You all thought I was going to tell a story about how playing with propane torches is a bad idea. While it is, you were wrong. I don’t play with fire, except in stories. Over the past ten years my mom and I have gradually moved from place to place, decreasing our square footage as we went. With that came some major downsizing.
Goodbye couch–you were too big to fit in our latest living room. But some church friends had some old loveseats they were getting rid of, and kindly donated them to us.
Goodbye half my personal library from college–there just weren’t enough shelves, and really, I’m going to read D. H. Lawrence again? No.
Goodbye dining room set–this was actually the hardest for me to get rid of. It wasn’t even a very nice table; it was big and clunky with a set of drawers around the bottom in the center you’d stub your toes on if you swung your legs. The white wood was scarred to look antique-ish, and it was freakin’ heavy. Somehow, though, that table represented home to me, a place family could gather around to share meals, the center piece of the kitchen where love is baked warm and gooey right out of the oven.
It’s odd I felt so strongly about the table. Growing up, we never ate around it as a family. My mom cooked, but it was not something I liked to do (still isn’t). Yet this chunk of wood in all its magnitude represented stability. After so much moving, I wanted nothing more than to settle down.
I’ve had to redefine my hopes for the future and my definition of what “home and family” mean to me. Whether those adaptations came from wisdom or jadedness, new dreams or practicality, that table is no longer my idea of home and stability. Who I keep company with was a good start. My mom and I are best friends; I’ve had my experience of awful roommates (college dorms *shudder*). Pets enrich the home because they enrich life; my cat would continue to bring me joy and delight no matter where we lived. I still long for better things, but different things than I did before.
Have I kept you in suspense long enough about the propane torch? Well, we had a mini one in our closet for the past ten years. Three weeks ago we gave that away as well. We’d never used it, so why keep it? That’s how we proceeded with most of our downsizing, even though it was painful sometimes: “Do we *really* need this?” “How often do we use it?” We gave it to my uncle. After much debate, he finally relented and took it, though he continued to insist that we would need it someday. I scoffed. Ten years we never used it.
Can you guess what happened five days later? I had a need for a mini propane torch. 😛 That is when my uncle, in good fashion, said, “I told you so.” So now I have a new propane torch and a use for it. It seems to be the law of the universe that the things you have no use for, you’ll suddenly need once they’re no longer in your possession.
What have you given away only to regret it soon after? Does this principle hold true for you? Has it happened often enough you feel it’s best to save anything and everything for a rainy day? Are you a pack-rat or do you refrain from holding on to stuff?
Have you ever had to part with something that broke your heart to do so? What makes home for you?
I love hearing from you! Also, if you’re looking for some summer reading, Phoenix Feather, a paranormal romance, is on sale at Smashwords for 50% off until July 31st!
Hi, Angela. Getting rid of things can be so liberating. I just tossed a ton of clothes after losing weight. Ditching the “fact clothes” was almost as satisfying as losing the weight.
As far as things breaking my heart, the weeding out of my daughter’s baby stuff was very difficult. I still haven’t been able to get rid of her crib.
Hi Stacy! Liberating is a good word for it. After I graduated college, I went through all my saved homework and recycled it. That felt very good. 😀
As for the baby stuff–sometimes we just need to let go gradually and in our own time. 🙂
Very true, Angela. I have gotten rid of a lot. But she’s also got a lot. I remember doing the same thing with college homework. That felt awesome, lol.
I used to hold on to everything. I think some of that stemmed from things being packed up for years. It wasn’t until TM and I moved into a large enough place and we were able to actually unpack everything that it changed. I now weed as I go. Yet I have a mind turned toward downsizing as there is a very real possibility of us moving in with my parents to help them out. It’s a funny sensation. I walk through the house and think “Would I need or use that if we move?” For most stuff the answer is no. But I’m hugely sentimental and there are books, pictures, a box of baby things, etc. I’ll never part with.
I think if I ever have to get rid of my bedroom suite I’ll be devastated. It’s not so much that it means home to me but it has history. My parents bought it in a yard sale as a newly married couple, I begged with them not to sell it the same way during a move (they relented and it has been mine ever since), and TM decorated our first bedroom based on that furniture. It was about 75 years old when my parents got it 50 years ago, so it remains my one antique claim.
