Spring Clean Your Life & Home: Editing Your Life to Reveal Your Evolution – 10 Ideas to Try

Apr 26, 2021

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One funny human truth often forgotten after we have grown as a person, learned a new and wiser way to live in the world happens due to our blindspot. We cannot see or witness with our own eyes how our actions, thoughts and demeanor have changed because we are actively doing it.

Consequently, sometimes our mind remains stuck in the persona of our former self. Consequently, our confidence, our inner peace, has not caught up with the actual growth we have achieved.

On a seemingly materialistic level, I made the decision to not rehang the many framed paintings I had long-hung in my office. Of course, I will always keep them as they are pieces of art and part of my life journey I still pinch myself happened, but without hesitation, I knew once those paintings came down, they would not be going back up.

I chose to edit my decor to fit where I am now in my life, what I need now to serve as reminders of my journey, and now I have wallpaper filled with birds and butterflies which to some may sound annoyingly overwhelming, but each time I gaze across my desk, I smile. The butterflies remind me of my now home and sanctuary Le Papillon and how long it took for me to arrive within its four walls. The birds remind me of the first blue bird I ever saw, the first bird feeder I hung with delight so long ago and the birds that bring a smile to my face throughout each day as I going about my daily routines, a reminder to savor the now.

When we edit our lives, we honor both who we were – what brought us to where we are now, and most importantly, give ourselves the daily encouragement to step into what we have become because until we fully step forward and embrace who we are today, the gifts we have learned, the lessons we have finally absorbed cannot earnestly be applied for the different outcomes we seek.

Today I would like to share a list of 10 ways to edit your life physically (such as the decor exampel above) and conceptually through our thoughts and presence in the world in order to experience more fulfillment in our everydays.

1.Remove home décor items that no longer inspire or ignite you

This is not to say what you are removing was inspiring you in the wrong way, but as I shared above, certain decor items are meant to be in our lives for a chapter or a few chapters, not for the duration of the entire book. You may want to store these removed items. You may want to chuck them if the memory is no longer positive for whatever reason, but don’t feel guilty for removing something which for quite some time served a positive purpose in your story.

As we grow, our home’s decor will evolve as well. Layers will begin to happen which make our homes more welcoming, cozy and personalized, but some layers don’t need to be there anymore because they simply take up space in our mind’s creative arena. When we free up our mental space, the opportunity for breathing room occurs figuratively speaking. For me, by removing the 12 framed paintings mentioned previously, my mind felt in some way, less cluttered, as though I was giving myself permission to move forward with new ideas. When you let your new self come to the forefront, we come to realize that sometimes we are being held back by seemingly immaterial material items.

2. Remove the ‘extras’

After moving or receiving gifts or upgrading, we sometimes forget to donate, consign or simply get rid of the extra skillet, extra pair of flats (which don’t fit as well as your new pair which is why you don’t wear them anymore, but you feel bad, so you keep them), the book we will never read again, the additional duplicate tool we now have after having moved in with our partner or spouse. Eliminating the extras, especially if they are of lower quality and are never used, reduces clutter, clears space and actually helps the mind free itself from the burden of unnecessary stress. It all adds up, so even such small edits can add up to a wonderful improvement of the mind’s quality to think freely and relax well.

3. Be honest about the relationships you truly want to invest in

A professor of psychology at Carnegie-Mellon University, Sheldon Cohen chose to whittle down his social circle during the pandemic in order to ensure he connected and maintained the relationships which were a priority in his life. Now that the pandemic is nearing its end, he plans on keeping his smaller social circle. Read this article to learn more, but essentially it is a lesson of quality over quantity providing a life of much deeper and fulfilling connections.

4. Edit the food in your kitchen/refrigerator/pantry that never leaves you feeling better about the choice to enjoy it after you have indulged

Notice I said edit, not remove. Sometimes we need to enjoy a lovely slice of cheesecake, but we don’t need to keep a whole cake in our house ever . . . at all . . . especially if there are more slices than people in the house. Editing but not removing pasta and crackers from my épicerie for me has always been something I enjoy from time to time, and again, I buy a smaller amount, so it doesn’t linger after that one occasion to be enjoyed until gone.

5. Edit the channels you have to choose from

I have been only subscribing to YouTubeTV one month here and there and letting it lapse if I know there isn’t a major event that is best enjoyed live. I just signed back up yesterday to watch The Oscars after a month of not scrolling through channels and I was amazed how overwhelming all of the channel options can be especially if you have been selectively watching only a handful of shows.

Whether you only hand-select a few streaming services or thoughtfully set up your ‘Library’ as YouTubeTV has it so you don’t have to scroll and simply go directly to the few shows you watch, when you edit, you save time, you reduce unnecessary influence by advertisements, you remove frustration when you come across a show that drives you up a wall, and you save money as well depending upon how you organize the shows you watch.

