Photo: woods wheatcroft photography

Changing Habits Takes Courage

an organized craft roomHave you ever thought about the many habits you have developed? Are they ones that make a positive difference for you or do the opposite? This past year I have had a strong urge to declutter my life, purge what no longer serves me, and to “lighten the load” of my life collections so my daughter won’t have a mess to deal with should I succumb unexpectedly. I think this thinking comes with aging and I know I am not alone in the purging uprise.

All this belonging cleansing got me thinking about my habits of saving stuff for later use. Perhaps it comes from being influenced by parents of the 30s and 40s where “things” were made better and had to last. When I moved into my home in South Sandpoint 17 years ago, I was starting over, so I made a lot of essential purchases for my home. I intuited that I would not live here for a long time so I saved every box from every thing I purchased and stored them in the rafters of my garage thinking I would repack my things conveniently when I chose to move.

Well, I am still here! And so are the boxes! My box storage got me to recognizing that I had a potential fire hazard on my hands with all that cardboard. But . . . I am planning on redoing my yard this spring, ridding myself of lawn, and now I see that all that stored cardboard will be perfect for worm fodder as I develop gardens instead of lawn! Actually, cardboard is abundant around town, but because of my habit of saving stuff, I don’t have to go foraging for cardboard this spring.

Another habit I wish to overcome is saving tear sheets for recipes in newspapers and magazines. I am a late-in-life cook. I have stored piles of recipes over the years that I have never used but saved because they looked like something I would enjoy. This has been a tough habit to face. I did pitch my 2000 editions of Vegetarian Times and Cooking Light as well as 90s vintage Bon Appetit!   I am whittling away at the pile but it does make my heart palpitate a little thinking about all those tasty dishes I never made even though I also recognize I can find anything I want online.

Habits do become ingrained because our repetition of them secures those messages into our synapses signaling some form of survival in our DNA. We used to be “feast or famine” beings so retaining what we deem useful at any given time is not necessarily a bad thing.

What does become burdensome is when our habit of collecting truly non-useful things begins to take up our time and spaces and then clutters our minds with guilt. I must say, though, I take some pride in having stored cardboard boxes for 17 years and now have a use for them. Same with my building a fine collection over 30 years of those plastic mesh bags from oranges and lemons that I found useful for securing my pumpkins growing vertically in my garden. Hah!! Okay. But I really am looking at my habits and seeking to change those I can that no longer serve me. How about you? Are we in this together?

Krystle Shapiro, LMT, MSHN owns NewTritionally Yours! and Touchstone Massage Therapies. She can be reached at 208-290-6760. Call her and share your “purging” stories.

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