Letting go of more than clutter

you’re moving to the basement
big high-school kid, setting up shop downstairs
ruthlessly purging all that does not fit
your room and your new vision of yourself
cool. mature. unswervingly independent
stylish and streamlined and uncluttered

every drawer, every box, every shelf
attacked with energy and excitement
boxes, bags, crates fill up with the leftovers
of your childhood, six to fourteen
every “you” you tried on and moved out of
now shrugged off as though it never mattered

to you it seems so long ago, so childish
but I remember that boy so clearly
how he loved origami and peace signs
wooden swords and lightsabers
crazy-cool earrings and face-painting playdates
pokemon and uglydolls and trains

and my heart breaks with each casual toss
of a plaything we once shared
a book we once cuddled up to read
a gift I once gave you, carefully chosen
guaranteed to light up your face
with your famous enthusiasm

your room upstairs is empty now
only a few traces of you remain
bright stripes of paint, stuck decals, memories
we sit on the closet floor, one weeping, one comforting
I’m aching with the loss of who you were
the boy who laughed and played and lived here

deep down, I’m oh so proud of you
that you’ll be the one who breaks free
of this cycle of gripping so tightly
that tortures me each time I look around
and see my past choking out my present
its upkeep stealing time with those I love

you pat my back and soothe me
assuring me that what is yet to come
will be as good or better than the past
ah, my wise boy. I’ll strive to be like you
to let go when it’s time and look forward
to this changing life with hope and joy


I want books to fix my life

Long, long ago, when I first started this blog, I talked about Aspirational Clutter, the term given by Colleen at 365 Less Things to describe “items that you aspire to using one day but one day never seems to come.” She gives some excellent direction on how to deal with these things:

My first advice is don’t be too hard on yourself and also don’t ever let this situation deter you from aspiring to other dreams in the future. My second piece of advice is to make a calculated choice as to what unsettles you the most, the thought of decluttering these items or thought of continuing to live with them cluttering up your home. What is greater, the chance that you are never going to use them or the chance that you are going to regret getting rid of them?

I’ve used that wisdom to release many hobby items, though not nearly as many as I should, since my craft room is still unbelievably cluttered. Now, however, I have to use the same mindset to attack my greatest clutter enemy.

BOOKS. Yep, it’s time to get brutally honest with myself about my books.


Many people own books. For that matter, many people hoard them. But I’d bet a large percentage of those people keep books they love, books they enjoy, books they want to read again and again.

I have some of those books, definitely. Those, however, are not the ones that are overtaking my home.

You see, most of my books are Aspirational Clutter. I buy self-help books by the armload, all because I want them to fix whatever I see as a problem in my life. The real problem? I don’t want to get rid of the book if the original difficulty still remains… which it often does.

Do the books not work? No, it would be more accurate to say that I don’t work. Apparently, in some little corner of my mind, I hope that just buying the book will do one of the following:

  • Inspire me to read it;
  • Motivate me to act on it; or
  • Impart its wisdom to me through osmosis.

What happens, instead, is that the book is brought home and set in a “To Read” pile beside my bed, where I page through it every so often and where it remains until the pile gets too big and all the books are shelved. Thus, the problem remains, which leads me to believe that I should buy yet another book pushing yet another scheme, technique or breakthrough. Lather, rinse, repeat.

The other day, Quinland suggested I get rid of all my parenting books. Her rationale: I wasn’t using the books anyway, and since she is no longer a little kid, my opportunity to “parent” her has pretty much come and gone. I do plan on parenting her for a few more years, but in many ways she is right. I should let go of the books that are not age appropriate.

Why was I hanging on to those books, anyway? Nostalgia? No, I really think that they represented the way I had wanted to parent, the fun things I wish we had done together, the structure I wish I had been able to provide.

When it comes right down to it, though, did I actually need those books? Perhaps. Perhaps I gleaned some tidbit from them at the store when I looked through them and decided to buy, or in my bed when I looked through them again. Some I may have even read more thoroughly along the way.

Then again, perhaps my wonderful, funny, loving, confident daughter has never needed me to  find any wisdom in books. Perhaps just loving her and parenting her the way we have, to the best of our abilities, has been enough.

If so, what does that say about all the other books? The ones about simplifying, organizing, and decluttering? The ones about exercise, nutrition, and yoga? The devotionals and prayerbooks? The guides to success and money management and veganism and conscious living? Is it possible that I don’t need them? Is it possible that just being myself and doing the best I can is enough?

That would sure fix a lot of problems.

Whew! Do you buy books to solve your problems? How many do you buy? How many do you keep? Do you read them? Do they help? Talk to me here. I need to feel that I am not alone.