“Subtracting is always harder,” she told them. “Because it’s harder to give things away.”
These wise words didn’t come from Oprah or any self-help guru. No, they came from the head teacher I work with at my school. She didn’t speak them to a crowd of people looking to change their lives. She spoke them to a class of 3rd and 4th graders. “Adding is sometimes easier” she told them “Because it can seem more exciting to get more. But subtracting can feel hard because it’s scary to give things away.”
The life lessons that you can learn in 3rd grade.
Since hearing those words, I’ve been looking at my own life and my packed schedule. This past year has been a year of adding. Adding more yoga classes to my teaching schedule. Adding grad school. Adding a dog. Adding community. Adding a summer camp position. And I keep adding and adding….without subtracting. I love the fullness of my life right now, but I also want to relish in spaciousness and enjoy time with my man, my dog, and the beautiful community we are becoming a part of.
The first step in creating this spaciousness has been to declutter my actual living space. I have been working with my girlfriend and organizer extraordinaire Kailea, who is absolutely brilliant when it comes to getting rid of the excess. She’s helped me identify things that have been well loved and are ready to retire (a.k.a. I took 3 bags of stuff to Goodwill). We also discussed the idea that more things do not equal less stress. It’s actually the opposite. When we are able to let go of excess, we are able to let go of excess stress as well. Definitely check out Kailea’s blog, An Island Away, for tips on everything from closet cleaning to creating a relaxation routine.
I’ve also been incorporating tips from this fabulous book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This book has encouraged me to look at my life through a lens of “Does this bring me joy?” Getting rid of physical items is easier for me than getting rid of activities. Does teaching this creative writing class bring me joy? How about happy hour with friends? In the midst of grad school and working full time, am I going to want to be able to teach a yoga class or take one?
These are questions that I’m asking myself right now. And that’s the tricky part…I don’t have all the answers yet. But I am enjoying this journey of creating more space. Yes, adding is a thrill. Our society teaches us that more is better. Busy is better. But what if that opposite is actually true? Perhaps by subtracting, less means more….more time and space for joy.