Last week I gave away 95% of the stuff I own.
And I’m writing you this morning to share how this happened and what miracles have been happening ever since, as I know there’s gold for you here in imagining what a parallel process might do for you.
Last Saturday I finally decided it was time to let go of my Montclair apartment.
This was the enormous lower level of an 1880 Victorian I moved into following my divorce.
I realized nearly a year ago I had no intention of coming back to this space (or to Montclair) after I’d discovered just how much happier I feel living in a tiny bungalow 2 blocks from the ocean in Belmar, NJ.
If I’m honest, I kept my place in Montclair out of fear.
Fear that without it and my ties to the area I wouldn’t know who I was.
Fear that the single boldest decision of my adult life – to move to a place purely so I could surf daily, and where I instantly felt more free, loved, & connected than ever – could not be trusted.
“This is way too good to be true” my ego said. “There’s a reason responsible adults choose to live in Montclair and not in a beach town that’s effectively dead in Winter.”
“And what will I do with my Indigo Restoration Hardware Cloud Chaise?” I objected when friends who love me suggested perhaps it was time to kiss Montclair goodbye.
But by last Saturday, a deeper part of me knew.
I am ready to expand.
And my gut knew, to receive what’s coming, we need to release absolutely everything that doesn’t 1000% support everything we’re becoming.
So Montclair, and everything it represents and contains, gets to go.
So last Saturday I drove North. And I made two decisions that set off a chain reaction of miracles ever since.
I decided I would only keep things that:
- Truly spark joy NOW
- And that I can use today in my little bungalow by the sea
That means NO STORAGE ALLOWED.
My beach bungalow (previously a summer rental) is fully furnished, so that also means releasing every piece of furniture I own.
This move had me downsize from my half of a 4,248 sqft house into my half of a 658 sqft bungalow.
And beyond releasing my furniture, this also required me letting go of every piece of clothing, book, paper, kitchen item, or sentimental object that didn’t spark joy or fit in my car.
Yes, Marie Kondo would be proud.
But why, you ask.
Why not rent a storage unit, or drive yet more boxes to my poor mother’s garage?
Because several weeks after I moved to Belmar for what I thought would be a 6 week-stay, I discovered a surprising truth; the less physical things I own, the happier I feel.
And I want to be very clear that this is NOT how I’ve lived my life until now.
I’m a Virgo sun with a Libra rising and Pisces moon. So I’m wired to love & own beautiful things, and to struggle to release anything even slightly sentimental. And that’s 100% been how I roll.
But there comes a time when even the most material-loving among us get to take an honest look at how we’re feeling and ask the question – what actually makes me happy?
Fortunately for me my divorce powerfully shoved this question in my face.
And over the last two years since, I’ve learned my answer.
What actually makes me happy is:
- PROXIMITY TO UNTAMED NATURE – specifically to an ocean I can surf in, or run alongside daily
- FREEDOM – to travel where I want, when I want
- SIMPLICITY – so my life contains only things & people that I LOVE
- CONNECTION – where I live makes meeting & befriending people easy
How fascinating that not one of these things has anything to do with stuff?
So I decided to follow my gut & release almost everything I own so I’d be free to live exactly where I wanna be with a greatly simplified lifestyle.
My mantra last week was “I release this in service of my joy.”
I read Marie Kondo’s Spark Joy each night (a must-read if you’re about to purge). And I followed her order for “tidying” items by category to keep only those that truly spark joy in each: 1. Clothing 2. Books 3. Papers 4. Komomo (miscellany) and 5. Sentimental items
And, to give you an idea of this process, by the time I was done after seven intense days:
I gave my ex-husband my 17’ canoe & the world’s fanciest printer since I knew he could use both. And upon pick-up we ended up having the most thoughtful conversation we’ve had in years.
I gave my amazing landlord my giant electric Varidesk. And he’s been texting the joy it’s bringing him to stand as he works ever since.
Rather than deal with Craigslist, I let Kaiyo pick up & sell my Restoration Hardware Cloud Chaise and fancy Avocado bedframe (if you’re in the tri-state area DEFINITELY use them to sell your quality used furniture or to find awesome pieces).
I got brutally honest with myself about my closet & released for the first time ever every piece of clothing that “looks good” on but doesn’t 100% align with the woman I’m becoming.
I let myself be led by the question “Does owning this totally turn me on?”
And if the answer was anything less than a “HELL YES!” I let it go.
