Tonight I’m sitting at home because of the Coronavirus aka COVID-19. I’m very disappointed because I’d planned to go with friends to a Western dance at a new venue with live music. It’s a small thing, I know, compared to the big fears of folks catching this virus that’s unfamiliar and has no vaccine. But dancing has been essential to my physical and emotional health, especially over the past year. Social distancing may cause a whole host of other problems.
Besides my weekly dancing, there are other things I can’t do: attend church, participate in my DivorceCare group, meet in person with my work group. I think back to the time in my life when I had to isolate myself during my low cell count days after chemotherapy for breast cancer. At first I was down about all I couldn’t do, things I was missing and angry that cancer had interrupted my life. But eventually, I asked myself “What can I do?
That question comes to me now.
I ran into a friend at the grocery store and she referred to this as ‘found time.’ She had plans to draw in and relax, since she wouldn’t be going to the school to teach every day–instead providing a virtual classroom. This interruption in our lives is coming at a time when I need to move forward with preparing our house to go on the market in April.
Forced to stay at home, I have no escape; it’s time to push through all that cleaning out, downsizing my life to fit into a much smaller space. Recently we pulled down boxes from our attic, things I’d forgotten that had been stored since we moved into our house almost six years ago. I open some of the boxes and find things from my childhood.
Many of those things would be considered ‘sentimental items’ by Marie Kondo as she writes about in her book, Spark Joy. According to her, you’re not supposed to go through them until the last thing in tidying up and organizing. But, I’m not one to feel I have to do things in the prescribed order.
I flip to the back of her book to read her three points to keep in mind when sorting through sentimental items. First, don’t send sentimental items to your parents’ home. That’s not an option at my age; I still have things of Mama and Daddy’s from clearing out the house when she went to Parkview nursing center.
Second, If you can’t bring yourself to throw something away, keep it with confidence. Going through the items in my box, I find my jersey that I wore the summer after my senior year of high school when I played on a women’s softball team. I worked as a nursing assistant and joined other staff on the Nurses’ team– pitching and playing short stop. I even saved the game ball and write up from the hometown paper when I was the winning pitcher and got 2 hits–not always easy for me! I’ll keep them so my grandchildren can see that their “Grammy” liked to play ball, too.
And this is the third point Kindo makes about sentimental items:
Make good use of the things you choose to keep for the next stage of your life. The question to ask is, “Will the future me need this to spark joy?” Use this criterion to confront each item and put your past self in order.
Some of what brings me joy in these items is thinking of how I’ll share them with my grandchildren. I can’t keep all of them, but I’ll pick ones that represent how I spent much of my time and had the most enjoyment as a girl.
A couple of sections later Kindo refers to how to handle “Putting memories of past lovers in order.”
“Regardless of what memories you have, never take out your negative feelings on your things. Always thank them for the wonderful memories and part from them with gratitude.” (Spark Joy, p. 223)
I’d forgotten about one of the pages in my scrapbook. It was my description of going to the 8th grade prom at Jonesboro with David, who would later become my husband– our first date when we were fourteen. We went as just friends and didn’t become more than that until we dated ten years later. My mother had sewn my dress and didn’t finish it until an hour before he picked me up. She was always good at working up to deadline!
I thought it was the prettiest dress– a blue dotted swiss with pink rosebuds and a pink velvet tie for the empire waistline–a popular style in June of ’69. On that night when David’s mother, my future mother-in-law, Mary Dell drove us to the gymnasium, I had no idea that I was sitting beside my future husband. Now, I look at my 8th grade cursive and think of the innocence of youth and all that has happened in the years since.
I’ll keep this page in my scrapbook. When I go through the pictures and momentos from our almost forty-one years of marriage, I’ll heed Kindo’s advice and “thank them for the wonderful memories and part from some of them with gratitude.”
How About You?
Do you have boxes that you need to go through from your childhood?
What items do you plan to keep because you just can’t give them away?
What items will you carry forward because you think the ‘future you’ will need them to spark joy?