My eyes were closed. I had a smile on my face. My arms were out and I was swaying along with the live music.
It was one of the most peaceful, blissful moments of my life. I literally had not a care in the world, and that had never happened before.
I had just graduated college, so school was over. For good. I had moved out of my college house and all of my stuff was packed up in a storage unit, so I had almost no bills or responsibilities to worry about. I had travel plans for the summer, so the stresses of job hunting hadn’t commenced yet.
I was far away from the pressures of family, the drama of friends, and the bustle of city life. I was standing in a field in front of a stage on a warm, sunny afternoon listening to live, soul-changing music. It was what I would define as perfect.
Growing up in a city and never having gone on a trip like this, my physical, emotional and mental freedom at this moment was a first. My friend, at the time (now my husband), saw me smiling, eyes closed, swaying with the music and asked me how I felt. I replied with three words, “I feel free.”
This happiness pinnacle opened a door for me that I didn’t know existed. I didn’t know one could be so content and not worried about anything at all. I didn’t know there could be a single moment when I wasn’t thinking about my future, my next step, my plan of action. I didn’t know that “unplugging” for a few days would change my outlook and my life forever.
I didn’t know.
Even the imaginative, creative kid I was worried about stuff all the time – trying to be perfect for parents, making sure my toys were in their proper places, so on, so on and so on.
I just didn’t know.
Once I had a taste of it though, I had to go back. And we do.
Almost every year, we attend a music festival. We unplug for a few days, we camp, we rough it without real toilets and showers, we enjoy the outdoors, we listen to unbelievable music, we cleanse our souls.
A decluttering, if you will. (I’m a professional organizer…I had to throw that in.)
Unwinding my neat freak tendencies was, and still is, very hard to do. This moment in 2005 at the age of 21 was the beginning of it. It’s hard to undo 21 years of anything, but little by little the ripple effect of this freeing experience has infiltrated my life.
While the whole point of being “free” is not to have rigid structures, there are some general rules I follow to maintain it that are both life lessons as well as daily routines. Thus, here’s one of each that I highly, highly recommend you apply to your life.
Limit The Drama
Remember “the drama of friends” I referenced earlier? There is absolutely no room in your life for so-called friends to bring a bunch of B.S. in, so I slowly but surely started dropping connections like that.
People who want to fight with you about nothing, people who want to talk about others behind their backs, people who don’t want to show up on time, whatever it is that is causing you grief, you don’t need it.
Start cutting those ties, which I know is easier said than done but it’s possible. Begin by hanging out with them a little less or talking on the phone with them a little less and keep dwindling it down little by little until you’re comfortable. In many cases, my comfort level meant a complete sever but do what works for you.
This means a lot of things to a lot of people; I like to keep things really simple. To me, a few minutes of quiet time to clear my mind does the trick and I recommend you do the same.
First, since it’s only a few minutes, it’s a habit I know I can stick with. If you have more quiet time than that AND you can actually meditate for longer (it’s harder than it sounds), then feel free to extend it past a few minutes. Either way, I suggest you start small to build the foundation of the habit as well as practice the actual skill of meditating, and then build up from there.
Second, when I say “clear my mind,” I literally think about one of my happy places which is walking on a sunny beach. I think about the sand between my toes, the warm sun on my back and the sound of the waves coming in.
If other thoughts enter my mind, I let them in with the incoming wave and then I let them flow back out when the wave recedes. Do the same with your happy place to rejuvenate your mind for a few minutes every day.
Just those 2 things, limiting the drama and meditating daily, have lowered my stress levels drastically. What a difference it is!
I appreciate life at a much deeper level, and that would be an understatement. I’m mindful, I’m present, and I’m grateful. Most notably, I’m enjoying the journey a lot more than solely focusing on the destination because let’s face it…it’s all about the journey.
Taking the time out of my journey – my organized, planned out journey – to declutter my soul has, and will remain, a constant. The best part, I’ve come to realize, is that they go hand in hand.
Yes, plan things out. Yes, stay focused. Yes, work hard. Yes, be disciplined. But take the time to stop, perhaps in a field in front of a stage on a warm, sunny afternoon, to hear the music…and then you’ll truly be free.
