And another thing

The goal is to feel light as a feather.

My mother was a saver, as in she saved things. When she died, my sisters and I went through a drawerful of hundreds of recipes clipped from magazines and newspapers over the years. We sorted through a jewelry box filled with jewelry none of us had seen in decades. And the “good” towels sat on the linen closet shelf, rarely used.

My dad threw things out. It exasperated him that my mother liked her collections because he saw it as clutter.

I am channeling them both in wild pendulum swings as I begin to sort through a life by sorting through what is in my house right now. Seems a good time to do so as I take stock of where I want to be and what I want to be around.

It’s akin to psychoanalysis when you begin to look at the accoutrements of a life. I said to a friend the other day, “But who am I without three dozen appetizer plates in varying designs?” I was only half joking. I remember that self well. The one who threw parties and loved to entertain.

But the truth of the matter is, the appetizer plates haven’t been trotted out in a long while. I’m all about convenience, a lack of time, minimizing clean-up. And I don’t invite people over like I used to. I’m at the age where many of my friends are moving to warmer climes, to be near their children, to have an adventure before they can’t.

It’s humbling to see so clearly, as I purge my closets, my shortcomings on display. The clothes that I give away, tags still on, because I thought somehow my shape would change and they’d be more flattering at a later date. The shoes I bought when I told myself chunky boots would look the same in middle age as they did in my twenties. (They don’t. Don’t believe the myth, ladies.) The heels that I refuse to wear because I no longer believe they’re worth the pain. Looking good isn’t looking good when your facial expression screams, “Stick a fork in me. I’m done.”

I see that the way I’ve decorated my house reflects my era, my age. No one does substantial wooden furniture anymore, right? And it does feel heavy to me now. But this flimsy crap they create now in blonde tones feels so vanilla, so neutral, so lacking in heft. How can a home ground you when it feels like a marshmallow?

I take stock of the many things I will jettison and the few that have withstood the test of time. My laughing Buddha belongs with me, no matter where I go. So does the art on my walls. Most of it. Except maybe the Royal Delft plates. Who was I thinking I would be when I bought those? I was channeling the we-just-bought-a-Cape-Cod-and-I’m-going-to-be-a-mother-who-has-Easter-at-this-heavy-mahogany-dining-table-while-dressed-in-silk vibe. Been there, done that already. No longer that gal.

I call it the silk pajamas effect. I always thought silk pajamas were the height of luxury. Until I bought silk pajamas and realized they make me hot and feel somewhat restricted. The idea of them was really great. In practice, not so much.

It all begs the question: Who is this woman who doesn’t throw parties that require a copious amount of appetizer plates served on heavy wooden pieces of furniture? Should she throw away the last holdout pair of sheer stockings she owns, given that she hasn’t worn sheer black stockings in decades? And if she takes the silhouettes of her boys off her walls because those are from a bygone era also, does that make her less a devoted mother? Will she remember that she once was that woman? More importantly, what does it say about her that despite an ungodly number of black shoes, she can’t find a pair that looks good with any casual pair of pants?

Middle age is hard on women. We are still judged far too much on our looks and physique rather than intrinsic qualities, intelligence, zest for life—anything that matters, really. On dating sites (the least appetizing pool in which to swim), it’s more important that you are skiing in your fifties than that you possess any redeeming qualities. Men mention they want someone with “an attractive shape” as if they’re choosing a vase for the mantel. This one is too angular, this one too fat. Can we elongate the neck? Ooh, nothing too fragile. Do they make a porcelain that is as tough as resin? We are not decorative objects; we are flesh and blood and feelings and hopes and aspirations and on occasion, we own far too many black shoes. Human. Oh so human.

So, as the world changes how it views me as I age, I try hard to see myself as I am. That’s really what this whole house purge is about—remaining true to who I am now versus who I might have been years ago. And staying light—not getting bogged down in a lifetime worth of things. I may have to give up the sake set and with it, the crazy vision I used to have of myself as someone who would one day drink enough sake with friends that I needed an entire set for this ritual. As I say sayonara to the silk pajamas, there goes my shot at living a Katherine Hepburn-esque life—at least the one she lived in the movies. And yes, dammit, I think I liked thinking of myself as someone in silk pajamas drinking her sake. But I have so many other things to do before I go. Something has to give.

