I believe that some of my material possessions carry with them baggage I am no longer willing to carry.
I am learning how to let go a little more every year. Summer has become my season for clearing out and taking the time to make the choice of saying good-bye, combined with possibly saying hello, which I have found has helped in the entire process. Starting with this phone book:I have had this book for years. I love the design. But it has become a reminder of people who have passed away, couples divorced, or friends that have moved so many times I no longer have their current address and have lost touch with. It was depressing and keeping me from calling and writing letters, because I hated the little reminders that fell out or the names I came across. I started to avoid and noticing this quality in myself felt overwhelming—-until I spied this: Of course , like the one before: published by Chronicle Books. But even better: the tabs were thicker, the bind was spiral, the images were colorful, and so I bought it on a whim in Portland. Then honestly, placed them side by side, unwilling to transfer the information for over a month. However, this week, I finally worked up the courage to go page by page, after the kids went to bed. And the old one has been tossed. Surprisingly, this process was not as painful as I thought. Whew…so maybe I am on a roll.I jumped on the feelings of motivation and opened my stamp collection. I have lugged this one box from my mother’s, to SF, around multiple apartments, to Long Beach, and still it sits. Every time I open this box I am flooded with memories of my first found love in mail. My aunt would mail me stamps from Montana. I spent hours, as a young girl, on my bedroom floor, with this stamp collection. As you can see in the photo above, I painstakingly alphabetized every country I had stamps from into individual sealed envelopes.
The dilemma has been: What do I do with this junk? Pass it on to my children (how awful and boring), sell it (as if these little paper pieces are worth gold), or toss it (I can’t bear the thought). In my state of being overwhelmed I did what anyone does, held on. Carrying these stamps everywhere I moved and having no idea why. They clearly don’t inspire the same interest in me. Until I walked into an antique store last week and saw a beautiful jar filled with stamps. I was inspired:The box is gone.
The envelopes were carefully opened and emptied.Each one taking away some guilt and anxiety. We are currently enjoying them, noticing the details, and saving a single jar, rather than a box full of treasures.
And then there is my living room. Furniture I have found rather than chosen. Furniture that has done its job but am willing to let go. Furniture that doesn’t seem to fit with the beautiful, wooden pieces I inherited last summer from my grandparents. Good-bye Ikea chair
Hello chair with more structure for my back (I hope to keep you for years).You are no longer big enough to hold all five of us side by side, we have loved having you aroundbut we are learning we like darker fabric better and pillows are nice. Now we can all fit during story time.
Piece by piece I am seriously learning how much these decisions matter. I keep telling my mom, the main issue is I am embracing my identity as a grown up more. I want to be a grown up without so much baggage. I don’t want to hang on. I read somewhere about asking questions like:
Is this lovely? Can I live without this? Does this make me smile? Is this practical? Is this serving a purpose? Is this adding to my life? And if I can continuously answer “yes” then I can buy it or keep it. If not, maybe I can give it away, repurpose it (desk – that’s you), toss it (stacks of papers everywhere), or sell it (books- one by one to Gatsby Books and the library).