Your Great Aunt Mildred’s Bud Vase…

…And other things you can’t live without.

You are NOT flinging Aunt Mildred, ok? Let’s establish that first. Anything that belonged to her, that reminds you of her, that brings back fuzzy summer day memories as a child on her front porch….These are NOT Aunt Mildred.

They are your memories. Aunt Mildred will live on only as long as someone remembers her with love. Her bud vase may end up with someone who never knew her, never heard of her, isn’t related to her in any way, but simply loves the color or shape after you divest yourself of her vase, but she will live in your heart till you go.

That doesn’t mean you have to get rid of it. It just means that you can’t keep EVERYTHING of Aunt Mildred’s, because by doing that, these items lose their magic, their specialness.

I own (protect, am the guardian of) a broken (re-glued), rather pretty to me planter that belonged to my great-grandmother Casey. It suits my style, and it still holds a plant (unlike the planter destroyed this morning by Gandolf, one our cats, who was aggravated at a forced fasting….)

vase

It is the only thing I own of hers; I never met her, it doesn’t bring back memories of HER. But it recalls many wonderful afternoons spent in her home where her two daughters continued to live until 1980. If I had kept (been given the chance to keep) everything from that house, the memory wouldn’t be so grand.

I take that back. I also possess a glass-doored bookcase with an encyclopedia from 1926, which while I like to think belonged to my great-grandfather, but didn’t as he died in 1924. It probably got my grandfather through college; it was one of the few things he chose to keep when the house was broken up (or allowed or offered or…well it was 30 years ago, I need to let it go…)bookcase

Oh, and years later, I drove past the house and found someone finally renovating (not well, certainly, but renovating rather than tearing down) and I chatted for a few minutes as I looked around from the hallway, and I saw it as it was back when I was little, not as it was currently…. Every little wisp of sunlight spun the carpets and the furniture and the playtime into clear focus in my mind. The man gave me a piece of the ceiling- ornamental horse haired patterned- and I framed it and it hangs on my wall….

These are memories I can not pass on to my daughter. She will not have the same memory of why she might want to own this odd little framed item, except that she may treasure it because I treasured it.

So, the point is this. If you are keeping something that does give you pleasure, and it is lovely to look at and suits your space, wonderful! Surround yourself with YOUR things, not with things that were on sale as the latest and greatest decorating scheme! (Large wooden bowls filled with spheres confound me. Don’t you own anything to display that MEANS anything?)

If you own something and it does have a history, write down it’s story. Take a photo of it, put the story with it, create a journal so that your descendants can know you and your ancestors.

We live in an odd time, where every little change is recorded photographically; will photos and owning them mean the same thing; will they be as special and revered as the rare photo of my great-great-great grandfather? Every utterance we make online is filed somewhere, but are there records of your handwriting someplace?

Is everything you own color-coordinated and texture specific and themed and absolutely lacking any sentimental meaning?

Examine why you are keeping the broken toy. If it belonged to your dad, and its stuffed in a box in the back of the closet, take a photo of it and toss it. Better yet, find a spot on the mantel and clean it and display it and have your dad tell the story to your little ones about the day Santa gave him this toy, and how sad he was to have it break.

Keep things, fine. (There is no way I am going minimal without being dragged against my will, I can’t ask that of you) But keep things you LOVE.

paintbrushes (Something else that will survive the flinging. A Pringles can, circa 1982, made in high school—Miss Volpe’s art class—probably the only thing I own from high school, its a diary of who I was back then….and it is full of paint brushes that my grandfather used, and that I used in college and to this day….memories too strong, of linseed oil, of sneaking into the painting room after I should be in bed, watching Daddy Gus paint….)

Will I get to 27 things to fling?? Highly doubt it this round. But, if I do, most may end up being gifts to others, who I feel may appreciate and honor their existence.

Far better that you present these items, (complete with memories in a note card in your own handwriting,) than leaving them for someone to have to clean out in a time of emotion and sadness and depression, when time and distance cause them to be flung without regard.

Week TWO, February….

I missed Sunday’s blog. I admit it, I’m slacking. But, I did say you needed a shredder for this fling, and mine had died.

It took me till Saturday to get to Staples to buy one. (Yes, I work next door. I know.) But I was gearing up for the task, gathering my thoughts, and purchasing my new file system.

I also got mildly distracted by my photography, which doesn’t usually happen in the middle of the winter. But between our two weekend snow storms–(The first a home run, 8-9 inches, pretty; and the second that really was a non-issue after all)–HERE. I know that DC and northern Virginia and other places are digging out from 26-38 inches. Mine mostly melted yesterday. You can see the muddy, bare ground in the front yard again. Yay.

In any event, one of the photo places I hang out at virtually was running a challenge on ‘Doors and Windows.’ How could I NOT participate? Wednesday before work, I drove to Petersburg, and avoided the snowy ground and got some wonderful photos. I am so excited and energized by them; they make me happy.

2010-FEB Ptrbrg-3416x16 copyright

“ONCE WHEN I WAS YOUNG….” The rest of the shoot is posted for viewing (and purchase) at my Smugmug site.

But on Sunday, before the game, I plugged in the shredder and got to work.

shred

files 

Two 13-gallon trash bags later, I had a new and organized file system!! (Please note, this does not include half of the paper in the house. Timmy has not yet begun participation, so all the house files and such—his purview—have yet to be touched.) All the utilities I pay, all my personal stuff –up to and including my college transcripts and tax life pre-marriage were gathering dust here.

