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June 11, 2023
Simple Lessons From a Storage Locker

Megan Rafuse

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The Power of Clearing Out to Make Room For Growth

Letting go.

You know what’s hard to admit as a therapist? I have a really hard time letting go. I know I’m not alone in this, and I also know that there are a lot of therapeutic modalities to address this that I seemed to have avoided intentionally for the past three years. Instead, it was a podcast about minimalism that helped me to take action and make some tough decisions this week.

I want to share a bit about my own “stuff,”...which I will aptly name my emotional baggage. For three years, I’ve been paying for a large storage locker that housed all of the contents from our in-person Toronto clinic that remained in limbo, thanks to my desire to procrastinate in an attempt to avoid my own emotions. The irony that I am a therapist turned CEO of a mental health company is not lost on me. I’m also human! 

We moved out of the Shift office in a rush, in the middle of the pandemic, and I didn’t have much time to process it. We hired movers, and Jor went alone to deal with the cleaning, as I had just had a baby and was in no shape to deal with it -physically or mentally.  

That being said, I have to admit that I’ve been grieving since that move-out day and often find myself thinking about that little clinic space in Toronto and its meaning for not just me but so many people. For almost five years, that 618 square foot, three-room office space held so much healing, learning, growing, laughing, crying, and connection. I remember those early days fondly, especially the people who shared that journey with me and all of the hard lessons I learned within those walls. That space shaped me into who I am today. Entrepreneurship can be lonely and difficult, and at the same time, it can be full of community, hope, and support. The clinic embodied both for me. That’s likely why I feel a profound sense of loss and an incredible sense of gratitude. Two things can be true at the same time, and in this case, the feelings of grief and gratitude definitely coexist. 

Recently, I decided I just had to deal with it and take action and knew that I couldn’t avoid feeling all the feelings forever (that adds up quickly $$)! I spent this weekend with Jordan cleaning out the storage locker, and as expected, those big feelings I had been dreading, showed up. But you know what? So did all of these incredibly happy memories of the amazing humans we were able to share the journey of Shift Collab with, the pride in the growth we experienced together, and the many laughs shared on these couches! It’s not the stuff that holds the memories; it’s me. My gratitude is deeply engrained for everyone who took the chance on Shift in the early days and continues to do so now. Thank you for trusting us to have your back on your mental healthcare journey. And if you need a sofa, hit us up! ;) 

As the day went on and we were going through the contents of the clinic storage locker, we found ourselves reminiscing. Remember when we ran a workshop on Owning Your Story with 40 people in that little space? Or the time we learned how to make tea with Hannah? Or when Angelina called herself “Angerlina” because we didn’t clear out the office fridge in a timely way? I shared stories of my deepest struggles (ugh, marketing) and how I napped on most of the sofas in the clinic. Jordan reminded me of all the nights he worked late at the desk to check my clients out after my 8 pm sessions so he could drive me home. Those early days were not only the start of what Shift Collab is today but also the start of what is now our marriage. How wild is that? 

We also started talking about the version that Shift Collab is now. The amazing team we have. The therapists who inspire us. The incredible feedback our clients share with us about how great their experiences have been. We’ve grown, but we’ve kept the same ethos of connection we carried in the early days. 

When I first set out to start, renovate, decorate, and grow a team in that little clinic space, I knew I wanted to build a supportive community that would champion mental wellness and treat mental illness. Looking now at our team of 125 therapists, 18 staff, and all of our clients, I know that it’s not the space, or the stuff, or the furniture that carries the vision and the mission, but it’s the people. And our people are incredible.

So here we are, fully aligned (with no “stuff” weighing us down) with our new chapter as Canada’s leading virtual mental health practice! Here’s to the next five years, Canada!

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