My husband and I are preparing for a(nother) move. We are moving across a few states and downsizing from a house in a suburban area to a two bedroom apartment in an urban environment. Over the years we have collected a lot of extra stuff. From old clothes to extra couches and a second set of plates, there is so much we have stockpiled and stored that we don’t need, can’t fit in our new home, and really, that others could use much better than we. So, we are beginning to let go of these items – going through the drawers, boxes, shelves, and closets to release the extra that we’ve accumulated. These clothes might remind us of life in another climate, the couches of a friend who gave them to us, but in reality the extra stuff is just weighing us down.
(And, a few years ago we both led a trip of students to New Orleans to help clean out a home of three elderly family members who had collected, hoarded, to what felt like an unlivable standard. So we both have distinct images of where we do NOT want to go!)
Last week we started with going through our clothes – trying things on, telling stories about this or that t-shirt we acquired… and putting things in a pile to donate. We are clearing the way. Because there just isn’t room for anything new when we are completely full. The physical mirrors the spiritual in our lives. When my closet is full of things I use to create my image, maybe I don’t have room to create something new, to be something new. And I even find that I have a harder time deciding what to wear!!! When my pantry is full of old food and all these sauces that are just SITTING there, maybe I have less energy to try a new cuisine or make a fresh meal or start a new way of eating (because no one likes to waste food… but how can I stop collecting too much?). When my schedule is full of activities, hobbies, chores, work, plans… I don’t have time to rest and restore my soul. And I certainly don’t have the space in my day or my heart to be ready to be surprised by things that may come up to bring me joy. No time for that!
And moving, for me, always resonates with the image of replanting. I have a lot of houseplants and they mostly have names and stories of their origins. I have some aloe that I potted at a friend’s house when she rescued a bunch of little ones from a gnarly overgrown garden. I have a tall palm-like guy that we inherited at our first home (he had been left behind) and we named him Marshall after the street we lived on. I have a little ferny friend that reminds me of friends from Michigan where I split him up and shared pieces of him with them. I am connected to my plants in my home and I have had them long enough to need to repot them. When I pull my plant from its tiny old home, her roots are usually wrapped around the whole shape of the soil, overgrown and searching for more space. I gently loosen them, preparing them for the space that is coming. The new “home” is prepared with extra soil and I cozy the new roots into the pot. After setting the plant in securely, I add a lot of water to invite the roots to spread out and make themselves at home. For a little while, the plant doesn’t look as perky. She feels a little uncertain without her old way of being. With a little time though, and some growing, she begins to expand beyond what she was. She can create new stems, leaves, and roots because she has the new space.
This image reminds me of the need to release my grip on my current way of being – it could be my roots of my friends and routines in my current home, my extra stuff, my plans, etc. And when I make space for something new, even if the process feels uncertain, if my leaves aren’t quite as perky in the process (do I really have to give away that Avril Lavigne concert shirt!? ha!), I can trust that the space I create physically allows my soul and life to take on some new growing. A new direction maybe, or a new capacity… who knows! I will never find out if I’m not willing to do the work of cleaning things out and trusting in the less-than-perky process of expansion.
Ideas for Living This
- What do you want to clear out to make room for the new? Your schedule? Your closet? Your pantry? Write it down or tell someone. Use a journal to chart what you do and what happens with the extra space in your world. Then, share it with us!
- Get your hands dirty! Find a plant that needs a new home (or a bulb/seeds that you want to put in the ground, etc.). As you are planting or replanting it, meditate on the process of making space (digging in the dirt or loosening the roots), adjusting in the new home (watering, the days of getting settled again, or the winter of waiting for the bulb!), and the process of new growth that will arrive in its own time. Afterwards, as you wash your hands, trust that there isn’t anything left for you to DO in the process. Your role is to watch and learn, wait and experience.
How do you make space for replanting and mindful living as a young adult cancer or long term illness patient, survivor, or caregiver?