Photo by hawkexpress
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20 thoughts on “An Organized Life And A Decluttered Soul”
OMG Nealey, a great piece, I know what you mean about music. I LOVE going to concerts, closing my eyes and feeling the vibrations enter my body. It reminds me I haven’t been to one in a while, I must fix that.
Thanks so much Jill! Yes, isn’t it such a wonderful feeling?! So therapeutic. :)
Nealey, so true to declutter one’s life of negative thoughts, people & energy!
Thanks Mom! ;)
What a great post. I especially like the part about meditating. I try to start each day visualizing how my day is going to go. I find when I make the time to do that I am much more successful in completing all that I visualized. Thanks for sharing your ideas!
My pleasure Kathy! Agreed. Meditating can be a quick activity but it has such a huge impact.
Aren’t festivals just awesome for distressing your life! I occasionally take a trip to one of Australia’s regional festival but my Canadian friends are talking me into Bonnaroo festival. I seriously have to go..
I also tend to travel on road trips with friends up and down the coast. That works for me. Getting a taste for the countryside in Australia really helps my mind to refocus and find peace in the present moment.
Thanks! Great blog!
Yes Justin! Festivals are fantastic stress relief. You should definitely check out Bonnaroo. I’ve been 6 times, and it’s just so much fun. You won’t regret it!
Thanks for your post! I am in grad school, working full time, have ADHD so disorganized as all get out, and majorly craving that free feeling. It feels like forever since I didn’t feel a care in this world! My friend and I are taking a trip to Spain this fall to do the last 100km of the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage walk. I am hoping for some “freedom” moments on the way :) Thanks for the reminder that it doesn’t have to be all work all the time…the importance of spending even 5 minutes letting the thoughts and worries drift away…I feel better already :)
Yes Jodi, doesn’t that quick meditation do wonders?! Write yourself a post-it or set a repeating reminder on your phone to go off every day so that you practice it daily. It will help tremendously to clear your mind and keep you focused. Have fun in Spain and here’s to getting a few freedom moments along the way. :)
Hi Nealy, I’d have to say that I definitely identify as a fellow ‘organizer’, and I’m also trying ways to make myself feel a little more free. What I really like about this post, is how simple it is. There are only 2 things you need to do to make a big difference! Thanks for sharing your experience.
You bet Heather! I have found that as an organized person, the only way to really give myself a complete refresh is to be removed from my daily routines. That literal and metaphorical unplugging happens at music festivals, and it just rocks. I highly recommend it. :)
Beautiful post Nealey! I know exactly what you mean about feeling free. As you get older and have more responsibilities and kids it’s harder to find those free moments. But everyone should take time for some soul cleansing! I don’t get to go to concerts near as often, but I love going to the mountains hiking and skiing and that’s what does it for me! :)
Thanks Autumn! Absolutely, it gets harder to find those free moments when you have more responsibilities, but things like hiking and getting out into nature (even for just a day) will definitely do the trick too.
Thank you for this article! I simplified my life about 8 years ago when I lost my corporate job, my marriage and most of my money. I looked at everything and got rid of it if I did not use it in the last six months. Lot easier to organize when you don’t have as much to pay for, maintain and protect the things you own. I have been successful in shaving my possessions down to a minimum. Now I am working on de-cluttering my mind. Trying to stop thinking enough to listen to my spirit. Along with peace and contentment comes a confidence that originates from a place deep inside.
You’re absolutely right Mark. It is a LOT easier to stay organized when you don’t have so much stuff, and an amazing amount of positive ripple effects come with mental decluttering. Keep it up!
The one point you mentioned about removing those drama friends from your life has been the biggest, positive change that I’ve had in my life. I noticed a lot more positive changes came from removed the likes of those “friends” from my life; more money, more time, just a whole different outlook (positive) on life. Great post! :)
Yes Jane! It’s unbelievable how much your mindset, happiness, etc. can improve when you remove negative people from your environment. Glad you enjoyed the post!
I love this post. I have just come across your blog from A Bowl Full of Lemons link up and I just adore the way you write!
Thanks so much Claudia! You must made my day. :)