Clearing garage clutter with Feng Shui
In September, when the Drifter showed up on my porch again seeking work, I made a decision to take on the cluttered garage. Empowered by my habit of living simply, I believed this would be a breeze, considering my track record:
a. Like when my widowed mother phoned to say, “If there’s anything here you want, come and get it.” She was selling the house and getting married. I was working and had no car. So I said, “No, but thanks for letting me know.”
b. When I left my first husband, I did it with the clothes I was wearing, just walked away from him, his father, and all the stuff we had acquired.
c. When I left Austin to teach at a small college in Colorado, I came with clothes, books, typewriter, kitchen stuff, and two cats.
d. To spend the second year in Canada, I sold a four-bedroom house and everything that didn’t fit either in my van or on a small palette in a friend’s garage.
Naturally, I believed that walking away from stuff had never been that difficult for me. And I lived in an attic apartment with about 500 square feet of usable space. I believed I was a queen of simple living.
But when I began the “Feng Shui Garage Project,” I realized my faulty thinking because I had a double-car garage behind that attic apartment to stash stuff, like:
- off-season clothes,
- off-season bed linens,
- extra furniture for tenants,
- left-over building supplies that contractors always leave behind,
- a collection of climate-control gadgets like fans, portable evaporative coolers,
- gardening tools, equipment, and supplies
- home maintenance supplies
- lawn maintenance equipment and supplies
- boxes of journals
- professional stuff like manuscripts and teaching materials…
Even so, it was just stuff, right? Hadn’t I proven how easy it was to dump stuff? Hadn’t I read Clearing Clutter with Feng Shui? Simple, right?
And it was, up to the last two pallets of boxes. One was for my academic career; the other held all that stuff for each of the businesses I had done on weekends while teaching my last years at the college. (Please see the BURNOUT trilogy of books for that story.)
It was time to go through those boxes, one at a time. Divine Guidance had orchestrated the experience so the Drifter would not be there so I would have no interruptions.
I had no clue that this sorting would be different from all the others. Fortunately, my new handyman and his son were working on the garage, so I wasn’t alone on those days.
As I went through each box, I began to realize that these last two pallets were piled high with evidence of Who I Had Been. Processing those boxes – Keep, Give away, or Trash – was so much more difficult than any of the rest. It felt like I was erasing my existence!
If I am not Dr. Young, Ph.D. or Pam Young the massage therapist, Holistic Health practitioner, yoga and DansKinetics® teacher, or psychotherapist specializing in Alchemical Hypnotherapy, then WHO AM I?
The stuff for all those identities was saved only because I imagined that when I left Durango, I would be offering those services wherever I ended up. I was saving that stuff for “Some Day!” But “Some Day” is just code for “Never” (Roy Miller, Knight and Day movie). And “saving stuff for Some Day” is, by definition regarding clearing clutter, simply CLUTTER.
I had to stop doing, take a moment, and visualize my future. Would I ever really do that again? Would I ever be a professor or any of those other things again? More importantly, did I have any interest whatsoever in doing those things again? I had to admit that my answer was “No.”
And once I did, I gained momentum in the clearing process.
I sorted five boxes that day and all the rest on the next! I filled 40-gallon garbage cans with lectures, papers, manuscripts, and recordings. I tossed reference books (including one that cost $50!). I pitched the business materials—like special holders for three-fold flyers, information sheets, and business cards—for each kind of work I’d done…
Because I was working alone those days, I got to drag those now-heavy garbage cans to the front so I could empty them into the dumpsters. Naturally, that wasn’t possible because they had no wheels. I had to drag the dumpsters back, take stuff out of the trash can by hand, and empty it enough to pick it up and toss the rest. It felt as if I were being asked to be sure of what I was doing! As in, do you really want to eliminate this part of your self? Do you really trust the unknown? Moving forward with no destination, no idea whatsoever about what you’ll be doing—alone?
After a few moments contemplation by the mint garden, I grabbed the dumpster, tilted it onto its wheels, and dragged it to the front. And when the job was done, the rains came and kept coming for several days.
And upstairs, in my attic apartment, I emerged like a butterfly, finally breaking through its cocoon.
I felt lighter and clearer than I had in years. I had more energy and greater emotional and mental stamina.
I realized how easily I devoted my entire self to whatever I chose to do and decided in that moment of heightened awareness to simply BE, living one moment at a time and loving all of it, until my next path presented itself.
I believe My Higher Self wanted me to “hold that posture,” knowing that once I finished the garage, I’d be tackling my apartment, getting ready for the move to my unknown destination.
To make sure that she would stay in that posture, of BE-ing instead of doing, this nimble dancer, yoga girl was allowed to trip on the renter’s deflated canoe which has the same camouflage appearance of grays as the new super-hard concrete floor.
Multiple fractures in both ulna and radial bones guaranteed no physical work of any kind other than taking care of myself and my cats. There was nothing I could do but BE. I struggled against what I perceived to be rotten timing as winter came early, mere weeks after my surgery (November 7).
But I’m “the one who can do it,” and so I did. I figured out how to do it all with one hand: shovel the stair steps and get the laundry and the trash down the stairs by being patient and focusing on only one stair step at a time. Pick it up and move it, move your body; repeat. I could DO everything I had needed help with!
And then I tripped on loose, garden edging on my path to the dumpsters and did a face-plant in the snow; my workaholic self was forced to capitulate. I didn’t dare continue all the “doing” if it would jeopardize my healing.
Finally, I recognized and received the ultimate gift: remembering how to just BE. I had been returned to my childhood self where I mostly sat on the floor, leaning against my bed, staring at the wall, contemplating the meaning of life.
Note: Having completed The Drifter series, I’m taking time off to allow those fractures to finish healing and to imagine how and where I want the rest of my life to be.