The Purge – The Power of Our “Stuff”

What keeps us grounded?  Sane? Feeling good about ourselves?  For some it is a bathroom drawer full of makeup, or a closet full of different style shoes, or a bookshelf full of books – these things really can give us a sense of pride.

It hasn’t been easy to purge our things or reduce items into boxes. Each item provokes some kind of emotion, “remember when?”, or a moment of disgust “remember when I fit into this dress?”  For many items it is time to let go, and that’s not easy.  Unless the item evokes extremely positive emotions,  I have to be willing to let go.

My folks recently sold their home back East and moved into a smaller place in California.  They dropped off a box of my trophies.  I had three. Total.  Back then, we didn’t get a trophy unless you made a significant contribution to the team.  In my case, I won the “Sportsmanship Award”. That year, I was 9 going on 10 and I was the only girl on the team and it was my last year once the boys started discussing their athletic supporters.  I innocently asked “What’s a cup?”  I got laughed at, but proudly took home the sportsmanship award for tolerating their jeers.  I dumped that trophy in the trash last week, and I was a little sad.  I mean, that hunk of metal or plastic was a sign that I had built character.  Or was it?  The other trophy was a bowling trophy I won when I was 5.  It had my average printed on it – an eight.  Yep, 8.  I actually added a number 1 to the left of the 8 so it read “18”.  I tossed that too.  Ten days later I felt this strong pang of regret.  What if I want to hold on to it just one more time, to remember my “glory days”.  Seriously. I’m so lame.

To get through things we’ve had to ask:

1.) Do I need this in Spain for the one year we are gone?

2.) Will we want it once we come back?  Will we have “outgrown it” or do we like it enough to carry over to our storage facility?

3.) Is it better off being donated and bringing joy to someone else? This last one leads me to purge the most. One man’s trash…

It’s been really hard.

For my family, the most challenging thing has been to letting go of our books.  The kids like to re-read books but they are all just so heavy.  I have promised to download the stories they love for the iPad, but they assure me it’s just not the same. I have to agree.

Now the pressure is on with one week left.

As long as I have my phone and a good camera with me, I think I will be fine.  Capturing the special moments is the most important.  They sell clothes, sporting goods and make-up in Europe and I bet we will stumble into some book store with English versions of books we had never even thought of reading.

Maybe I’ll pick up some lame tchotchke with my ten year old daughter in some gift shop over there.  Something she’ll keep proudly on her shelf until she heads off to college.  Then it will end up in a box that we will open one day.  We’ll have a good laugh, a moment.  Until she chucks it to make room for more memories.

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