Get rid of the junk

Chris and I are minimalists. We only want to have the bare necessities around. Now that does not mean the items in our home are not nice. Everything is very specifically chosen, but as minimalists we only have what we need, cherish, and truly want around. We are the opposite of packrats and hoarders. I just finished reading: “After a While You Just Get Used to It: A Tale of Family Clutter” by Gwendolyn Knapp — which made me think of my own childhood.

Knapp is very descriptive about her mom’s home, but in a nice way. You get the point that her mom is a hoarder. It is funny how you do not really know the world you live in until sometimes you are far away from it. Growing up I do not remember our house having a lot of crap in it. We did not have nice things, but there was not crap every where. The couch we had was gross, had many holes (thanks to the dogs), and was not what you would think of if you were looking at a couch. My mom would cover it with sheets, mostly because she did not want anyone to see what it really looked like.

We were not hoarders, but I think looking back that my dad was a packrat. If you came into our house you would not see it. He kept it in his “office.” He had an office in the upstairs of our house. It was his area, and there were lots of papers. He kept everything. He also had an office/garage of sorts for his flailing business. There his packrat tendencies were with “tools.” My dad was a contractor. He had 100’s of every type of tool, and always found a reason he needed another. His garage was filled with money in the form of tools — money that should have been used to buy food to feed his family. Alas.

I remember when he passed on and we had to go through his possessions. We filled storage units that equaled the size of a two-car garage. This was not for furniture or clothes or belongings. It was for his tools and files. We took inventory of everything and had to go through it all. Sadly, most of it went into a dumpster (the files) and the tools given away or sold. There wasn’t anything that amounted to much. Sharing all of this brings me back to the point of: What do we keep and why do we keep it?

Chris and I have carefully selected the items in our home, we discuss together the merits of keeping or getting rid of things. We think through “why” we are keeping something. Does it have meaning? In a time where people want to feel like they belong, do you think that people use stuff to find meaning in their lives? That maybe surrounding themselves with things (whether trivial or meaningful) helps them feel less lonely and that they have more in their life? I often wonder that about my dad. What did all that stuff mean to him? I would rather hold the memories inside, and get the clutter out of my life.

What do you think?

Ordinary Talismans

Common objects. Ordinary. Talismans.

I take two kinds of photos — people and odd objects. You know when you see that toothpick sticking out of the parking meter, or a bike is leaning oddly on its front tire and somehow holding up the weight of itself? Whatever the oddity, I find beauty in the common objects in life found in rare or strange places. At times, we find that a common object strikes a deep chord within us. It brings back memories that are strong and often vivid. Our own talisman of sorts.

Over the weekend we were at a local holiday artisan market that was nested within a new/used hardware store. I saw a few holiday trinkets that started a flowing thought process of the talismans in my life. I saw a bottle opener in the shape of pliers, vintage hammers, and a few construction-esque items that brought back memories of my dad’s plethora of tools meant to help him build, fix, and maintain the homes of many in my hometown. Beside the random fart greeting card, or joke about going bald, tools are often a talisman reminder of my dad. So are the moments when I wished I had watched him fix a pipe, build a deck, or the endless other projects I could have gained valuable and tangible knowledge to bring to my home today.

My other talismans? Pepsi and Daisies. Random, I know, but each remind me of my mom and grandma. My grandma’s daily drink was a Pepsi, and while I do not drink soda, from what I can remember my last 2-liter drinking of Pepsi was with her. It would probably taste nasty to me, like a syrup IV, but it will forever be my reminder of good ‘ole Granny Smith. I can also rarely pass by a daisy and not think of my mom. Sometimes to the point of having tears in my eyes. While I have not embraced, spoken to, or seen her for over twenty years, a daisy can bring back the strongest of memories. They are resilient, last forever, and are the simplest of flowers. While my mom did not last as long as she should have, she was one resilient and simple lady. Call my sappy, but the daisy is a quick reminder of her and her last words to me: “Be strong.”

What are the talismans of your day-to-day world?