Most of us, after we’ve lived in the same place for a number of years, begin to accumulate a few too many things. Right? Do you know what I mean?
- drawers stuffed... full, all of them totally full
- closets stuffed full, piles on the floor, shelves stacked to the bottom of the next shelf
- boxes, OMG, the boxes…
- piles of papers around the computer
- piles of papers on the tables
- too many beads to keep track of them all
- take a class, buy all the stuff… yep it’s all still there
- did I mention shoes?
- did I mention clothes that don’t fit any more?
- books? Oh dear, don’t get me started on those!
- attic? Stuff from the old house; lots of stuff… boxes on boxes on boxes… been there, untouched, for 13 years now
- paint and paintings
- greeting cards
- beadwork, quilts, artsy stuff I’ve made
- artsy stuff others have made
- family treasures passed down from relatives
I started to think, What if….? What would my poor husband do with all my stuff???? I started to wish it would all go away, giving me a clean slate, empty shelves and drawers, like when you got your first apartment. I read an excellent book about hoarding (Stuff, Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things, by Randy Frost and Gail Steketee), and got more down about it, although I’m not as bad as many the authors described. And for a while I actually went through some things and lightened my load a little.
OK, so what better topic for my May BJP than Me and My Stuff? No problem gathering stuff… little scraps of this and that I’d saved because I might use it someday, things people have given me over the years, like the white, plastic horse from a box of Cracker Jacks. By the way, the pink line of beads is me. You can see, I'm surrounded by my stuff...
As I began stitching, I assumed the stuff would pile on top of more stuff and it would all look jumbled and chaotic, not pretty, not fun and not happy. To my great surprise, it’s just the opposite.
Many times I write poems off my work (a technique I describe in One Bead at a Time, which you can download for free from my website). I write a list of words and phrases that pop into my mind as I look at my beading and workspace. Then I circle the word or phrase that seems the most compelling to me. Next I write: “I am ____________,” filling in the blank with the circled word/phrase. This is the first line of a poem about me. Using as many of the words/phrases as I wish in my poem, I quickly say whatever comes to my mind. It’s a way of letting our visual journaling, our beadwork speak to us about who we are.
This is the poem I wrote about Me and My Stuff
I am parts of old projectsAh-ha! Writing this poem and looking at my piece, gives me a giant ah-ha!!!! The stuff is about fear, fear of forgetting. For me, ALL my stuff is about fear of forgetting! Isn’t that interesting? I love knowing this. Because now I realize it doesn’t work. The memories are either there, or they’re gone, or they’re fading. The stuff may jog my memory for a while, but there are no guarantees.
tufts of the past
holding me back somehow.
My work is trying to tell me something.
Unbidden, in its joyful, little-girl colors,
it seems to be a key
to starting something new.
What about the white plastic horse?
What memory am I saving in my stuff?
Lots of stuff, pretty stuff, piles of stuff
laden with memories
I am afraid of forgetting.
For example, the woven “flower” in the center of my piece was given to me by somebody, maybe a student, maybe in a class, maybe mailed to me… I don’t recall who or what were the circumstances anymore. I do recall who gave me the horse, but the when and why of it are lost memory.
So why not let go of the stuff, knowing that some memories will remain for a long time, others will fade? It’s life. It’s aging. It’s OK.