Objects of Desire

Since I was a little girl I have been a keeper of objects that were either given to me in love or inspire me with their color, texture and shape. I’m still this way. My home office shelves are filled with pretty rocks and eclectic trinkets of all shapes and sizes that carry history and meaning. Here are a couple examples of my pack rat shelves:

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I still have the tiny plastic squirrel that my Auntie Esther gave me when we were visiting her in Pasco. I can remember the mystery of her living room as I looked at all her pretty things on display. She was a collector too I think, though I didn’t know her well. But the squirrel takes me back to her, which is powerful magic. I have kept it for over forty years along with the porcelain raccoon I stole from my mother when I was six. It had come in a box of Red Rose tea as a promotion the company ran for a few years. That raccoon was the object of my desire for days and when she told me I couldn’t take it to school for show and tell, I took it anyway and kept it in my pocket, never showing a soul my stolen pet. I got in a bunch of trouble when my thievery was discovered but my mother later gave it to me. I’m pretty sure she knew I would always feel a little guilty whenever I looked at it. It was totally worth it. I still love that stupid shiny raccoon. It turns out I could probably get a couple of bucks for it on eBay if I were ever inclined to hock it. Which I am not.

I have been exploring my attachment to objects over the last week. It started with the soapstone clock I made for Casa Partners “Make Time for Kids” auction. I named it “Peace of Time”. I am embarrassed to admit that it was really hard for me to give it away. It had become an object of my desire over the course of a few months, bringing me great creative energy and inspiration.

And now, clock done and auctioned off, I am at a total standstill on any kind of creative thinking or doing. I have no messy bad-art project going on and to make matters worse there is no real writing going on. The book I am (mostly not) writing about my mother is turning into a total bust because it keeps turning in to “all about H”, which is typical of a peace questing narcissist.

My clock made some decent money. Which is cool. This was the whole point. The abused and neglected kids that were represented at this event are often torn from their homes without a chance for goodbyes. And while they are taken to a safer place I can’t help but wonder if it might often feel more scary than where they were taken from. After all, they have been taken from their people and no matter how bad the circumstances, your people are your people.

I later told a friend who was at the auction “I want to scoop up all these kids and just love them. I need a mansion.”

This coming from the same woman who publicly declares her children to be assholes to anyone who will listen. (In my defense, I am still in shock from the 3-on-3 wiffle ball game I played with them two weekends ago where I witnessed five of my ridiculously competitive creations at their asshole best.) So I am certainly not going to judge any parent. I can’t. I understand how easy it can be to lose yourself to various addictions that present themselves as luring demons to help you escape from yourself and forget your responsibilities as a parent.

And clearly I can’t take them all in, these sad, harmed children, just like I can’t take in all the abandoned puppies or homeless people. Quite honestly, I am mediocre at best when it comes to caring for my own people and pets. Though my love is NEVER lacking and my intentions are generally good. Most days. But I CAN love these sad children from a distance by giving some cash (though there is never enough of that) and by sending mental blessings to the children and good mojo to their parents in hope that they will get their shit together and do their own loving again.

But here’s the thing: as I have paced around my office the last two weekends, restless, scattered, unproductive, a little lost without a cause, trying to force out something that just isn’t ready to show itself yet…

 “What are you doing mom?”

 “I’m writing.”

 “Hmm. It looks more like you are playing with your stuff.”

 “Yeah well. It’s a process.”

…I realize how important personal objects can be when you are lost. They can ground you, these concrete things: soothe you, inspire possibilities, make you remember your history and tell your story.

These children who are pulled from their people are also often pulled from their stuff. Sometimes something as simple as a stuffed animal left behind can render them completely lost and hopeless with no one and nothing to hold on to.

The money gained from all the beautiful clocks created and given away will help provide these children with backpacks filled with objects that will perhaps soothe and ground them enough to make them feel just a little less lost and help them begin a new story filled with possibilities and hope.  

Because of my own history that may cause me to hang on to things with a grip that is perhaps tighter than it should be, I will probably always be a keeper of stuff. And that’s okay.

But I am also coming to understand as I grow older and a little more at peace with my place in the world that there is some serious “getting” in giving away objects of desire.

So don’t be freaked out if one of you someday receives a really awesome squishy green frog with a candle jar top for a crown.

