Holding the door open for maybe takes a lot of energy. You have to think about your maybes, sorting through them as you go through your physical and mental closets and cupboards. Maybes are a constant reminder of what you’re not doing, whether it’s not losing enough weight to fit into the clothes that sit in the back of your closet, not finding recipes for the InstantPot you got for Christmas, or not getting your butt in gear to get your resume finished so you can find a job that you actually don’t hate.
Your maybes come with a lot of baggage, too. What do you say to yourself when you see the expensive sweater in the back of your drawer with tags still on, the one that looked great in the mirror at the store but made you feel bulky and big once you got home? Do you tell yourself that you’re lazy for never returning it? Are you mean to yourself because you feel too bulky and big?
Maybe–in all of the forms it takes–steals energy and time away from what feels like yes.
I have closets, cupboards, and drawers full of maybes. A shelf of journals with mostly blank pages. Drawers full to overflowing with clothes I never wear. Windows open in my computer’s browser with articles to read, books to check out from the library, visionaries to follow in the hopes that maybe they’ll have answers to how I can grow my business, write my next book, and feel more joy more regularly.
One of my maybes was a purple sundress that hung in the back of my closet for ten years. I splurged on the dress from one of the vendors at the park where we go every year to celebrate my oldest son’s birthday. I changed into the dress at the vendor’s stall, wearing it back to our little plot on the park lawn. My husband looked up from where he sat in the sun, peering at me in the new dress. Money was tight that year. He didn’t say anything but his look said enough.
I never wore the purple dress again. It sat in my closet, a regular reminder of how badly I felt that day.
I boxed it up a few Saturdays ago, that dress and all of the other maybes. I sorted through my closet and pulled out the clothes I don’t wear because the waist is too tight, or the color isn’t right, or the memories that come with the dress/sweater/shirt are uncomfortable. I put all of the maybes in boxes and sealed them up, promising myself that I won’t throw anything away just yet–I’m just taking a break.
Now, my closet is quite empty (except for the stacked and sealed boxes). My friends and family are seeing me in the same outfits week after week. But the clothes I see my closet are the clothes I like–the purple dress is nowhere in sight.
Next, I’m tackling the maybe cupboard under the sink in the bathroom. Then, the box of tchotchkes that’s been taking up room in my closet since I reorganized my office a year ago. The medicine cabinet needs sorting. And then, I'll dive into the catch-all closet that’s full of craft supplies, saved baby clothes, office supplies, and who knows what else.
The more items I go through, the easier it becomes to say no. The garage is getting full. As my husband side stepped the piles of boxes filling the space, he suggested a garage sale. “Maybe Presidents’ Day weekend, if the weather is nice." In the past, I would have delayed making a decision, saying “Let’s wait and see what the weather’s going to be like,” even though I dread garage sale days and vow at the end of each and every one that I’ll never do one again. This time was different: “No to the garage sale,” I said definitely and firmly to my husband, practicing my new habit of staying out of the mental clutter of maybe to make more room for what truly feels like yes.
Want to learn how to clear your mental and physical clutter to make more room for your yeses? Join me and a handful of other moms at March's mini-retreat, Spring Cleaning Your Maybes. You'll learn strategies for decluttering and avoiding the risk of "recluttering," and how to handle the discomfort that often comes with letting things go. Go to thewellcraftedmom.com/mini-retreats to register.