Some things, of course, remain. I’ll always be a gal who loves rolling around in books, ideas, words. Not a sought-after trait on most dating sites but it is, I have to believe, in some male circles—the more enlightened ones. And bottom line is, it’s who I am, sought after or not.

I’m still the gal who is not a fan of lukewarm, in food, friends, and men. I don’t want to have to guess if you’re for me. I tire of that game easily. I’m still the gal with a belly laugh that fills the room. I hope that never changes.

An enthusiast who loves the draw of the new, I am learning to temper said enthusiasm before I leap to see if it will last. I’d like to eliminate clothes with tags that never get worn, sake sets that gather dust, men who care more about what is outside than what is inside. Also, men whose inner strength does not match their outer strength.

But let’s look ahead to the new. I see myself as a traveler. So many places I’ve yet to go. That woman will have to travel lighter than the woman I’ve been. What will she keep stashed at home? The sentimental and beautiful bits. The book I found colored in eight-year-old boy strokes, which was all about me. “My mom helps me find my shoes. My mom says my room looks like a dizaster [sic]. I love it when my mom reads to me.” The rare letter that my mother wrote me. Will the wedding program stay or go? Likely stay. It may be interesting to the boys one of these days, despite my divorce. And what to do with things that are hard to get rid of simply because someone saved them for so long? My mother, not a sentimental type, surprisingly saved a lock of my very blonde hair from my first haircut at one year old. The envelope is still sealed. I can’t imagine anyone ever wanting this unless the police need my DNA (and let’s hope they never do). But to throw it out now seems a bit cavalier. This is why we mothers should purge early and often. Our kids shouldn’t get stuck with things. I saved my boys’ Matchbox cars and a road set, thinking they’d want them for their kids when they have them. But who knows? Perhaps I should give them away now to bring joy to children who exist versus grandchildren that may or may not come along.

The point of my ruminations for you, dear reader, is that we are not defined by our stuff. Or perhaps we are. But stuff is less fleeting than we are. We’re here for the blink of an eye and then gone. What remains? For me, I hope it is two children with phenomenal belly laughs who remember their mother’s life and love.

And maybe a grandchild who drinks sake with friends while wearing silk pajamas. Yes, that might be nice.

The rest of it can go.

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57 Comments Add yours

  1. Great post, Kristine. I am not what you call a pack rat, but there are items I just can’t toss because of sentimental value. I’m even holding on to a long silky dress I wore to my daughter’s wedding that doesn’t fit me anymore. But it’s so pretty! 😄

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, I can relate! A gorgeous, long, silky dress with happy memories is hard to part with, isn’t it? And you never know when it might fit again :-). But Marie Kondo would say, that the memories themselves are the gift and the part that you should keep. I’m still not quite Marie Kondo and I’m not sure I’ll ever fully get there. So the bar is quite high!

      1. That’s why I was initially keeping it, in case it fit me again one day. Now there is no sensible reason. Marie Kondo is right. The photos and the memories should be enough. Sigh.

  2. Masha says:

    OMG this is so true for me too, I’m cracking up LOL. I have been decluttering my house for the last few years, mainly I started because I didn’t want my kids to have all that work to do after I’m gone. It’s been a process, slowly I’m getting rid of things. And just recently after I thought I gave it all away, I found the many platters and coffee cups and glasses that I haven’t used in years that I was holding onto, just in case my kids want them, they don’t and I decided to give it away and let someone else who will use it have it, and it feels so good to give it Ahhhh. Anyway, I love this piece, thank you, Masha xo

    1. candidkay says:

      It seems there are a lot of us doing this right now. :-). I do think that Covid also played a part. When you are cooped up in your home for a while, you really have to take a hard look at your surroundings. So glad you are over the hump on this one!

      1. Masha says:

        Yeah the pandemic gave me plenty of time but, it really started for me when I read Marie Kondo’s book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, it’s great to get uncluttered 🙂

  3. Hello there. I know what you mean. Many of us have way too much stuff. And sometimes I think of the people with two or more homes/condos/etc. — each of those folks owns an insane number of objects. I have to note, though, that I’d hate to part with my vinyl album collection. I started amassing it in the 1960s, and it means a lot to me.

