Today was housecleaning day in the pink shed… translation: a bit of dusting, a lot of moving stacks of books around. There are so many that I am constantly re-discovering titles I’d forgotten. This morning’s find: Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs. What a fun book! It’s a collection of famous and not-so-famous peoples’ memoirs in…you guessed it…only six words!
Here are a few of my favorites:
Maybe you had to be there
Roy Blount Jr.
Asked to quiet down; spoke louder
Me see world! Me write stories!
Couldn’t cope so I wrote songs
Brought it to a boil, often
I couldn’t resist the challenge of writing my own mini memoir:
Take the six word challenge today….and share if you dare!
“It’s so big I can’t even scan it!” said my husband.
Downsizing, I think, is a lot like writing; both exercises require one to discard what is not beautiful or useful. Brutal elimination of the extraneous is a painful process. But hard work and commitment offer the potential to create a deep sense of satisfaction and true pride. My husband and I are collectors and we’ve been alive for over half of a century, so when we moved two years ago into a home, half the size from our previous home, there were a lot of items we were forced to hold in our hands and decide to keep or donate.
Back in the days when we had little money, we could measure the depth of a friendship by the willingness of a person to help us move. You see there were many, many, many heavy boxes of books and anyone who knew us, knew that! So, if someone turned up on moving day, we knew we had a true friend. Books are still a shared passion for us, but, thankfully, we can afford to hire big, burly young movers.
I started the process of downsizing a year in advance and thank goodness for that! When my friends ask for advice, that’s the first thing I say: Get a head start! The act of purging builds on itself. It’s kind of like losing weight; you lose one pound and you’re more motivated to lose the other four. It does take a lot of time, though. You have to develop a rhythm. It’s easy to decide the fate of some things. Yes, I’ll keep every love letter my husband ever sent me. There are a lot as we had a long distance relationship while he was away at UC San Diego and this was before cell phones and laptops (I’m very old!)! The closet took forever as I tried on each item of clothing and modeled it for my husband. The kitchen was a nightmare. I’m a wanna-be chef so through the years I’ve purchased many small appliances that promised to help me achieve my culinary goals. Sad to say many of them were never used. Bye, bye panini maker, waffle maker and food processor! I was forced to acknowledge that I’d never make a crepe or a donut. I did keep my large roasting pan only to discover on our first Thanksgiving in the house that it was too big for my new oven!
My second suggestion is to recruit the help of an honest friend. You know the one who knows how many cake plates you have and isn’t afraid to ask why you need all of them. Self talk is also very helpful. This can be of the silent variety or you can run it past your four-legged furry friends. It goes something like this: “When was the last time I used this? Am I sentimentally attached? Is it really fab or really handy?” Finally, if you’d like to buy a book to inform, motivate and support you, I offer the following recommendations: It’s All Too Much: An Easy Plan for Living a Richer Life with Less Stuffby Peter Walsh and the hugely popular primer by Marie Kondo, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up.
Today we are happily living among our very carefully curated collection of things. My husband and I have never been, nor will we ever be, minimalists. We still have a lot of stuff, but it’s all good stuff! Oh, and about that portrait…the frame is gone, but the picture remains in a large art box filled with my daughter’s early masterpieces.
P.S. I can still find room for small dachshund shaped items and most anything in the color of petal pink.
Remember my little editor, Bart? You caught a glimpse of him in “See the Nose?! He spends a lot of time with me in the pink shed, because he’s a “mama’s boy” and, well, he’s an editor. This week he has two books to recommend: he hopes you will consume them with as much pleasure as he did.
His first recommendation is the $60,000 Dog: My Life with Animals by Lauren Slater. It’s probably obvious why he was drawn to this book, and, of course, it’s the same reason I was drawn to it. Slater’s memoir is one long, beautiful meditation on the solace and joy that animals can bring to our lives. Slater, a psychologist, survived a difficult childhood with a mentally ill mother. As a child, her bike provided her with a means of escape from her troubled home and the country lane she travelled was her introduction to the natural world. It was there she fell in love with a variety of animals. We meet a horse, raccoon, swan, bat and Lila, her precious dog, who eventually loses her sight despite the $60,000 in veterinary care. Her dog is resilient, though, and adjusts to blindness so well that it seems to inspire Slater’s husband who is suffering a medical challenge of his own. Anyone who loves animals will love this book, but it is not just for animal lovers. Slater’s honest reflection on life’s joys and sorrows is inspiring.
Bart’s second choice is an old favorite of mine, as it reinforces my eat, drink and be merry philosophy! A surgeon and a psychologist teamed up to produce: Live a Little: Breaking the Rules Won’t Break Your Health. The book covers the full gamut of women’s health topics including: exercise, stress, nutrition and sleep, and contains quizzes to help you determine your current state of health. Love and Dormar debunk some common myths and explain why the studies we read about in the headlines are often highly flawed. The big takeaway is just as my grandmother preached: everything in moderation. Don’t worry!
I’m sure you’ll agree after reading these two titles that my little guy has excellent taste in books!