just ponderin'

… on the give away pile

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Fall light, Southport Maine

There is nothing like getting ready to move that shows you what an impractical human being you are… which could be another term for intervention-bound hoarder.

There is just so much stuff!

We are knee-deep in what any responsible human being who has ever stumbled across an Oprah episode on decluttering and organizing does.

We are making piles.

“Keep it”

“Toss it”

“Give it away”

All using the decorating/interior design Golden Rule of “live with what you love”.

Do you love it – for whatever reason, does it bring you some level of joy or happiness or contentment for its aesthetic or tactil-ity or usefulness?  Do you have room for it? Okay, deal! “Keep it” pile.

Worthless-to-anyone-else-Dingle-flotsam-and-jetsam? Toss it.

Might be useful to someone else? Give it away.

The dang ‘give it away’ pile is the hardest. You have to consider carefully, because each item is not garbage. It is a useful thing, one we may have loved living with at one time. These are the things that, if you are not strong, you are most likely to keep, even if they no longer bring you joy… because once you make the decision, it still actually takes work to give them away (to find the right place for them and get them there).

This week, I brought some of the things from our ‘keep-it’ pile up to the house in Maine. And as I was placing (well, dusting off and placing (because when is that going to happen again?)) – these keep-it things, my brain made the leap over to the importance of ‘Keep it’, ‘Toss it’, and ‘Give it away’ piles for our stuff, not just our things.

You know, our stuff. Like life stuff.

The experiential and emotional boxes (and baggage) that sit in each of our proverbial basements.

Huh.

Funny how you can apply the same rule the designers use, for a process far more profound.

Live with what you love.

‘Keep it’.  Well, that would be friends, loves, family members that don’t make us want to stab ourselves in the eye with forks (okay, sometimes those people are fodder for funny stories too…so maybe they can stay), creativity, drive, empathy, lessons learned… It’s about keeping the things that work for us, bring us joy, contentment, wonder, or anything that lifts us, as individuals, vs. sinks us.

‘Toss it’. Easier said than done, but … self-doubt, guilt, fear, insecurity, shame, anxiety… It’s about letting go, and being brutal about it.  Stuff that does not work, will not work for us. The wonderful thing about this ‘toss it’ pile is that, sometimes, tossing one bit of stuff (a perspective for instance, or a grudge) allows us to take some other stuff (a relationship that wasn’t working, a dream we set aside) and put it right back into the ‘Keep it’ pile. Bonus!

‘Give it away’.

Oy.

I was thinking that’s where the analogy breaks down, and oh foo-ey because this could have been a good thing to write about, dammit!

How can you ‘give away’ your experiential and emotional baggage. Even if you could, that would just be mean… ‘Hey Jane… incoming! Have fun with that emotional tangle of mother-daughter angst!”

See? Mean.

But…

Then I realized we can… give it away I mean. And I thought of my friend, whose name has been changed here.

Deloris.

Deloris – I call her Del – and I make a good pair. She is very spiritual and zen, I am very introspective and happy to pontificate all over the dang place when it comes to untangling issues.  Also, she is all about yoga and chakras and I am all about wanting to be about those things but fail so miserably that she only tries to do yoga with me about once every decade… or two.

Both highly empathetic in general, we are also almost stubbornly devoted to our families and friends. And, at times – we have both admitted – our empathy, has led us to endure some pretty bad behavior on the part of some friends or family members. Not due to any co-dependent or wHeird self-flagellation thing, but in a firm belief that there is always a way forward if we try hard, work hard enough, to find it.

Where there has been love, there is the responsibility to explore that possibility.

But in a few cases – literally just a few, collectively, in our entire lives – no matter how hard we tried to talk through or address issues with a friend or family member… no matter how much we wanted to make it work… we couldn’t. And even as we made the decision to step back, to disengage in order to protect ourselves, things didn’t necessarily get better. Our fellow humans lashed out at us directly or indirectly, questioned our integrity and humanity, and/or lied about us to both strangers and people jointly known.

These were one way battles waged with weaponry neither of us possess, nor have any interest in wielding.

Ugh. Frustrating.

And we’ve had to chuckle at some of each other’s reactions to these situations too. Because in the midst of hurled lies, manipulations, revisionist history – we both (Del and I) were still empathetic!  Recognizing that it had to be so hard to live life that way, with such anger and hostility, such a need to hurt in order to avoid their own … hurt. How unnecessary, and how sad it was… and that we wished we could do something to help, but we knew we could not.

Stuff like that does not belong in the ‘keep it’ pile.

And yet it seems determined to stay out of the ‘toss it’ pile.

But.

We could give it away.

I mean, we didn’t call it that, but that’s what it is.

Whatever issue it is, and it doesn’t need to be nearly as big as the end of a relationship, if it is an issue we are wrestling, and we have given it all we have and realize we just can’t  find our way to a solution?

We can absolve ourselves from the responsibility of repairing that bit of our stuff. No more churning over it late at night, no more hitting our heads up against brick walls.

Del was the one who put words to the idea: “I’m putting it in a bubble, and sending it up to God.”

I immediately pictured a soap bubble, blown through a little yellow plastic wand, just like when we were kids.

And I loved it.

“Put it in a bubble and send it up to God” (Or, of course, the deity or entity of your choice (neither Del nor I are picky)) means acknowledging the experience, memory, lessons, and emotion of that particular ‘stuff’ and then slipping it into that bubble with peace and gratitude, and sending it on its way.

We may still light upon that which we gave away from time to time, in a memory or in person, but the resolution is no longer ours to wrestle with, any additional fallout is out of our control (and none of our business)… it lies elsewhere.

Beautiful imagery for detaching and moving on.

We have a divine right to care about ourselves and for ourselves.

And to sort through our stuff as often as we want to (probably best to do it more often than not, because our proverbial basements fill up faster than we think).

But, well… remember what I said above, about the ‘give away pile’? It goes for stuff, as well as things.

The dang ‘give it away’ pile is the hardest. You have to consider carefully, because each item is not garbage. It is a useful thing, one we may have loved living with at one time. These are the things that, if you are not strong, you are most likely to keep, even if they no longer bring you joy… because once you make the decision, it still actually takes work to give them away (to find the right place for them and get them there).

I know, you would need to change a few words, and it’s more about finding our stuff’s figurative new homes, than our things’ physical next places or spaces…

But you get the idea.

Thanks for readin’.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAs always, come on over to Just Ponderin’s Facebook page to comment ❤

 

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