I have wanderlust, like real bad. There are 195 countries in the world and I’ve been to a very small part of 3 of them. Even the country I live in is unexplored territory to me. I’ve seen bits and pieces of it, but I haven’t really revelled in it. I want to, I really really do, but my resources are so limited.
Reality doesn’t keep me from scheming and dreaming though. Our family created a bucket list of places we’d like to go and experiences we’d like to have before our oldest daughter graduates high school, a mere 5 years from now. It’s an ambitious goal, some would say too ambitious, and they would be sane (and right). Luckily, I’m not one to back down from a challenge (or be sane apparently).
Once the dream is set in motion, the scheming begins. Travel takes money and I find that coming up with the money is about 90% of the work of traveling. I poured over our budget to see how we could possibly invest in these dreams of ours and I saw a familiar answer.
In the same way that digging out from under the piles of stuff in my house has been a journey of baby steps, and in the same way that getting healthy is a journey of baby steps, making our travel dreams come true will be all about baby steps. I found one of those charts on Pinterest that tells you “If you put away X dollars each week, in one year you’ll have X dollars” and decided to follow it. It seemed simple enough. Week 1, put $4 in the jar. Week 2, put $8 in the jar. Then by Week 52 we have over $5000.
I immediately started stressing about the weeks where we’d have to put over $100 in the jar. Where would that money come from? What expenses can we slash? What is our latte factor? Do I have anything to sell? I got so caught up in the bigger amounts that I forgot to pay attention to the smaller ones. I didn’t understand that it would take discipline to put $4 in a jar. I probably have that in loose change in my purse, right? I put the first few weeks in and then a seemingly small expense came up, so I took those few dollars out of the jar. I can always put it back, I mean I probably have $4 in loose change in my couch cushions, right?
I sat down to evaluate our progress and was astonished to discover that we were a few hundred dollars short of where our loose change should have gotten us. No big deal though, it’s such small amounts and I had them in my purse and couch a few weeks ago, It wont take much to catch us back up. I was so wrong. The purse and couch have been raided. All the nickels and dimes have been swept away.
When dreams are big it’s hard to remember that they start off with baby steps. Even harder than that is to understand that each baby step is important. It’s the little things stacked on top of each other and added up that get to the big goals. The truth of the matter is that by neglecting the baby steps I may not be able to attain those dreams.
I’ve learned the lesson of baby steps. Taking something big and breaking it down into bite sized chunks. I do it without thinking now. That doesn’t mean I’ve arrived though, it just means it’s time for the next lesson. My baby steps have been haphazard. I take them when I have extra energy or time. I take them in a random order. I see them as individual items on a checklist that I can tackle however the wind blows. It’s worked so far.
The next lesson is to add discipline into the mix. Taking the steps when I don’t feel like it. Taking the steps when they seem inconsequential. Taking the steps in a more organized and thought out way. I could learn this lesson in other areas of my life, but I think I’m coming to this realization around travel because that’s where I’ll be successful with it first. Wanderlust is incredibly motivating. I can think of no better reward for hard work than visiting somewhere new. I’ve gotten the rhythm of left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot steps. Now to get those feet on a path and follow it through. I can’t wait to get to all the places I’ll go.
I haven’t always know where my next meal will come from. There have been days in my life that the food I have eaten was left on my porch by someone (I still don’t know who you are, but I thank you!). In all of these cases there were also people besides myself in my home to feed. People who relied on me. People who were younger than me. People who I was responsible for. People who I love.
I know I should say that because of this I am always grateful for food, that I savour and enjoy everything I eat. Generally I do. I am in awe of ladies with kitchen skills, I will pay a premium for a good steak, I dream of heading back to Turkey for some manta smothered in yogurt. I have much appreciation for a full fridge and take advantage of everything in my pantry. But having experienced this uncertainty has also had a negative impact on me.
Because I have known scarcity as a reality, when there is plenty I do not eat what I should. Living in a society known for over indulgence and wastefulness, I come at food from a different angle.
This leads to another place I need to declutter: my mind. For example, there’s a part of me that thinks, “If I eat this food today, there might not be food tomorrow.” Or “If I eat a full portion, someone else in my home might still be hungry.” Although I can currently go to my fridge and see the food that will last for days, my brain still consistently convinces me that the “What Ifs” are sure to become the “See I Told Yous”.
