The Priceless Value of the Purge

When I learned that I was pregnant with our second child, we lived in an apartment in New York that was perfect. It was in one of the outer-boroughs, a short walk to an Olmsted designed park with many trails to explore. Our neighborhood was warm and eclectic. I couldn’t walk a dozen feet without stopping to chat with a grocer or bagel shop owner. We felt a deep sense of community that was palatable.

It wasn’t long before we realized that we needed more space. (Translation, for any non-New Yorkers: “more space”=suburbs.)

Pause for clarification: the outer-boroughs are not suburbs; NYC is the amalgamation of five boroughs connected by bridges and tunnels. Manhattan is the geographical (and cultural) center of it all. Yes, we do refer to Manhattan as “the city” but it’s more like a city within a city. 😉

After seeing over thirty houses, we chose a quaint tree-lined street in a small town. We loved the block more than the two houses that were for sale on it, but we settled on one. We took a chance…and got it! Plus, we didn’t want to be stuck without a home; our apartment sold after a week on the market. And the baby clock was ticking...

So, our outer-borough city life transformed into true suburban life.

In our rush to move, I didn’t take the time (nor did I have it…I was six and a half months pregnant with a two-year-old, ok?!) to purge before packing. I simply packed up our apartment, as is.

A couple of weeks ago, I purged an area (finally…fifteen years later) that had dated documents from as far back as the turn of this century. I couldn’t recall the relevance of most of the articles and clippings. I simple tossed them into the recycling bin…happily. The benefit of purging my space was clear.

But then, it hit me: Life Lesson #247-Purging my physical space creates room in my emotional space.

Sidebar: I don’t really number my lessons…in our home, my kids tease me because they say every conversation they have with me turns into a life lesson. So, I started randomly numbering them.🤣 It’s a running inside joke. Now, you’re on the inside too!

Oh, but how true this lesson is. As I began to see the physical space open, I felt energized and free, as well. It was as if I suddenly had the emotional energy to deal with the items that required sorting and cataloging. Reviewing old documents and mementos took me back to another time in my life.

I had an opportunity to reflect on events (some good, some not so good), process how I feel/felt about those things, and gain perspective. I really didn’t realize how much emotional junk I had filed away.

After the purge, I even felt stronger…no, braver. Ready to deal with the crap that may be tucked away in other areas of my home and heart.

Sometimes, we avoid purging areas of our homes or offices because we don’t want to deal with the emotional side of it. Not consciously, of course. But it is a reality. Avoidance seems to work in the short term. The “junk” doesn’t get in the way or impede our flow in other areas, as long as it remains out of the way. That is, until it begins to spill out from its hiding place.

I am learning that in any growth journey, there is no way to get around it. No stone goes unturned. Meaning, when we're ready, whether we recognize the readiness or not, opportunity will present itself for us to face and deal with our “junk”. When, not if, that happens, I encourage you to take the leap.

Face the hard thing, and the not-so-hard thing; the sad thing and the not-so-sad thing; face the joyful thing, and the not-so-joyous thing. Face it all. Develop the habit.

I am not a therapist or a licensed mental health professional. I have just lived a life that has had its share of trauma and brokenness. I have also had a tremendous amount of joy and unwarranted favor. I have been “there,” wherever your “there” is located. And back, so to speak. Through a commitment to personal growth and my ever-increasing faith, I have progressed. So, what I share is from that journey.

Here’s my strategy on how to face it all:

BE HONEST

Honestly, admit where you are. Don’t allow fear to keep you from accurately assessing your feelings. You can take it. You’re stronger than you may believe.

BE PATIENT

Patience is required because healing and growth take time. But time alone doesn’t do all the work. You must use the time to cultivate a mindset and belief system that will support the new you and your new perspective.

BE BRAVE

This journey requires courage. You will be confronted by things that don't always feel good. Press on. At every age and stage, bravery is a necessary ongoing companion.

BE KIND TO YOU

Kindness to one’s self will create a self-loving environment for your growth to flourish. Choose a self-care practice to incorporate daily. Recognize that you are a valuable creation, a unique gift to the world. Then treat yourself accordingly.

Look…It’s easy to become swept up in the busyness of everyday life and forget to deal with those avoided areas. Find a way to make reflection a priority. Weekly, at least, is my suggestion. Spend a little time regularly purging your physical and emotional spaces. That way, “junk” doesn’t have an opportunity to pile up.

How incredibly priceless it is to live that free!

Until next time…

XO,

R

You don’t know the weight you’re carrying until you’re no longer carrying it!
— Regina L. Henry