6. Edit the way you think

In March one of the most popular posts of the year was shared here on TSLL – Taming the Overthinking Mind: 8 Ways to Maintain Your Creativity and Find Mental Tranquility. The truth that lies at the heart of living a life of quality is being in the driver’s seat of our mind: understanding how it works, why it does what it does so we don’t become unnecessarily agitated or frightened by what its defaults, strengthening the muscle that is our mindfulness to curtail the lizard reactions and stepping away from unhelpful tracks which became routine out of survival. When we improve the way we think and how we use our minds, we are capable of thriving and we become a model to those around us that it is safe to be brave enough to be kind, to speak sincerely, not hide behind negativity and sarcasm and to rest before reacting in order to observe how we feel.

~Listen to episode #140 to explore in-depth Emotional Intelligence: A Crucial Tool for Enhanced Quality in Work and Life

7. Remove the negative scenarios running through your mind

In episode #131, I shared 38 Invaluable Lessons About Attaining Happiness inspired by British philosopher Bertrand Russell’s book The Conquest of Happiness. I return to this particular episode and his book because simply put, we make ourselves miserable when we have so much to savoring. In point #10 of the episode/post, Russell reminds we are much more likely to find something if we are looking for it, so if we let our minds run circles around the negative possibilities, we are more easily able to stumble across them.

8. Turn down or turn off the extraneous noise

It wasn’t until I became comfortable in my own company I realized how much noise can be in the world that keeps us from thinking well and being fully present. Each of us will have different levels of comfort and preference, but the more clear I have become about the environment that best nurtures my days, the more clear I have become about having fewer sounds around me. While I tend to prefer lyric-free music – gravitating toward classical and jazz without a soloist – no sound at all can be incredibly peaceful, and it is the sounds of the birds, Norman snoring and a gentle rain that are music to my ears as my thoughts can dance and not be distracted.

9. Edit your ‘have-to’s, tasks or presumed responsibilities

Due to the change in our school schedule, for the majority of the year, we had few synchronous days with our students, and less seat-time as well once we began in hybrid. Whittling down to the essentials was key to feeling confident students were receiving the lessons about the skills they would need for a particular course. The quality over quantity lesson rose its head again, and I was reminded I can assign less, and thereby assess more closely so long as I am the one providing the feedback in a meaningful way.

Often it is how we work, not that we work longer or harder which will improve the quality of our productivity and save our mental health in the short and long-term. Understandably, sometimes we are limited by the work hours of our job, but when we are given an opportunity, we need to free ourselves from feeling guilty if we don’t take work home on the weekends or work past the closing bell or [insert what signifies the end of your workday].

10. Remove expectations and replace them with hopes you set free to fly

What do I mean by the latter part of this last item on today’s list? First, when we remove expectations, we place ourselves fully in the present, requiring that we engage actively and to the best of our ability, letting go of the outcome. By replacing expectations with hope, we send out to the universe what we most would desire to be the outcome, but we don’t hold on to it, strangling it to death as we refuse to see the beauty around us right now in the present moment. By setting our hopes free to fly, they will shift in form, they will change in direction but at least the world knows what our heart yearns for. After all, part of the reason our parents took us to see Santa as children was to hear what we wanted so they would wrap up the gift that would delight us Christmas Eve or Morning.

The same can be said for sharing our hopes with the world, but then letting them go. We free ourselves but, and importantly, we put the good energy outside of ourselves to surround us with possibility. Equally, when we listen, really listen, we begin to be able to become ‘Santa’ to those we love and care about in our own lives.

I have no doubt that you are living a life you love, and by sharing today’s post I have a feeling your life is more amazing than you realize because after tending to a few or all of the edits above, you will begin to live the life you have grown into so that you can most fully be what you are capable of sharing with the world. Enjoy the process of editing and removing and delight in the expansion and depth it reveals in your life.



20 thoughts on “Spring Clean Your Life & Home: Editing Your Life to Reveal Your Evolution – 10 Ideas to Try

  1. Hello Shannon, once again you are spot on with my process in the journey of moving on.
    For some time now I have been taking home something daily from my classroom as I am editing through the years of accumulation, donating it or simply discarding it, and some times keeping it. This has become a freeing process. These things have served me well, I thank it for serving me and let it go.
    I am doing the same in my home as I will be moving back to the family ranch after the school year is over. I will choose what is serving me now and donate, discard, gift some things. I want a fresh start for this chapter and I am being selectively
    honest about what serves me now. I will always have the memory but among others things I have learned in CAN make the change I prefer and the world doesn’t stop spinning.
    Thank you for helping me feel good about the decision too and thank you for somehow always having a topic that pertains well to my current situation.
    Savor these last few weeks with your students.

  2. “Immaterial material items”…love that expression! I have been working temporarily in another city for the last year and a half, so I have a lovely small apartment in that city and have retained my house as well. There is a calm in that apartment that’s different from my home of 28 years, with all its accumulations. It has me taking a second look at everything in the house with an eye toward whether it still serves me or gives me pleasure. (Shannon, my two cavaliers go back and forth with me between the apartment and house…they really love all the action and other dogs in the apartment building!)

