What follows will seem random and disconnected but if you can hang in until the end, I believe I’ll get it all tied up. I recently became an empty nester. After 26 years, I no longer have events to attend simply because I have a kiddo involved. I can choose where my leisure time is spent. A good portion of my work life aligns with my passion and automatically includes being at certain events since it’s a party of my work! But other events – such as concert, plays, and sporting events – are left up to choice.
I have a friend that always has a “word of the year”. For the first time ever, I tried it out for myself this year. My word for 2017 is “alignment”. Strangely enough, I didn’t necessarily go looking for the word. Near the end of 2016, that word (or the concept behind it) kept showing up in books I read, public speakers I listened to, etc. So I decided to take the hint and make it my focus word for 2017! As opportunities have come my way, I ask one simple question – Does this align with those things I am most passionate about? Once I have the answer to that question, the choice between “yes” and “no” becomes much clearer.
With all the kiddos moved out and doing the “adulting” thing, I had two empty bedrooms in my house. Hubby and I decided that I would get to take over one of the rooms and make it my office/crafting space. The room is painted and the carpet removed. It’s finished enough to be functional but still needs window treatments, some shelves, and some decorative items to hang on the wall. But the room is all mine. During the move in process, I was able to purge quite a bit of stuff and keep only what would truly be useful. I organized my work and crafting space as I chose and stored the items in the way that made sense to me. No one else has gotten to say word one about how the room is set up or what things I will store in this room as opposed to other rooms in the house.
So what do these three seemingly disconnected thoughts have to do with each other? It all comes back to my word for the year – during the 26 years I had kiddos living in my home, they were my priority (second only to my husband!) and my desires regarding room layout, room usage, storage strategies, etc. were often set aside in favor of finding a solution that would work for multiple people. When the kids were little, they needed play space. As they got older, they needed space to hang out with their friends, access to DVD players for movie watching get-togethers, etc. Once again, I focused on what would make them comfy and relaxed in the home we shared.
With the kids gone from the home and the space that I get to manage/create/organize, the question of alignment has come up often. As I move things from one space in the house to my room, I often ask “Does having this thing help me to be more productive in my work life, does it bring joy as a decorative item, or is it something I will find useful before the end of the year as a creative tool?” It’s a longer version of the alignment question, but it’s basically the same thing – Does owning this thing align with my purposes and goals?
It’s been surprisingly easy to purge my “stuff” while settling into my room thanks to the alignment question. And doing all of this as an empty nester has allowed me to tweak exactly what my purpose is now that I am able to focus more on myself and how I spend my time.