The Art of Making Space
About two years ago, I decided the road my life was going down was not the direction I wanted it to go. The problem was, I was already running down that path and to turn completely around meant huge risk— like possible judgement and dropping walls I had built up. I did it anyway, because I wanted more for myself. I’m now living a wild life. I mean fully engaged, holy crap, I can't believe I'm doing this kind of life. It’s still hard to believe because I made some BIG changes— I quit drinking, changed careers, started a company, stopped smoking, changed to clean eating, overcame some lingering things from trauma, battled anxiety, and started working out!
You have the power to change your path. You might just need to create a little space to pivot.
Making space wasn't the only thing that got me there, but it was one of the big themes. I want to share the mindset and actions I took, in hopes that something here will resonate with you. Clear out the things in your life that aren't working for you, and step into spaces that allow for more. More love, a bigger, fuller life. Here’s what worked for me—
Physically Moving Location
Chris and I are a mean, lean planning team when it comes to future goals. One of our goals was to grow our existing business and to start another. In addition to our family and business goals, I also plotted out my personal goals, which included things like becoming a certified SUP instructor and enrolling in Spiritual Counseling classes.
I had a clear path, but I needed to do a metal check on the space I had available. That meant mental space, emotional space, and physical space. I needed to remove some items and make space both literally and figuratively.
I made a list of all the things in my life that were filling space. What I found was that I was spending a lot of my time maintaining our home. In our plan, we are going to add another brick and mortar, which meant more maintenance of physical space. There was no way we could maintain three spaces at this stage. The solution to grow, was for Chris and I to sell our house and move into an apartment to eliminate the high level maintenance of a physical space. This meant no weeds to pull, no grass to mow, and less square footage to clean!
Steps to Try:
1.) Are there things you could do to your physical space to make room or create ease? Could you clean a corner to make room for a small writing desk to start on that book you have dreamed of starting? Could you clean out the trunk of your car and add a cube with running shoes, clothes, and headphones to work toward the marathon you've been considering? These small changes in space can make a bigger impact than you think.
Getting Rid of 75% of What We Owned
Moving into an apartment meant downsizing from our home of ten years, into a space about half the size. As I started to clean out drawers and donate items, I realized that we would need to get rid of about 75% of what we owned. It felt scary and risky, yet completely freeing at the same time.
We had moments in the process where I felt like the things we had worked for, like our first big purchase together on an over-the-top Ethan Allen dining room set, were a waste. It became depressing and I thought maybe we were going the wrong direction.
This mindset was keeping us stuck from growth, in a house that did not fit the lifestyle we needed. Instead, we discussed that the dining room set served 8 years of family gathered around the table for Thanksgiving dinners in our home. It had served us well for the time we had it. It was now time to sell it and let go. Same with the house itself. We created raised beds to grow vegetables and compost, put in rose bushes and a fountain, and often entertained friends with dinners and board games. The house was perfect for us, for that season in our life. We now, were finding ourselves in a new season.
This practice of letting go was a process. Let me put this into perspective, I don't like a lot of stuff around me, so our house was not cluttered. However, when you live in a space for 10 years, with three bedrooms and a basement and then decide to downsize 75% of it— shit is crazy. I mean jaw dropping, “what have I gotten myself into?” Truck load, after truck load kind of crazy. We had about a dozen donation runs, 3 trucks loads to the dump, 4 Outback runs to my in-laws to store artwork and records, and 2 truck loads of shelving and such to the restaurant. Every single drawer, cubby hole, and shelf in our house was been gone through. The weight of all that stuff. Truck loads! I was maintaining and managing all that stuff. Moving it to get to other stuff, wasting time trying to find stuff, cleaning stuff, dusting stuff. This stuff wasn't serving me. What stuff can you let go of?
Steps to Try:
Identify a color palette. Think of your wardrobe in colors. When you intentionally set a palette you need less and pair items easier. What does this mean? Start by picking two colors that you absolutely love. When you choose the colors, think of the wide range that this can encompass instead of thinking about the idea of this practice as limiting. Purple can mean lilac, rose purples, bold iris, deep eggplant, and periwinkle. Blue can be denim washes, cobalt, navy, and deep aqua. Then pair your two color ranges with neutrals (grays, blacks, browns, whites and creams.) You can also take this quiz to find your color season.
Get rid of multiples. Who needs three vegetable peelers? Not this girl.
Take photos of some items that are sentimental. I was saving a MainStrasse Festival T-shirt from high school. I remember going to the festival that year, with just my dad and I. The shirt was falling apart and had been sitting in a memorabilia box since I was 16. A photo of the shirt was more sustainable than keeping the real thing.
Making Space for Emotional Changes
I had other stuff I had to let go of. This time it wasn't vintage quilts or cute pyrex bowls, it was messy feelings and thoughts. What would people think of us moving from a house to an apartment? That’s a backwards move right? I had to let go of what I thought others would think and so did Chris. This was the right move for us. We can’t grow and will remain stuck if we stay. The funny thing is, I knew this was one of the smartest moves we ever made. I knew this was so right for us. Then why did I doubt it? My mind had been trained for so long to revert to these feelings and thoughts.
Here is an example. That prior mentioned dining room table we were getting rid of? We have had Thanksgiving dinners for the past two years at the restaurant instead of our house. This has meant that we can have our family plus some of our friends and employees join—we loved that even more. We don't even use the table. Why was I hanging on to old ways of thinking? It was time to make space for different feelings and thoughts.
Steps to Try:
Feeling afraid of being judged? I have found the most incredibly freeing way to get rid of those feelings, is to focus on my own tendencies to judge. Get right with yourself. You will be amazed once you let go of judgement, how you will feel less judged by others.
Making Space for Mental Changes
“Did you think you would be moving into an apartment at 40?” My internal voice kept repeating these words. Nope, no sir. But I also didn't think I would have a masters degree and a business! If I listened to society's expectations or my younger self's expectations of my older self, I would be in big trouble. Don't let your younger self dictate what your current self should be doing.
Listen at 13, I declared I would—
1. Never, NEVER, listen to country music.
2.) Would literally DIE if I had to wear jeans that weren't tight-rolled at the cuff.
Super dramatic— but totally true. Now I love old country music, and although the urge to bring back 90's fashion trends is tempting, I’m complete happy with a good cigarette pant or skinny jean. The point is... your 20-year-old self or 30-year-old self does not get to decide who you are now. You have grown and the same rules back then, don't apply today.
Steps to Try:
What expectations or rules of your younger self are you holding on to? Why are you following an old set of rules?
Write down the stories you're telling yourself about who you THINK people want you to be. Let it go to make space for new thoughts. There is only one unique you. Think about that, there is absolutely no one else like you that has had your experiences. It helps no one when we try to be something we are not. Free up some space by letting go of what you think people want you to be, and start stepping into who you truly are. If that means becoming an alpaca farmer or baking wedding cakes, by all means—you do you.
Get quiet. Turn off the radio on your way to work. Turn off the TV in the background when you are at home. Take 30-minutes to do a noise detox. Create this space and listen to what comes.
I hope one of these tactics helps you clear some space for new and exciting things. And yes, you actually have to DO the things, not just have the intention to do them (and then not do them and then in your head figure they didn't work cause you never really DID them.) I felt that way about mediation. So many people told me to try mediation. I thought about trying it a lot. I thought so much about it that I decided it didn't really work for me. I had never REALLY tried it. Okay, maybe for like 2 minutes before I gave up. I had to try different types of meditation before I found the one that worked for me. I had to practice, then it became life changing!
I hope something here works for you. Just remember, you actually have to TRY it.
Much love to you Sister! Be kind to yourself.