When life is gone, stuff remains

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Last week I was popping into a few antique stores in search of a modern-rustic (oxymoron?) spoon rack for the set of silver spoons I recently was given from my grandmother’s collection.  While in and out of the stores I noticed several signs for an estate sale nearby.  It was a beautiful sunny day, so I went.

When I first walked in the door I noticed the amazing view!  The house overlooked the escarpment and river – I was in the USA but I could see Canada clearly across the water.  I perused the entry table and saw several sets of silver spoons.  There must be a spoon rack!  I asked the first two estate sale workers I saw, but they were positive there was no spoon rack available.  Another speed bump in my search for what was apparently an elusive find, yet I continued on and decided to browse through the house (my true motivation was to just look at the house – it was grand and unlike other houses I had seen before).

It wasn’t long before I felt extremely uncomfortable.  It seemed pretty obvious that this was someone’s long-time home and I think it was pretty safe to assume that the person had passed as everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) was being sold.  For example, I saw a woman walk out with a plastic cutting board.

I felt like I was intruding into this person’s life.  I heard people laughing and balking over finding or not finding something – it all felt really disrespectful.  I kept thinking about who this person was as I trampled my unfamiliar feet through their bathrooms and hallways.  There were skis and snowboards, there was a meditation room, an office with a telescope – it seemed like an adventurous person had lived there.  There was a ton of possessions.  Clothing, kitchen ware, sofas, desks, lamps, silverware, pillows, books, movies, electronics – the list goes on.

Aside from feeling like I didn’t belong in the house looking at things that weren’t mine, the other major thought I had was how we really “can’t take it with us when we go”.  There was so much stuff!  I understand why a family would have a full estate sale, even down to the plastic cutting boards: it’s just too much!  How does one decide what to toss, donate or keep?  Memories are in everything we own.  It’s a huge job especially amid the sadness of losing a loved one.  Also, this stuff filled a mansion – how could anyone move it all?

I left the sale feeling very odd.  As I have tried to make sense of my mixed emotions that day, I have also been paring down my possessions.  I’ve been asking myself what to toss, donate or keep.  I have remembered things and felt emotions as I’ve gone through the items in my home.  I think that’s it – memories are in everything we own, but they are not physical.  We can take memories with us whether we have the stuff or not.

I hope that no one ever has to hold an estate sale for me.  I hope that I can find life and memory in people and relationships, and while stuff can be the vessel I use to make memories (like skis or a telescope), I hope I don’t ever put more value on it than on those in my life.

If a bunch of strangers do someday go through my things and make jokes or act disrespectfully in my home, I will come back as a ghost to scare them and their children.

Holistic Approach to Wellness

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Did you know that our health and wellness is affected by more than food and exercise?  Sometimes it’s hard to remember that to be truly healthy we must be balanced in all areas of our lives.  Wouldn’t it be nice if marketers pushed introspection instead of diet supplements as a means to happiness?

I have been putting a lot of thought and effort into reevaluating where I am at in the following seven categories:

Spirit, Physical Health, Mental Health, Emotions, Intellect, Nourishment, and Relationships.

*There are other important things like finances, goal-setting, letting go/permission to change – I put these items under other categories but feel free to add them to your “most important” list.

Each of these things makes up a portion of my well-being.  Therefore, when I am fulfilling every area, I feel whole.  On the other hand, if I am lacking in any of the aforementioned categories, I tend to feel fruitless and bored and my self-esteem is usually decreased.

Approaching holistic health takes work and commitment, but after some time it becomes second nature.  The important thing is to remember that once you’re in the groove, feeling good and fulfilling yourself in all of the seven categories, you must check in on occasion to make sure you’re not leaving anything out.  It’s too easy to not realize you’ve been slipping until you’re all the way back at the bottom of the hill.

Here is my web, illustrating my holistic approach to wellness:

Start with a web.  These are the seven categories that I believe to be important.

Start with a web. These are the seven categories that I believe to be important.

Here are the ways that I fulfill each area of my life:

I realize that I left out finance.  I would put my financial health under "Mental Health", because when my finances are healthy my stress level is down.  When I check back in with myself in a few months, I will make finance it's own bubble.

I realize that I left out finance. I would put my financial health under “Mental Health”, because when my finances are healthy my stress level is down. When I check back in with myself in a few months, I will make finance it’s own bubble.

Goal-setting has not been a priority of mine for a while (although I have done it subconsciously off and on for the last few years), so I have decided to make it a conscious part of my life this year to see how it impacts me.

I have been implementing a “less is more” lifestyle these past few months and am looking forward to continuing with that.  I can tell that my mentality around “stuff” and what it can give me is changing.  For example, I might go to a store and put a few things in my cart as I wander the aisles.  After some times passes and I look at more and more things I feel bombarded and I really don’t like being marketed to.  (The next time you shop, ask yourself what the marketers must think about you to try to sell you items in the ways that they do.  Hint: they really don’t think too highly of you or care about your holistic well-being.  In fact, they usually prey on our biggest insecurities in order to make money.)  I look into the cart and decide that none of these things are worth the time I will spend in the checkout line or the money I will spend from my account.  I would rather spend my time and money on experiences and people I care about.  *This will also positively impact your finances.

(Confession: my weakness when it comes to shopping is my home.  I love decorating it and rearranging it.  I do allow myself to do this because my home is my sanctuary and it helps my creative juices flow to reimagine spaces.)

Here is something to remember as you ask yourself honest questions and work toward figuring out what best suits your holistic approach to wellness:

Never forget this.

Never forget this.

It is not necessary to make all of your life decisions today.  Decide what’s best for you today, and if that same thing is not what’s best for you tomorrow, you can change your mind.  You are allowed to change, but YOU must be the one to give yourself permission.