I ended up mailing 98% of my clothing, Including my wedding dress, and a pair of new suede Salvatore Ferragamo boots to ThredUp to be sold or recycled. And it felt freaking fantastic.
I donated my entire pantry to a local soup kitchen, Toni’s Kitchen.
I donated 95% of my books to a fundraiser for a local school, Lacordaire (only books that turn me on & that I honestly intend to read in the next 3 months got to stay).
I gave my best friend anything left that sparks joy for her, and got to feel my heart swell with joy as I saw her delight to receive my Berkey filter and my small but yummy wine collection.
I gave my neighbor who I love my wedding ring, and felt happy to see the beautiful piece spark joy for someone else who’s had my back since the day we met.
And my neighbor’s daughter got pretty much everything else from my organic mattress to my 72” tv, a bike I love that isn’t suited for the shore, and camping gear I haven’t used in years.
And by far the most incredible of all, I was able to go through and discard nearly every single photo from my wedding with a sense of gratitude and peace.
Before last week I can honestly say I can’t remember ever throwing out a photo.
I’ve always been sentimental but much more deeply than that, I realized last week I’ve held on to photos, objects, and people, even that made me deeply sad, primarily out of fear and a lack of trust that better, happier memories, objects and relationships would come if I did.
But after a week of building “authentic joy detection” skills, everything became clear.
If it sparks joy, let it follow. And if it doesn’t, bless it & its lessons and release it to make space for more genuinely joyful objects, people, and memories.
Because come they will.
God Bless you Marie Kondo.
Your wisdom has liberated this hoarder’s heart.
There were even a small handful of photos from my wedding I did keep, because they genuinely make me feel so freaking happy.
Like this one…
My stepson Gabriel, then barely 8, is grinning with delight on our way to the ceremony in Central Park’s “Strawberry Fields.”
It was very important to me that Gabriel got to have his own vows in our ceremony where he could freely choose me as his “Mamastasia” and I could choose him as my son.
Looking at this photo even as I write this I feel my heart overflowing with love. I feel immense gratitude that God chose me to come into his life when I did and to help raise this hilarious, sensitive, wise old-soul.
Gabe is now 13 and up to my chin and still a love of my life. He’ll be surfing with me again this summer along with his amazing mamma who’s now a dear friend.
This photo reminds me that we can never know what role we’re to have in the life of another.
And while love can change forms, and some relationships run their course in less time than we’d hope, other relationships are so full of mutual joy & growth they’re meant to last a lifetime.
After a week of discarding and donating, I am now clearer than ever on who I am and what matters to me.
I feel a sense of clarity, freedom and peace I can barely put into words.
There are also big areas of my life (and closet) that now contain big open white spaces.
And looking back I can see it was this – my fear of empty space – that stopped me from releasing things and people that did anything but spark joy.
How often do we cling to things and people that feel heavy, sad, uninspiring or suffocating because we’re afraid to let go?
And because we’re afraid to feel unsure of what will fill the space we’ve created?
What I can offer you to face this uncertainty as you release anything that no longer lights you up is this.
I am 3 days into my life post-declutter.
And in the week I was purging and in the days that followed, a partner who I wasn’t sure about has shown up for me in a profoundly committed, loving, and generous way so I’d feel how much he has had my back through every step of this process.
It’s too early to tell what Spirit has in store for us. But one thing is very clear; this man sparks joy for me on every level – mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.
And I know it would have taken me so much longer to recognize that before I took the time to release everything that doesn’t feel as good as he does.
I didn’t release my Montclair apartment and everything I own to call in love.
But here it is.
And I have to admit, it makes sense.
Because what I now know to be true is, the Universe is standing eagerly waiting in every second to give us exactly what we desire most.
And we show Her we’re ready the second we begin to give away everything that doesn’t genuinely light our hearts on fire.
So what desire is infinitely worth you starting your own sacred act of releasing?
And what, my love, are you willing to let go of to make space to receive it?
Here’s to you, your joy, clarity, freedom, and love.
Send pictures of what you release in service of all of that.
You’ve got this.
And I can’t wait to hear what fills the white space you create, very soon after.
With all my love,
PS – If you want inspiration, know that next week I’m heading to my mom’s house to purge nearly 40 years of sentimental items we’ve kept there so she can experience the bliss of clear, aligned, joyful space too.
So if you wanna purge together, feel free to join us. XO