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Truthy Tuesday: Creating a Meaningful Space

truthy tuesday with shelly kerry

{by guest maven, Shelly Kerry}

Want to know a little secret? I used to keep everything.

I saved my favorite notes passed in grade school between best friends, cassette recordings of my cousin and I singing to my favorite 45s and stuffed animals I couldn’t bear to part with. While growing up in Ohio, my family lived in the same house for 18 yrs and the stability allowed for a little, let’s call it, “sentimental storage.” I loved the security of coming home to a place filled with all my favorite things. I was comforted by being surrounded with my old stuff.

Eventually my family moved from our old big house and I moved every year into a new apartment. My mother, understanding my sentimentality, allowed me to keep a few boxes in their storage unit. However, it didn’t take long for me to create a new collection of things – an awesome collection of vintage winter coats, knick knacks, plates and kitchen gadgets galore. Two big moves — one to NYC and another to San Francisco barely dented my baggage.

I found ways to move all my things with me as they comforted me in new places and challenging times. It amazes me to this day of how I made this happen.

In October 2011, I was finally able to move into my own studio. Of course, at this point, I needed to lose some of the sentimental weight. I went through the process of really thinking about what I owned. Did I really need to keep all the vases I was never going to use? (probably not) Did I need that awesome 60s blue and green swimsuit that didn’t fit? (Yes, of course. Ha! That went into a box)

I made thoughtful decisions about what I brought with me. I carefully packed all of my things into a very small space and created a beautiful, slightly overwhelming home. I knew I had too much, but I knew everything I had.

On December 22nd 2011, I flew to the Midwest for the holidays and arrived to learn that my apartment building was on fire.

Not a small one, but a five alarm being fought by 100s of firefighters. Devastated and in an insane panic, I watched the fire live from my laptop. My friends tried to get as close to the building as they could so they could keep me updated. I watched the flames engulf the third floor and the entire north end of the building. My southern 2nd floor apartment was left untouched as if some large force protected my cat trapped inside. (Luckily dear Weller was saved 8 hrs later by 5 firefighters and my lovely cat sitter).

The feelings of loss and fear for Weller, and the helplessness of being homeless was unlike anything I have ever felt before. The love that came from my family, friends and strangers left me speechless. The next five months were spent trying to find an apartment in SF, living out of one suitcase, sleeping on couches and floors with my cat and fighting the big legal battle of trying to get my items out of the building.

I won’t go into the horrendous details of what happens to all of your photos and clothes soaked in water and left for 5 months in a dilapidated building. I also won’t bore you with all the crazy time spent fighting the building owners while trying to retrieve my things. I will tell you that the process of finally deciding what to pay to have restored and rebuilding my life was an incredibly difficult, yet amazing experience.

Yes, I can say that it was amazing and that I made life changing discoveries about myself and what my space means to me.

I began thinking about developing a program about time management and organization before the fire, but it wasn’t until going through this loss that I felt I had really had the richness of experience to make it happen.

I wish I could say that I recovered from the fire with the ability to say that material things do not matter. It is quite the opposite for me. Instead every single thing in my apartment has meaning. I live according to the rule that what is not useful or beautiful does not deserve to live in my home. I kiss my cats everyday and tell them I love them. I approach my clients and their clutter with respect and compassion. I know how hard it is to let things go.

This year, even more than ever, it is my goal to maintain a meaningful home and inspiring work space. I believe there is a direct relationship between happiness and your space.

Below are ideas I have on making this happen. I would love you to see if they can work for you too:

  •  Walk around your home or workspace. Are there items that do not serve you? Things that are not inspiring are useful? Consider removing them from your home pronto.
  •  Does your home speak to your true wants and needs? Is it peaceful, warm and restorative? Become aware of your surrounding and commit to creating an environment that speaks to you.
  • Treat your home with respect. Bring home fresh flowers. Keep it tidy and clean. Fill it with love and laughter.
  • Know what is in your home.  Document with videos and photos. If you are a renter, GET RENTERS INSURANCE!
  • Share this beautiful space with friends and family as often as possible

Shelly Kerry is the founder of the program Creating Space, Mindful Living – motivating people to run their businesses more efficiently through time management and an organized space. She helps others look at their personal and professional lives and explore what is and isn’t working. She will help you find both the physical and emotional space so you can pursue your dreams and she’ll always insist there’s time for yourself. You can now find Creating Space on Facebook and Pinterest.

We’d love to hear from you, Mavens!

What changes would you like to make in your space this year in order to make it more meaningful to you?

What do you want to remove, and what do you want to bring in, to feel happier and inspired right where you are?

3 Responses to Truthy Tuesday: Creating a Meaningful Space

  1. Kerry says:

    You always amaze me, Shelly! Thank you so much for sharing your story and your tips! I really felt like I got rid of a lot when I packed up our house to move from Chicago to Arizona only to fill our garage in our rental here with boxes of our stuff. I realize that I will be able to get by without a lot of that stuff and hope to get rid of it when we move to our next house. I joined a group called the Apothecary Circle and this week they are talking about creating sacred space in your house. I will definitely share this post with them!

    • Isn’t Shelly, awesome! She always has great ideas and a great way of sharing her thoughts. I’ll be putting some of Shelly’s ideas into practice too. Thanks for sharing, Kerry! – Jen

  2. Shelly says:

    Thanks so much ladies!! It is so easy to let things pile up. Just need to check in on ourselves from time to time to avoid being too overwhelmed. And self-forgiveness – my new favorite words

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