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Joan's Story

The Swamp

As soon as I hit 70 and during the following few years, I began to feel a change in my body, that the physical tasks I used to find easy could tax it and I finally realised I had to respect my age and my body and make a change in the way I lived my daily life and the clutter and disorganisation had to go. After all, death could happen and even if it didn’t happen now I could feel the end of life approaching – not in a morbid way but making appreciation to live a simpler life more important. And to enjoy where and how I was living in each day. There was also the thought of those who would have to clear out my stuff, how beautiful it would be if there was not much left to do!

Though I had already started to clear stuff before Jenny arrived there was still so much mess behind the doors – an accumulation of possessions, (more than was needed) and no extra space anywhere. This state of affairs had arisen because of the stuck old patterns which had evolved, and because I had not been able to pause and feel what was needed, not considering the space available or how belongings should be placed in it.

Some of these habits were holding onto items from the past, as well as family items, belief systems, and objects I’d used to prop myself up, coping mechanisms to keep me fairly organised, comfortable and safe. My partner and I muddled along together in a kind of easy but unconscious awareness of how we organised our things together. But the biggest area of disorganisation and neglect was the muddle with papers, files and money.

I felt swamped by all of this and in fact by the whole heaviness inside the house. It was like a swamp, very turgid and difficult to extricate myself on my own.

The First Step

I knew something had to happen and I could feel the change coming. I began to do some clearing out by myself, but I really had no idea about the way to do it or the depth of work required and the commitment needed to make true change. All I knew was I had to take this impulse further, to take the opportunity for growth and change and invest time and money on the project of clearing out and re-organising.

I found Jenny through reading a blog about her work and knew she was the person for me. You know how when you have felt a true impulse to take you forward then everything falls into place. So we arranged a series of sessions beginning with a wardrobe session.

The Wardrobe – I discover I can be a WOMAN

This was a lot of fun although it was at very, very deep level.

We have ideals about how we dress, we wear clothes out of habit, and we cover ourselves up so we cannot be seen – these clothes are worn next to our skin, so what does this mean if it’s not really ourselves we are dressing?

To be asked if a dress I put on made me feel sexy and did I love it, brought up a whole realisation about how I dressed down and didn’t allow myself to shine or feel my true femininity at all. In Jenny’s quiet non judgmental presence I was able to start letting go of all those hang ups so many women carry about their bodies and their sexiness. I began to feel more confident and choose to wear what I really felt good in. I began to celebrate me, my true womanly self!

I was giving myself permission to wear what I liked without caring what others think, and throwing away those items that were from the me of the past. I surprised myself with what I chose. It was so easy to dress in the mornings, and pack when I went away, for with fourteen bags going to the charity shop there was room in the wardrobe and the drawers to organise things so spaciously. In fact I got rid of a chest of drawers.

The effect on me was astounding and stunning, I was fulfilling a part of me that had been hidden all my life. The whole bedroom now felt clear and light, and so did I, and going to bed in the evening was deliciously nurturing.

I hadn’t felt any further than my clothes but having done the bedroom I could feel what needed to take place in the rest of the house but little did I know the challenges that would face me everywhere else.

The Study – A kind of miracle

Here in my study, cum healing room, cum playroom, cum office were many little things I kept “in case I needed them”. There were duplicates of many bits of equipment, and the many files of financial and other papers that had built up over the years.

Here, in some miraculous way, by doing the process of clearing I came to understand myself in a new way. It suddenly burst upon me that I had things around me that were there because of ideals and beliefs about what I should possess or put up on the walls. “Do you love it? Does it give you Joy?” Jenny would ask, and down the pictures would come, and out would go many of the things that were no longer important to me, for this was a new me emerging, one with confidence and the ability to discern for myself, no longer following a trend.

Sorting through the financial, house and work papers was the biggest miracle of all. I had about ten huge files crammed full with disorganised papers taking up a whole cupboard, Now I have slim plastic folders, beautifully colour coded. Each has a heading page with all the necessary details contained in each file so it is easy to find anything I want now.

And to top it all eventually we changed my room to the one I had always loved but had given over to a guest room. Now I play, work, exercise and give and receive healing sessions in a room with light and space.

Space and light, stillness and a quiet joy is the gift of this room.

My Partner — an evolving relationship

How the house looks and where things are kept have never much mattered to Noel and how I altered my own rooms did not affect him, but there are a few things that are dear to him, and when I moved the photo he loves to gaze at every morning when he awakes I could feel his reaction and how it hurt him to be disrespected in this way.

I realised I had taken all this on in the old pattern between us, without consulting him or talking about how it would be. Now I could ignore this no longer and had to address the fact that I had always taken control, and now there needed to be respect and negotiation.

