In the five years I have been Flying, I have probably unloaded over 200 pounds of clutter. Most of that clutter was tied to some feeling of guilt, some of it over 25 years old. For example, when I was in kindergarten I was friends with a classmate. At the end of that year I moved away, but we promised to keep in touch by writing letters. She gave me her school picture with her address on the back. I thought about her every time I saw her picture on my dresser, in first grade, second grade, seventh grade, when I would come home from college, but I never wrote to her. She never wrote to me either, and I can only hope for her sake that she just forgot about me. I hope she didn’t carry the guilt of not writing around with her year after year.
FlyLady encouraged me to do something that I thought was horrifying at the time. I took that picture of my kindergarten friend and I threw it away. It wasn’t easy to do and before it went into the trash I held it and thought about her. I wondered where she was now that we were grown up, and I wondered if she would remember me if we should ever cross paths again. After a few minutes, I dropped it into the trash bag. That was a few years ago and guess what. I still remember my friend, and the striped dress she wore on picture day so many years ago. I still remember her side ponytail, tied with a ribbon that matched her dress. But now her picture doesn’t look at me every morning and say, “You never wrote to me. You are a horrible person.”
Over the years I have thrown or given away ugly clothes, stacks of old greeting cards, 4th grade math worksheets, dusty knick-knacks, and bags full of yarn. I had kept that stuff not because I liked it, but because I thought some cosmic force would strike me down if I didn’t. Just because you don’t love the ugly sweater your grandma gave you doesn’t mean you don’t love your grandma. I have become relentless in throwing away crap I don’t need or like, and I haven’t been struck down yet. The more hideous gifts I get rid of, the more room I have in my heart to work on relationships with people.