Smiley Miley, Rick Springfield and Letters from the Past—
“Dear younger me,
Where do I start?
If I could tell you everything that I have learned so far…”—Mercy Me
It is 1:00 a.m. on Saturday night. My new husband and I’ve not been up this late since our wedding night. 😉
I’ll bet you wouldn’t guess what it is we’re doing?! (Keep your mind out of the gutter.)
We are cleaning out the office.
Our work began at 7:30 a.m. that Saturday morning. We pulled every file folder, office supply, box of junk, memorabilia, photo and book out of the closet, off shelves and desks.
It was devastation.
I once read that your home environment can reflect and impact your internal environment. So, in effect, cluttered house = cluttered brain. And with all the busy-ness in this last year (and in life in general!) my new husband and I, over the last four weekends, pick a room and dig in. (And later dig out!) We want to start our married life together uncluttered.
The recycle container was filled by noon. (More evidence of my box-a holic recovery!)
AND the garbage is 80% full at this point in time.
Yet, while the rest of the nation is plummeted in this Siberian Cold Front, it’s a beautiful 75 degrees here in the valley of the sun. And we’re stuck inside, buried in clutter, old bank statements and boxes containing so many irreplaceable memories.
I sneeze from the dust– evidence of the time passed and lack of attention to these areas.
As I open and sort, I travel back in time. I find a picture of Kelly D. and me from one of those old photo booths at the Westminster mall arcade. We’re wearing our Ralph Lauren polo shirts with the collars turned up and have perfect banana curls and Farrah Fawcett-like feathered bangs. Then, I come upon the mountain of letters that Leenie and I wrote throughout our college experiences between KU to CU—easily a letter a week and 5-8 HANDWRITTEN pages each chronicling our journeys, boyfriends, struggles and victories. I guiltily look at my husband across the room working through his paperwork. I set these aside. (And remind myself to get a locking safe!) 😉
“Dear younger me,
If I knew then what I know now
Condemnation would’ve had no power
My joy my pain would’ve never been my worth…”—Mercy Me
I become paralyzed looking at the years the surrounding clutter represents: metal champagne flutes from my first marriage, a rock my father kept from a camping trip, letters from old boyfriends…
Holding on to the past can prohibit us from moving ahead.
“Dear younger me:
It’s not your fault
You were never meant to carry this beyond the cross…”–Mercy Me
I move those college letters to the pile to be ceremonially burned with Leenie next time we meet up.
In the very back of the closet, I come across a 4 x 5 x 3 ft box of items my mother cleaned out from my old childhood room long after I’d graduated college and moved out. I’ve never gone through it. I’m tempted to just purge it but something impels me to dig in.
Contained inside I find a treasure trove!
I rediscover my “ultimate roommate”—Smiley Miley, my old stuffed, grey mouse given to me at Christmas when I was six by my precious Grammy -may she rest in peace. Smiley attended college with me, was my co-camp counselor at my first lengthy stay away from Colorado, and he adorned every bed I slept in until marriage. (Notice his smile is gone!) I come across my old RECORDS-actual vinyl-Night Ranger, Prince, The Hot Ones… I delight at finding the complete ATARI set with all the cords and every one of the coolest games-Frogger, Pac Man, Qbert…AND THEN, a Relic of a more innocent time, taking me back to my first BFF, Jenny, and our first love– Rick Springfield!
Some things must be held on to.
I dig out other items of extreme value: a silver coin collection of my fathers, family photos from before he passed away. I look over at my newlywed husband. I watched as he sorted his memorabilia. He kept the baby blanket his mother made, two boxes of photos and about half of his medals, trophies and letters. He reduced his boxes to one box.
Some things need to be purged, some items held on to will increase in their value, while other things we hold onto, their value may yet be determined. I flip through the now priceless photos of Marne’s mom before Alzheimer’s overtook her-I know these are newly valued to her and set them aside to keep for her.
Holding on to lessons and things of importance, yet not allowing the past to hold you back, to cloud and clutter your present—that is the goal.
This “sorting” requires discernment and making peace with some things.
At this point in our project, we take a break, decide to go for a run. I am engrossed in the memory lane that I have been on, I barely notice our journey, and I just follow my husband’s lead.
Along our route, he stops to pet each dog that the owners allow. My heart is lifted by his joy and I take a moment to thank God for this person by my side.
On our last mile, my husband laughs and points out—“Funny…That sign says ‘Desert’ and points that way down the street,” He stretches both his arms out and looks around, “but it’s all around us!”
I sheepishly smile and begin soaking in what is all around me: the blooming agave, the chirping birds, and the family of quail running along the path, the puffy white clouds in the blue sky.
Returning to work, I am refreshed.
As I dig back into the “junk” of my past, I reflect on how these have impacted me and how they make me aware of areas I need to let go. I also remember the importance of salvaging and protecting the items of value –Smiley Miley, my Rick Springfield poster, a few select letters– Some things are worth holding on to, even without a dollar value associated to them.
Our project has been therapeutic—As we’ve worked together to relieve our closets, folders and space of the clutter of old, we make room for what the present holds, to go forward into the future unhindered by old baggage, yet holding to the values and lessons and improving our vision to see what’s in front of and ahead of us.
“Dear younger me,
You are one of the redeemed
A brand new heart
You are free indeed
Every mountain, every valley
Thru each heartache you will see
Every moment brings you closer
To who you were meant to be”—Mercy Me
When we let go of the past and allow others to help us sift through the clutter of our lives, or to bear some of the burdens our world stacks on us, it frees us, allowing us to grasp the new things God has for each of us.
Opportunities to love the person right beside you;
-To hug a neighbor in need;
-To share a smile with someone who desperately needs it;
-To encourage another who is on their last nerve;
–To just be PRESENT: a witness to the magical palette of God’s beauty in a sunrise or a harvest moon on the horizon; the desert in bloom all around you.
Or, maybe even to spend a weekend with an old BFF reliving some of the past and creating some new, priceless memories…
(LIKE HAVING RICK SPRINGFIELD SIGN THAT POSTER!)
And since this room concludes our purge, the next project will be an all-nighter with my new husband–playing ATARI!
Seriously, keep your mind out of the gutter.