Spring is in full force – the sun is peaking through the clouds, pollen is flying through the air and traditional spring cleaning has begun. For me this year, the season of spring is also bringing a desire to participate in an unconventional twist to spring cleaning, de-cluttering all aspects of my life and bring with it a renewed focus.

I recently overheard a woman talking about her two-year-old son and his experience during Christmas this past year. She was sharing how, when married to her former husband, her then mother-in-law would “go crazy” during the holiday season and purchase nearly everything in the store. As a result, her ex-husband cringed each year as the seemingly jolly season would approach. His childhood experience, filled with an overabundance of tangible items left him feeling a void in more ways than one. This Grinch-like attitude was following him into adulthood and leaving a similar impression on his toddler, who, by instruction, was not allowed more than one toy for Christmas.

In a separate visit, I listened in as two men began talking about their upcoming mother’s birthday. She was turning 90 years old. One of the men shared his wife’s stress about what to purchase as a gift, saying “she probably already has everything.” After a short recollection of the previous year, the brothers decided they would purchase a generator for their mother, as she had lost power five times in the past year.

In both of these conversations, it seems, there was more emphasis placed on the actual gift rather than the act of giving, causing unnecessary stress and frustration.

After hearing these stories, I began a self-reflection and audit of my own life’s “stuff” — tangible and intangible. At a time when many are cleaning closets and making room for more purchases, I am joining the crowd. But, this year, rather than adding clothes or shoes, I am hoping  to de-clutter life by making small, subtle changes to my every day routine. A few examples include:

  • Walking with my dogs in the evening instead of Facebook scrolling;
  • Sitting outside in the sun with a magazine instead of inside on the couch;
  • Hosting impromptu get-together’s with new friends rather than wishing I had elaborate dinner plans;
  • Sending already read books to a good friend a few states away in exchange for her already read pieces of work;
  • And, most importantly, making time for long conversations with my good friends and family who matter most.

So far, the plan is moving along nicely, and I am feeling less “cluttered”. One day at a time.

What about you? Are you spring cleaning this year – traditionally or unconventionally? And if not yet, don’t worry, there’s still time.