Archive | July, 2012

Our Taste Changes Over the Years

31 Jul

When we are working on ourselves and growing, the solution to the issue we are working on at the time often surrounds us.  If we pay attention we will see all the answers in articles, people’s comments, books, TV shows, etc.  One thing that keeps popping up for me is the concept that we should only keep the things that we find beautiful or useful; the things we love and bring us joy.  And I’d like to think that a lot of the things that we find useful we also should love and the things that we love we should also find useful.

 Another concept that I have been pondering is that we have to look at who we are today and the fact that what we find useful and beautiful changes over time.  I know that my taste has changed over the years.  Yet we tend to accumulate a lot of stuff in our lives, all the way back to our childhood that we carry around with us from house to house; apartment to apartment, never really looking at them and determining are they worth our time and commitment, are they still things we love that represent us well?   We just assume we still love these items, or that they have some value, even though we haven’t looked at them for years.

 I experienced the perfect example of this the other day when I was unpacking some boxes in our new place.  I hung up my printers’ tray (any of you children of the 70’s would know what that is, but those who don’t, it’s a tray that was used to hold type face, before computers did everything, people had to line up individual letters for printing, the letters were all organized in printers’ trays).  A printers’ tray can be used to display small mementos or decorations.  As an artist, since print making is near and dear to my heart, I still love my printers’ tray and anything to do with print making.  While unpacking I also found a box containing the items I used to display in my tray the last time it hung on my wall, (about 25 years ago).  All the items were carefully wrapped in tissue to protect them and I have been carrying this box around with me for 25 years.  Unopened and unaware of what was even inside.

 When I started unwrapping the items I realized they were from a different lifetime of mine and they did not reflect the person I am today.  I did not like any of the items, they did not seem beautiful or useful to me and did not bring me joy and happiness. I ended up rewrapping the items and putting them back in the box.  However, instead of keeping the box I put it  in my pile of things to bring to the thrift store.  It is time to let these items go to perhaps someone who will find them beautiful and useful.

 I have been noticing that my tastes have changed over the years.  Life has truly changed over the years, so why shouldn’t my taste change with it.  I have grown, evolved, gone through difficult times, and have experienced joys that I couldn’t even have dreamed of years ago.   After all of that I am starting to look at myself as a new person with new taste.  I want to get in touch with who I am today, who I truly am, right now.  I know it is different from who I was even a couple of years ago.

 I am sure that all of us change over time, and we should allow our tastes to change and evolve as well.  So how are you holding onto things you should be letting go of?  How has your taste changed?  Where can you let go of the old to allow the new to enter?

 Your Homework:  Find one item in your home that no longer represents who you are and let it go…  If it’s in good shape, donate it to a thrift store, if it isn’t toss it.  Look around your home and look at the items you are hanging onto, the items decorating your home or taking up space in the corners and closets.  Do these items still represent who you are?  Do you still feel joy when you look at them?  Do you still find them useful?  If not, it’s time to let go.

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Living “Stuff” Surrounding Us

17 Jul

So back to speaking about things.  Some of the things I have been thinking about this week are living things.  Those things we become caretakers of; protectors, guardians, sentinels.  For instance our animals who bring us great joy and comfort in our lives.  They are wonderful to share our hearts with.  They do come with their own “Stuff” and we do tend to like buying them “Stuff” so there is a caution there too. But we really can weed down their items a lot easier than we can weed down our own. And they are so worth the space they take up in our homes, because they take up that space in our hearts as well.

 The other things I have been thinking about lately are the various nature we surround ourselves with.  For instance, our house plants and all they come with (extra pots, fertilizer, watering cans, little tools to take care of them, etc.).  OK, I need the fertilizer and tools and one watering can, but I do need to weed through and get rid of some of the extra pots.  I did an initial sort and purge when I was packing the house to move. But now that I am unpacking I realize there are still some that have to go.

