things I’m holding on to

I feel doubly responsible to consider each new year as a fresh start. For one, the calendar tells me there is a new year and for two, my birthday is just a week later. Two chances for a fresh start; two opportunities to consider what I’m holding on to that no longer serves me or makes me a better human, or that is impeding my relationships, my peace, my life.

Oh, am I holding on to some crap. Papers and books from college. Trinkets that won’t be used or displayed. Pots, pans, mugs and glassware that I don’t love and don’t use.

The catch-all places in my house are stuffed, and it is this I have to face in 2018. My office closet (disaster). The furnace room. Kitchen drawers. The pantry and spice cabinet. The storage space under the stairs. Bedrooms that hold the remnants of my children’s youth.

I know I’m not alone, and I know that what might feel insurmountable to me (like my office closet) might be nothing compared to someone else’s closet, garage, or studio that they are facing clearing out. Somehow that doesn’t make me feel much better when I open that closet door, reach in to begin, and then shut the door again in panic.

But I don’t know what to do with the stuff I don’t know what to do with. You know? Papers from my kid’s elementary schools. Old bits of mail. Boxes or receipts from electronics. Typewritten papers from college with notes I might want to read again (like the note from my poetry professor, who wrote encouragements like “Now you’re cooking!” and “yes! you got it!” in the margins of my poem analysis papers). What do people do with the stuff they might want to revisit but don’t need to use every day? Pack it away and deal with it later? Toss it and never look back?

I’m going to make a start, at least. Donate or sell the two cameras I have that aren’t working. Get into that closet. One kitchen drawer/cupboard, one basement shelf, at a time. Designate a space for the important papers from my children’s school years and toss the non-important ones, like those old field trip permission slips still jammed into kitchen drawers. I’d like to end 2018 feeling at least a little bit more organized than I’m beginning it.

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