In the end, as you’ve noted, home is in the little things and the people you surround yourself with. Wonderful post.
Hi Raelyn, thanks for sharing! I hope you never have to part with that suite either. It sounds beautiful with all those sentiments.
Liberating is a good word for it. I’ve always been a hoarder. I don’t mean that I have too many things (though I’m getting there) but I used to NEVER throw anything away. My mum’s the same. But ever since I started moving around, I learned that getting rid of things is about survival and less headaches. I gave away so many things this year (b-se I had to move houses) that I feel like a new person. 🙂
And I know what you mean about home. There are certain objects that I would never want to lose because they remind me of my past, of my life, of home, and of people. I may hold onto useless things if they have sentimental value and give away those that do not hold value. And by the way, I don’t know many people who move too often, so it is interesting to read your perspective of this.
Yep, moving with a load of crap is a big headache. We used to have a storage unit, but finally cleared it all out. I still hold on to things for an extended period as back-ups. I got a new VCR–I’m holding on to the old one–despite the fact it’s half-dead–just in case the new one fails. (I’ve had the new one for 3 months and I’m still holding on to the old one. 😛 )
Ugh, I have the same thing happen with clothes. My weight has never been stable. It seems the second I give away whatever size doesn’t fit….I suddenly NEED that size. I have a closet full of gorgeous skinny clothes (pre-baby). I think the fastest way for me to lose the weight is to give them all away :(…then I will need them.
Kristen, I have the same problem, but with appropriate attire. I’ve been holding onto a formal dress from high school (not even sure it would still fit anyway), because I’m afraid I’ll be required to go somewhere fancy after I get rid of it.
Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
I’ve always kept things (a lot of things) because “one day I might need it”. That’s something I’ve learned from my dad 🙂 He still has a house full of “stuff”, although everything in my parents’ home is neatly tucked away and there is not much of a visible clutter. Anyway, about three years ago while in my girlfriend’s house, I looked around and it suddenly hit me, “Why do I keep so much? Wouldn’t be better to donate many of my things that I never use and have other people enjoy them?” My house hasn’t been cluttered but her place looked extremely neat and it seemed like everything she owned had a purpose. This was such an eye opener. I’ve been purging purging purging during those last three years. And yes, there have been items that I wished I kept after all. But, to me, it definitely feels great to be able to part with so many possessions because, after all, they are only material things.
Hi Angela! 🙂 Yes, I think asking if others would enjoy these things more is a good approach. Even some of the things that had sentimental value for me, I had to look at and ask if it could become sentimental for someone else (usually children).
When I was 19, a close friend of mine died. It was my first experience of the death of a peer, and my grief got all muddled. I felt her privacy was invaded when her things were cleaned out. I took every journal I’d ever written since I was about 12, every picture I’d drawn, every story I’d put down, and burned them in our fireplace so that if I died, no-one would read them. I certainly still regret that.
On a lighter note, I want to know what purpose you found for the propane torch!
Oh wow, Naomi, that’s terrible! 😦 I’m sorry you experienced that.
I needed the propane torch to light a moxa stick. It’s a stick of Chinese herbs densely packed so it’s very hard to light. I have an electric stove, so couldn’t use that, and holding a regular lighter for ten minutes hurt my hand. 😛 The propane torch lights it in under a minute, which leaves me more time for actually using it. (It’s some kind of heat therapy. I really don’t understand it.)
My family run and lock up their valuables when I pull out the Hefty trash bags. They know I am on a rampage and ready to clear it all out. The things I care most about (albums, high school yearbooks, crafts made by my boys) are all boxed up and put away – far away – in our storage shed. That way they won’t get caught up in the tornado I create when I start tossing stuff out. If it hasn’t been used in the last year, out it goes. If they boys continue to leave out toys after being repeatedly asked to put them away, in the bag it goes. I need a clutter-free environment and things as simple as possible. I don’t think I’ve regretted throwing out anything. I think, though, my family doesn’t share that opinion. LOL
Haha, but it sounds very therapeutic for you.
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