For those of you finding your way to this blog for the first time, welcome! The premise is simple —my amazing sister, Kim Balstad, and I produce a podcast (Holistically Curious) twice a month in which we explore holistic subjects about which we are curious.
During these podcasts, we noticed something both earth-shaking and obvious—over and over we found the same elements of healthy, holistic living in each and every subject. Meditation; eating healthy, whole foods; maintaining contact with nature; and many other commonalities lead to a life of wellness and spiritual strength.
After identifying these common threads for the umpteenth time, it occurred to me— what am I doing in my own life to incorporate these elements which are so clearly necessary for my health and happiness? Thus my challenge to myself; Put Up or Shut Up. Beginning with Meditation last month, I am incorporating one essential element into my life per month for twelve months.
Welcome to Month Two: Clean that Stuff Out!
O.K., if you read the blog last month, you know that I intended to begin a yoga practice for month two. I fully intended to do this! I purchased a cute yoga outfit which I promptly put in the drawer with all of the other aspirational cute yoga outfits that I have purchased in the past. I reached out to the beautiful Sandee Gordon, owner of the Good Karma Café in Rumford Maine who happens to be the only yoga teacher that I know of in our area of the rural northeast, and….oh man! Sorry!
Yoga classes are on hold during the beautiful Maine summer. I should explain that it is not uncommon for things to be on hold during the beautiful Maine summers. There is so much opportunity to connect with nature here in America’s Vacationland that the tempo of life and business frequently slows down both during summers and during the incredibly beautiful winters.
I did take Kim’s advice and attempt to do yoga via video. There is something for everyone on Gaia TV and I found every kind of yoga video imaginable there but it simply wasn’t for me. I need someone to give me feedback, and, if I am completely honest, I need the human interaction. I do believe that I would have gotten something out of doing yoga by video classes but I decided to put this one on hold for a time when I could relate the full experience to you. So…moving on!
Happily, I already had in mind my next topic and it was an easy matter to move it up. The Universe wasn’t going to allow me to wait a month anyway. After a month of meditation, I feel strongly compelled to move forward in a thousand different directions. Things have taken a turn, friends, and I believe that this blog is going to be far more of a focus on each element rather than an accounting of a start-from-scratch 30 days’ experiment.
Here I have taken up nearly half of my blog space and I have not even touched this month’s topic, which as I said is cleaning that stuff out. One of the earliest Holistically Curious podcasts (and one which I suspect is now out of rotation—we had a lot to learn about sound editing in the beginning!) was about the benefits of getting rid of all of the clutter in our lives.
It seems that our modern lives are jam-packed with so much excess that it is difficult to fully involve ourselves in our experiences. Have you ever needed something, known that you already possess it, but gone out and bought one anyway because it would be impossible to find the original in the midst of all of your possessions?
You do not need to be a hoarder to experience negative effects to your health and your spirit simply by being crushed by the emotional weight of all of your clutter. I was crushed and suffocated and the glut of belongings had to go.
Step one: My closet! Disclaimer: I struggle with fashion. I tend to buy whatever catches my eye. I have noticed that some of my clothes make me look tired and OLDER so the first thing that I did was get my colors analyzed by Christie Ressel. She sent me a list of what to favor, what to avoid, and a full color page of color swatches. Christie is kind of my fashion idol and I have gotten some great tips on purging my closet from her youtube channel. If you don’t want to have your colors done, take this great tip from Christie. Hold an item of clothing up directly under your chin. Take a look in the mirror. If your head looks like it is “floating”, this is not the right color for you. Try it! It really works.
The second thing that I did was get rid of any of the remaining clothing that did not suit my lifestyle or current size. I mentioned earlier my “aspirational” yoga clothes. Aspirational clothes are the ones that you bought for a life you hope to have, or those that once fit your life and no longer do so but you cling to because they are the size, style, or even the “person” that you hope to be once again someday.
I want to live my life as I am today. I want to love myself as I am today, so the aspirational items also went into my discard pile. I sent three huge bags of cast-offs to ThredUp, a company that sells used-clothing online. I selected ThredUp because they will pay me for any of the pieces that they accept for resale (after all, I do need to restock some of my clothing) and recycle the rest. Win/Win. In case you are wondering, I did hang on to those yoga clothes—this fall, they are going to be on my body or they are going out the door this winter!
Step two: Things! Who would have thought that all of these things that we accumulate so lovingly, that we get excited when we see them in the store and get a rush when we purchase them—who would have thought that these things could cause so much stress and stagnancy in my life?
I was a passionate collector of things, especially family memorabilia. My solution for “stuff overload” has been to purchase container after container. I would stuff these full of junk and then purchase other, larger, containers to hold these smaller ones. I was not even seeing the things that I accumulated, they were encased in layers of plastic and boxes in an attempt to alieve the anxiety and sense of claustrophobia that they caused me. These things were actually easier to let go of than my clothing was. The home décor, family mementos, and souvenirs were memories and I still retain the memories in my own mind. The clothing was harder simply because of the possibilities that they contained. It is difficult to give up your possibilities even if they do not suit you anymore.
Here are some suggestions for your things: If you LOVE it and it makes your heart sing every time you see it, KEEP IT! If it causes you dis-ease but is difficult in some way to let go (this can be particularly hard with family memorabilia) find ways to take the sting out of the purge; you can take a picture of your children’s school work and save them digitally, ask around to see if there is another member of the family who would love to have a family history. If it is your grandmother’s china, save one plate as a keepsake and sell or donate the rest. Beyond all else, give yourself permission to surround yourself with only that which is healthy and joyous. There is no guilt in becoming the best version of yourself that you can be. There is only happiness.
I feel so much emotionally lighter already. I do have a far way to go in terms of getting rid of superfluous belongings but just as in meditation, the process of letting go is unending. It is a lifetime process. Please join me next month when I will share with you Month Three: Eating Vegetarian! I am super-excited to see where this next adventure takes me and whether you will decide that I Put Up or Shut Up.
With much love…so much love,
Teresa York is a writer and the Co-Host of the bi-monthly Holistically Curious podcast. She says, If you are listening to the podcast, it means that you are a kindred spirit! In her journey for a whole and healthy life, she has drawn from her experiences traveling around the world, as well as from the amazing people she has met along the way.
In a quest to enhance her own knowledge of the world around her, Teresa has obtained a Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies (mainly Literature and Humanities) and attended The University of Metaphysical Sciences. Because life is full of little surprises, she is also a Third Degree Blackbelt in Tang Soo Do.
Transitioning from a city mouse to a country mouse, Teresa recently moved to a rural town in Maine where she lives happily with her husband, 4 dogs, and a cat. She misses the community of light-seekers which seemed readily available among the larger population of her previous home but she is inspired by pure spirits, wherever she finds them, and happily she finds them in the most unlikely places.