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This week I want to tell you a story. I’m going to start with a personal story of when my healing REALLY started to happen. It’s a little long but stick with it – because in the end you will know exactly what the first step is to discovering meaning and purpose in your life.
Back in February of 2016 I sold, donated, or threw away most of my stuff in my apartment. I packed up the essentials, like kitchen dishes and my clothes and I moved all my stuff back to my parents house and put it in storage. I almost halved the amount of possessions I had, cutting down on anything extraneous or unneeded. I felt empowered and slightly panicky, but nevertheless, empowered and excited.
I then embarked on my teaching adventure in Thailand and ended up moving there with a backpacking backpack on my back and my little backpack in front. I came home with one suitcase full of clothes (and left about 2 suitcases worth in Thailand!) and a lifetime of memories and experiences. At that point, I thought I had “made it”, I thought I had healed and I was ready to conquer the world!
I came home and found that yes, I had healed, but I also had a long way to go (not that progress is ever truly done, but I thought I was “on the other side”).
I looked at all my boxes of what I thought wasn’t that much stuff and burst into tears.
After all of the purging I had done beforehand, I still had things like
- 5 plastic bags full of pens that only kind of worked
- a whole box full of old makeup and lotion samples
- notebooks full of notes I would never look at again
Why did I have so many disorganized office supplies and old spices and old journals from childhood that only had pages and pages of tears and grief and depression written inside of them?
Why did I have an entire box of jewelry that I forgot I had and hadn’t worn for years? How was it that I had gone nearly a year and a half with about 5 pairs of earrings, a suitcase of clothes, and a couple of books and had made it through without wanting for more?
WHY WAS I KEEPING ALL OF THESE THINGS?
Living abroad, essentially out of a backpack, made me realize just how little we need to survive – and to be happy. I proceeded to take multiple truckloads and carloads of stuff to Goodwill, the dumpster, burned half of it, and sold some stuff, too.
I got rid of it.
This time I wasn’t messing around.
After the purge I organized. One place for each thing. One bag. One box. No more. I kept only books that actually held meaning and I kept only things that brought me joy. The rest I disposed of.
A couple months after I did this I also did this with my computer files, pictures, and email inbox. I now have no more than about 15 emails in my inbox – the rest are archived or deleted. I know where all my pictures, downloads, and files are. Every new download, document, or picture is archived and organized into the proper folder about once a week. Once I made the initial purge the upkeep has been a breeze.
The funny thing?
I can’t even remember what I got rid of.
Not the clothing, the jewelry, the kitchen stuff, the decorations, the old emails. I’ve never thought about them again. Not once did I think, “Where did that little lotion that was a sample from that hotel go to? I really need that lotion right now!” or “Where is that necklace I got rid of?” or “Where’s that email from x person?”
They are all gone and I have literally NEVER thought about any of it ever again.
I can now fit ALL of my possessions in 3 bins, plus my clothes.
(Side note – I don’t have an apartment so I would need one set of pots and pans I liked, a set of dishes, silverware, etc., but this wouldn’t add much to what I have – the point is is that you really don’t need that many things to live.)
What does this have to do with finding meaning in your life?
To find meaning and to find SPACE in your head, sometimes you have to start with the physical space. It’s proven by many people, and many have written about it, as in the book “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing” by Marie Kondo, that in order to find peace in your life it often starts on the outside. Our homes and spaces and even the way we dress are very representative of the way that we feel about life, and how much clutter and space we have in our heads.
If you can imagine that your thoughts are items in a room, what would that room look like?
How many items are present that you didn’t actually invite in? How are they organized? You’re going to realize that a) You are living in more chaos than you thought and it’s manifesting into your physical world or b) You’ve got it together! (If this is you then congrats! You can stop reading this now!)
I wanted to tell you this story because I wanted to bring something concrete and practical to this journey of finding meaning and passion. It’s often overwhelming to know where to start – finding meaning and purpose is kind of a lofty and somewhat overwhelming goal, after all.
So here is step one.
First, you must assess and purge what you don’t want in your life: physically and mentally and spiritually.
It’s not always fun to peek into the cobwebs and dust of your room or the rooms of your mind. It can get messy and scary and you might unearth some crazy stuff – but it’s worth it. Not until you have done this can you TRULY discover that meaning and purpose, fully and completely. You may have a meaningful life in a lot of ways, a great job, or a great family – I’m not saying that everything has to be bad – but there will always be an underlying feeling of chaos and unrest until you fully clean out the cobwebs.
I’m writing this from my own experience: Not till I truly cleaned out all the unwanted things in my life – physically in my space as well as the beliefs and thoughts in my mind, was I able to truly make exceptional progress forward and create the new KateLyn and new life that I wanted.
This process has been TRULY transformational and I’m writing about it because I believe that it really is the first step to making ANY change in your life – whether it be finding your meaning and purpose or trying to quit an unhealthy addiction. Whatever it is, as cliche as it sounds, you must make space before you can add anything new.
I SO hope this was helpful for you, and if you are excited about this but want support, I’d be happy to support you in your journey to inner and outer freedom.
Side note and disclaimer:
I did not do this alone! I couldn’t have done ANY of this without help. I am eternally grateful to Barry Costa who has supported me and helped me through this period of growth, for burning boxes and boxes of old painful childhood memories that I didn’t need anymore, for patiently going through all of my boxes and helping me decide what brought me joy in my life and what didn’t – and helping me lug the rest of it to Goodwill or the dumpster. Thank you for helping me sort through all the piles of chords that I had no idea their purpose anymore, and patiently teaching me simple computer logistics that helped me get a handle on my virtual world. YOU ARE A MIRACLE.