I had a moment of clarity as I was getting dressed one morning in early December. I had a big meeting at work, my kids were late for school, and I was sweating at the prospect of what to wear — trying things on, taking them off, racing the clock, stressed out for what I admittedly knew was for the most ridiculous reason…and then it hit me.
I have too much STUFF. Way too much of it. Too much jewelry, too many clothes, too many shoes, too many coats, too many everything. I was suddenly inhibited by my material things, though the world tells us our material things will do the opposite.
In that early morning moment, I felt an overwhelming desire to purge and cleanse and let go of it all. Pare down to only a few basics. Move into the new year with a practice that yogis call aparigraha, and then hold that within me. Aparigraha is the concept of non-possessiveness or non-greediness. It’s about letting go of things we simply don’t need to hold on to.
It’s not easy. I’m a sentimental girl. I’ve saved almost every scribble and handprint from all three of my kids since they day they could hold a crayon. I’ve saved clothes from my mom from the 60s, shoes I bought with friends while traveling abroad, things from college, shirts from my days playing soccer, I even saved my grade school gymnastics team uniform. I save everything.
I also sometimes buy things I don’t need. When my kids were in second grade, they learned about the difference between wants and needs. I overheard them discussing their Christmas list one night saying to one another, “Really! Is that a want or a need?” I stopped in my tracks and wondered if I ask myself that same question.
That day, I emailed my friend Elizabeth Kohn. Elizabeth is the not only the most loving soul, she is a fashion guru, a top notch interior designer and a closet / life organizer. Elizabeth came to my house and we spent an entire day watching me hold up all that STUFF one by one. She made suggestions on which pile each item would end up in — the things I’d keep, the things I’d give away to friends and the things I’d donate. Each time, I found myself making excuses to keep something. The “what if one day I want to wear this,” or “I’ve barely worn this! I can’t get rid of it!” or the hardest of all “I remember when I bought this...” It was the history of it, the sentimentality of it, the memories behind every single thing that made it so hard to let go.
Letting (most of) it go was an exercise in something much more powerful than releasing the objects and creating extra drawer space. It was an exercise in understanding that sometimes we hold on to things perhaps because we give objects too much meaning. I began to see that so much of what I was holding on to was already deep inside my head and my heart - in my memories, in my mind, and in my past - where much of it needed to stay.
Elizabeth teamed up with Rashia Bell, a fellow interior designer, former fashion executive and crystal healer, to create The Crystalline. They specialize in balancing and energizing your home by clearing, reconfiguring and crystalizing. They go beyond the faddy Kondo Method of just cleaning and organizing your homes, by offering interior design expertise from furniture placement, color, what to get rid of and suggestions on what to buy to pull it all together. Then help hold your hand through the whole process and sealing the process to help balance your life. Why wear something that doesn't fit or that you feel crappy in. Why live in a space that doesn't feel good because the sofa is in the wrong spot or the wall color is too dark. In the end neither feels good, so what's keeping us from feeling great and surrounding ourselves with beauty and having a beautiful life? Elizabeth & Rashia hold your hand through the process or just do it for you, getting us through the most overwhelming step of just doing it. They help design or redesign your home, to create better flow, increased lightness even amidst all the heaviness in our lives.
I have moved through the last few weeks feeling lighter, materially and emotionally. The proverbial “cleaning out the closet” proved to be more than I hoped for and I am grateful to Elizabeth for helping me through it. It was exactly what the yogis promised it would be. Dipping into what I hope will be a lifelong practice in simply letting go.
-Alison Quarter Berna, Owner, Apple Seeds