 And then there are the plants, shrubs, trees and garden ornaments we bring into our lives, or take over as the guardians of.  When I bought my last house, I bought it mostly for the yard.  It was a beautiful “park like setting” with a large variety of trees, bushes, perennials and there were all different little areas on the ½ acre of land.  The man who built the house had planted the little bushes and 40 years later when I am buying the house from him, and taking over as the caretaker of this land and this nature, the bushes and trees had all fully matured and blossomed.  It was a beautiful sight with blooms all spring and summer, shade from the very tall trees, birds everywhere and butterflies flitting about.  Chipmunks living under the shed, visits from a pair of ducks every year and an occasional bunny sighting.  Our neighbors had chickens, bunnies, cats, dogs, exotic birds.  We often spoke of loving nature and the trees. I would look at my other neighbors’ yards, barren of trees, barren of life.  They had removed the trees, and just have grass (probably the worst type of landscaping for the environment).  I would then see my rectangle of trees (as well as my one neighbor next to me- the guy with the chickens) standing out from the landscape. Standing tall, holding a diversity of life including bats, owls, birds, squirrels, and my favorite spring peepers (frogs).  I would feel a sense of pride as the caretaker of this rich land in the middle of suburbia. 

 Well, now I have had to sell my home due to financial reasons.  I couldn’t be picky on who bought my house and I had no control over what happened to the land after I handed over the keys.

 To my horror (and my tree loving neighbor’s horror) I drove by the house only a couple of days after closing, and ALL the nature on that plot of land was ripped out.  I cried.  It was such a sad sight, to see tire tracks over my perennials in the front lawn and nothing left in the back.  All those cool little areas, and secret places, all gone.  All the mountain laurels, rhododendrons, azaleas, birch trees, oak trees, chestnut trees, hickory trees, all cut down and thrown in a dumpster!  All the perennials, the expensive perennials that I put my heart, soul and sweat into planting them and taking care of them, all gone.  It was a horrible sight.  Just a barren plot of dirt. 

 So the land that I took over as caretaker from the man who so proudly watched his plants and trees mature over the 40 years, is now a barren waist land; waiting for a McMansion to be built with minimal formal landscaping and a lot of grass.  So sad to me.  It will never be the same. However, it was the closure I needed for the yard that I loved.  That is truly no longer my yard, no longer my house.  I wouldn’t want it for anything.

 Some stuff that we collect, or are given, is healthy and meaningful for us.  Especially the living things. We should honor them and not take them for granted.  The Great Spirit of the Universe, Our Great Creator (some of you may call God) wanted us to live in nature and enjoy all the nature that is put on the earth.  There is a reason for all of it.  We are just renting space here on earth while we are alive.  We need to remember we are caretakers and not “owners” of this earth.  So here is one place where I would say the more stuff the better.  Plant some diversity in your yards, plant something the birds will love to eat the seeds in the fall, or will attract bees and butterflies all summer long.  Give the animals and birds a place to hide and build their nests.  Become a part of your plot of land no matter how big or small, become the caretaker you were meant to be.

 

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What are we leaving behind?

17 Jul

What are we leaving behind?

So perfect. We don’t take our stuff with us, but we do leave behind our stuff for others to either sort and purge or to caretake. What are we leaving behind for others???

Step One in Letting Go

12 Jul

So now we are moved in and surrounded by boxes full of stuff.  Stuff to be sorted, stuff to be moved around, stuff to be unpacked, stuff to be given away.  Stuff Stuff Stuff everywhere.  It is overwhelming.  But my feeling of suffocation is helping me let go of stuff.

 First thing to let go of which is the easiest; anything broken, anything not working properly or anything dirty and stained.  I am tossing these with some ease.

 Next thing to get rid of are the things that when I look at don’t make me happy.  Why would I keep something that doesn’t make me happy?  Attached to bad memories, or something that never worked the right way, or something that is just stupid and I never wanted it to begin with.  I am letting go of that also with ease.  And most of this stuff is in good enough shape to donate.  Donating can make it easier to get rid of things rather than just tossing.  And it’s better for the environment since I won’t be filling a landfill with my stuff.

