. She is an advocate of neurodiversity with the belief it is possible for each of us to thrive given the right tools. You can find her at Less-Stress Organizing Solutions.

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