Thursday, December 30, 2010

Pickle forks

122710 mismatched flatware 

A few months ago as I opened the flatware drawer to grab a spoon, something made me stop and look at the contents within. Huh! I pulled out a bunch of spoons and spread them on the counter. A motley collection it was: mismatched, some slightly bent, some tarnished silverplate, one poor rough-edged piece obviously rescued from the teeth of the disposal. Most of them had ornate scrollwork on the handles, not at all my style; I prefer simple and smooth, more refined and elegant to me than the fussy swirlies on these strange spoons. Where did they come from? I know I didn’t buy them. I haven’t purchased new flatware since I was married at 20 years old. Some of those original wedding pieces were still in the drawer; some I knew had been chewed up in the garbage disposal and tossed years ago. I still had most of the original forks, knives, soup spoons, iced tea spoons. I also had eight matching pickle forks. Pickle forks that I had never used (does anyone use them?); pickle forks that I would never use in the future.

It’s funny how we collect things over time, not really noticing how things slowly accumulate, getting shoved into drawers, finding homes in closets or cabinets. Things are left behind, added to our other things, given to us as gifts (even though they’re things we’d never buy for ourselves). We keep and keep. Maybe I’ll find a use. As soon as I give it away, I just KNOW I’ll need it. I even saw a magazine pic with spoons used as garden plant markers with the plant names on the bowl of the spoon. What a great idea … that I’ll never do!

When we’re young, our parents choose our stuff for us; it’s not really our stuff; it belongs to our parents and we’re told when we can use it and how. We grow up and then we really start to accumulate our own stuff; the real fun begins! We get an education, a career. We get a spouse—and all the wedding and shower gifts to start our lives together. We get in-laws, children, a house, furniture, a garden, cars. In our 20s, 30s, 40s, we busily acquire all the stuff of life, adding and adding. Christmas lights, decorations, Halloween stuff, snow stuff, golf stuff, vacation stuff … stuff, stuff, stuff, stuff. Whew!

And then one day … we open a drawer and see all the stuff that we never really intended to acquire, the stuff that doesn’t add value and help achieve our highest and greatest good, stuff that no longer serves us well. We begin to reverse the cycle. We want less stuff, not more. We want stuff that fits us better, of our own choosing; stuff that elevates, that reflects who we are. We start divesting ourselves of all the old stuff, the things that don’t match us any longer. We release the burdens, the extra weight we’ve been carting around in life. We choose a new definition, a simpler, cleaner, more spare definition, tossing away the excess frills and fussiness that are not part of our essence, paring down to the purer sense of who we really are at the core and choosing those items that serve us better.

122710 matching flatware

For Christmas, my thoughtful daughter bought me a new set of matching flatware, simple, clean-lined, perfect, my first new flatware since I was a young bride. I emptied the drawer, clearing everything out, amazed at some of the odd pieces I found in there. It all went into a donation box and I washed and dried my new flatware and put it in the drawer. (Doesn’t it look beautiful in the pic above?) Then I cleaned out the utensil drawer, getting rid of things I’ve never used (I don’t cook) or didn’t need (melon baller?), putting them in the donation box, too.

It’s snowballed and I’m starting to go through closets and cabinets and drawers, releasing things that no longer serve me well, packing it all up to donate, clearing my spaces and the excess that was burdening my life. I’m intentionally choosing what stays and what goes, not just letting the accumulation take over my spaces as before. Little by little, I’m reclaiming each of these spaces, dumping out the old, clearing the clutter from my life, getting rid of the “pickle forks” that I don’t need and will never use. I’m reclaiming my sacred spaces for myself, with intention and with love for the beauty and peace of empty spaces as well as for the things of value that I choose to keep.

It’s good to regularly stop and ask ourselves “What is no longer serving me well in my life?” We need to do a periodic cleanse and determine what that is, whether it’s pickle forks, friendships, a job, a location, a pattern of behavior. May we all have a happy and clear 2011!



Stacy Wills said...

i love visiting your blog, rose. such a peaceful, beautiful space you have cultivated here. blessings to you in the new year!

LauraX said...

Rose you are so right!!! And it feels so good to be released of the burden of all the extra, non-essential, sacred-space claiming stuff. The timing is perfect at the end of a year and beginning of the next one. This is something I do periodically, and is much harder now as my energy is more limited...but I'm thinking, YES this is a practice I can do...on pickle fork at a doesn't have to be an entire closet of junk I empty in a small release...allowing for a slightly fuller breath of peace.