    1. candidkay says:

      I can’t even imagine the multiple homes bit right now. I am beginning to understand why people are going toward the minimalist movement. Just so much easier to not have a lot to worry about.

  4. Thanks for a great post, thought-provoking, as this is where I am, too. Some of my things have interesting histories, others could be readily sold. I recently visited an older couple with a wonderful idea: they have tagged any of their possessions that fall into either of those categories. But particularly those with important family history. She uses those small shop tags in light card with string on them. She tapes the string to the bottom or side of the piece and tucks the tag under it, with a note about why it’s important, e.g. ‘Scales fr. African village where g’parents lived, 1930s; used to weigh babies’. On very important pieces, she writes the line, ‘Never to be discarded’!

    1. candidkay says:

      And how are you figuring it all out, Caron? It doesn’t seem to be easy for most of us :-). That older couple – so ambitious! But I’m also feeling that there may be some guilt associated with her system :-). One persons never-to-be-thrown–out item might be something their adult children else see as just extra weight. It’s a conundrum!

      1. Yes, indeed. But I truly don’t think she means it like that—it’s just a way of explaining what’s been important in her life and the family artefacts she’s custodian of, without having to spend hours going through everything with someone and explaining. Of course, they can and will do whatever they like with the things when she doesn’t need them any more.
        I’ve noticed many people don’t start to be interested in family history until at least late 30s or even older—and some not at all, of course, or interest might skip a generation. I don’t have children, but I do have a much younger brother in his 30s. I wouldn’t expect him to be interested in any of my things, though, as a child might be (or might not!).
        I’ve moved countries, cities and houses so much during my life that I’m thankfully not weighed down by decades of extra stuff. But I usually throw away the wrong things—something I then wish I hadn’t discarded, whereas other things sit there year after year because I might want them one day ;>)

      2. candidkay says:

        I agree with you on the age bit. There are some sentimental things that I have saved for both of my sons, but I don’t plan on giving them to them anytime soon because I don’t think they would mean much until they’re older. That seems to be a thing that comes with age for many of us :-).

  5. After my husband died I had to purge some of his things. First to go was clothes – so many, many clothes. I took them to a homeless shelter and I hope the men who wear them will somehow feel his zest for life and incredible sense of humour. I think we reach a certain age when minimal becomes so attractive. We all have way too much stuff! I loved your introspection and could really identify with most of it – I’ve never owned silk pajamas nor have sake glasses. Whatever. As I reassess my life and the new path ahead of me in a life without hubby I find myself becoming introspective as well. I really enjoyed this post, Kay, and I wish you all the best as you move forward. May you be abundantly blessed.

    1. candidkay says:

      I’m wishing the same for you, Carol. I’m so sorry that you are having to go through this. I love that you were able to give his things away was such a giving spirit. Hoping that the homeless man that wear them feel some of the good that was within your husband.

      1. Thanks so much, Kay. Wishing you all the very best!

  6. I just went through all my stuff not cause I’m moving but to decide which parts of my life should be kept. I had the opportunity to show the kids stuff that I thought they might want. My oldest daughter is like me. She wanted it all. So be it. All packed up and ready for pickup or shipping whichever is most convenient. The two of us already made the generational dump of the older lifestyle and moved into a new mid-century modern house with minimalist decor. Yeah, we kept the crystal because we use it but the three twelve-place dinnerware sets found new homes. I can now rest in peace knowing everything is taken care of. I hope you get there too.

    1. candidkay says:

      Oh, John, I love that you both still use the crystal😊! So many people don’t. I hope you use it all the time. On a random Wednesday. Just because you want to. And good for you for going through everything. You saved your kids so much heartache.

      1. I had to calm them down, they thought I was going to kick.

      2. candidkay says:

        😂 tell them not for quite a while. At least we hope not!

  7. Dale says:

    Oh you, Sister from another Mister! There are certain bloggers where I find myself reading all the comments as I make my way down to post my own… yours is one of them. Always some interesting stuff over and above the fabulous post.

    As with many others, you spoke right to me on this one. So many versions of me lie between the plates, serving platters, et al. The Me I wanted to be at one time or another. Thing is, there are still versions of Me that I want to preserve or bring out again as well as new ones to discover.

