It’s always bittersweet coming to recognize that it is time to let something go. Drawing the line in the sand and saying, “enough” takes courage and strength. Being able to walk away when something you care about is no longer willing or able to receive help from your presence is heartbreaking. Moving on, knowing you’re doing what you need to do, and being free from those obligations that have become burdensome is freeing. Being grateful for what you have, what you’ve left and learned, what opportunities that freedom opens up, is healing.
For whatever reason I seem to be participating in various stages of this process this month in multiple arenas. I have friends both walking away, and unable to walk away from toxic relationships. I have friends in desperate need of medical support some choosing to get it, others in vehement denial. I put lot of volunteer hours with an organization shutting it’s doors, and more hours with another involved in a large fundraising drive. It was Mother’s Day weekend, and my Mother was out-of-town. It was the weekend the family chose to celebrate my ex-father-in-law’s 90th birthday.
This appears to be a year of transitions for me. The slow process of getting my house in order is the physical manifestation of what seems to be going on in my spirit. I have opportunities. I’m writing another book, I’m looking for speaking engagements, I’m trying to figure out what a career will look like at this stage in my life. I’m also struggling with letting go, setting boundaries and managing my time and resources.
It’s all up in the air!
I’m grateful that it’s spring. Although my gardening is going on “hold” again this year, the season still carries all that potential. The lilacs and apple trees are blooming. The birds wake me up in the mornings.
I’m setting seeds into my life. Some will sprout, others won’t. Some will come up, and then need pulling. Others will thrive. That is what I’m hanging on to.
One of the aspects of spring, easy for urbanites to ignore, is the culling. The birthing season for many farm animals means deciding which of the newborns will live, which will be sold, which will be food for the family. With gardening, the sprouts need to be thinned, the weeds need to be pulled, bushes are pruned and flowers are picked or left to bloom and eventually seed.
Part of the process of dealing with my kitchen cupboards falling off the walls is preparing to have my house torn apart for months. This isn’t just a kitchen project. It also involves the bathroom, the basement, the driveway, and some of the yard. I have water issues, mold issues and years of neglect.
My basement has been the land of denial for more years than I can count. I spend as little time as possible down there (because I have massive allergic reactions if I stay). There’s a lot of plain trash. Paper and fabric and wood that has been ruined by water and eaten by mold. I haven’t been able to deal with it because I can’t:
- touch it (without breaking out and/or having an asthma attack)
- haul it up the stairs
- stand to be there long enough to see what is salvageable
So, in fits and starts, I have someone (equipped with gloves and a respirator) doing steps 1 and 2 for me. Step 3 is a little more difficult. There is a lot that I never have to see. It’s undeniably trash. It walks out my door in a bag. I may sigh at a loss, but mostly it’s good riddance.
But there is plenty down there where the distinction is not so clear. Mostly that would be books. The books in bookcases are probably a little (or a lot) moldy. The bookcases themselves are falling apart. But the books look okay. The books are my references, my treasures, my comfort. They’re books!
If I’m a hoarder, it’s about books. There is always money for food, and books. There is always room for food, and books. There can not be enough bookcases. As soon as I get a new one, it’s full. I’m a writer, which means I’m a reader. My basement is full of books.
They come up the stairs box by box. They are no longer in any order, packed more for viability than placement. I have to sort, and cull. Do I really need 3 large boxes of children’s picture books? My children are 23 and 27 and I have no grandchildren on the way. How many herbology books do I need? When do the mythology references just become an indulgence?
There are memories in those books. Some of them survived the house fire when I was a teenager. I open them and smell the smoke, but they also hold the memories of childhood escapes. I spent late nights under the covers with a flashlight, long afternoons in hammocks, curled up on the limbs of a tree with these books.
“Declutter” is the catch word of the day. But this is not clutter. The books without places went out in black trash bags, damp and falling apart. These are the ones that had places on shelves that will no longer support them. These are the curated books that survived multiple moves and life stages. This is culling, and it’s necessary, and it’s hard.