Creating (a) Space

Somewhere in the back of my mind, I’d been holding the hope that we would be all the way unpacked and organ-imized at the one-year anniversary of moving into our “house on the hill.”

Well, we still have a few weeks till that anniversary — 24 days, to be exact — but I’m ready to call it: I will not be making that hoped-for deadline.

buried-boxesQuite frankly, the momentum for unpacking and all has ground to a complete halt during the last few months.

There’s plenty of good reasons for that. First, there was The Cruise, which took us out-of-town for more than a fortnight, and which required a certain amount of packing/unpacking of its own accord. There’s also the fact that one of the benefits we wanted to create by moving north from Philly was the ability to spend our weekends up at the lake in NH — and we’ve certainly spent a few of our summer weekends happily living out that intention. And then there’s been a few busy patches at work (she says, putting it ever-so-mildly).

But as I began to be aware that the one-year anniversary was approaching and to realize that I was going to miss my secret goal, I started looking at the ways I’ve been giving zero effort to unpacking, and I asked myself what other factors might have contributed to this stop in momentum. And I began wondering if those other factors had both a practical and an energetic dimension to them.

On the practical front, we’ve hit the stage where some of the unpacked boxes are definitively things we want to keep (old tax files, my cross-stitching supplies, etc.) but that don’t actually have any storage furniture to be unpacked into. (Some of our old furniture — including the filing cabinet and some shelving units — got jettisoned during the move, either because it was too old to be worth keeping, or because the ceiling in our finished basement — which is where these items are intended to be stored — is just a teensy-weensy bit too low.)

The energetic front is sort of linked to the practical lack of storage furniture: I didn’t have a vision for the room where the unpacked boxes are currently living.

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Let me set the stage to make this all (I hope!) slightly more comprehensible. The architectural features of the house mean that the finished basement falls roughly into three separate rooms, plus a wide long hallway. These “rooms” are open to one another, but still function as separate areas of space. When we moved in, we knew that the first room at the bottom of the stairs was going to be a little library/reading nook area, and that was, for the most part, set up pretty quickly. The hallway was wide enough that we could put up shelves for my prodigious CD collection (plus our movies), which was perfect because the third room, where the hallway leads to, was where we wanted to set up a media room. Those CD shelves were also taken care of pretty quickly, while the future media room and the undetermined center room were where the tons and tons of unpacked boxes waited for attention.

As we unpacked, we kept consolidating the geography so that a higher and higher percentage of unpacked boxes were in the center room, the room we simply began calling “unpacking central.” By taking this approach, we were able to get the media room clear — or, at least, clear enough — so we could start setting it up. The decor is still what we’ve been calling nouveau dorm room, but the core elements — big screen TV, soundbar, PS3 — are there, and we can deal with having milk-crate shelving for the time being.

And then there’s unpacking central.

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It was actually really helpful for a while not to have any other vision for the center room aside from its current role as unpacking central. The unpacking process, as a whole, has required me to really come face to face with all my hoarding/shopaholic impulses — facing up not only to the shame around that specific behavior pattern, but also to all the emotional baggage and patterning that led me to be a hoarder to begin with. Quite frankly, it’s been hard emotional work. Good work, important work, work well-worth the doing. Absolutely worth the effort. But hard, nonetheless.

Amidst that hard work, I definitely appreciated not having the extra burden of pressure in thinking “We could already have our ______ (game room, exercise room, whatever), if only I could get my fucking act together!

Yeah, it was nice to not have that piece of internal monologue running.

But my recent spate of inaction had me wondering if I had now become just a little bit too complacent in that room’s identity as “unpacking central” — like, somewhere in the back of my mind, was I thinking “Well, we don’t even know what we’re gonna use the room for, so what’s the hurry to finish cleaning it up?!?

