50 Thoughts: Simplify, Simplify ... Save It

So I’m a little bit of a hoarder.

Not in an “It’s time for an intervention” sense – I am not surrounded by stacks of newspapers and travel size toiletries. I just have a hard time letting things go.

My cedar chest is full of the kids’ schoolwork. And their artwork overflows from my closet. I still have a small but respectable pile of ’80s clothes for those requisite “80s Day” celebrations the kids had at high school. But those days are over. Can I kiss the clothes goodbye? Should I? Do I have to?

I crave organization. I feel it in my bones – that ache to have everything have a place. My reaction to clutter is visceral. But at the same time, the emotional connection to a Holly Hobbie mug I have from my childhood is inexplicable. I can’t imagine a better place for it than with me. It wouldn’t even make it to the pawn shop if I donated it. I put that in a bag for Amvets and I might as well just throw it in the dump.

I can’t put Holly Hobbie in the dump.

I fear that one of these days, I will surrender to my latent OCD tendencies and actually throw everything I own into the street, with the promise only to bring back into the house the things that bring me joy. The things I really, truly need. And that then I would end up bringing everything back inside. “But I neeeeed this souvenir glass from a restaurant that I once visited 23 years ago. What if we get a lake house someday? I could use it there!”

I will never have a lake house. I think I can get rid of the glass and the mixed set of 13 mugs. Unless the kids need them for their first apartment. Yes! A reason to hang on.

What is it about the letting go? Why does the heart so often overrule the head?

The nice thing about getting older is that in some ways, you find you don’t need as much. You get the urge to simplify. You’ve come to embrace the people, places and things that you really appreciate, so it’s easier to define what means the most to you. And honestly, this time of year, I am all in on converting to the Hygge faith and wearing nothing but black and swaddling myself in magnificent scarves.

Maybe it’s easier for some people than others. I spent a childhood moving around every few years. Maybe one of the lasting effects is not wanting to get rid of anything because it may fit better at your next address. Or maybe it’s an enduring sense of tradition. Using the same advent calendar and holiday decorations, year in and year out. Saving your childhood mementos to pass on to your grandkids someday.

And of course, there are the people and things that are worth keeping. I’m all for purging third-hand acquaintances from your Facebook feed, but even if I never see my elementary school friend in person ever again, i still love seeing pictures of her and her husband and knowing she’s living her best life. And maybe that Holly Hobbie mug will stay in a drawer for the foreseeable future, but it will make a spectacular pencil holder for that granddaughter down the road.

And don’t even get me started on my books. Back away from my shelves. All mine. Forever. Because someday I will have that house with impossibly high built-in shelves that require a rolling ladder set into a brass track in the floor.

I’m not giving up on a little organization. I do crave it. I just crave connection even more. I have a feeling the universe will let me know when it’s time to let go.

Day 1: 50 Days, 50 Thoughts, 50 Books. Book recommendation: The Bitch is Back

Day 2: There Aren’t Any Do-Overs, Are There? Book Recommendation: A Place for Us

Day 3: Is Pop Culture Circling the Drain? Book recommendation: Live from New York

Day 4: Perimenopause in the Age of Trump Book Recommendation: Where’d You Go, Bernadette

Day 5: Take A Knee at the Altar of Common Sense Book Recommendation: How Not to Be a Dick

Day 6: Perspective is the Gift That Keeps on Giving Book Recommendation: A Fine Balance

Day 7: The Accidental Editor Book Recommendation: Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977 – 2002)

Day 8: The First Last of the Firsts Book Recommendation: The Little Book of Hygge

Day 9: All Kinds of Tired Book Recommendation: Believer

Day 10: Overthinking is Anxiety’s Bitchy Best Friend Book Recommendation: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened

Day 11: Where Would You go with a Wayback Machine? Book Recommendation: A Little Life

Day 12: Fall in my Favorite Chicago

Day 13: On Having It All Book Recommendation: Lean In

Day 14: Where Were You When … Book Recommendation: The Nix

Day 15: 5 Things to Purge Before you Turn 50 Book Recommendation: The Art of Tidying Up

Day 16: A Labor Day Salute to Bad Bosses Everywhere Book Recommendation: Steve Jobs

Day 17: Do You Validate?  Book Recommendation: Less 

Day 18: Identity Crisis Code Purple Book Recommendation: Amp’d

Day 19: Character Really Does Count Book Recommendation: Believer

Day 20: Death Before Public Speaking Book Recommendation: The Gifts of Imperfection

Day 21: 15 Things You Should Do Before You Turn 50 Book Recommendation: Drop Dead Healthy

Day 22: Calling BS on “Sticks and Stones” Book Recommendation: Love Warrior

Day 23: My Feet Are My Favorite Part of Me Book Recommendation: Born to Run

Day 24: Self-Help Books Aren’t Half Bad  Book Recommendation: The Book of Joy

Day 25: Going for Gratitude Book Recommendation: The Gratitude Diaries

Day 26: Past Self Meets Future Self Book Recommendation: A Wrinkle in Time

Day 27: The Book is Always Better Book Recommendation: Big Little Lies

Day 28: Three Cheers for Volunteers Book Recommendation: A Secret Gift

Day 29: The Social Network Book Recommendation: The Circle

Day 30: 50 People Who Can Text Me Before Trump Does Book Recommendation: Purity 

Day 31: I’ll Take My Joy Where I Can Find It Book Recommendation: The Book of Joy

Day 32: Humor is My Sixth Sense Book Recommendation: Sick in the Head

Day 33: Anger Comes Second Book Recommendation: The Leftovers

Day 34: Hypocrisy, Much? Book Recommendation: The Favorite Sister

Day 35: Girl Power Book Recommendation:Girls

Day 36: The Kids are All Right Book Recommendation: Ohio

Day 37: Banned Books Week Book Recommendation: the Banned Books list

Day 38: An Open Letter to Congress Book Recommendation: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

Day 39: The Importance of Guilty Pleasures Book Recommendation: The Actress

Day 40: On Stories Never Told Book Recommendation: After Visiting Friends

Day 41: Thank You, Judge Kavanaugh Book Recommendation: Missoula

Day 42: With a Little Help from My Friends Book Recommendation: Bad Feminist

Day 43: Life Doesn’t Flash ... Book Recommendation: Shotgun Lovesongs

Day 44: Crazy Love Book Recommendation: To Be Sung Underwater

Today’s recommendation: The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. It’s just kind of mesmerizing.

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