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The Value of the Vacuum

It turns out that most of our life circumstances are a choice. We can bitch and moan all we like, but when we’re really honest we’ve made a decision, conscious or unconscious:

to stay at that job that sucks our soul

to stay with that person who doesn’t bring out our best

to stay on the couch instead of taking a walk

to stay exactly where we are.

Part of my creation of and embarkation upon The Freedom Tour was a conscious move toward simplicity. I sold an apartment, got rid of two-thirds of my belongings, and decided to be homeless indefinitely. I bought a Prius, filled it with the stuff I thought I would really need, and then threw in a few extra pairs of shoes, a sunny outlook, and an open heart. Then I said goodbye to life as I knew it.

There’s a feeling of fullness that comes from letting go that can’t be replicated in any other way. (Click to Tweet)

What I got from cultivating simplicity via releasing what no longer served me (books, clothing, a home, a city, business agreements, and some psychic contracts) was a lot of space for what did serve me.

I’ve heard it told that nature abhors a vacuum. First you must be willing to let go of what’s no longer working in your life (physical, spiritual, emotional, whatever, what have you.) Then most of the time you’ve actually got to let go of it. (And no, breaking up with your dead-beat boyfriend and then texting him for late night sleepovers does not count as letting go.)

And then this beautiful thing happens. You sit with the discomfort of the empty space (be it a cupboard, a slot in your schedule, or a place in your heart.) You get your chakras all spinning in the right direction. You get your vibration running on high.

Then the universe, God, Goddess, the Divine, all that there is, the great beyondananda, or whatever you want to call it brings you something better. Often way better than anything you could have imagined in your wildest dreams.

When I did all of my letting go in early 2011, I sat in my empty apartment and sobbed the night I left New York. The vacuum felt pretty painful at first. As each person left my apartment, holding something of mine that I’d let go of, I felt a bit panicked. What if I end up needing that thing that I’ve just given away?

I of course followed my fear of needing that thing that was walking out the door all the way to its inevitable end-point:

What if I’m making a huge mistake and my life is over? What have I done?

And thinking that thought felt extremely painful. So I reminded myself that not only was my stuff in very good friends with all of my loved ones, but I could come back to New York City any time and pick up right where I left off.

Surrendering to the great unknown of emptiness freaked me out. And it made me feel free. And in that freedom and open space I manifested great love with a man I adore, a much deeper connection to my worth, a trust in my voice I’d never found before, more money, a book deal, and a life I’m in love with.

Remember, nature abhors a vacuum. The emptiness will be filled with great if you’re willing to give up crappy, ho-hum, or even good. The sheer act of releasing something that no longer serves you is a giant message that you know you’re worth more. It’s like a smoke signal of your divine value.

A year and a half after starting The Freedom Tour on February 2, 2011 I’m probably due for a new vacuum. I’ll begin with my t-shirt drawer and shoes and see where it goes from there. The great thing about letting go is that you can start anywhere.

Vacuums are transferable. If you want to attract more clients, try cleaning out your sock drawer. If you’re looking to increase your income, see if you can create some extra space in your garage.

Let something go. Even if it’s little. Create a vacuum. Send that smoke signal declaring your divine worth out to the ether. Sit with the emptiness and feel what that feels like. And then relish the beauty that manifests as nature fills that vacuum with goodies.

And please report back.


  • Marjorie Roen

    nicely stated, clear as can be. I have been there many times, and a refreshing reminder really helps, thank you for making it real all over again.

  • Thank you for being so honest in this post. My book collection is such a clutter in my house and in storage space, but I can’t bear to let them go. I feel emotionally attached to them and part of me feels that I’m throwing away money if I throw away my books. It’s probably time for me to go through them and save only the ones that are nearest and dearest to me. Especially because I have experienced the vacuum phenomenon before!
    Thanks again. :)

  • “The sheer act of releasing something that no longer serves you is a giant message that you know you’re worth more. It’s like a smoke signal of your divine love.” Love, love, love this observation, Kate. And couldn’t agree more.

    You are reminding me that it is past time for me to clear out my office space and create room for prosperity, creativity, and just plain joy to come zooming in. Sounds like the perfect project for a rainy summer weekend.

  • Anonymous

    This was SUPER SUPER timely! I am sitting here in my apartment IN NEW YORK, having already given myself the goal of getting rid of things today and zen-ifying my apartment. Just posted some stuff on an ex’s Facebook page. Gah! I need to get started NOW. Thank you! : )

  • Anne

    You can shed weight , when you get rid of stuff!

  • I am totally vibing off this right now! We are moving to a new apartment in the same city, and quite honestly, this gives me a time to just GET RID of things! I love it. I can’t wait.

  • I kid you not, but before I read your email, a neighbor of mine started to vacuum their car. Oh, snap, I thought. It is so loud and distracting. Ha ha ha! I suppose the universe is playing with me here and wants me to really get the message about letting go…again. This has recycled for me many times, especially the past month or so. I need to let go.

    Thanks, I needed this one :D

  • Kate-

    Your timing is brilliant! Thank you for the courage and enthusiasm that you have embraced on your journey. I find myself on a similar path vacillating between letting go of what does not serve me any longer and the big fat fear of what lies ahead of that. The sheer force of energy I just felt from your post was like a jolt propelling me forward on my own quest. Its like the universe lined me up perfectly with the flow of what I needed when I needed it. My gratitude abounds!!!