So tonight, Mr. Mezzo and I did a little bit of talking and visioning about the kind of hybrid storage/crafting/creative nook we want to create for that center room. We don’t have everything figured out, but enough is settled that we can take advantage of Massachusetts’ tax free shopping weekend with an Ikea run tomorrow to get a couple storage pieces.

Two birds with one stone: start creating and carrying forward a vision to help re-inspire me towards the unpacking, plus some furniture pieces that mean unpacked item actually have a damn place to go.

So maybe we won’t hit the one-year moving anniversary. Maybe by Yule, instead…

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Image credit: http://doingitwright.wordpress.com/2013/07/13/the-5-laws-of-moving-house/

Osho Zen Tarot: Letting Go

Releasing Old Selves

Quick HCG update: my ketosis levels limped through the weekend at “small,” so I made it to today’s final shot, as scheduled. Since I still have a couple more days of transition from this phase to the next, I don’t have a whole lot else I want to say about the topic for now. It’s a little bit like reaching my birthday and searching within myself, expecting to feel different — but I’m not really feeling all that different.

Instead, after skipping out on JALC for the whole weekend, I feel like writing about some of those weekend activities. Call it the “Endless Unpacking Weather Report.”

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As is my wont, I got some more boxes unpacked this weekend. The process for each box is slower than you might think, because of all the clutter that got boxed up in random assortments when we in such a hurry to pack up a year ago.

In my effort to make this new start a fresh one, I’m trying to be very deliberate during the UNpacking, assessing every item to feel into whether or not to keep it, and, if I’m keeping it, whether or not I have a sense where it will be living. (If I don’t have a sense if where the item will live, I sometimes invite myself to rethink whether it’s really something to keep.)

Osho Zen Tarot: Letting GoAnother technique I’ve been using is to pull cards on things to get some guidance about whether an “on the fence” item should be kept or added to the Goodwill pile.*

And for the record, there’s a LOT of “on the fence” items. I read something somewhere about how a tendency towards indecision can actually be a precursor to hoarding behaviors, and I would say that pattern has played out to some degree in my own life. I can definitely tie myself into knots now and again, agonizing about what decision is the “right” one — and I mean that in all sorts of life’s corners, not just with possessions.

With possessions, though, there’s often an extra charge to it. The things speak to me so strongly about different phases of my life when I was involved in particular endeavors or activities. Music studies, theater, my Ph.D. program, studying belly dance, leading an earth-based rituals group at Philly’s UU church. And so on and so forth.

It doesn’t make sense, but it’s hard for me to contemplate letting go of those old selves. There’s part of me that hangs on to the fantasy that I might re-engage with one of these old passions, so the old supplies might be needed, down the line.** And then, even with former paths where I know the door has closed, it still feels like an act of self-betrayal to let go of these talismans. Like somehow, if I release the objects, its as if I’m telling myself that that old path was a waste of time and energy.

So, by turning to card-pulling, I’m practicing my level of trust in Spirit, and reminding myself of the faith — the knowing, really — that every “wrong turn,” “abandoned direction,” or “closed door” has been an essential ingredient in bringing me to the self and place where I am today. As one of my consciousness teachers once reminded me: “You’re never NOT on your life’s path.”

And for the most part, it’s been a successful experiment. There’s still been a weird moment or two, when the cards have guided me to let go of something unexpected. Like when the guidance came through to put my copy of Canterbury Tales on the Goodwill pile. It was deeply puzzling, like becoming slightly unrecognizable to myself: as a Lit major, of course I should have Canterbury Tales on the bookshelf.  So what does it mean to that identity when that book goes away?

I guess it’s time to find out.

* I [heart] my Osho Zen Tarot app.

** I still remember how, when I started graduate study in music history, I purged some of my literature collection, as a sign to myself (and the world?) about how I was dedicating myself to musicology. Two years later, when I transferred out of musicology into a literature Ph.D. program, there were at least four novels I had to buy again. This has scarred me for life.

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Image credit: http://sourceofmichael.com/2013/04/19/3123/