Sunday, 14 June 2015

Letting it go

An old friend of mine used to say that if it isn't useful or doesn't bring you joy then get rid of it... she was talking about keeping a house clean and tidy. As I was tidying up our home today I started reflecting on this in two ways, both of which were really good for me.

Firstly, about the tidying up of stuff. I am a bit of a hoarder, I hate to waste things and often think that perhaps something will be useful for me or someone else at some stage so hold on to it. Yesterday I went clothes shopping at a second hand store, I spent NZ$95 but walked away with the following items: for my son- three sweatshirts, one woolen jersey, one pair of pyjamas; for myself- two skirts, one pair of pants, one pair of jeans, three cardigans and one pair of pyjamas. They are all good quality and in good condition. With all of these new clothes drying on the rack after being washed this morning I realised that they had served their purpose for previous owners and were then let go, so I went into my own closet and cleaned out clothing that I no longer needed or wanted. How liberating! I don't have to keep something just in case I lose weight, or gain it, nor do I have to keep it because someone gifted it to me even though it doesn't feel comfortable or look right. Someone else may love these items of clothing and that is just great.
I have been doing a lot around recycling, reducing and reusing lately... reducing being the first step in making a positive impact on the planet. When buying second hand I am reducing by not buying newly produced items and purchasing based on when I need something rather than just because!

Secondly, is the deeper significance of the statement and this is what I mused on as I was tidying up. Looking at what we do with our time and getting rid of that (as much as practical) which is not useful or does not bring you joy can be just as liberating as cleaning out the closet! Some of this comes back to being aware of what your goals are, what your dreams are and what is important to you, then apportioning your time accordingly. Our lives can be hugely busy but some of it can be busyness for busyness' sake rather than useful or joyful time spent.
Today we stacked wood, had lunch, did some gardening work, and tidied up around the house before preparing a roast vegetable risotto for tea... and time seemed to go so slowly, I felt like I had time for all of this without feeling pressured or rushed. This is because it was useful and I enjoyed most of it too, strange as that may seem, as some of that time was spent with my own thoughts and the rest with my family. It was great being outside in the fresh air on a relatively warm winter's day, knowing that the cooler weather was coming again.

In my role as a teacher I am thinking that this is as true for the classroom as it is in my own home. When we are so busy we lose sight of what is useful or joyful the joy of learning can disappear almost entirely. I am looking at my planning and stripping it back, focusing first at what is useful and joyful (for us all in the class)... I figure if we start there and then move forward from that then we might just strike the better balance.

Perhaps taking on the philosophy of getting rid of that which isn't useful or joyful (where practical) has the capacity to simplify our lives and help us get more out of the time we have? I think it just might.


  1. Love it - yes! I love clearing the clutter to clear my mind - tidy car and bathroom cupboard are my triggers - and recently I cleaned the garage as well as vacuumed the floor and edges - I feel good when I drive in!! Am keen to see how this translates into the classroom!

    1. Now I have taken on this approach... the tidying up is taking a lot longer as I consider this but I am getting more out of it. All part of slowing down and enjoying the little things along the way I guess.
      And yes the translation to the classroom... I would like to think it would impact on doing less and doing it better and reducing stress.

  2. Hi Megan
    Reading your thoughts took me to Judy Brown's ' letting go ' and aslo Miller (2002) says letting go is from a spiritual viewpoint as important as acquiring….

    1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts Murray... good places to go to learn more. I think that the letting go of what isn't useful or joyful applies to our thoughts as well within reason.