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Posts Tagged ‘ditching stuff’

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

In beauty, behavior, domestic life, life, Style on December 28, 2011 at 1:50 am
Approaching Thunderstorm on the Hudson River, ...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s about time!

In the past few weeks, I’ve ditched a whole pile ‘o stuff I’ve been hanging on to — for 20 years.

Books I never opened netted me $70 from a used book store. I’m planning to open up an Etsy site to sell antique and vintage items, many of which I’ve collected and want to get rid of.

I love the word that museums use – de-accessioning — for the necessary process of pruning and, if you’re able to, upgrading the quality of what you own. So much more elegant than “dumping stuff.”

I moved to New York 22 years ago, filled with ambition and hope and excitement about finally coming to the place my mother was born, the center of my industry — journalism and publishing — certain there was a place for me here. It’s been a sobering experience, and success proved much tougher to achieve than I could possibly have imagined. Three recessions didn’t help!

And, having been single, self-employed and penurious for six years after my divorce, (before meeting my now-husband, who moved in with me), I clung to the things I owned, not at all sure when, or if, I would ever be able to replace them. As Jose compassionately noted, I was in survival mode. Letting go of my things, no matter how old or worn out, I admit with embarrassment, isn’t easy.

But 20 years is a really long time to cling to a look or style or set of beliefs that worked for me (if they really did), in 1992, the year I got married to my first husband (who was out the door two years later.)

I’ve been blond for 20 years. Now I’m a redhead; new headshot soon to come.

In our one-bedroom apartment, we’ve ditched two deep, heavy armchairs, a folding screen, a corner unit holding media equipment. I’ve re-painted a low bookcase a pale yellow (from deep olive green) and bought a new tiny glass-base lamp from West Elm to add a bit of gleam.

I want more air and light in here. Ages ago, in a fit of DIY design, I had a piece of glass cut, beveled and frosted to use as a console table. I never put it together, but now it’s time.

It takes confidence in the future, and optimism about what will happen there, to let go of the old, making physical and psychic room for the new.

What changes are you planning to make in your home or life for 2012?

How Our Stuff Defines Us

In antiques, art, behavior, children, domestic life, family, life on March 6, 2011 at 8:34 am
Tie dye dresses drying

Mom loves textiles, color, antiques....Image via Wikipedia

A few days ago, I sat in a room in a nursing home with my mother, sorting through boxes of her belongings, from books on theology to a black lace merry widow corset.

When you move into one room, you’re quickly forced to shed about 95% of the belongings that have defined you, and your taste, your memories and history. If, as many of us do, we acquire and keep objects and clothes and shoes and accessories, we choose and keep them for a reason, maybe several.

Often reasons quite unknown to anyone else.

Everything I pulled out for our mutual decision making made me wonder — who is this woman?

At least she’s still alive and we had a chance to make those decisions, however wrenching, together.

I learned more about my Mom in those four hours than in the past, very private, four decades as we went through it all:

Those impossibly soft red leather Cossack-style boots? (That didn’t — damn! — fit me.) Bought in London. She once tucked a pack of cigarettes into the the top of one.

That black and white Marimekko print gown? Worn to the open house when she moved into her Toronto home 20 years ago.

The tie-dyed Indian cotton dress? She designed it while traveling there.

That corset? My mom was one confident hottie! I wish I had the nerve, and the figure, to rock a black lace Merry Widow…

The battered paperback book by Dom Helder Camara, a Brazilian liberation theologist? Autographed to her. Good thing I hadn’t tossed it in our purging.

Not to mention love letters, recent ones, from Australia, New York and beyond. Good work, Mom!

I fly home to New York in two days, with a new, painful and acute sense of how much stuff I own, and how much if it I have to get rid of, now! I cannot imagine my sweetie having to go through it, box by box, trunk by trunk, and make any sense of it without me there: photos, letters, books.

Why am I clinging to it?

Am I still me without it?

Then what?

Have you ever had to sort, purge and toss out a lot of your stuff? Or someone else’s?

What was it like?

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