Because of this clearing process our relationship became more open and honest and we had a deeper understanding of each other.

The Kitchen – The Ultimate Revelation

I took the utmost care to prepare Noel for what was about to happen in the kitchen for we share this space together. He knew where everything lived and he finds it difficult if their home is changed so I knew it was important to care for him too.

When I saw all the crockery and cooking pots and pans laid out on the hall floor I realised how much of it was unnecessary. I was attached to so much of it, it was to do with food and my survival. The fact that I viewed the kitchen as my domain where the very controlling part of me thought it reigned here as Queen Joan did not much help either.

As I let go of another several boxes of stuff in the kitchen, I could feel the beginnings of me clinging desperately onto the things in life that I used to support me. I could feel my huge resistance to letting go, and I could feel me blaming anyone (like Jenny) who I felt was taking them away from me.

As I allowed myself to feel all these feelings, I discovered how illusionary they actually are. I had the sense of an abyss opening up under my feet with no ground to stand on. Yet in that state I could actually feel more of me in connection to everything and everyone else, so that I no longer needed those things to prop me up. Instead I could open myself up to those around me and let go of my “its all for me” identity.

I grew in consideration of my partner and what he loved and what supported him, and he himself has adapted to the space as it is now in a very easy way for us both.

Magic at Work – Flow in Function

And so we went on through room to room, bringing out every little thing to be observed, made aware of, felt into. I allowed old hurts and joys to surface and clear.

Books, paintings, and memorabilia bought up old memories which no longer had purpose in my life as it is now. I kept the things I really loved and knew I was ready to let go of the others.

In every session so much gets connected with, bringing the opportunity to feel how much I love something and treasure it – then I keep it. Some things I’d held onto thinking I’d feel guilty if I threw them away – they definitely had to go.

I thought that I’d regretted throwing a couple of items of clothes away however I soon realised that things are always moving and changing – including me – and that these things no longer fitted ‘me’. My shape changed as I moved through the program and on a practical level I got myself something I loved – a new pair of shorts!

It can be hilarious as sometimes I can’t always remember where things are and I have to stop and think. I understand that I’d got stuck in my ways about where things live in the house – now life has changed for the better because things are in more appropriate places giving me the opportunity to feel how that works for me rather than leaving things in the same old places.

I have only spent a little money on a chair, a new rug, and some containers, otherwise those things I wanted to keep and didn’t know where to put have found a useful place somewhere else.

The Lily Emerging

I have found this process has enabled me to be more in charge of my life. People tend to think that you give your control and power away to someone else if you ask for help but I cannot disagree more.

The house is easier to clean, and when I leave it and go out into the world it supports me wherever I go. I have more confidence, and it’s a beautiful space to come back to.

I love the space in my house, I love its organisation, I love its flow. The whole feeling of how my house can be and how I can live within it and move around it has been greatly enriched.

It’s not about Feng-Shui or minimalism it’s about being true both to and for me. Now I can enjoy where and how I’m living!!

I never realised how much this would transform my life – taking me up and down and bringing me back in a new space and place. I was finding magic at each corner and it was so simple.

The transformation was not just from beginning to end but right through the process too. We came full circle. At first when we provisionally hung pictures that I’d kept hidden for years I was so sad and excited all at once. By the end of the process I was able to stand back and take stock of my emotional journey too and choose what should stay from a clear place now. Some pictures stayed, some went and some changed. It was like I needed to time to adjust and settle in with the new process. I now understand why Jenny supported me to not get ahead of myself, buy new things, or dramatically change things. It is a journey and you come full circle to a much clearer and simpler way of living.

Sharing the Magic with Others

I was feeling so confident about the magic in my house that I offered the charity volunteers that I work with the opportunity to come together to get to know each other a little better – some social time away from work – about nine of them came. My preparation was impeccable and everything was placed for ease of serving in the kitchen and dining room. All was ready for their arrival with no rush or panic despite having to go to hospital mid-morning.

As they arrived mid downpour they stood in the hallway gazing around them, obviously feeling the stillness and space. They were bowled over by it and they loved being here. Their anxieties faded and they spent an enjoyable, relaxed time together and afterwards commented on the space and light and especially the sense of calm in the house.

Having the feedback from my colleagues made me appreciate the fact that it wasn’t about how things looked but about how they felt. I was no longer ashamed and uncomfortable of how my house appeared to others. This was a stark contrast to the past when the mess was hidden away in the cupboards, and the surfaces were cluttered with stuff. What a transformation.

The Magic in Me

The whole process of clearing through every room, through every cupboard, no stone left unturned; feeling what each item meant in my life; and allowing so much to go; has cleansed me inside and out…magic indeed.

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