The sweetness at the center


Recently I have run across a lot of articles as well as TV shows about decluttering your life. Apparently, everyone who is anyone is doing it. It’s like the new spiritual cleansing. If you google “decluttering” you will find more information than you ever dreamed possible. There are video how to clips, professional organizer adds, books, and anything to help you find balance and restore order to your life.

Growing up our family visited a seamstress who took care of all of our sewing needs. When anything had to be taken in or let out we trotted off to Mrs. Diggles’ house. When my Mom referred her to others I would hear quietly tell them, “well, I just want to make sure you’re aware that her house is not like anything you’ve probable ever seen before.” People were like, Ok – what do you mean by that? She would say “she does great work just keep an open mind, that’s all.” That was the understatement of the century. Mrs. Diggles lived in a teeny tiny house (not quite two bedrooms) that sat at the top of a squiggly hill off an unpaved private road – very fitting, right?

She was an absolute lovely and kind lady who never seemed to throw anything away. Upon our arrival she would send you into a small room (without a door) so you could change into the clothes that needed to be fixed. There were mountains of clothes on every inch of available space. On one trip I started to get changed and something started moving on the bed that I let out a screeching scream. As it turned out she also did babysitting on the side and a young child was napping in the bed next to the piles of clothing. I quickly decided it was wise to carve out a small piece of real estate and change as quickly and methodically as possible. When you moved into the living room (where she actually did the work) you stood as still as possible and were mesmerized by the utter chaos that was scattered around you. I swear my Mother said a prayer every time we left so that we would get all of our clothing back in one piece. Even as a young girl I remember thinking how is she able to find anything in here? I still can’t imagine how she was able to actually sew in that little space.

This got me thinking about the precious amount of time we spend filling up our lives and homes with “things”. Things that we think will change our world and make our lives more significant. We spend the first part of our lives chasing the American dream – a home. And the second season of life purging everything we accumulated in the first season. We all do it on some level. I look around at some of the items I bought 10 years ago and ask myself what in the world was I thinking. Think about avid collectors? They collect everything from childhood mementos to salt and pepper shakers and everything in between. That’s a whole lot of stuff.

So, how much do we really need to feel fulfilled and live a satisfied and joyful life? The simple answer is it’s different for each of us. Somewhere deep inside we all know the true answer to that question. Believe me, at any given moment I am more than ready to heave my stuff overboard and start out fresh on my simple journey. As tempting as it sounds, it takes only a second to look around at all my stuff to realize that much of it truly does bring me joy. The fountain pen I picked up while antiquing with a friend, my Mom’s baby spoon, an angel filled snow globe, a shell from the Jersey shore, several unfinished books – they’re all the sweetness at the center of the pie to me.

As long as we fill our lives with the right balance of family, friends and love who really cares what kind of stuff we drag along behind us.

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