Saturday, March 8, 2014

Creating Space - 40 Bags in 40 Days

I'm participating in the 40 bags in 40 days challenge found on the White House Black Shutters blog. I decided on this as my Lenten discipline to be paired with a regular focus on this writing by William Arthur Ward:

My goal in doing the 40 bags in 40 days was to create more space in my life - physically in my house, emotionally in my heart, and spiritually in my soul. I'm on Day 3 and I'm shocked to say that it's already happening. I found myself just a little overwhelmed tonight as I filled up the rest of my first garbage bag and took out my 2nd load of recycling. Overwhelmed and accomplished.

So far I have tackled the following areas:

1) Two laundry baskets from my bedroom full of odds and ends. Believe it or not one of the laundry baskets included remnants from my son's Easter basket from last year.
2) The top of the small cabinet next to my front door. This included several dishes with candy (from as far back as Halloween) and a catch all container that had gotten way out of control.
3) The top of my bedside table which had grown into a version of the Leaning Tower of Pisa and a magazine rack which somehow ended up holding a Christmas gift I received in 2012 (still in its gift bag).

As I daily reflect on the fasting and feasting poem and do the work of physically making more space in my home I am seeing the results in a powerful way. As the spaces that surround me become less cluttered so does my mind. As I slowly organize the pieces of my life I can see a path toward balance where I was feeling chaos just a week ago.

And I know that Joe is smiling on this because 40 bags in 40 days is a Lenten discipline that he would have been happy to see me act on. Every time I hesitate over something, trying to decide whether I should throw it out or not I hear his voice in the back of my mind and it pushes me towards simplifying.  I'm thankful for that because I know that at the end of 40 days I will be at a place where there is space for so much more of what truly matters in my life.

Tonight after spending a relaxing evening with family to celebrate my birthday and completing my 40 bags in 40 days task for the day, I felt a unique peace. 

For some reason in the midst of that peace I was drawn to the two chocolate teddy bears that have been sitting in my refrigerator since Thanksgiving 2011. For more than 2 years now I have thought about but always avoided finally eating them. For Thanksgiving that year we bought a bear for each of us who came to dinner with our name written on it. Joe and I never got around to eating ours.

Maybe it was the spiritual frame of fasting and feasting. Maybe it was the emotional space created by all the bagging up of stuff. Maybe it was the fact that I was staring down another birthday and I just needed some damn chocolate. Whatever it was, I decided without hesitation that tonight would be the night.

So, with Algiers and then Faded by The Afghan Whigs playing on my iPhone and the movie Mannequin on the TV, I savored every single bite of those still delicious chocolate bears. And I cried. And I celebrated the creation of spiritual, emotional and physical space in my life. 

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