Life-Changing Magic: One Final Trick

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As I mentioned in part one of this little escapade, up until now, my method for tidying the belongings I couldn't find a 'home' for didn't want to be bothered with was to shove them into my closet, stuff them behind dressers, cram them into drawers, throw them into unused backpacks and suitcases and scatter them on my bedroom floor. I suppose at almost twenty-nine years old, at least folding my clothes and placing them neatly into a drawer is a good idea, and would certainly be appealing to a prospective mate. And initially, I thought that's what this book was all about... Tidying Up: folding your clothes, dusting your shelves and stacking things into nice, neat piles for when you really need them...'cause you WILL need them someday.

But I pretty quickly realized, that, no. No, this was not a method for keeping things in nice, neat piles. This wasn't even a book about keeping things. And the more I fought the idea of throwing away books, clothes, cards, etc. I had always deemed necessary for safe-keeping and nostalgic reasons, the more I had to admit I wasn't only holding on to physical possessions; I was clinging to old beliefs in my past, and stale, unfounded fears about my future. And it was time to let that sh*t to go.

I made it my mission from the beginning of this project to not just share my experience with tidying up, but to make the process accessible and perhaps even appealing to readers, mostly because I value community. I also value doing whatever means necessary to acknowledge our past experiences, heal from them and move the f*ck on. So, sweet friends, here is a little exercise I did to properly end my Tidying Up process: I wrote a letter to my discarded belongings.

why write a letter to my belongings, erica?

It's important to treat the end of relationships with as much care and attention as most of us do when they begin. So, I'd love for YOU to try this exercise. It doesn't have to be long, drawn out, fancy or heart-wrenching. But it needs to be true for you. It needs to honor the relationship you had with yourself in the clothes you were holding on to, the relationship you had with the cards, letters and photos you never thought you would part with and the relationship to your kitchen/eating habits/your dark, scary pantry and the gems hidden underneath your bed.

address each category you discarded from. take time to think about the beliefs/assumptions that kept these items in your possession. why do you need to hold onto them anymore? thank them for their service and presence in your life.
Here's a simple formula you can follow, or write whatever makes sense to you!
Dear Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,
After carefully evaluating, assessing and editing my home and the possessions in it, by category, there are some things I'd like them to know...
to my books: i hesitated to get rid of you because__________. I no longer believe this because__________. thank you for_________. enjoy your new home, wherever that may be!
**do this for each category**

need an example? Here's mine...

Dear Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,

After carefully evaluating, assessing and editing my home and the possessions in it, by category, there are some things I'd like them to know...

To my Books: I hesitated to get rid of you because, either I was certain I'd read you someday, or I had read you and loved you too much to let you go. I believed I needed an impressive collection of books in my bookcase to appear "smarter", "healthier" or "better read". I no longer believe this because by keeping you in my possession, I'm taking away the opportunity for someone else to enjoy you either the way I did, or the way I didn't take the time to. And lastly, the books  housing my old beliefs and strong opinions regarding in-vitro fertilization, good calories/bad calories, metabolism and death, THANK YOU for being part of my journey in discovering what truly works for me. Thank you for waiting patiently for me to realize that what I value most would not be found or validated in a book, but only in the ideas, stories and truths I exchange with other humans everyday. So, books..enjoy your new home, wherever that may be!

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To my Clothes:  I hesitated to get rid of you because I believed my body was temporary, and would surely go back to being able to fit into you. It was just a matter of time before I'd go on another diet and I didn't want to spend more money buying "thin" clothes, when I could just wear you again. I no longer believe this to be true, because I no longer diet. I have not dieted in over three years and I realize I cannot spend my life waking up each day terrified my clothes will not fit, because I've gained the weight back. Thank you for fitting me in the time, the space and the body you did. Although your presence in my home no longer suits the lifestyle I've built and continue to harvest for myself, I would never have known I want a different life and peace around my body had it not been for you. Enjoy your new home, wherever that may be!

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To my Kitchen: I was hesitant to go through your ins and outs because I was afraid of what I'd find. You have not been my favorite room for years, although I've spent the most time in you...binge eating, panicking around food, taking diet pills, carefully weighing things, crying on the floor, wishing I were an entirely different person. For a very long time, I believed you to be a representation of my failure as a dieter, failure as a woman, failure as an eater. I want you to know I don't believe this to be true anymore. I am excited to bring food into my home that will truly satisfy my physical hunger and right to find pleasure in food.

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To the senders of cards, letters and photos: I was TRULY hesitant to even consider throwing anything away you have sent me over the years. I felt that if I were ever able to decide what I kept and what I didn't, it would be the ultimate betrayal of friendship and a blatant disrespect for the words you took the time to tell me, in writing. I don't believe this to be true anymore, because the words you've sent me over the years are merely a physical representation of the ongoing relationship we HAVE, and in some cases, the relationship we HAD. I want you to know it brings me great joy to receive your holiday cards, invitations and birth announcements. I feel honored to be on your list!


And Finally...

To myself: Erica, I am truly proud of you for following this protocol. Not only have you been able to discard the things that you deemed so necessary to keep, but you you understand WHY it needed to happen. You now understand the importance of keeping only things that spark joy in your possession and taking care of them, as you do your friendships...or the bunny you do not yet have. Your business and your relationships are already reaping the benefits of these newly acknowledged beliefs. Enjoy your things, enjoy your work, enjoy your home, enjoy your life <3

Love, Erica

i'd love to hear your letters! email them to me to tell me about the experience in the comments. as i said earlier, ending relationships are just as important, if not more so, as starting them. say goodbye to your non-joy sparking things and move the f*ck on! <3 :-)


*be sure to catch parts one, two, three, four, and five of this series!