Thanks to my friend, Mad, this expression has become one of my faves! It has come in handy so many times in the last month since I first heard it that I have decided to do a blog post every once in awhile, called “Bits ‘n Bobs.” It will be a collection of things I have learned, encountered, or experienced along this journey of mine, that may or may not be worth a dedicated post. Each day is so full with new information, new ways of doing things, ingenuity I must employ, etc., that it might be fun (for me and for future reference) to write about them. No particular order, priority or importance, just random bits and bobs picked up along the way.
STUFF – THE BANE OF OUR EXISTENCE
People have been asking me about the process of letting go, (see post “Letting Go”, January 27, 2019), about the actual doing of it…HOW? For many of us, our stuff weighs us down, maybe more than it uplifts us. It becomes a burden, and so we don’t think about it, and it grows into more stuff. So, best to get an early start, before it is left to our kids. I am assuming here that anyone going through this process to this degree has children that are grown, or mostly so, and is beginning to look at “the rest of your life”, rather than just another phase. Not meant as a depressing thought, and more as a freeing one!
So, how to begin. Briefly, I did it in what I think of as layers. You know how we save stuff often because we just don’t know what to do with it at the moment so, we put it on a shelf, in a drawer (how many “junk drawers” do YOU have??) in a closet, etc.? Well, most of those things are not can’t-live-without items…so I start there. I might pick a closet, or a drawer, or a chest of drawers. For example, I had a whole drawer in a chest in my den full of maps…maps to everywhere I’d been, and maps of all regions of France, maps of places I might go…time to let go of the maps! We have Google now, and can always get a new, updated map free from AAA, if a member. These are the things that are the easiest…if it’s been in a drawer or closet since you moved there, DELETE it! Another example is that my coat closet had NO LESS than 20 coats in it…when guests came, there was no room for their coats! And yes, I did wear every one of them…sometimes! It was hard with some of my favorites (and I just asked myself if I really needed it, and had I gotten good use of it, and if I could do without it?) One by one, I let them go. I do confess I bought 2 new coats, but they served the same purpose of several of my older ones. Now I am down to 5 coats! (P.S. it helps to have basic black in coats…they really do go with everything, where the colorful coats I had were limited in their use!…just sayin’. You can use scarves for a pop of color!)
Next, I might ask myself these questions: : “Do I want to PAY to move/store this? How many times have I used/looked at these things in the last 5-10 years? How many more times will I want to look at them in the time I have left (5, 10, 15 years..not to put an end point out there!) Who would really want these things? Would I want my children to have to decide what to do with these things? These are all questions that really help the process of letting go.
So I might go through this same process more than once in the same places…layers…the first time through, toss out a few things, next time more…often I realize that the rest can go, too.
Photos, letters, diaries, journals – if you really don’t have time to go through these (before moving, for example), ok, keep them…and plan a date when you will begin the final pass through with those. Or, read a few, decide if you even want your offspring to read them (and they probably won’t even want to), get a chuckle or a tear or two, and then toss…as I said, you’d probably never get to them again.
Kids’ stuff. Most of this – their early drawings, report cards, handmade projects, they don’t want or even remember. They might like to SEE them again, or have now, but YOU don’t have any obligation to keep them any longer. I have a plastic tub for each…whatever fits in there, I will store for them for 1 year; then they must decide or take or toss. Stuff FOR the kids?…realize that most of it, they have no interest in…especially not “brown” furniture…today it’s all “industrial,” minimalist; “ Wayfair, you’ve got just what I need” – get it now, toss it when the trends change! Wedgewood china, silver (real) flatware, punchbowls (who ever really needs a punch bowl anyway???), trust me, they won’t want it!!! Yes, even if it belonged to your grandmother…did they know your grandmother??) Even consignment and NICE auctioneers or antiques dealers won’t take it…they are inundated by all of us baby boomers downsizing…they have no more room, and it isn’t selling…millennials do not want it!
With all my “precious” objects, I do ask myself: “Am I able to let this go?” Usually there is an immediate, embodied or emotional response, “NO,” or a weak, “Eh, I don’t know,” or a “YES.” Anything but a definitive answer, preferably that you feel in your BODY, not just in your head, is the one you should listen to. Marie Condo’s famous, “Does it bring you Joy?” is another question…I don’t use it. Joy comes to me in lots of ways, and objects usually don’t JUST bring me joy…it is the CAN I let this go question that I feel the answer to in my body, in my heart. Sometimes even a tear lets me know. Funny example: I collected wind-up toys for a few years, proudly showing my crazy collection to anyone who would watch…jets with pilots who ejected, bunnies who did a perfect flip, doggies who rolled over, kangaroos who jumped with a baby popping out of their pocket! Seriously, I did this as an adult! What do you think my embodied response was to letting them go?….NO!!! I couldn’t. Go figure.
And lastly, what do I actually do with the stuff I’m not keeping? Much of it has been picked up from my front porch by local charities that come right to your door – Viet Nam Vets, National Children’s Center, Purple Heart, Arc. Next, I sold a lot of stuff through Facebook’s “Marketplace,” and “Nextdoor,” in most neighborhoods. I also spent some time thinking about people I knew who might like something I had that I hoped might bring joy to someone as it had to me. Surprisingly, I have been delighted to turn something over to someone who really loves it and has “just the place” for it in their home. This does bring me joy. Finally, as a last opportunity to have people I know or who I know really want my stuff have a chance at it, a day or two before I move everything out (either to storage or to consignment), I am holding an “Open House Yard Sale” where people I know can come do a “Cash and Carry” transaction and take one of my family heirlooms or treasured pieces home with them. Won’t that be fun?
(Not exactly a “bit” or a “bob” but something wanting a listening.)