When I opened the curtains this morning, my gaze fell upon three very old glass bottles that I picked up at a local antique store a few months ago to use as vases. I wondered: Whose hands held these? What things have these bottles held? My favorite things are the ones with histories. Things that someone meticulously crafted. Things that have been passed down from one family to another. The exact opposite of brand-new things assembled on a conveyor belt in a factory that spews out smoke. This (partially) explains why I hate big box stores but am helplessly drawn to any old barn with an "Antiques" sign hanging on it.
I'm also drawn to any book that advises how to weed out stuff that has lost its sentimental value or use. The best book I've ever read on the topic of decluttering is Making Peace with the Things in Your Life: Why Your Papers, Books, Clothes, and Other Possessions Keep Overwhelming You--and What to Do About It by Cindy Glovinsky (which I wrote about a few years ago in Don't Fall Into the "Junk Trunk" Trap). Yes, I've read Marie Kondo's best-selling book (The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, in case you've been in hibernation), but I couldn't get into all of the odd, touchy-feely stuff, like thanking my purse each night for its service. I did, however, LOVE her point about considering your gut reaction to each thing that's taking up space in your home. If something reminds you of an unpleasant experience, by all means, let it go!
Looking around my home this morning, I took a little "history tour", an inventory of sorts, jotting down some of the ways that various things have found their way into my home. How many of the following are true of your own belongings as you look around your rooms? Check all that apply:
- A wedding gift
- A child's craft project from school
- A perfectly good thing picked up at the curb before the garbage men could take it away
- A souvenir from a trip
- A thing I ordered from a catalogue (I used to do that a lot, but not anymore)
- A thing I bought to fix something else (when the mood strikes...HA!)
- A thing I ordered from eBay
- A thing I made years ago but am still proud of
- A hand-me-down
- A thing somebody forgot at last weekend's party
- A thing outgrown by the kids, on the way to Goodwill
- A thing I've carried from home to home to home (sentimental me!)
- A thing the previous owners left behind on purpose
- A thing I picked up on a morning walk (pretty stone)
- A thing passed on to me by an uncle cleaning out his apartment
- A thing I won at a school auction
- A thing my sister-in-law just bought for my daughter for Hanukkah (how cool is this eco-friendly set of Jungle Crayons?!)
- A thing I don't even remember how it got into my home (but I like it)
I'm happy to report that I don't have any of the following:
- A useless thing I picked up at the store without even thinking about it. (I'm a tough customer!)
- A thing I bought when I saw it on TV. (I skip all ads, and Neil Young has a funny song from way-back-when with the lyrics: "Saw it on the tube/Bought it on the phone/Now I got it home/It was a piece of crap/Piece of crap!" Neil Young is a wise man.)
- A thing from Amazon.com bought within the last year. (See #5 in the list above.)
- A garage sale thing. (Garage sales just aren't my thing. Maybe they should advertise them as "Antique Sales"?)
Okay, how 'bout you? Do you know where all your stuff is coming from, and can see you a pattern emerging? Chew on that for the weekend, and have a good one while you're at it!
P.S. Something that takes up no space at all but will fill you up with goodness: My brand-new online photography course! Let's start off the new year together by creating more beauty, peace, and mindfulness in the world. All the lovely details are here: Soul Focus: Finding Peace Through Photography. If you're on Instagram, get a $10 discount on the e-course by clicking the link in my profile here.
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