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Out with the old

Emma Grey

“Letting go of ‘the old’ — not just physically but emotionally and mentally — helps us breathe. It opens a void, into which we could pour something new, or pour nothing at all.”

We’ll be downsizing into a smaller house next year, and for months I’ve been having an on-again, off-again declutter at home. It’s a big task, and an emotional one, because when you merge two households, live together for nearly a decade, then one of you dies, there are a lot of decisions be made on countless items that aren’t really ‘yours’ (but you’re responsible).

I’ve started with my own stuff, and the focus this weekend was books.  I cleared out three full bookcases of fiction and work-related non-fiction. What began as a declutter became an exercise in re-evaluating my priorities and seeing how far I’ve come.

Gone were any books on stages of life that I’ve passed – pregnancy, toddlers, tweens, raising early teen girls, anything to do with being a woman in her 30s, any novels about motherhood, or with young children in the picture (exhausting reading!) Gone was anything about starting your own business, becoming a consultant, writing your first book, self-publishing, getting published … and gone were the host of books related to the topics of books I’ve now written (a lot of the time-management, productivity, work-life balance books).

There was something about seeing these books in a pile on the floor that felt satisfying. It was very ‘been there, done that’. It was an easy visual representation of ‘experience’ and growth.

What was left on the bookshelf was exciting, too. This was stuff the stuff I dream to master, and haven’t yet: screenwriting, how to turn your novel into a blockbuster movie, making a full-time career as a writer, how to cope when you get dementia … gah!

That last one was really about how to understand the disease because mum has it, and her father had it before her, but I realised there’s space on the shelf now for new titles, related to big plans not yet accomplished. Hopefully there will be time to do this, between writing a screenplay and losing my memory.

There’s also empty space, and how lovely it is to have that, too. Gaps that could be filled in myriad ways, as yet undiscovered. Directions unknown.

Letting go of ‘the old’ — not just physically but emotionally and mentally — helps us breathe. It opens a void, into which we could pour something new, or pour nothing at all. There’s something exciting about knowing what that ‘new’ will look like, and something equally as exciting, sometimes, about not having a clue.


Emma Grey

Emma Grey is the Canberra-based author of ‘Wits’ End Before Breakfast! Confessions of a Working Mum’ and ‘Unrequited: Girl Meets Boy Band’. She’s director of the life-balance consultancy, WorkLifeBliss and co-founder of a fresh approach to time-management, My 15 Minutes. She lives just over the ACT border with her two teen daughters and young son. More about the Author

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