Stuff and Love

20130718-112020.jpgAs I lighten my load and explore many negative emotions associated with the process, I’ve learned that sometimes, the joy comes later. That’s the good news for me and for anyone else experimenting with minimalism. The joy isn’t always there right away. Well, not for me anyway. I second guess myself a lot. So this process is not any different…

I’m still working through the stuff I put up in the attic when I first started My Simplicity Quest. It’s a lot of stuff. But every day, I take down a few things and decide to keep them or get rid of them. So far, it’s just that. Making a place for the things I decide to keep and converting my boxes of old pics to digital copies is for later. Next year, probably. I must keep it simple or I will quit. I know because that’s what I’ve done in the past.

Some of the stuff is easy to toss in a box labeled “Donate”. It’s not useful, beautiful, nor does it hold special meaning for me. But other stuff is not so easy. I’m getting better. Taking a picture before I send it on helps.

I used to think I loved some of my stuff. But as I sort through all of my personal possessions (and endeavor to be honest with myself) I learn that it’s not the stuff that I love. It’s the people I associate with them. It’s the memory it represents. It’s the way I use it in my life. Stuff is just a reminder of love. My guitar reminds me that l love music. My dad’s old Dunhill lighter reminds me of his pipe and his cigarettes and the way he liked to smoke them while reading the paper. My dresses remind me that I love to feel girlie.

In a big, fat cheesy way, it’s all about love.

Yep. I went there.

(Don’t you love how you start out with an idea about what you want to write and then when you begin it grows into something else? It’s like some strange magic. It only happens when I get to the page and put it out there.)

I had a different title for this article: “Take a Picture. Say Goodbye. Let it go. “I was going to write about finding a picture of a an old backpack. How it made me happy to see it instead of sad. I had details to share about how my identity was wrapped up in that bag and all the happy memories I associate with it. The difficultly of letting it go because it was falling apart after years of use. The joy in knowing that I made the right decision.

But I guess my heart needed to know why I felt that sadness and why I felt that joy. My head and my hands gave me the answer through the process of writing. It’s about the love. Not the stuff.

Thanks for traveling with me along this path. I am quite the corny companion. But if you’ve read any of my other posts, you already know that. And you are still here. I think that’s awesome. Cheers to you and the love you find on your journey…

It’s About The Stories

Ginny and Julie. Circa 1980.

Our lives exist in a series of stories. Stories. Memories. It’s the collection of those stories that we present to the world as who we are. I love the stories. They surround me with love and life-lessons, filling my days and changing my moments. I love the idea that we are constantly creating our own story to share. Stories. Memories…

Many years ago, four hundred miles away from where I lived at the time, two boys did something foolish that would change my life forever. After years of dealing with what they did, I’ve learned to see how they were unintentional teachers. Painful lessons, yes. But good ones. I’m honestly grateful.

Mozelle Austin, my “Granny”, lived in a small, Texas town. It’s where my mother grew up and where I spent Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter, and many weeks in the hot Summer months. She was a wonderful woman. Strong in her faith and tender with her love, a most beautiful soul. She owned Mozelle’s Grocery, the only place in town to get a cold beverage, a Mrs. Baird’s fried pie, play a game of dominoes, and get your mail.

I have wonderful memories of the sound of my bare feet running across that hardwood floor. I spent hours eating gum balls and playing with her cash register. On cooler days, she would turn off the air conditioner and let the breeze blow through the screen doors. People would stop by to get mail and visit with my grandmother – mostly locals and tired, thirsty men from the nearby cotton gin. Even then, I sensed the magic of the place.

Fast forward to my teenage years. Granny retired then not long after, passed away from heart failure during surgery. Unable to part with the building, my mother and her siblings used the old store for storage. Treasures within a treasure itself. As I moved into my twenties, I needed a place to store the things I loved but did not use. Things saved for “someday”. Clothes, dolls, furniture, books, my Father’s rocking chair from his childhood…

Enter my unintentional teachers. I don’t know why they did it. I don’t want to know. I have some guesses but they don’t matter. The bottom line is that they set fire to Mozelle’s Grocery. That plain, small town structure had no value to them and in one night, they destroyed the building and our belongings. The left behind a grotesque pile of charred objects and ash. Nothing survived. The boys weren’t harmed at all.

I felt angry and hurt and sad. All those things I meant to pass on to others, just gone. The children in my life will never get to sit in my father’s rocking chair or play games on my little bamboo table. No one one will ever see the Easter dresses my grandmother made for me or my baby blanket that my mother made for me.

The biggest lesson I learned was that it was just stuff. It’s stuff I don’t have to process, or hang on to, or get rid of. In one night, the decision about what to do with most of my childhood things was made for me. A huge weight lifted from my shoulders.

On days when my possessions feel overwhelming, I am sincerely relieved that I do not have to deal with those things now. I’m pretty much buried in my current collection of stuff so that would have been even more stuff to wrestle with emotionally and physically. I can’t get it back.

On other days, I get a little sad when I think about some of those items. My father died when I was fifteen. The situation with his will and my step-mother was “complicated”. I have so few of his things to keep with me along my journey.

But if my limited experience with minimalism has taught me anything, it’s that it’s not about the stuff. It’s about me and my memories. My stories of Granny, and my dad. It’s about who they were that I carry with me and choose to make a part of who I am. It was never about the store or the rocking chair.

So I send out a “Thank You” to those two boys. You helped me to let go when I might not have been able to. I needed the push. I hope that you have full lives that you lack for nothing. May your hearts be full of love and joy. For you have blessed me in my quest for simplicity…

As always, thank you dear reader. I’m grateful for your time.

(In the picture above, that’s me on the left and my cousin Julie on the right. We are sitting at my bamboo table and that is my father’s rocking chair in the front near Julie. Memories. Stories…)