This post is a bit different than what we have previously shared in this space. It isn’t a tour of our home on wheels. It isn’t a list of our favorite locations. But it is travel related, perhaps more so than anything else that has been shared.
You see, we travel to learn about ourselves. Our “why” is far less about discovering our country (though that is a wonderful element of this lifestyle) than it is about discovering our deepest, most honest parts of who we are. I have been on this journey for many years, and plan to never stop. Traveling is just one more layer in the process and it has been a beautiful, life-giving experience thus far.
This post comes from the quiet nights of self-discovery and star gazing. It comes from the study of trees, chats with God, hugs from Mother Nature, sunsets over rivers, and hours spent evaluating the growth to come. It is different, yes, but different can be good.
Dostadning is a Swedish word that translates to death cleaning. It is the process of decluttering before you die so that your loved ones, in their grief, are not left to the task of sorting and sifting.
I had a family member who was incredibly cultured. She traveled the world and it seemed that she brought the whole planet home with her after each journey. As a child, I enjoyed the trinkets and keepsakes that were placed around her home. One of my favorite memories is pressing my face into the scarves that hung on a rack next to the front door. They were from different shops and homes in different countries, and they all smelled so uniquely wonderful.
This person’s home was a treasure in my childhood but as a young adult, I realized that every closet, every cupboard, even the garage and multiple storage structures on the property were packed to the gills with bits and bobs of everything. And I mean everything.
For many years, loved ones would try to initiate dostadning. Offers were turned away, or met with frustrated tears and claims of invasion. Totally understandable. She was attached to the emotions, the memories, the experiences that those items held.
Haven’t we all been there? If you don’t think so, consider your attachment to your wedding ring. No, it is not clutter. But it does mean something, and it isn’t a stretch to imagine how a home can fill up with a whole lot of somethings over a lifetime.
Oh, The Humanity
I watched family encourage change and the benefits of simplifying. At the heart of it, I saw people experiencing freedom and mental clarity in their own lives, desperately wanting the same for our family member. A decade later, progress was made. And then some more. But never enough.
Since her passing, I’ve many times wondered if her collection of country flags, wooden figurines, woven baskets and all of the little trinkets I once valued would be as meaningful today, had they been passed along. Would I grip onto them in remembrance of her? Maybe one or two things. But everything? Probably not.
What she gave to me is a sense of adventure, an appetite to learn the world, and the passion to go through life together, with others. These are things I cannot hold or store away, and I am thankful for such gifts.
Still, I have too much.
Loss on repeat in my formative years created a deep fear in me. The remedy? Let nothing else go.
Sure, this applies to the storage unit that holds the furniture we might someday need when life on the road comes to an end.
But there’s plenty more that I’ve held onto. Plenty more.
To name a few.
I’m not an unhappy person. Dark and twisty in a She’s All That kind of way, yes. But not unhappy. I am joyful most days, silly the others, and contemplative always. I have experienced tremendous growth in the last several years and travel has both deepened and widened that truth.
And yet, my past is still proof of loss. My soul has memorized that repetitive ache. My brain fights the fire of self-judgement every day. My heart struggles to release what is no longer mine. My ego fears losing control. My identity has hoarded every tiny trinket, each broken piece a crumb to the core of me for fear that I might get lost along the way. I am human, after all, and the path is not straight. (thank goodness)
These are all things that I have worked on over the years. I have made tremendous progress and am proud of that, but I’m not dead yet and there is still work to do.
Hey Heart, What’s Up?
In thinking about dostadning, the questions I asked myself first were:
What parts of me am I proud to leave behind?
If I died tomorrow, what would be left unanswered?
What questions would my family and friends have?
What stories would they tell?
What memories would sustain them?
What joy would they find in me, even in my passing?
Who do I need to make peace with?
And then, the clincher…
What dead parts of me am I hoarding?
What decayed and heavy bits am I carrying through life?
What expectations have I put on myself that keep me loyal to my losses?
What unnecessary pain has the burden of striving for control caused in my life?
How much of my living is a reaction to what I’ve lost?
And is it loss or just dead weight?
How many times over the past several years of intense work on self did I whisper to my soul, “Let nothing else go”, and how seriously did I take that advice? How many times did I lean into those words as justification for unforgiveness? How many times did I use them as permission to point my fingers and internal aggression toward unrepentant people?
How many times have I said it this week?
The answers to these questions do not scare me. In fact, they excite me. If I feel this free in my spirit and life now (pretty damn free, btw) then what impossible feats will I accomplish once I declutter the remaining trinkets of death from my life?
And look, here’s the deal. Homes get dirty. Clutter happens. Stuff adds up. Collected bits and bobs through the experiences of life become emotional anchors that we learn to cling to in the moments when we need comfort. These things are not bad. You are not bad. This is how life works, and there is no shame in taking pause to evaluate if a deep clean is needed.
If you are identifying the need to flip your proverbial cushions, it does not always mean that you’ve neglected yourself. It can simply mean that you have been in a different season, and while discovering yourself elsewhere, the dust bunnies have crept in.
You can view this a tragic failure on your part, and a massive undertaking to tackle…if you want to.
But you don’t have to.
You have the power to decide how your choices have lead you here, and how you will use that knowledge to choose whatever is next.
The Power of Choice
I am building toward an incredible 2019. It isn’t just a feeling, but a knowing. I know that it will be hard, rewarding work. I know that it will matter. I know that the last decade has been building toward this New Year. I am both elated and terrified, which is a great place to be, creatively speaking.
I know that I am ready for 2019.
I also know that I do not need to take the old me with me, unless it serves me.
I do not need to clutter my shelves with broken trophies in order to validate my passion for living.
I do not need to hold the stench of decay and loss in my nose, or on my shoulders, as justification for the beauty that I am preparing to launch into and launch around me.
Dostadning is used to refer to cleaning up one’s home before dying. What home we stop hoarding in is up to each of us.
I choose me. I choose my body.
I choose to clean out what keeps me from living as wide-open as I was created to.
What do you choose? How will you get there?