Posted by Joanna Van Vleck on

There is a saying….empty what is full and fill what is empty. I know both of these worlds, being full and being empty. I never thought I would like the sense of emptiness. I came from a Texas, look good family. The more you acquired in the exterior world, the better. I carried around a lot of stuff from place to place before I began to realize the weight this created in my life. 

The sense of emptiness can be unnerving at first. It is quiet, spacious, open. Most of these feelings we aren’t familiar with in our overstuffed, everyday life. We go from thing to thing, taking in much more than we can digest. I found this true for my home as well. 

Many years ago I moved from a one bedroom apartment to a studio. I carefully measured every inch of the new studio and mapped out each piece of furniture that could fit. I had to get rid of a few pieces, my oversized couch was no longer going to fit and my three handwoven rugs had to find another home. If there was ever a visual definition of overstuffed, this new studio of mine was it. Packed to the ceiling with color coordinated books I was never going to read, every inch of this new home was covered. Though it was pretty to the eye, there was no breathing room. I was suffocating. 

Slowly, one by one, I began the process of Emptying. Getting rid of things is never easy for me. My friends tease and call me a bulldog. Once I have “gotten” something, I don’t let it go without a fight. This time, my senses were leading. Things began to have a feeling of “too much” when I was around them. I’d feel anxious instead of calm. 

I have always been inspired by the minimalists. The ones who praise their ability to live with very little. As a maximalist personality, I could never quite force myself into that shoe. It seemed good in theory, but never really fit. Emptying is not being a minimalist. It is not organizing. 

Emptying is allowing your senses to lead and having nothing extra, only that which feels good to you. There is no formula, no scripts or shoulds to follow. You can Empty three items or thirty trash bags worth of things from your home. The amount does not matter. When doing it from the guide of your senses, each piece Emptied will make a difference. You feel the impact. You feel more space, more quiet inside of you. Those corners of the counter where things have piled for months and every time you walk by you think…I should do something with that, let it go. Empty. 

The process of Emptying is just that, a process. It is not a one time thing. It is a forever journey with yourself and your space. I often empty on Saturdays. I tend to have more unstructured time available on Saturday mornings. I move around slowly in my home, most often in my sweatpants, and empty. Sometimes it is re-useable bags that have piled up one too many from the grocery store. I donate those. Other times it is the half used medicine from my bathroom drawer that I thought I’d use and is now expired or the blazer I wish looked good on me but never does each time I go to wear it. Whatever it is, each piece matters. The letting go makes a difference to what you feel in your space. 

As you Empty, you will find you begin to feel more open in your home and in yourself. That feeling only continues from here. 

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