“What have you done today that your future self will thank you for?”
This question keeps showing up in my life repeatedly in the past couple of months. When something shows up this many times, I find there must be a reason and start paying attention.
After my year of emotional surrender last year, this year seems to be about letting go of things on a more physical plane.
Last month I was compelled to clear out my wardrobe. I know, I know. I can feel your eyes roll and you are thinking, ‘she’s jumped on the Marie Kondo bandwagon.’
I assure you, I haven’t.
I just woke up one morning and decided I was sick of hanging onto stuff that I no longer needed. My wardrobe was bulging with clothes that I hadn’t worn since I left my corporate life. And my intuition told me that I’m not going to work somewhere again where I need clothes like that. It was time to let them go.
This wasn’t easy for me.
See, when I was a kid we were poor. Really poor. Like below the poverty line poor. My dad had a dream and started his own business which took years to really get going. In the meantime, my mom worked two jobs to keep food on the table and all of us covered with health insurance (this was in the US. You need to have health insurance).
We didn’t have money for nice clothes or extras. And when I left home I worked hard, sometimes having two or three jobs at a time so I could have money. Buying clothes became my thing. Clothes became my armour. If I bought nice things, no one would see the poor kid wearing them.
As I progressed up the career ladder, the level of my wardrobe increased. The armour got thicker and more designer-led. My clothes and shoe obsession became a sticky point between me and my husband. He never understood what they represented to me. And at the time, I couldn’t explain it. It’s only now after a lot of therapy about my childhood that I can even acknowledge it.
And I’ve come to see that I don’t need that armour anymore. I have a different life. I’m more than ok with who I am, no matter what I’m wearing. And I’m ok about where I come from and what happened in my past to form me.
I’ve rid myself of those limiting beliefs about money. And I don’t need a wardrobe of clothes and shoes that I’m not wearing these days.
So I had the gigantic clear out of 2019. It was hard to begin with, but once I got started it became easier. I found a local organisation who help women who can’t afford clothes for interviews and jobs. They take donations of work attire and give each woman five outfits to start them out on their career. I gave bags of clothes and boxes of shoes to them. I love that my clothes will help others in this way.
The great clear out continued last week as I tackled my garage and finally got rid of stuff I’d been carrying around for years but hadn’t used.
And last night I burned five years of writing. I burned all of my journals that chronicled my separation, my divorce, my parenting struggles, my dating attempts, my reflections on therapy sessions, my business ideas, my dreams. Five years of pouring my soul out in notebooks. Five years of writing daily. Sometimes two or three times in a day. That’s a lot of pages. A lot of journals.
They are all gone.
I had a pact with one of my closest friends. If anything had happened to me, her first job was not to console my kids or feed my dog Reg, it was to go to my hiding place, retrieve the journals and burn them without reading them. I have one friend who I knew I could trust with this job and she agreed to do it. But the more I thought about it, I figured it wasn’t fair on her. And I definitely didn’t want my kids to ever find my journals and read what I had written about their dad or other people in our family or any of the other random thoughts that were mine and really meant for my eyes only.
I decided that it was time for me to let the person who wrote the journals go and to let that life truly go. And I decided I was the one who needed to do it.
As I burned the pages, I let go of all of the anger, the rage, the sadness, the thoughts about how life could have been… I don’t need to hang onto to, re-read or obsess about anything that happened and that I had felt like expressing on the page.
I chose to burn them under a full moon, alone, in the forest, but near the ocean, in a place that resonates with love for me. The last time I had sat around this particular fire pit was two weeks ago and I was surrounded by people who love me, who have supported me through the past five years and whose energy was still all around me last night. Reg was the only other soul there, sitting quietly next to me as he has every day as I wrote the journals. It was perfect to have him witness the letting go too.
I embrace who I am today. I embrace the beautiful life I’ve created for myself. I have dealt with my demons and let go of what needs to go. I’ve kept the love.
And I’ve kept all of my gratitude journals. My present self thanks a past me who had the foresight to keep two separate types of journals for the past five years. My gratitude journals are full of love. Five years, ten things a day that I’m grateful for, written before I go to bed each night. That’s a lot of gratitude and a lot of love. And that’s all I need to hold on to, now and in the future.
I’m pretty sure my future self will thank me for that.