It’s a process, yes?

http://www.casapartners.org

Confessions of an Incapable-Minimalist

When I began researching how to start a blog, my very first google search on the subject took me right to a blog entitled “How to Start a Successful Blog Today” which was on a site called “The Minimalists” by Joshua Field Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus.  I read what they had to say, several times…and it was very helpful…and inspiring and actually got me to right here.

BUT, I found myself getting absorbed, with an almost voyeuristic fascination, in their other writing which talked about this really nifty idea of living life with less stuff. These guys are spectacular writers, funny, compelling and passionate about the topic of minimalism and they got me kind of excited about the idea. One post talked about people who had whittled their possessions down to a very small number of items…one person had bravely taken it down to 28 things…and I thought to myself as I opened a drawer in my bathroom “they mean per DRAWER right? I could do THAT, 28 items per drawer…but do you count Q-tips as one item or 150?”

Deciding that a drawer cleanse might be too ambitious for a hoarder such as myself who wasn’t quite ready to get rid of the 50 fake Tinkerbell tattoos (saving for a special occasion) that were under the box of 150 Q-tips and behind the 27 mini bottles of  hotel shampoo from the last few months of overnight travel (to name just 227 of the over 1000 items in my top bathroom drawer) I eyeballed my giant purse sitting on the table in my office…

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Yes…its a big, big purse, and has certainly begun to give me some shoulder pain, but in my defense, I am a mother of six and require a lot of emergency items…

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For those of you who are unable to zoom in on this embarrassing picture…let me describe most of the FIFTY SIX ITEMS that I was able to narrow my purse’s contents down to…with, I will say, a great deal of angst…

First, yes, there is a purse inside the purse, for those ‘quick visits’ to the bar with friends. I don’t want to give the impression I am staying for three days…that can lead to trouble. So I keep the “little” purse on the top of the big purse for those kinds of times. In it I keep: keys, wallet, brush, lip gloss, powder for my always oily nose. See? Almost a normal little cute gal’s purse…save for my mother whom I carry with me where ever I go because I don’t think she had quite enough adventure when she was alive…just part of her though…in the small urn…the big urn was just too heavy and caused issues at the airport…

In the big purse I ‘narrowed’ it down to the following:

  • Giant bottle of water…I don’t normally keep this in my purse but I am on a 10 day cleanse (which if I live through I will tell you about someday). I am told it’s crucial to stay hydrated when you are cleansing.
  • Wine bottle opener..which I intend to use when I am done with my cleanse…it also makes a good weapon, but don’t take this to the airport
  • Bananagrams, for those tough times at work when I need a creative little four hour word game break
  • Magic Eight Ball, as with my mother, I never leave home with out it. It helps me make serious decisions quickly, like whether or not I should continue with the cleanse: “Ask Me Again Later”
  • 2 Powerbars (I ate one which is what brought me down to 56 items, whoop whoop! Oh wait! I’m on a cleanse. Shit!)
  • 1 Granola bar (this is actually Mitchel’s, he asked me to hold it for him 2 months ago and I am honoring this, still, at least until the Powerbars are gone)
  • Almonds (they are supposed to help burn off belly fat)
  • Two umbrellas (because it is rude to have an umbrella when your companion might not have one, plus I like to keep our two working umbrellas close to me because the kids broke all the other ones having sword fights, its a matter of rain survival)
  • Iphone car charger and my old Blackberry car charger, just in case someone I am riding in the car with has a Blackberry and needs a charge
  • You can’t see it very well but there is a Nerf Dart gun my kids gave me for my birthday. I like to keep this close in case I need to use force on difficult customers
  • Three packages of unopened Thank You cards I bought in January with the resolution to send out more thank yous…its August so there is still time
  • Avista Utility bill for my office: as soon as I pay it my contents will be down to 55!
  • Gloves…yes it’s August but well, sometimes there are freak hail storms in August…this is Spokane
  • In the mix of all this stuff are 21 pens…I need them all
  • Under the black little case (where I keep my female unmentionables and a small box of band aids-I am only counting this as one item because it is all in one case) peaks a pair of scissors: I put them in my purse when some kid of mine asked me (when we were at the LAKE) if I had scissors and I DID NOT and consequently felt like an unprepared and inadequate mother for not having them (though I never determined WHY someone would need scissors at the lake, it is best to not ask these things). But I figure if I can have the foresight to put three miniature bottles of booze in my purse, surely I can keep SCISSORS there…

So…yeah…I am in complete awe of people who are able to let go of material items. I find it admirable and quite frankly good for the world. Less is good… I think I will eat another Powerbar in support of the cause. Just sayin.