    A funny thing happened when I moved to this shitty house. I no longer entertained because I just simply couldn’t. There was no room to cook, no room to sit anyone. And then COVID hit so it didn’t matter. And now that life is getting back to normal(ish), I’m finding that so many people feel the same – how much effort is required to go for dinner or to have people over? Is it too much? Never mind then…

    However. As my remodel comes to a (finally!) end, I’m thisclose to moving back upstairs into a “new” house. All of my shit is in boxes all over the basement. I mean all of it. And there is a copious amount. Now, when all is said and done, I shall have the opportunity to choose that which moves up with me and that which is no longer welcome. (I got rid of a bunch of clothes as I moved downstairs, too, so there is that…)

    Oh my goodness. I’ve left you a post as a comment! I’m thinking this resonated with me… maybe a tad?

    1. candidkay says:

      I have watched your journey into this house and with this house with interest. You know that :-). And I have applauded your bravery in making a move that I know was not easy for you. And I cannot wait to see photos of your redesigned space! I hope it makes you smile. I hope you want to eat pancakes at the kitchen table and sit with a book in a cozy nook. I hope it’s a place that you look forward to coming home to. You deserve all that and more, Dale.
      Choose carefully, and keep only the things that really matter. Those that bring beauty into your life. I have a feeling there are many more happy memories to be made right where you are.❤️

      1. Dale says:

        My original plan was to share as it progressed but then I had zero desire to write and then it became so advanced that I said to hell with it and will do a post with it all. It’s been quite the adventure. One I shall NEVER repeat….
        And I thank you for your wonderful wishes. It’s already making me smile and I’m still not “settled” so I have a good feeling.
        I will definitely choose carefully! 💞

  8. mydangblog says:

    This was so lovely to read. Lately I’ve been culling too, thinking the same thing about burdening our daughter with so much stuff. Luckily we have an antique booth at a market so I’ve been able to make some good money from the things I haven’t donated! No silk pjs here either—just tank tops and flannel shorts!

    1. candidkay says:

      You’re channeling my sister’s vibe. She keeps saying that she and her husband are going to come visit and she’s going to sell a bunch of the stuff that I don’t want. She’s very good that way. Whereas I just throw it all out there in the universe and figure the good will come back to me.😊 either way, it’s a lightening that I think has to happen!

  9. markbialczak says:

    They great thing about life, Kay, is that you can still be your stuff even after you’ve parted with if for any old reason. The choice is there every dang day, and so we struggle and so we smile. Have a great day looking at this and that and remembering, my friend.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Mark! So many memories.

  10. Ally Bean says:

    I love this and it resonates with me. We have enough wine glasses/champagne flutes for a large dinner party. We stopped doing any kind of parties about 7 years ago, but I hang onto them as a reminder of who I used to be. And the thing is, I don’t want to be that woman any more yet I hesitate to donate them to charity. Some things I’ve parted with easily, holiday decorations for instance mean nothing to me, but those glasses…

    1. candidkay says:

      I totally get it. There is something about all of the parties, and all of the memories that is wrapped up in those flutes. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I liked being a woman who wore sheer black stockings and entertained. I don’t want to forget that I once was that.

  11. Miriam says:

    Loved this post! I can’t tell you how much your words resonated with me. In fact I saw me in just about every description, from the copious amounts of appetiser plates to the equal amounts of black shoes that don’t look half decent. Oh, and the silk nightwear! Good luck with the house purge. I’ve just done one after 26 years and let me tell you, it was no mean feat! And it brought lots of stuff to the surface, as well as getting rid of a lot of crap! No, we’re definitely not defined by our stuff. Simple is good. Keep laughing and enjoying life Kristine. 😊

    1. candidkay says:

      Do you feel light as a feather, Miriam? Please wax eloquent about the feelings of lightness and relief. I’m hoping it’ll keep me going!

      1. Miriam says:

        Oh absolutely, I DO feel light as a feather. It’s amazing how much clarity we get when we let go of all the stuff that doesn’t serve us. You got this my friend!

