One Thing at a Time

Anyone else ever feel like so much is going on in their life and you’re just treading water day to day? That has been my life the past few months. After literally getting my son back on his feet, I took a trip to Colorado which was marvelous. I even converted my best friend to Yeti cups and stainless steel straws! I took in a concert at Red Rocks and breathed the fresh mountain air. It was such a wonderful recharge after the stress of the previous two months.

Once back home we started a small kitchen renovation project that forced me to clean out every single cabinet and drawer. In all I got rid of 4 large boxes of kitchen stuff that I have not used in the past 6 years so I knew it wouldn’t be missed. Now my cabinets and drawers are much less cluttered and things that I do use are much easier to find!

At the end of the summer my family also went through another significant change that had me evaluating every item I owned and asking if it was really important or not. Because of my grandmother’s declining health, she had to move in with my parents which meant there was an entire other residence to clean out and put on the market. This was no easy task for a variety of reasons, but I took away some very valuable lessons.

First, saving “stuff” to reuse but never actually reusing it is pointless and results in useless clutter. My grandmother grew up in large family on a farm in the middle of the Great Depression, so she rarely threw anything away that could possibly still have a use. Over the years she collected so many things to reuse that the items literally got buried in the back of closets, cabinets, and drawers. So while her intentions might have been good, the practical application was completely missing. I did help her out in the recycling department though and cleaned up more cool whip and yogurt containers than I ever want to see again in my life!

Second, just because an item is something I remember from my childhood and I associate it with my grandmother does not mean I need to keep it. Instead I took pictures of items to incorporate in a scrapbook so I can still talk about the emotions and memories that the item triggers for me without having to find a place to store it. This was so incredibly liberating during this process. As many of us age and come to the point of having to clear out the homes of our parents and grandparents, I truly hope that each of us can separate the feelings and emotions for the people we love and the “stuff” they collected over a lifetime. It is not a lack of sentimentality and I did keep a couple of items, but by and large I used the photograph method to document items that meant something to me. Letting go of things is not letting go of memories. Letting go of things is not being disrespectful to the people who owned them. Letting go of things is a shift in perspective and it is so freeing that I hope everyone can experience it and truly live a life free of the anxiety and stress that often comes with having a lot of “stuff.”

 

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