I am reading “Happier at Home” by Gretchen Rubin. You may have heard of, or read, her other book, “The Happiness Project”. I enjoyed her first happiness project, and I am enjoying this second one as well. She prescribes to a Benjamin Franklin Virtues chart method of daily accountability to goals. Her goals center around ways of being happier, specifically as the name implies, at home, in this newest project.

I’m not that far into the book, but she starts by taking inventory of her possessions and determining how to bring more honor to them and insure that they are contributing to her happiness vs draining her of it.

It is always such a delight to have a thought take over my mind and then find I am reading about, hearing about, speaking about, that very thought more often. I don’t know why this happens for certain, but I believe it is the Spirit within me, subtly leading me down the paths that are of benefit.

Possessions have taken on added weight in my life. As anyone who has dealt with a parent’s death can attest, their possessions become such potent things. Gretchen writes in her book, “(After someone’s death, how strange to see the value drain away from his or her possessions;…)” I believe that this is true in one way and then the alternate is also true, a monumental value is also suddenly ascribed. While the value to the deceased has obviously been completely removed, those items that once held little worth to you, somehow are instilled with worth you were previously unaware of.

Due to unavoidable circumstances, we were forced to deal with my father’s possessions within the first two weeks of his passing. In retrospect I hope to find that this rush will be beneficial – but in the here and now it has just made this valuation confused. I believe that, for some, it takes time for this value exchange to take full effect. Perhaps something that seems trivial will one day be significant. Perhaps something that seems significant, will prove unable to maintain it’s significance over time.

There is a part of me which does not need, nor desire, to hold on to many things. It is either because of this characteristic, or in defense from it, that the things I do hold on to become quite dear to me. My home is decorated with photographs and things from the people that I love. My kitchen is stocked with the well worn bowls and utensils of my grandmother’s, and now my father’s, lives. It is comforting to me, to let my eyes pass over these reminders of those that I love.

I do not hoard. If something cannot be displayed (and therefore merit the annual dusting), and it cannot be used, then it must pass the last, totally subjective, opportunity to remain – it must simply be infused with a value that cannot be reasoned against. So I’ve found, that in this rush to deal with my father’s possessions that this last hurdle of value infusion has become blurred. I cannot tell if I truly have a connection that has instilled value – meaning that I should in all cases work to honor and keep this thing, or if I still am seeing in it the value it held for my father – but unable to acknowledge that he no longer values any of his things. Then there is the worse case scenario – I see that it has value for someone else and then I place a guilt value on it. Yes, I will admit – there are things that others want that I find I want, simply because they want it. I think perhaps I fear that I have not had time to remember why that thing has value….what if one day I do? (I will note here that I’m blessed with a loving relationship with my family and this is not something that I need to worry about, none the less I involuntarily have these frantic feelings – and those frantic feelings do need to be worried out and put away from me…)

Up until this week, I had stored the boxes that still need to be gone through in my office. I work from home – so the sheer visual and psychological weight of all these THINGS simply became to much. We moved them downstairs. I had put them in my office, because, as I said, I have no intention of hoarding away boxes upon boxes of things simply because. I will go through them in time and sort out what should be honored and what should be let go. At first I thought I would simply bully myself into getting it done by setting them all in front of me. You see, I had forgotten that I was supposed to be kind to myself during this process, not bully myself. Thank heavens I remembered that I like me this week, and moved those boxes downstairs where their weight is a niggle in my deep brain that stores the things that ‘must be dealt with, but not today’. This is much better than the in my face, front and center, part of my brain that works in my office each and every day of the work week.

I will find the balance of these things, one day. The balance, for me, is in finding that I enjoy the things that I have around me. Right now there is too much and it is a burden instead of a joy. I mean, even downstairs, the weight of the things, seems too much. But one day I will find the right balance and keep the right things. Those things that have value to me, and they will carry me, they will not weigh me down.

And if all this talk of things having value makes you uncomfortable, please know that I ascribe to Gretchen’s research findings. What makes something special – or valuable – is the memories and associations invoked by the thing. The value I talk of – is that intangible sense that your life and your mind is made better in the presence of some things (and people for that matter) and is lessened by others. I am working to identify those things that make me better in their presence.

For any of you out there dealing with someone’s ‘things’ – I pray that you too will find the balance. That you will not be overcome or stalled by the sheer ‘weight’ of things. I pray that you can find a way to identify those things bring honor to your memories and let the rest go. Their value is now yours to define, and it is a responsibility. I pray this for me, too.

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