  12. Roy McCarthy says:

    At least you give these matters your (as always eloquent) consideration Kristine. And there is really no obligation on you to discard the things that still hold memories and meaning for you, however fleeting. But once the decision is made, do it and don’t regret it. But please don’t destroy letters, documents, those things that others may wish to have. We have generally got better at preserving and archiving stuff rather than have a couple of guys come and clear granny’s house of ‘all that old rubbish.’ Or books. Pass them on. Someone will read them. In 1955 someone stole a valuable manuscript from Jersey Library – it hasn’t been seen since. We live in hope that it’s still on a shelf or in a shed somewhere waiting to be rediscovered. And Katherine Hepburn used to holiday in Jersey on occasion 🙂

    1. candidkay says:

      I hear you, Roy. Memories do matter. And in a world where so much has become digital and not tactile, the “real” things, sometimes matter even more. Of course, Katherine went to Jersey! And I bet she brought her silk pajamas :-).

  13. Karen Lang says:

    After watching the ‘minimalists’ Josh and Ryan years ago, I decided to always keep a regular check on letting go of stuff! and sometimes I imagine what would happen if I lost it all and still, I trust I would be fine!!
    We all would, because deep down, we all know that our love and our memories are priceless, and that can never be taken from us.
    Great post my friend. 🧡🙏🏻

    1. candidkay says:

      I somehow knew you were going to be that emotionally healthy😉😊. Your blog gives you away!

      1. Karen Lang says:

        Oh not always!! It’s a practice with lots of falls ha!! 😉

  14. Sometimes waking up in the middle of the night is great! What a giggle you’ve just given me Kristine❤️🙏 Thankyou for bringing me back to my own memories and dreams when moving homes, purging! Isn’t it funny what things we found important back in our day! AND now flat shoes are a dream I wouldn’t of been seen dead in when younger! Somethings I saved, just in case… the high black flat toed boots and must have black sexy dress would come back in fashion! NOT understanding the real change comes from within!
    So are you going to keep the silk pjs for your granddaughter? Going back to sleep now… thanks for the giggle and heartfelt reality❤️ much love x

    1. candidkay says:

      So glad I could help you with your 3 AM!😂 And you are going to step further than I have with the flat shoes, you intrepid soul. I do wear some that are somewhat flat, but I’ll only wear heels now that are comfortable. No telling what I’ll end up keeping versus donating because I’m still in the thick of it all. But I can tell you that there are 12 footed glass, dessert bowls out there in the world that are hopefully making someone very happy. As well as a bevy of clothes! It’s a start.😊

  15. Chris Hauri says:

    Have you been eavesdropping on my brain? I’ve been consumed by these very thoughts of how our stuff was so important earlier in life and so burdensome later. Yet every time I think of getting rid of 5 dozen wine glasses I think “well, maybe I should just have a big party” and leave them in the basement. They would go with your appetizer plates!

    1. candidkay says:

      Problem solved😂. Will just throw one giant party and pool all of our party ware. It does begin to feel heavy, doesn’t it? And yet, feeling light as a feather can be so disconcerting.

      1. I recall not returning the extra champagne glasses after my second wedding. I was convinced I would be celebrating so many wonderful occasions with so many friends that surely they would come in handy. Many probably still have their tags. Kristine, I loved this post.

      2. candidkay says:

        Thank you, Donna! If you still have them, I hope there is an occasion soon where you bring out the whole gaggle of them. 😀

  16. These are poignant musings Kristine. Even though the stuff isn’t as important, it does connect us to dreams and memories. I’ve purged deeply, too much at times, but overall I like living simply. I’m sure you’ll continue to be a lover of books, writing, her sons, and maybe some new adventures, with or without sake and silk pajamas.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thanks, Brad😊. You are oh so right. The stuff is inextricably connected to dreams and memories. Which is what makes this a tougher process. Appreciate you giving us a virtual visit and weighing in! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.

      1. Thanks. I had another hermit day and that’s ok.

  17. Jane Fritz says:

    Oh my gosh, Kristine, these ruminations are very powerful. Surely they must resonate with nearly every reader. The time period won’t be exactly the same for everyone, nor the specific objects and associated memories of who we used to be, but the path you are sharing with us feels so familiar. You’re right, we’re not defined by our stuff, while at the same time some of our stuff holds memories and family history that might be passed on (the history even if not the stuff!). Your last sentences remind me of a quote that goes something like this: “ Someday you’ll just be a memory for some people. Do your best to be a good one. “ A lovely post. Thank you for sharing these thoughts.

