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Linda Samuels, CPO-CD®

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« What's Your Clutter Tolerance? | The Ultimate in Letting Go »

The "Oh, My!" in Letting Go

I’d love to share a good story with you about the challenges of letting go of the familiar. I’ve wanted do some interior painting for let’s just say, “quite a while.” I’m not ready to give divulge exactly what “quite a while” means, but please just use your imagination. We got some estimates, selected the painter and made the plan. People do work in their homes all the time. There is nothing unique about what we’re doing. But even so, I’m finding this experience quite interesting.

What started out as “just a paint job,” has quickly turned into dozens of decisions and other side projects. I’m guessing that you know what I mean. For example, if you’re repainting then what about replacing the blinds and the towel bars and the closet interiors? Each new project requires research and choices. This is not necessarily a bad thing; instead, it transforms what was going to be something simple and expands the scope. Please understand that I’m completely aware that this is all my doing. I made the choice to do this work and have added extras during the process.

The paint colors were selected and the other decisions were made. Then came the “getting prepared” part. That involved completely emptying our bedroom and bathroom. Over the years, I’ve spent a good amount of time organizing those spaces so that I don’t have to think very hard about finding my clothes or accessories. They are placed where I need them and it makes the basics of daily living less stressful. Now imagine a situation almost like “52 Pick-Up.” With the things temporarily moved to various locations throughout our home, the order has been seriously altered. It’s almost like being a guest in your own home. You’ve got your stuff with you, but it’s not organized the way you’re accustomed to. It’s a strange feeling to say the least.

As we were emptying the closets and taking all the paintings off the walls, I felt a bit melancholy. It seemed like we were moving, even though we weren’t. It was also sad to be changing something that was so familiar and comfortable. But the funny part was that we weren’t moving. We were in fact improving our environment. Even so, there was an odd sense of loss. What was that about? In order to make this change, we had to be willing to let go of the familiar. We had to be willing to be uncomfortable and out of sorts temporarily, to make things better.

I so much appreciated a phone call from my husband today. He reminded me that even though he knows how difficult the disarray is for me, he also knows that the result will be well worth the inconvenience. He reminded me to keep focused on what it would feel like once it was done.

This experience parallels many of the things my clients experience around getting organized. They desire to do something different, to have less stress and to make their environments support rather than hinder their daily living. At the same time, anxiety and loss often accompany the process of moving to this desired place. I too am experiencing something similar. I appreciate how hard it is to make changes, even when they are for the better. It requires effort and inconvenience and of course, letting go. But I’m guessing that in a few days from now, when the pictures are back on the freshly painted walls, the clothes are hung in the newly installed closet and our bed is back in the bedroom, I will quickly forget about the discomfort I felt and instead completely enjoy the renewed space and sense of calm.

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Reader Comments (6)

I don't mind a little disarray if I know it's for the short term and necessary to make things better, but when things end up taking longer than anticipated - like the time we were all packed up and our move was delayed by a couple of months - yikes!

May 6, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Dear Linda,
I found your blog through the Organized Assistant's blog carnival this month. You are absolutely right, any change is usually hard.
I look forward to following your posts in the future.

Oksana at

May 10, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOksana

Oksana, I'm just delighted that you are using the blog carnival as a way to connect with other organizers!

May 11, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

Janet- I can only imagine how challenging it was to be packed up longer than anticipated. But it sounds like you survived it and now it's become a "yikes," but it's over. Big sigh. Thank you for being the best host ever with your monthly Organizing Blog Carnival. I love to participate when I have something appropriate for your topic. I love reading the collective wisdom and appreciate you gathering it in one place.

Oksana- Thank you for your comment here. You're right that for most of us, change is difficult. But it also provides an environment for growth. Great to meet you. Your thoughts are welcome any time.

June 13, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

It was many years ago, so it's not even a "yikes" anymore, just a story from another life and time which your post brought to mind. Speaking of memories, I hope you'll enjoy this month's Professional Organizers Blog Carnival on organizing memorabilia.

June 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJanet Barclay

I always enjoy the Organizers Blog Carnival, Janet. Can't wait to check out this month's posts about organizing memorabilia. I see a bunch of my PO buddies like Deb Lee, Geralin Thomas, Ellen Delap and Lisa Montanaro have submitted some great articles on this topic. Thanks so much for putting this together.

June 14, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLinda Samuels

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