There is a whole lot of stuff going on in this world and our lives. A whole lot of good and a whole lot of bad. A whole lot of stuff to be concerned about and stuff that we should not waste our time on… stuff that clogs our minds and our world, but really should not get the space in either. There is stuff TO DO and stuff not to do. There is stuff that is filling our closets and our house and in my case, entire barns and garages. There is stuff in our pillows, but that is not the type of stuff I am referring to. I realize that the word stuff is not a very formal one and I should be able to come up with another one that is more dignified but it really fits the bill for where I am going with this post. The definition in the Oxford Dictionary is: matter, material, articles, or activities of a specified or indeterminate kind that are being referred to, indicated or implied. In using the word stuff in this post, I am referring to everything that is going on in our busy lives be it activities, tasks, household chores, decisions, worries, responsibilities, illnesses etc. etc. etc. The word stuff seemed appropriate and I use it often.
The more stuff you have in your life, the more weighed down you become. For we all know that we think we are the only ones who can take care of our stuff. Dealing with our stuff leaves very little time for anything else that might bring us more pleasure, more joy, more enrichment in our own lives let alone enriching the lives of others…so we think. Our stuff can be exhausting, can it not? It can leave us feeling depleted and unfulfilled, unmotivated to do more. It seems never ending… our stuff just doesn’t go away… the worries, the activity, the thoughts, the actions, the piles, the dirt… the laundry.
No judging here folks!!! But seriously, there are periods of time when we can barely keep up with our stuff and every time you walk past a pile like that, it gives you “agita”. Know what I mean? There were recent days that every time I walked past that pile, all I wanted to do was dive in and start folding, not only to complete the task, but as therapy. I mean seriously, do any of you find monotonous tasks like folding laundry appealing for you can dive in to ignore your other stuff? I always find the constant motion of folding clean laundry, one piece after the other as a task where I could not only complete it but be engaged in another task where I was taking care of more stuff… thinking. But time necessitated that I not fold it… I threw in another load in, thus the pile grew and grew ( unless your boys… some of which still live at home and your husband notice it… NOPE, not happening).
So what is one to do when the piles of stuff are still there and they are growing as well as the emotions that go along with them? ALL of our piles of stuff are attached to emotions. Some emotions run deep, when your stuff is serious and life altering. Some are superficial, like when you have piles of laundry. After living over half a century I have finally realized that there is more to life than neat orderly piles of stuff. Yes, I LOVE neat orderly piles, but life seems to happen constantly and mess up those orderly piles and the more we stress about that, the more we become incapable of dealing with them.
I have learned that the first thing you have to do to is to give gratitude for the good piles of stuff in your life. Serious get down on your knees and thank the heavens for the good stuff. ( My husband and my sons finally noticed that pile of laundry and folded it!) Sometimes it might not look like there are good piles but dig out of the yuck, and you can often find the good. Guard what you let in, don’t get mired in the muck, the inconsequential, the petty stuff, the attitudes, the negativity. Harder said than done… yes, but not impossible. You might ask, “Sounds good but how do you do that?” I have found a few steps, out of necessity, that you can take to accomplish this. They are not fail proof but they certainly have helped me to dig out of my piles of stuff to at least the height where I am not drowning in them. Keep in mind, that you will certainly slip back into the piles, more stuff will come your way, but these steps keep me from drowning in my piles of stuff.
First off, you have to take the time to sit down with your stuff, quietly and at a point in time where you can detach yourself from the emotions of your stuff….decide which stuff you let into your life and which stuff you don’t. Which stuff is taking up space in your brain ( and some of us have very little space up there left) that should not. Which stuff you have no choice in letting into your life for you have absolutely no control over it and no one ever asked for your approval to let it in. Accept it and acknowledge that this stuff is not going away easily, maybe someday, but not right now and make a plan to deal with it. Determine the stuff that you CAN take care of. Once you have assessed your stuff and put it where it belongs; either by kicking it to the curb if it’s trash, ignoring it if it has no value, acting upon it if it does, being thankful and grateful for the good stuff and asking yourself what role YOU have in this stuff… you can move forward.
