Tonight I started purging my master bathroom. I blocked out just an hour after work and before church as this is a room that I fully set-up and organized as soon as I moved in…so I am thinking…this is going to be quick and hiccup free…no emotional upheaval in toiletries.
Why do I even bother?
First, let me just say that I am so past the shame part of this purge. I mean seriously. The fact that I can get two boxes of donations and a bag of trash out of a Master. Bathroom. For. The. Love. is so beyond ridiculous I dare not even bother reacting….see how I am not reacting?! :)))
Then I came across this…
Cue the crooked smile…and then teary eyes…
This is a used (and not by anyone I know) body powder that I bought at flea market because it is the brand my Ma Ma used and when I remove the lid and breathe deeply I am transported back to her bathroom in Memphis with the cast iron claw foot bathtub and pink bathmat and the little shelf she always had her powder sitting on….and when the memories start washing over me in waves, I can feel her wrapping a towel around me as I stood up out of the tub and the delight in her allowing me to use her powder until I was covered in it and smelled like an old beauty parlor. I was the luckiest and most loved little princess girl in those precious moments.
I have a problem…one of the reasons that I am in the predicament I am in is that I have had an unrealistic belief that the responsibility for being the keeper of ALL the treasures was mine and I could not fail. Period. That isn’t the problem though, well not the biggest one. The problem, my problem, is that I have an uncanny ability to transport myself into memories based on smells, sight, etc. Everyone has this ability, but I have taken mine and amped it up a notch. I have bought houses based on a smell, moved based on a 30 year old list, bought and/or held on to treasures to the point that they became strongholds in my life, but mainly I have been selfish. I have held on so tight to these snippets of the most precious of childhoods (mine) that I have suffocated the memories, stagnated my emotional growth, and isolated myself from others who might benefit from my sharing my memories or treasures.
Let me explain how difficult this is to write…
The tears are STREAMING down my face as I type.
You might read that and think maybe Heather is being too hard on herself. I’m not. Don’t give me an inch on this.
There has been no room in my heart for new memories or new experiences because no one could get past the ghosts that had taken up residence there. The ghosts I kept snug and warm and fed treasures too…bath powders, music, land, a quilt, photos, books, and even a Bible.
I keep getting thank you notes and messages from people as I am mailing out about a half dozen packages a week to friends, family, and even strangers. Some I haven’t seen or spoken to in years, but I will come across something and God will whisper…send it to _____. Other items I mail are things that I purchased for someone, pictures I took for someone…and sadly I just never got it to them. I had good intentions in those cases, but…well…no excuses. In these past few months, I am getting to some harder stuff…things that require a letter or message to explain, and I am forcing myself to take the time to sit down and write to them (electronically) or with good old fashion pen and paper. I want to share my heart with the receiver…why I thought of them…I want them to know there was nothing unintentional or casual about me sending it to them. I have been surprised at the responses.
To systematically go through every single item you own is insane. I admit it. This isn’t a path I chose as much as it chose me…God chose for me. The truth is that I needed this….desperately. I had a lot of junk (internally) to go through and often I have found that there is a direct correlation between so much of the internal to something external in my life. Funny, huh?! God has a sense of humor and don’t ever think he isn’t creative when it comes to delivering a lesson.
Tonight I am sitting here cross-legged in my floor looking into the bathroom that sat me here and spun my heart….all because of a pink box of powder.
So here is the kicker. Do I keep it?
Quite simply. It brings me joy.
I have been doing this purge for three years (officially/unofficially started in December 2012), and I will complete it 12/31/2015. I set neither the start or the finish and all of that is for another blog I plan on writing at the end. Bottom line, I came across this book a few months ago titled “the life-changing magic of tidying up : the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing” by Marie Kondo, and it is FASCINATING. The core of her process is this…”Discard anything that doesn’t spark joy.” If that has you scrunching your face a little…buy the book, read it, and when you get to p 181 where this sentence starts summing it all up it will all make a LOT of sense. Trust me. I wish the whole book began and ended with that sentence, but as luck (and learning) would have it, it doesn’t. It delves into the whys and wherefores behind the joy…behind the holding on….and it helps you find the “pattern in your ownership of things”…
I read that section MONTHS ago and tonight it suddenly made sense to me.
I mean. Holy. Crap.
So, I have been part of a launch team for a new book, Out of Sorts, by Sarah Bessey
, and to say the least…I recommend it…HIGHLY! So our team got a heads up that Sarah had put together a special Spotify playlist for the book and I am including the link HERE: Out of Sorts Playlist
so you can go and check it out yourself. Well….I am listening to it yesterday and Nichole Nordeman’s The Unmaking
comes on, and I. Die. My first thought, thank you God…this is just for me….and it is because it is the perfect theme song for #threeyearpurgefest 🙂
“…This is the unmaking
The beauty in the breaking
Had to lose myself
To find out who You are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars…”
I have been sitting in the rubble for four years. Four. Long. Years. The first year, I sat in shock and pain. These past three years I have MOVED. Literally and figuratively. I really hope you take the time to listen to the song, read the lyrics….I think there are a lot of us who need The Unmaking…done to us by God. As someone who believes they are on the edge of the wilderness (season), I feel qualified to testify that there has been tremendous beauty in this season….deep, deep beauty. God bent over and met me fully on that floor and he has never left me as I have crawled out of the rubble.
So here I am still crawling out and the latest rubble is a simple thing of powder….powder.
That little white house on Holmes Street in Memphis.
Pa Pa sitting at the kitchen table with the red and white checkered tablecloth in his white v-neck t-shirt and khaki pants, peeling an apple in what seemed like one swoop.
A creaky twin iron bed with the white chenille bedspread.
God whispered….remember. I am here. I have your heart. It’s okay.
The Unmaking. This is tough stuff. It is like learning to walk again, but what I am doing is learning how to feel….with my whole heart…to lean into God ALL the time…not simply when the pain is too much to bear alone. To let go of the ghosts. To make room. To figure out what truly brings me joy and what simply suffocates me (mind - body- space - time - energy - money).
Tonight I filled yet another trash bag (don’t ask how many there have been in three years) and fixed up two more boxes of donations.
…and on the shelf in between my hand towels and wash cloths sits a pink box of body powder because there is a lot of joy in the memories it gives me..no longer what I have lost, but what I was so beautifully gifted…and it is okay to mourn (even after all of these years) and it is okay to remember, but it is best to FEEL the joy.
Sunshine Dreams to You ~ Today and Every Day! 🙂