 I am also looking at all the stuff that worked in former houses but is just NOT working in this house, so those are the next to go.  I have tons and tons of baskets and plastic bins.  At some point they worked for me to organize things.  I have them in a large pile in the new house, and as a problem comes up, I pull one out and see if it will solve the problem.  I have found a bin to store fruit in the refrigerator, a drawer to put under the bathroom vanity, and bins for holding little items in the bathroom. 

 However, I know in the end I will not be able to keep all of these baskets and bins.  First step is to look at those that are falling apart and throw them out.  Next is to look at any that are in an offensive color to me and get rid of them (I HATE pale pink, old bins from the 80’s, gotta go).  And lastly I’ll be looking at the ones that are functional but just not useful to me right now and are not worth the space to store them, those will be donated. 

 This is where I am at right now with the process.  I have to say moving into a smaller place is forcing me to down size.  It is forcing me to look differently at my stuff and have a different attitude towards it.  I no longer feel completely attached to my stuff.  (Well, I have to admit so far I have done the easy things, and have not ventured into my interior decorations, my books or my stationary- and hey, don’t touch my pens!!!  Admittedly that is going to be the hard stuff to get rid of!!!).

 Homework for you all:  Find something in your house or office (or car) that you have been hanging on to, but actually you really don’t like it.  Take that item and toss it.  Feel how good it feels to get rid of something you don’t even like!  Feel the freedom of saying goodbye.

Moving Day

4 Jul

OK, before this big move (after living in a home i owned for 8 years and into a rental) I have been going through all my “stuff” and getting rid of things for about a year.  I kept letting go of things, setting them free, allowing others to enjoy them, saying goodbye to things that I have been hauling around for my whole life.   I then did a second and third look and let go of even more things.   I held a garage sale, I gave away items to friends and family, I made numerous trips to the thrift store and to donate items to the animal shelter.

After all of that, our stuff still did not fit into one 26′ moving truck.  We had to make numerous trips with a minivan, car and suv to bring more “stuff” over to the house.  I was watching the movers bringing out more and more of my “stuff”.  I watched them for hours and hours as they packed my house into the truck.  It took 7 1/2 hours to pack the truck, and there is still “stuff” back at the old house that I have to get.

All of this just made me start thinking about my relationship with all this stuff.  Why do I have it?  Why do I have so much of it?  Why am I carrying some of these items with me my whole life?  Why can’t I let go (for instance why can’t I let go of the rag dolls from my childhood?  I’m 45 years old, and I can’t throw out a very well loved, worn, rag doll)?  What is necessary to have?  What can we still let go of?  Why do we love our stuff?

We buy stuff, store stuff, pay for stuff to be moved, buy more stuff, store more stuff, etc. Our stuff costs us an enormous amount of time and money to maintain it, clean it, move it, store it, have it, own it.  I feel suffocated by my stuff right now.  I feel like I just want to put it all to the curb and live like a monk.  But then I open up my boxes with my colorful dishes, that I love so much and start putting them in the cabinet that I just lined with a pretty green shelf liner, and I smile.  I do love my stuff.

Now the adventure begins.  I am going to start letting go of even more stuff and start living a simpler life.  That is what this blog is going to be about.  My change in attitude about carrying around so much stuff, my reevaluating which stuff is necessary, which stuff we can say good bye to.  My exploration into sentimental stuff that seems to just be carried around from one house to another in sealed boxes, never seeing the light of day.

My goal is to explore the path of simplification, to re-look at how I am materialistic, to explore how owning stuff and surrounding ourselves with stuff may interfere with our spirituality, our connection to the earth and finding our purpose.

Day two will be trying to set up a very small kitchen…  The adventure begins, I hope you’ll join me.

Hello world!

4 Jul

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