This is the time of year I go through my garage and closets and sort through the accumulation of the past year. I'm brutal. Things I haven't used or no longer fit are donated to charity. Sometimes I have a garage sale. I'm left with a more streamlined, tidy existence (at least for a while), and maybe a little extra cash.

Cleaning out my head is harder. I have quite an accumulation in there this year. Clearing space for new ideas and finding new ways to approach old issues is always a fight, especially when old mental and emotional baggage takes up so much room and isn't as easy to unload as a pile of clothing or a used mobile phone. We tend to cling to ideas and emotions, not because they're good for us or give us pleasure, but because they're familiar. Familiarity disguises itself as safety. And we’re all afraid of the unknown, whether we admit it or not.

One morning several weeks ago, however, I woke to a dark, pre-dawn bedroom and in a moment of absolute clarity, just as if someone had washed a window into my head and I got a good look in there for the first time in years, I realised that the familiar, so-called "safe" ideas and emotions that I'd been holding onto so desperately weren't all that safe. They weren’t even that familiar any more – I’d been doing the same things over and over out of nothing more than habit. A bad habit to boot.

So this was the weekend for me to break out the yard-sized hefty bags, crank up something loud on iTunes and start clearing out the clutter. As I uncovered old photographs I’d forgotten, jackets that I once loved but no longer wore, shoes with cracked heels that I’d always intended to have repaired, I also found a scrap of optimism that I was sure I’d lost forever. I shook the wrinkles out of a set of sheets for the charity pile and at the same time I shook the mental wrinkles out of my sense of well-being and self worth.

I’m making room for something really good. And it’s about time.

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Comment by Julie O'Malley on May 27, 2009 at 5:44pm
The physical stuff is easy to eject... it's the mental and emotional cleaning that's hard.
Comment by Joe McMillan on May 27, 2009 at 5:10pm
Spring Cleaning is FUN!
I was Always Very good at Not Hanging on to things
THINGS were never that Important to me
BUT then again I just bought a 73 Inch DLP High Def TV
NOW thats somerhing I like
Those Big plastic totes are great for Storage
Comment by Barry Trussell on May 26, 2009 at 1:57pm
Very good Julie, I can relate to this. When I go through and clean things out and get everything back to spec shape, mentally I feel like I accomplished a marathon; exhilarated and ready to go at the same time. Excellent way of putting that into words.


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