I took the day off from work before my 32nd birthday (which fell on a Saturday this year). I normally take my birthday (and sometimes the day before or after) off every year. For a number of reasons. To celebrate how far I've come and who I've become, to reflect, to be kind to myself. Savoring at least one day of self love among 364 other days where I'm normally focused on everything and everyone outside around me.
On my pre-birthday day off, I enjoyed myself thoroughly. It was very normal - coffee shop, errands, tasks, bad for my brain TV - but I was so happy, each moment felt special.
I utilized the driving time in between errands to ponder what I wanted to see from myself in the next year. A reoccurring theme that I have thought about off and on over the past few years came prominantly to the forefront of my mind. Leaving space. In particular, this:
Just because you have the space, doesn't mean you have to fill it. It's ok to leave some spaces empty.
Leaving Physical Spaces Empty
Joel and I have been working really hard to "declutter" our lives. Getting rid of stuff we don't use or need. Emptying spaces stacked with "things." Unused things, old things, pointless things. We live in such a buy, buy, buy society where wants are mistaken for needs. We gift things to others as an expression of love, gratitude, apology. We see others' things and think we need to keep up. We outgrow physical spaces, not because they're to small for us to survive and thrive in as people, but because we fill all of the available spaces with so many things, we trick ourselves into thinking we need something bigger. So we can fill more spaces with more things.
If you can't tell, I'm over things. If I don't truly need it, I don't want it. If the thing does not serve a necessary functional purpose, I don't want it. And when I do want for something that seems like unnessary "fluff" - I'll try to make it myself out of things I already have.
I'm aiming to disconnect myself even more from the things that surround me and empty out, versus fill up, the physical spaces that Joel and I inhabit. The things I have don't make me better, kinder, happier, or more fulfilled. They actually make me feel overwhelmed.
My focus will be less on acquiring things and more on having experiences.
Mantra: It's OK to leave physical spaces empty. Less clutter, less maintenance, more freedom.
Leaving Personal Spaces Empty
I also think about the personal, mental and emotional, spaces we aim to keep filled at all times. We never want to feel "empty." So we develop habits, find love, buy things (leading to the issues noted above), change jobs, turn to religion, mend broken bridges...or burn them.
When we have empty personal space, we get anxious and try to fix the emptiness (sadness, loneliness, grief). When we have overfilled personal space, we get anxious and try to fix the overflow (stress, anger, anxiety).
What if we maintained a mix between the two? Or at least changed the way we look at "emptiness?" Looking instead at the empty spaces within ourselves as a place for emotions to go when we are on track to feeling overwhelmed instead of reacting as if something is wrong. Or maybe looking at empty spaces as a place to go in order to reflect? An internal zen zone? A space to listen to our intuition? I think the echoes in our perceived empty spaces could tell us some really powerful stuff.
I also think about the thoughts and experiences we hold onto that we could empty out. Our love of cluttering our lives with things is equal to our love of cluttering our minds with thoughts that don't serve us. The thoughts that are taking up space without our permission. I have a lot of those. I feel like they're locked in a corner of my brain and expose themselves at the worst possible times. I'm ready to let those thoughts go to free up space for internal dialogue and content that serves me in a positive way.
My focus will be embracing the personal spaces I choose to leave empty, and clearing out some spaces that are full of mental garbage.
Mantra: It's OK to leave personal spaces empty. Less clutter, less maintenance, more freedom.