  • Amen, sister. That’s some fine writing.

  • PattyRose

    My favorite words when I am cleaning and letting go of things… “you have served me well. Thank you!”

  • Maggie

    Hi Kate- Wouldn’t you know this popped into my in box on the day I took off from the job that “sucks my soul” to clear out space in my house and go through almost 50 bins of “stuff” which have been in my living room for 2 months representing 16 years of parenthood. You state so clearly what I’m feeling on so many levels for me right now. Thank you for always for being in my universe and speaking to it so perfectly! I once read somewhere to try to give 10 things away a day. It’s a great practice. I would urge everyone to try it for a month and see what opens up for you. xoxo Maggie

  • Kate,
    It is so refreshing to read of your journey, and I can sooo relate to the value of the vacuum! Kathy and I recently packed up, sold most of our things and are now living in Florida. Having a business that we can work from anywhere provides a wonderful sense of freedom and it’s so fulfilling to experience a new environment! I wish you a continued amazing journey!
    Namaste` and love to you!

  • Christine

    Who knew embarkation was a word – thanks, Kate!

  • Val

    Dear Kate
    I know I was lead to reading this article and I am feeling truly supported by the Universe. You see I am letting go of my vacuum – I am selling up my home asking my 21yo daughter to find some rental accommodation (in Melbourne, Australia) and I am going to the UK on a 6 month tourist visa with a only suitcase of my belongings. I am letting go of EVERYTHING and honestly my feelings fluctuate between elation of celebrating my new life and that I am definitely making the right choice for me, to my total body coming into grippling fear…. My deepest gratitude to you for sharing this as I relate totally and it gives me courage and inspiration to just keep going. By the way I am 53 and I love my life. With love Val

    • Gillian

      Good on you Val! i just stumbled on this post and want to congratulate you for following your heart and your energy! You are now an inspiration! As a fellow Melbournian, we all love the UK in summer and can’t imagine anything much more wonderful than being a tourist there for six months – way better than the three weeks we usually allow for OS escapades. Hope you have the most glorious adventure. Congratulations, Gillian

  • Deb

    Easy to let go unless everything has already been taken and you have nothing! I don’t feel free, I feel robbed! Nothing better has replaced the anything and everything that I had. I am wondering how I will retire with nothing since I’ve had to spend all my retirement funds. Live in a cardboard box maybe. The only thing I have to lose next is my health and my life, preferably the latter first since I have no healthcare. Yes, the delightful universe!

  • Kathy

    Thank you for reminding me. This is now on my task list for this week-end. ;0)

  • Els Anna

    Hi, it is wonderful to read this comments. I just became 47 and the books of your mother gave me the courage this year to leave my life, my grown-up sons, my relationship in Belgium to start a new adventure, life, love, job in Morroco with only 2 suitcases : everydag I feel fulfilled with gratitude and your writing and all these comments give me the courage and the reassurance to continu my new journey. Lots of love and energy to you all !!!

  • kaaaaaaate!!!
    i have loved cheering you on throughout this journey of letting go and receiving – and have learned a hell of a lot about myself in the process!
    you are my freedom fairy godmother <3

  • Mary C.

    I will never EVER forget the amazing feeling of freedom that I had when I was able to do this very thing back in 1995, albeit under crazy dire circumstances…I had had 2 brain tumor surgeries (& was anticipating a third), was on a walker and feeding tube, my son was 16 months old, and I decided to leave a husband who had proven he had no soul, and a life that was destined to be ho-hum and not awesome at all. I recovered so well by integrating Western & alternative practices, had a blast as a single mom, and returned to school for my degree. Fast forward to 2012: I am happily remarried for 4 years, have just been laid off from my own soul sucking job and my “little boy” now heading to college in 10 days! So it is now time for a new “letting go” adventure. I totally resonate with your experience…painful at first but SO SO rewarding when things turn out even better than you could have engineered on your own…it’s the stuff that makes life fun!

  • Thank you Kate. Thank you so much for this. I thought about the concept of the necessity of a vacuum all weekend. It helped me put into place how the actions I am currently taking with my life are absolutely necessary. It’s scary to say the least but I have strong faith at the same time. You demonstrated that by letting go of the things that no longer serve us, we create space for even better things to come.

  • Amen Sister! Now to my sock drawer…

  • Love this, did the clean out of my home and drawers and cupboards and washed the whole house down with rosewater and attracted the most amazing man, so suited to me. Love the universe, it’s just so simple really!

  • Karen

    I’m reading this AFTER cleaning out and moving on, and it’s a wonderful validation of my decisions. Took eight carloads of “stuff” to Goodwill and one load to the consignment shop – and it felt GREAT! Moved to an apartment with rent that is $200/month less and working on getting a job to replace the one that used to make me happy, but just doesn’t do it for me anymore. I hope readers take your message to heart – simplifying is a fabulous thing that fills your heart while emptying your closets…and cabinets…and drawers…and storage space. =)

  • Thank you for this timely article. I too have made the leap to follow my heart and am also clearing out literal space, too. Much love and gratitude!!

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