No longer.

The newest Fling is rather broadly scattered through the house. You may run into pockets of un-flung other stuff while there. FLING it. It will be ok.

This week is “Knick knacks/Home decor.”

This may end up being the hardest to do, simply because this is where emotion and history and memory and sentimental gentle winds blow through and force you to save, save, save.

The sad fact is, we can’t save everything. I watched one of the HGTV shows the other night. It was the Messiest House in America Contest. (Why would you ENTER that contest? Especially when they were SO resistant. And seriously? MESSY. Filthy, gross messy.) But I digress. Watching those shows isn’t a healthy thing to do, I think. It makes you not see your own issues because theirs are so overwhelming. But the lesson that is learned (sometimes) is that everything can’t be saved.

I am not of the opinion that you don’t need touchstones from your life. I don’t think a photo of your lovely china collection is the same as Christmas dinner eaten off the china; I don’t think taking a photo of a cherished teddy bear is the same as being able to let your grandchild hold him some day.

Your grandchildren won’t want your entire moth-eaten menagerie.  This is where saving versus hoarding versus collecting balances on a very fine pinpoint.

Think on it. Don’t fling with wild abandon here. Gift these things now, with lovely notes explaining their provenance. If you believe Sally will appreciated something someday, but her parents might look at it as trash, package it carefully, write Sally a note, and leave it for…later.

I am ending this now. More on these thoughts soon. Just don’t make rash decisions with this fling. (Mostly burned out candles? Easy fling. The candleholder? Maybe not.)

I love paper….

Paper is my weakness. (Well, ONE of my weaknesses….chocolate, fabric, and pretty boxes being some of the others.)

I have finally learned how to walk PAST a stationery shop, or if not past, out with empty hands.

I LOVE paper. Pads, notebooks, pretty envelopes, calendars, greeting cards— well you get the idea.

I don’t love bills. I do love magazines, and newspapers, however. And scrapbooking paper. And organizers with pretty covers.

And the funny (sad funny, not funny ha-ha) thing is, I don’t USE them nearly as much as I should.

I wouldn’t go so far as to say I hoard them, but I am very reluctant to use these papers. It pains me to cut into a pretty scrapbook page, I am loathe to write on (and possibly run out of!) a cute note pad. I forget to mail out ‘snail mail’ greeting cards.

Therefore, the majority of my grocery lists are on the backs of envelopes, or the clean side of a piece of printing paper I scrounged from work when I thought of something that needed noting.

Yes, it IS the more ecologically sound way to do things. But if I am living off of randomly sized scraps of paper, why do I keep buying such cute little note pads?

file1

This is a result of LAST year’s attempt. I keep my papers here, next to my computer in the studio. All of the household files and all of Timmy’s stuff is in a file drawer in the den. And on the dining room table, and in the pile next to his monitor. The remainder of mine is sitting stacked, in both vertical and horizontal piles, somewhere.

So, lets get to FLINGING. Below, you will find links to a series of internet articles that should give you a bit of comfort and confidence that you can, indeed, throw out most of what you have saved.

What you will need to get flinging this time:

  • A shredder. Only shred things with personal info. No sense in burning out the motor.
  • A large paper grocery bag, for all the envelopes, junk mail and marketing inside your bills.
  • New file folders, unless yours are relatively clean and not all rough around the edges, with 5 or 6 crossed out categories already. Splurge, live a little. Buy some colored folders at Staples or Office Max, or go into Michaels Arts and Crafts—in their Dollar area right now they sell pretty file folders (about 4 in a pack)… If you don’t have them all tucked away, make your area a bit less—Forbidding? Uninspiring? Brighten things up.
  • A Sharpie, in a color that you like. (Not one of the almost dried out ones from the back of the junk drawer. Fling that one! Again, treat yourself right.)
  • If you don’t have a drawer, or filing cabinet already, buy something. It doesn’t need to be industrial sized, unless you truly need something that big. It can be a rectangular wicker basket, kept on a bookshelf, or a nice magazine holder, or a plastic tote. The choices are endless, and yours. Just make sure it fits where you want it and that it holds your file folders.

Next, gather as much as you can bear, and settle in somewhere with a flat surface, and an outlet. Turn on some music, or put on a movie you’ve seen before, plug in your shredder and start flinging!

EVERY piece of paper that goes into the shredder or the garbage bag counts.  Keep note of how quickly you surpass 27! When it becomes too much, walk away.

Come back later, fling another 27, or 27 and 27 and 27… as the pile on the table shrinks and the pile in the bag increases, you will probably feel compelled to keep going!

If you do use the backs of old paper as your notepaper of choice, that is fine, and laudable. BUT, it is not an excuse to stop flinging, or to just leave things as they are.

Gather those that are up to the job—(BLANK on the back), and cut/tear them in thirds along the fold lines. Staple 20 or so of the same size together to make note pads. Once the pile of note pads is over an inch tall, start flinging the rest. You KNOW you will receive more paper in the mail today. And tomorrow. And the next day.

Filing Systems…

Get rid of junk mail…

Retention of paper…

More retention of paper…

(Now, a caveat— If any of the links above indicate you NEED to own something THEY SELL in order to accomplish this Flinging task, be aware that is not my intention; I am not recommending any specific file organization purchase via these sites. They are simply the articles that seemed to have the breadth of answers to make Flinging a bit easier.)