Cheryl's Blog

Letting Go: My Journey to a ‘Less Responsible’ New Year

I woke at 7 am, threw on jeans and a sweater, fed the cats, and loaded the car for my pre-New Year’s adventure. I was excited and nervous, hoping it made sense to do what I was about to do. I was also determined and inspired thanks to my sister, Kerri.

Holiday gifts come in all shapes and sizes, and some have no physical properties at all. One of my best Christmas presents this year came from Kerri on Christmas Eve. Sitting by the fireplace during a family gathering, I asked for her help. A few months ago, I’d cleaned out the upstairs in our garage in preparation for construction. While I donated plenty of stuff, there was a large section of sentimental and valuable things that remained and I couldn’t get myself to handle it. Every time I walked into the garage I groaned at the pile of boxes lining the back wall.

My sister Kerri is a clutter whisperer who has written books on the topic. She’s a genius when it comes to identifying the underlying reasons why we hang onto things, and she understands the emotional challenge of letting them go.

Happy to help, Kerri started with a few questions.

“Do you want to hire someone to go through everything and decide the value and where to sell it,” she asked.

No, I replied, that sounds too impersonal and complicated.

“Are you worried about losing money?” she continued.

No, it’s not about the money, I admitted, it just feels strange to give away boxes of items that are special or that might be worth more than I realize.”

“Strange?” She inquired.

Yes, well, I mean irresponsible. It feels wrong not to go through every item and be sure it’s handled in the right way. 

Irresponsible. The minute I heard myself say the word, I understood my resistance a little better. For decades I’ve been married to responsibility and in my wisdom years, I’ve been trying to get a divorce. Not that I want to be reckless or impetuous, it’s just that being overly responsible comes at too high a cost like suffering over a decision that might be good for my self-care but judged as sinful by the Mother Superior who lives in my head.

“Here’s a thought,” Kerri offered. “What if you handed the responsibility over to the Universe? What if you brought the stuff to a thrift store that donates a percentage of proceeds to charity and let the Universe put things in the hands of those who would benefit most?”

I let the idea sink in as Kerri continued.

“People love finding treasures, making money reselling donated goods, and snagging a deal on something they need. Just think of the gifts you’d be giving people.”

Three days later I loaded up the car, drove to a local thrift store, and bid eleven boxes farewell. Some contained jewelry, antiques, and favorite mementos, and when I hesitated while packing them up, I told myself I was Mrs. Claus and my job was to deliver gifts.

When the last box left the car, I took a deep breath and drove home to pack up more.

For most of my adult life, I’ve set goals for the New Year to help guide my success. But things are different now. At this liminal space between what was and what will be, I’m focused on what needs to leave my life rather than enter it. I’m ready to finalize my divorce from “over-responsible” and marry space, freedom, and peace. After all, what more do we need?

Happy New Year! May 2024 be filled with an abundance of blessings and a little less stuff 😀.