    1. Oh! I am imagining your traveling pups delighting in their explorations and meetings with the dogs. 🙂 Norman would love this as well. They are such a welcoming and congenial breed. Thank you for sharing how even if you intentionally chose something and even if it holds a positive memory, it may be time to let it take a time-out.

  3. Hi Shannon, this resonates deeply with where I am on my journey. Over the past few months I have also been spring cleaning, decluttering and removing things from my home/life/thoughts. Things that have been an important part of my journey but now no longer fits with where I am. Moving into a new chapter I feel the need to let things go to be able to move into the new. Such a wonderful topic to ponder on. Thank you

    1. Victoria, Thank you for sharing your reflection on the topic. It really can open up more space to welcome the new and unknown in a lovely way. Thank you for stopping by. 🙂

    1. Yes, Sue , I live in Lancashire 🙂
      Good luck with your relocation plans , I hope all goes smoothly for you 🤞🌟🦋🌸🌿

  4. Hi Shannon,
    SO timely. Tomorrow I am unpacking the contents of my storage unit. I had moved house last May, and am currently living in ongoing renovations, now almost finished. So it will be interesting to edit/curate that which I had put in storage ( I call it my museum) almost 1 year ago, and see what I have missed and what I can truly live without. I also found a statement I had typed out – my life goals for this first year in the new location. ALL will have materialised, once the edit of ” the museum” is complete! ( including a new relationship!)
    Thank you for so eloquently expressing the thoughts that help so many of us. All the very best as you shed your school teaching commitments.
    Alaine

    1. Alaine,

      Thank you so much for sharing this part of your journey. I am incredibly excited for you as you curate your new home and welcome in what will support you in your new journey on so many fronts. My heart is also happy for you beginning a new relationship – an exciting time of exploration and opportunity. Wishing you well! and Thank you for the well wishes given. xo

  5. The past five years have taught me a valuable lesson. I had to clean out the homes of three family members and one friend. Only one of them had the foresight to declutter and simplify life. It seems as though the other three were afraid to let go of things that were never used or not used in years. Do a favor for the people you love….don’t make them clean up what you should get rid of now.

    1. Jan,

      Thank you for sharing this intimate and undoubtedly emotional experience. My goodness – three households. I hope you are taking time for self-care as I know from watching my mother and father go through this, it can be incredibly emotional taxing along with the physical demands.

  6. Hi Shannon,

    Thank you, as always, for your insight and detailed suggestions on living a more simple, yet quality life. I found your podcast/blog during the beginning of the pandemic and, must say, am so very happy that I did ! Your information is exactly what I was searching for yet didn’t even know until I found you ! As a 64 year old woman, I desire to continually grow and learn. You are helping me to achieve this goal !!
    All the best to you, and, thank you,
    Diane

  7. Shannon,

    Your timing for this post is perfect as I think all of us are considering what we hope life is like post-pandemic, and have been making adjustments during our time at home this past year for a truly fresh start this spring.

    Since lockdown last March, I’ve been going through every closet, drawer, and file and editing out all the things from past careers or interests that I no longer need or want, particularly those with difficult memories attached. I also finally went through the huge pile of boxes I brought home in 2019 after my grandmother passed away. There are some things I will keep for sentimental reasons, but so many other things that I kept simply because I didn’t have time before now to sort through them. Our house feels so much lighter and more open to new opportunities and experiences going forward. I feel like it’s a much better reflection of where we are now and the new things we hope to do: more travel, more time with family and friends, more gardening, fitness, and creative time for me. Freeing yourself from past objects, ideas, and thought patterns can be emotionally tough, but once you start, an energy happens that is so inspiring, you want to keep going! It’s made me excited about new possibilities in a way I never was before. I hope everyone here is able to experience this in their own way, and, like yourself, make those changes needed in order for new things and experiences to come forward.

  8. I have kept this post and reread it a few times. The part about about decluttering something that is not for this chapter of your life made so much sense to me. Thank you!

  9. Thank you Shannon for this reminder. I have done quite a bit of editing in my time to get to where I am. Having moved houses and countries a few times but as I approach my 7th decade I am about to do a bit more editing. I need this challenge😊

  10. Hello Shannon,
    I had suspected from tiny hints dropped along the way this spring that you were contemplating a move away from education toward a new life chapter. Parker Palmer urges us to live our truest, most authentic selves in every dimension of our lives, so it is inspiring to know you are taking this step with intentionality after deep discernment and reflection. I too am an educator & administrator (30+ years!) This past year has brought clarity or at least healthy questioning to so many of us about what texture and pace we truly want for our daily lives. Congratulations on your milestone decision! Wishing you much happiness and fulfillment in your journey.

    1. Bridgett, Thank you for stopping by and sharing how your experience in education is unfolding. Thank you as well for your cheer and support. As an administrator, I can’t fully appreciate all you have had to juggle and navigate through, ushering the staff as well as the families and students through this unique year. Wishing you well and much opportunity for rest and rejuvenation.

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