On March 2, 2022

Empty the room: part 2, The Funologist’s guide to getting ‘unstuck’

By Sandra Dee Owens

Have you ever felt overwhelmed, or lost clarity and confidence? I have.

“Empty The Room” is my simple approach to removing mind (and room) clutter, to regain clarity and confidence. But, of course, simple—is not the same as easy.

Paint

I hated the deep, pumpkin orange from its first roll on the wall. Having chosen a paint color based on the color of the T-shirt I was wearing, turned out to be a poor decision. The soft, pinky-orange of my old shirt looked nothing like the three gallons of custom paint I paid a small fortune for.

Typically a bright-pastel-y kind of gal, I normally avoided the darker shades of autumn as they made me look pale and cadaverous.

By Sandra Dee Owens
The new quiet space transformed into an open house space to showcase my art.

Rolling it on the walls, I could tell immediately the room would not look good on me.

“That paint was expensive,” my husband tossed over his shoulder, as I reluctantly rolled my mistake on the walls more than 10 years ago. “I sure hope you love it.”

I worked for more than a week, up and down a 10-foot ladder that scared the bejesus out of me, to paint the 12-foot high walls and painstakingly cut around every inch of the beams, posts, and braces of our oak timber frame. It took three coats to cover.

I prayed I would fall in love with the color. But I never did.

For 10 years I wished the color were gone, but whenever I daydreamed about repainting, I thought of the expense, how many coats it took, and how big a job it was. I would fumble the dream—and move on.

Burnout

The pandemic brought change to us all. Like it or not, it unstuck us from routines.

For me, the pandemic coincided with career burnout. For 40 years the holidays had been a hustle. Make as much handmade jewelry as possible and then work hard to sell it.

Instead of addressing my feelings, I soldiered on, hoping they would go away—like the orange paint. I ignored how I felt because I was afraid of failing at something new. I was career-stuck.

But I remembered I had an effective method for getting unstuck. “Emptying The Room,” which had worked several times in the past. And I knew just the room to choose. That damn orange one! So in late autumn of 2021, I began.

Mind and room therapy

First, I had an (internal) conversation with the gremlin I call “Should.” I let her know she was no longer allowed in the room. Then I set about completely emptying the room until the only thing left was “Quiet.”

Then I stood in the quiet, empty room and asked myself one question; What do I want to do?

I let my mind mull this question over as I worked. Gathering fistfuls of paint swatches from the local hardware store, I placed them around the room and observed how they looked in varied stages of day and night.

Then, one by one, I removed the swatches that did not pair well with “quiet.” Suddenly I realized that the last swatch in the room, helped reveal the answer to my question, What do I want to do?

Write.

I wanted to write. So I bought the quiet paint and started rolling it on the walls of my studio.

And the work was so much easier, it was fun! While I still did not enjoy the top rung of the 10-foot ladder, I climbed it anyway, as I like to do things that scare me a little. I repeated the swatch routine for the trim.

And day by day, I noticed “Clarity” coming more into view. She arrived with someone else also buried under the clutter, “Confidence.” And suddenly I realized that “Clarity” and “Confidence” were kin. Cousins to my wild voice, these inner advisors always have my best interest at heart. Of course! It made such sense.

Then suddenly, it was the holiday season and my attention turned to our jewelry business.

A new door

With some newfound clarity, I was now standing in a room devoid of the “Should,” “Have-To” and “Expectation” gremlins.

Courtesy Sandra Dee Owens
Sandra Dee Owens smiles as she makes jewlery in her studio in Benson.

I now had room to think of our business from a new angle. An angle I had not considered before.

With a website rolling year-round, what if my writing/painting studio could quickly and easily transform to an open house space—then back?

What a delightful thought!

I loved preparing the space and jewelry for an open house. With “Should” banned, I felt the spark and joy of creativity return.

“Emptying the Room” helps me set “Clarity” and “Confidence” free.

For more information about Sandra Dee Owens visit, sandradeeowens.com.

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