These patterns of thought keep me unhealthy. I get tired when I shouldn’t. My body holds onto fat with all it’s might so it doesn’t starve. My mind doesn’t function at it’s optimum. I stress without reason, and stress has so many physical symptoms.
When I first started my journey of editing life my home was top priority. It was too full and chaotic for us to live well. Now that our stuff is under better control I’m turning my focus to my health, and it’s interesting to see the layers there. It’s not just do you exercise? If not, then start. Do you drink enough water? If not, then start. Are you eating properly? If not, then start. There are reasons behind why we do or do not, and those reasons have to be explored and understood and aligned. There is much work to do on the inside in order to bear an outside result.
Baby steps were the key to gaining back control of my space. I literally tackled one pile at a time, one pile a day. I cleared a path inch by inch. I wait for one space to consistently say clear before I move to the next. I am hopeful that looking around my space and seeing tangible spaces of victory will encourage the same as I shift my focus. Baby steps will be the key again. Replacing one wrong thought at a time. Creating one new habit at a time. Taking one step at a time. Being willing to go with slow progress. Trusting that it all adds up to get me where I want to go.
Baby steps are hard to trust in and even harder to stick with especially when I want to run. One step at a time. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.
Sometimes in life we can take a long time to get where we’re headed. Sometimes we know where we’re supposed to go and we put a foot on the path, but then we stop and play in the ditch, or chase a butterfly or come upon a fork in the road and can’t seem to choose where to go next.
Today I’ve decided to put one foot in front of the other and get going where I’m headed. Since January 2018 I’ve been courageously editing my life in order to get my walk to match my talk; to put my priorities in the right order and dig out from under a life that went off track. I’d like to invite you to join me on the journey. We’re jumping in right here, real time and I’ll fill in the back story as we go.
Because of all my hard work decluttering and digging out in 2018, when I packed away Christmas this past December I was left with this view. Empty countertops, a virtually empty bookshelf and free floor space. I simultaneously love it and despise it. I love that there aren’t piles tucked in nooks and crannies waiting to reclaim the surfaces. I love that there is space for my energetic son to play.
I despise that this empty space looks barren. That no stuff seems to equal nothingness. My living room looks like I’m getting ready to move away from this place, not live in it. I despise that now you can see how badly the walls need a fresh coat of paint and that dust is the eighth member of our family.
I’ve come to my next realization in this journey of edits. Just like working through your emotions or growing in your relationships, dealing with your stuff has layers. Letting go of what is to embrace something new doesn’t happen overnight. Cleaning a canvas to paint a new picture requires elbow grease. I want the end result, but currently I’m in the messy middle.
It hurts in a way I didn’t expect. Looking at this empty space feels personal. This is my space and if it’s empty, does that mean I am empty too? It is void of colour and personality, it’s boring. Does that mean I am boring too? At this point in my story I understand more deeply why we hold on to things. Why we fill our space with stuff. The struggle makes sense to me now. I’ve lived through the barrenness of many autumns and I know the fullness of the spring. This space feels empty now, but that emptiness leaves room for something new to begin.
That’s why it’s a journey, not simply an event. Left foot, pick a pile. Right foot, sort through it. Left foot, choose which things go. Right foot, choose which things stay. Left foot, look at all the space you created. Right foot, resist the temptation to fill the space back up. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. I keep walking down this road although I’m not sure where I’m headed, I’m not even sure where I’m placing my foot down yet.
This is just one space in my home. A space that used to be full to overflowing with clutter. A space where I can see that I’ve accomplished what I set out to do. There will be many more empty spaces before things begin to feel full again. Places I can see and places I can only feel. I’m not sure where the road will take me. I’m not sure what I’ll realize as I glance back. I do know this is my road. I do know I don’t travel it alone. I do know when we share our journeys with others we learn so much more. Come walk with me. Left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot. On a journey through clutter in our homes, our hearts, our heads and our health clearing away the debris standing between us and life abundant.
Welcome to my story. Welcome to the courageous editing of life. Welcome to the Original Revamp.