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As promised in last week’s FNBB 60, I am writing about purging this week. It is actually one of my favorite things of all time. But it can get me in trouble, uninvited and shunned, and definitely ridiculed and made fun of. But secretly, on all levels, people admire me for this amazing ability that I possess. The act of purging does not phase me in the slightest while some people would rather have their eyes plucked out.
Purge is such an ugly word. Just look at it. ~ P-U-R-G-E. It even looks like someone threw it up. To puke, rid, strip away, cast out, relieve yourself of something you don’t want or need. It is a word that can be so full of negative connotations that the positive attributes of the word are often overshadowed. I mean it’s the title of a horror movie for God’s sake.
But purge is a simple word. It’s innocent. To me it means to actually shed yourself of baggage that has just gotten too heavy to carry around. It can be anything from situations, to stress, to relationships, to expectations, to actual physical stuff like too many pairs of shoes.
I think my experience with purging dates back to my twenties when I was moving around a lot. Aside: It was during that time that I purged my first husband. It was very important to me in those days to travel light. I moved every year due to increasing rent and my never-ending need of new views. Being able to fit most of my life in a single car or truck was imperative.
I’ve purged people, places, and things throughout the years in an attempt to keep my life manageable. And I like it that way. But it can be disheartening when I try to help someone find that same freedom and they just can’t or, worse, find fault with me for that ability.
My sister recently needed some help clearing out her house. She had been doing a lot of construction and things had started to pile up. It was overwhelming to her and I could hear it in her voice. But nothing could have prepared me for the reaction when I asked if she needed me to come over and help her do some “purging”. She actually cried, “No, you’ll throw everything away.” Damn.
Whenever something needs thinning, whether it be at the office, home, or elsewhere and offer a hand, I usually get the ole stiff-arm. People are pretty protective of their “stuff” – all their stuff. Like if they don’t have their stuff, then their identity is compromised. Not until people are up against a wall do they seek me out, or appreciate my certain set of skills.
Over the past month or so we’ve been purging Mike’s mom’s condo in order to get it ready to sell. Even Mike, who is usually oblivious to clutter, talks incessantly about how much STUFF Tedi had. Not just furniture, but dishes, chotskies, books, photos, lamps, papers, letters, photos, you name it and she had an obscene amount of it. Mike and his sister, Missy, for the first couple of weekends made it through tiny piles of things; letting each little item become a road block that had to be navigated.
In order to help them move along, I found an old school art project in Tedi’s stuff that my daughter Cate had made that had the phrase “Let It Go” painted on it. It became the rallying cry, propped up to refer to every time Mike or Missy started traveling down memory lane and were having a hard time releasing their grip on some object.
The whole situation was hard for them, as it should be, so it brings me happiness that I was able to guide them through this emotional task. They were able to keep just enough to remind of special times, but get rid of the rest so that they didn’t have to carry it around with them; just to leave it for our kids to go through at some point.
Every now and thing you just gotta get back to basics. Layers are heavy and unhealthy. Being able to purge yourself of all of the things you don’t need anymore is underrated. That chip on your shoulder – put it down. That friend that only calls when he needs a favor – write him off. Those leftover french fries that you know you shouldn’t eat – toss them in the trash. That box of stuff that came from your parent’s attic that you haven’t looked at in 20 years – take it to the dumpster without even opening it.
Don’t look back. You are going to feel lighter immediately. Every single time.
The FNBB 61 podcast version!
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