Happy New Year dear one!!!

I am so, deeply grateful that we are walking life's path simultaneously:)

paintergal said...

One of those spoons is mine! How did you end up with it, Rose?
Seriously, the spoon pointing to the left on the top with the larger handle is the set I started collecting in high school.
What a mystery!

Darla said...

Rose, this was a truly delightful read; the perfect blend of practical and spiritual. Loved it! When you said "I’m reclaiming my sacred spaces for myself, with intention and with love for the beauty and peace of empty spaces as well as for the things of value that I choose to keep." I thought, ahhh...I am going to keep that quote, maybe even write the message upon a piece of colored paper and put it somewhere near as a touchstone. We are planning a move in the near future, and are already in the process of 'clearing the clutter.' :-) Happy New Year!

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Clearing out the old helps us welcome the new. And it feels so good to purge all that old stuff that is never used!

Leslie Jeanne said...

I recently found a wonderful solution for letting go of things that were no longer serving me. I had collected so many items in boxes marked YARD SALE. But I never seemed to find the time or energy to actually HAVE the yard sale. Then it came to me, GIVE IT AWAY! I rent a retail space on a busy street for my design studio, so I set out a table with a sign with big lettering that said, FREE.... MUST GO! Guess what? Every single book, doll, glass, knick knack was GONE!! It was wonderful! Some people got some nice things for free and I felt wonderful about it....much better than if I had sold it!

Anonymous said...

As long as you don't start doing the same thing with family members, I endorse this!

Your brother, Steve

Kate said...

Great post; inspires me to get at all my accumulated STUFF and donate, discard or keep what's really special to me. What's gratifying is that there's probably someone out there who really likes/needs this extra STUFF. I see them all them all the time at the thrift stores as I'm in there looking for my next treasure. Recycle! Those pickle forks will find a fabulous home.

Happy 2011!

Rose - The Center of My Self said...

Stacy - Happy blessings to you!

Laura - I, too, am grateful to share the journey with you. With fibromyalgia, I have to take things more slowly than I'd like, too. We just whittle away at the excess a little at a time, right?

PG - Too funny! I'd send it to you but it's already at Goodwill.

Darla - Wishing you all the best on your move. May your new sacred space be nurturing and happy.

Leslie Jeanne - Hi! What a great idea! It's a great feeling releasing and letting the stuff find brand-new homes, isn't it?

Steve - No chance I'd purge you! You are loving, nurturing, and of infinite value. You serve my life well! Love you!

Kate - It's a great feeling to take unused stuff and know that it will find use elsewhere. Great energy to put into the world!

dec0r8or said...

So do you think that it's a coincidence that just this past Thanksgiving I was lamenting the fact that I don't have any pickle forks? Seriously! I use them when I have dinner parties--and pickles! :D I'm sure I have some SOMEwhere, but like you, I've somewhat managed to get buried in "stuff." It's time for me to begin the big purge too. It'll make me feel better.

Carmen said...

One of the wonderful gifts in the last few years of my caotic life was going to England for 6 months, my then husband was on a job assignment, and only taking a small percentage of "stuff" with us ~ and coming home and realizing that we hadn't missed so much of our "stuff" ~

I was in the process of redoing all of the floors and painting the rooms of the house ~ and was very deliberate in chosing what went back into each room. Even the kids were excited about choosing what should stay in their rooms and what should go to others.

Now of course, 2 years later it needs to redone . . . it is ongoing it seems, but we do try and be more mindful. The kids and I have talked of next Christmas instead of doing gifts we will give each other a trip together :)

Happy Clearing :)

rebecca said...

I feel like I'm in a constant state of purging and clearing. I don't know when I ended up having so much stuff! I cannot tell you the boxes and boxes of things I have donated over the years. I started many years ago, systematically going thru things, but my problem is that I live with a pack rat. The man can't help himself and collects all sorts of things that drive me insane! He's a creative and so he finds a thousand and one ways to use things no one else would look at twice. He just needs his own studio....away from here....

The heart wants to live like a minimalist; but the Beloved seems to be preventing it from being so!

Loved the post! Loved it! It inspired! Now I want to go purge, purge, purge again!

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