Once you have sat down with your piles of stuff and let the emotions back in, acknowledge them… laugh, cry, praise, curse… run the gamut and give them time to be aired. I also suggest you do this alone. Target is not the place to do it, nor is it in front of the people that you are trying to hold up daily for that can create more piles of stuff. Those emotions will pass, and they will resurface at times, let them… and then move on, do not let the emotions run your actions. Once you have done this, you can then begin to act on your list of stuff that you have left after getting rid of the stuff that has no meaning in your life. Decide on what action steps can be taken for each pile and write them down. I am an eternal list writer and this trait has seriously gotten me through life! Once you do this AND if you still have a pile of negative stuff you just cannot change for you truly have no control over it, focus elsewhere. Anywhere else but on that stuff. That stuff has a tendency to overwhelm anything else in your life so while you still may have to deal with it, do not focus on it, wallow in it, or exist only through it.
If you have noticed, throughout this post, I have posted pictures of beautiful stuff whose images might seem like they have nothing to do with the written word in the post… but they do. When we are wallowing in our stuff it seems like we have absolutely no time to fit anything into our lives that does not directly have to do with our stuff. And in many instances that time cannot be found but many times it can be found and diving into something aside from your stuff that is solely meant to lift you up can help tremendously. Go to the gym, take a class, go to a conference about something that you care an awful lot about, hang with the people that lift you up, that inspire you, go to a place that as soon as you walk in… you feel renewed. I believe strongly that places as well as people can lift your spirit. You don’t have to buy anything there. You don’t have to spend a lot of money doing this… or you can. Go to dinner or take that trip with your spouse, daughter, son, or friends that you have always said that you cannot find the time for. Read a book that has been on your list, or write something that you had been meaning to write. The point is to DO something that ENRICHES your life, even if you might have piles of stuff going on.
Back in March, I attended The School of Styling Retreat in Greensboro, North Carolina. I had been following their creator, Kaitlin Holland, for some time now and always felt lifted up when I looked at her beautifully styled images. I had read about her retreats for women who ran creative businesses. It was never a good time to head to one of her retreats nor did I feel that the investment I would make into the retreat would be justified. This year was the year I decided to pull the trigger and do it. I was floundering in running a creative business that was experiencing growth ( one of my good piles of stuff that causes its own piles). In order to make it happen, I needed to make a list of what steps I needed to take to line everything up while I was away. Having a support system is always a help. Thanks Papa and Babci and Maggie for holding down the fort while I was gone! It was tremendously uplifting to spend time with like-minded women, in a beautiful environment where every detail made you feel special… doing things that you loved while learning. Thank you TSOS as well!
I also believe that in processing and dealing with all your stuff in life, helping others is also a very valid way to navigate through your stuff, especially the negative piles. When you think you have it bad, you very well might, but look around you for there is always someone who you can help even when your chips are down. It is in doing the above that your negative stuff will loose its power over you. Another activity that I had heard about but was never able to attend one of their meetings due to time, was the group 100 Women Who Care, Chester County. It is a group of professional woman coming together to support the local community. They meet four times a year… I could handle that! At those meetings, charitable organizations present their mission statements and then are supported by this group of women. In attending their Spring meeting, I sat there listening to women whose lives are entangled in the organizations they run and that they are absolutely passionate about. I was enthralled by their presentations. You can check them out below:
In closing, I want to assure you that I still dig through my stuff on a daily basis, editing, making room for more, deleting some of it, working through it and being sidelined and delayed by it, uplifted and inspired by it. This post was supposed to be sent out this past Friday. Words don’t always come and when they do, they can sometimes take a totally different path than the brain first intended. Time does not always cooperate with your intent either and STUFF happens. That is okay, keep you eye on the goal and it will happen. Emotions sometimes take over, for we are human, they kick me off my horse and I get back on. That is the secret… you have to get back on!
There is always room at your table to invite the things into your life that you want in it!