Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Letting Go Of Emotional Items and Excess Stuff

I've haven't blogged about my life in a long time.  Sure, I post things here and there when I am excited about accomplishing something with my photography and want to share that with you but haven't really talked about other things I've been doing.

My Mother and Step Father are moving to Mexico.  I took this picture of my mom on the beach near where they are going to live.  Obviously, she's excited for the move. They've lived in a beautiful house in Sedona for ten years now and wanted to live near the water on a small budget.  They found a place right away that suited their needs so they are packing up and moving out.  I drove to Arizona to help my mother get ready for the move.  We didn't pack up what she would take with her.  Rather, we got rid of everything she has collected over the past several years.  We took trip after trip to the good will to donate a lot of the clothes she hasn't worn in the past six months.  Needless to say, the task was overwhelming.

When I returned home, I looked at my garage at all of the items I've kept in storage for so long.  Many boxes I haven't opened since I moved into this house.  I just moved them with me when I move to another place.  I knew that I needed to do something about those boxes and everything else I own.

When I was on the road for the past three years, I didn't miss anything I left behind at my house.  In fact, living with just the items I had in my car was enough for me.  Now that I am home, the excess "stuff" that I have saved over the years has been weighing me down.  Way back when, I thought that when you are successful in life, you had to accumulate things.  In the late 90's and early 2000's, I lost my dad, my dad's parents and my mother's mother.  My grandparents lived in Georgia and once they both died, my brother and I rented a uhaul and gathered all the things we knew they loved the most and took them back to California.  I have kept all of those things since.  It was finally time to take a good hard look at what I am holding on to, why I am holding on to it and if I really needed it.

I can't blame all of the stuff on my grandparents.  I've collected my fair share of things over the years.  I suppose if I put my items it in a box and hid the box away in the rafters somewhere, it would disappear.  If only that were the case.

The past few weeks and months I have dedicated time to my garage to either throw away, donate or sell what I own.  It hasn't been easy.  In fact, it's quite an overwhelming and sometimes emotional task.  I started with the large items and am working my way down.

The hardest part is letting go of something that a lost loved one owned and cherished.  I had to think about the reasons I kept it.  If it's in the garage, I am not using it, therefore I don't need it.  Even though they loved that item and it reminds me of them, it won't bring them back if I hold on to it and if I let it go, I still have my memories of them forever in my mind.  I reminded myself of this over and over.

Beyond the emotional items, there are the things I held on to because I thought, "one day I will use it."  First of all... if I forgot it even existed, I can't find it to use it so when am I actually going to use something I don't remember having?  Then there are the collection of things.  I saved just about every wine cork I had from about every bottle of wine I drank and I saved many bottle caps from the beers I (and friends) drank.  Hundreds and hundreds saved.  For what?  A reminder of how many bottles of wine I drank?  To include them in an art project I will whip up? Most likely I won't whip up that project and I haven't had a drink in 891 days so what's the point? They are gone now.  I also came across two binders full of rejection letters I saved when I was trying to get a job out of college.  I have hundreds of these letters all sorted by region and type of job I applied for.  That's an uplifter.  The list of random items goes on...

I am hoping to have only the basic things I use each week remaining.  Quite frankly it was overwhelming to start and take down all of the boxes in the rafters and open one by one.  The photographs take the longest.  Sometimes, I will only get through two boxes in a day.  I have made a lot of progress and will continue to do so in the weeks to come.  Hopefully, I will still be alive to enjoy my life once I am finished.

I mentioned my project of getting rid of things on facebook and a friend introduced me to a website where these guys are living the minimalist lifestyle and loving it. A lot of their posts made a lot of sense to me.  Especially letting go of Sentimental items.

I would challenge you to do the same.  Not only am I freeing up space in my home, I am finally able to let go of my loved ones by letting go of their things.


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