The Transformative Power of Throwing Shit Out

Published: June 6, 2023
Category: Mind & body

Years ago, a prolific graffiti artist in my neighborhood festooned the sidewalk with one of his  profound truisms written in colorful chalk: “Sometimes we hold onto things longer than we should.” Marie Kondo would certainly agree as the expert on tidying up—which, of course, is the name of the show that catapulted her into a global media sensation. If you visited my apartment, you’d discover colorful, comfortable, cozy rooms that are clean and inviting. However, what you would not see—unless you mistakenly walked into a closet instead of a washroom—was the utter chaos that lurked inside of each closet, file cabinet, and night table. The clutter was sapping my energy, so it was hard to find time or energy to take care of the problem.

I must confess that, as a highly engaged CEO & Founder, I’d always choose to delve into a meaningful new workshop initiative or collaboration instead of doing the drudgery task of purging files and documents after project completion. And time passed. Somehow, innocuous stacks of proposals and research materials morphed into small hills until one day they became mountainous. Spoiler alert: I am not a hoarder, but whenever I’d glance at these piles or opened one of several supply closets, my heart sank. I vividly remember how, just days before giving birth to each of my two sons, I was overcome with a powerful nesting instinct where I attacked a random closet or sock drawer with total abandon and urgency. I needed that kind of motivation to tackle my current clutter situation.

Mission Not-So-Impossible: Cleaning out the clutter.

 

The inspiration struck on Memorial Day, coinciding with the 25th anniversary of my beloved brother Gary’s death. That powerful nesting urge suddenly surged through me once again as I channeled my grief into decluttering and donating piles of superfluous stuff in my apartment. It was a spiritual experience which gave me a sense of control and order.

Before Marie Kondo became a global thought-leader, she wrote her university dissertation on tidying up. The dissertation was based on her experiences working as an attendant in a Shinto shrine, which also inspired her to write her first decluttering book. The Shinto religion considers properly cleaning and organizing as a spiritual practice. It acknowledges the energy or divine spirit of all things and is considered the harmonious way to live.

(Pictured above:  Pay-it-forward expressive arts projects have been a signature part of Soaringwords’ programs since 2000.)

After a few hours, a hall closet filled with suitcases and backpacks was glistening, pristine, and clutter-less and my bedroom closet had breathing room. I even color coded my dresses. This was a wonderful runway to the larger task at hand: Closing out the Soaringwords storage unit before June 1 and moving our entire stock of pay-it-forward, expressive arts project supplies. With the help of enthusiastic interns and dozens of industrial-size garbage bags, we cleared out 100 boxes filled to the brim with hundreds of SoaringQuilts® and SoaringPillows®, brand-new art supplies, and completed projects with inspirational messages and artwork that are being donated to children in local hospitals including SoaringDreamCatchers, SoaringTotebags, SoaringGratitude Jars, and SoaringBaseball caps. 

Special thanks to Larry Zogby, owner of RDS Same Day Delivery, and Jim Wiggins, account manager at Moishe’s Moving System, for donating the transportation to get these healing tools into the hands of pediatric patients and their families to brighten up their hospital stays. 

I still have to roll up my sleeves and tackle the two remaining Soaringwords supply closets, but one thing I know for sure is that the clutter doesn’t stand a chance. The best part is the energizing lightness and strength I get from seeing wide-open spaces and having the knowledge that I no longer have to hold onto things so tightly anymore.

 

I’m sending you strength and love.

Soaringwords is the power to heal.

 

 

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