    1. candidkay says:

      Thank you, Jane! I’m so happy to hear that there is a universal theme here. I thought that there might be, but you never know when you’re writing about your own personal experience with something. And I think the power in so many of these blogs is that we have a shared experience. People don’t feel as alone as they otherwise would. I love the quote. I will try to aspire to it. I hope all is well in your world!

      1. Jane Fritz says:

        I totally agree about the feeling of connectedness that comes from being part of this community of bloggers. 💕

      2. candidkay says:

        I had been feeling somewhat down about the world and wondered why. And then I realized it had been too long since I had connected with the lovely group that comprises my blog followers. It truly does make a difference!

      3. Jane Fritz says:

        I’m glad you’re finding that reconnecting to your blog community makes a difference. It certainly does for me. 💕

  18. This is such a lovely authentic rambling post. I enjoyed reading it very much. Spot on with your description of silk pyjamas – I also have been down that path and found I just prefer simple cotton. I have also been through the decluttering and curating to suit myself and my husband after our sons moved out. So much of what we buy in our younger years is an idea of who we are or might like; now I know who I am and what I like. It is freeing.

    1. candidkay says:

      It is freeing and terrifying all at the same time😉! Thank you for visiting and for commenting. I really did like your blog, and I look forward to receiving future posts!

      1. I enjoyed your blog too and likewise am looking forward to reading your posts as they arrive.

  19. Haha, I loved this Kristine. The things we do. I’ve moved house (well, unit anyway), and each time I do I get very violent with ‘stuff’ and it gets emptier each time…until I fill it again 🤣 I think we are natural hoarders…like squirrels…but at least theirs is food. But if I did that I wouldn’t hop around everywhere, I would flop instead. We have this innate need to do busy…so we don’t think of those bits we don’t like about ourselves.
    Which brings me to my bit…we are more alone as we age…so we will not be sidetracked by another and think deep thoughts and find our answer to that love and happiness we have ever looked for. We used to think it was silk pajamas and sake dreams…now… it’s much more heartfelt things like are our kids happy…and then we poke our nose in to un-tilt their tray of problems and not solve our own 🤣
    As always Kristine, a pen in high heels, silk pajamas and a beautiful urge to un-tilt our trays with the one thing that heals when all else fails…a bloody good laugh. Thank you kind lady, appreciated muchly 😂❤️🙏🏽

    1. candidkay says:

      Damn it, Mark. You’ve come up with the title that I should have used for this piece. “Silk pajamas and sake dreams.” 😉 Seriously. I love it. And you made it looks effortless! I commented on your most recent post, but I was having some difficulty getting verified. I’m hoping the comment came through? I did it about an hour ago.

      1. Haha, its all yours dear lady if you wish to change it. And alas your comment on my blog didn’t come through, and I checked the spam folder and it was empty. What I have been finding, on my site and many others…was that even though I was signed in, when I get to another blog I’m signed out at that site. I can go to another site straight after it and I’m signed back in again…and I haven’t touched a thing.
        Your site was almost impossible to leave a comment, likes are fine. And I find that on any particular site you are having trouble with, down on the bottom right corner as you scroll up and down a white rectangle will come up with a green square with tick and the word ‘following’ (meaning your signed in), or a greyed out version which means signed out. At the far right of that white rectangle is 3 little dots, click on it and with the drop down list will be the option to sign in or log in. I have to do this each time I’m here or at other sites before I can leave a comment. If you leave a comment and click submit when your signed out at a blog…not only will it not go through but will lose your entire comment in the process. Very frustrating if you’ve whipped up a good ‘silk pajamas and sake dreams’ reply 😂 And sometimes, like quite a few times here, it still refuses to submit even after a resign in. There are many complaining of the same or similar problems. When it becomes that frustrating you reach a point where you give up. Anyway, thank you kind lady, I enjoyed this post immensely, a great share 🤣❤️🙏🏽

      2. candidkay says:

        I’ll try again, Mark! Thank you for the tips.

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