Why Do I Have so Much Stuff? What Will I Leave Behind?

Why Do I Have so Much Stuff? What Will I Leave Behind?

After the death of my grandma, it fell to the family to sort through her worldly possessions and decide what to do with them. Some things will be sold, some given to relatives, some thrown away. I helped my mother sort through some and there was a lot of stuff that was destined for Goodwill. Not to belittle what she chose to keep but there really was just a lot of stuff that was no use to anyone.

This last weekend I went to my grandpa’s house to help him pack up his stuff so he can move to assisted living. My grandpa has a basement full of stuff. I’m not sure he uses anything down there very often because he can’t get down his stairs at all. While there, I also helped my aunt go through her things in preparation to move as well. My aunt has to downsize her possessions by about 80% because she’s into tiny living and is moving to a smaller space.

What really amazes me is how much stuff we accumulate over the course of our lives. I have the smallest bedroom in my house and my stuff spills out onto a landing area. It’s not like I have an excessive collection of possessions but it certainly feels like a lot. I mean, when you look at just my clothes I think I’m up to 6 dresses, 9 shawls, and 8 skirts with three pairs of dress shoes to go with those. That’s just my nicer clothes. I probably have over 40 tshirts and tank tops. Then come jeans and pajamas and sweaters and everything else. That’s just looking at my clothing. Now come books and movies, notebooks, pens and markers, paint and canvases, posters, blankets, stuffed animals, suitcases and backpacks, etc.

I look at it all and think, “Do I really need all this?” And now that I’ve had to help (notice, just help, my mom did 80+% of the sorting) go through a deceased person’s possessions I think, “Do I want someone else to have to go through all this?”

If I died tomorrow, these items are what I would leave behind for my family to deal with. They would have to decide whether or not to keep the little knickknacks. Should they donate a bunch of my things? Do they keep things they don’t really want just because it was mine? Is it wrong to throw away all my old journals (YES IT IS OKAY PLEASE DON’T READ THEM)? Is there anything hiding under my bed or in the back of my closet that I would rather my family not see? What about my computer? What would they do with all my documents and half finished stories?

Maybe it’s a bit morbid but if anything happens to me, I don’t want to leave behind a bunch of junk. It makes everyone feel badly about throwing things out. If you can’t keep it and no one wants it then it should be thrown out, right? But this once belonged to a beloved family member! How can we just trash it? You can. Do it.

Obviously there are things that people keep from the deceased because they hold sentimental value or are useful and that’s great. Do that. Hold onto that little piece of personal history.

But no one’s going to hang onto every item I own right now. Some things are only sentimental and meaningful to me. But I don’t even want to deal with all my stuff right now. I can’t find things. I haven’t seen some of this stuff in 3+ years. I’m tired of not having a place for things. I don’t have the space for what I own so I need to downsize my pile of possessions.

A day or two ago I went through one of the six boxes I’ve been storing under my bed. I ended up throwing out a lot of stuff I’d been hanging onto. Most of the things I’ve stored I only have because they hold a memory of an event or person or moment or I’ve just had a thing so long it feels like it should mean something. Instead of keeping every little thing, I took pictures of the items that mattered the most and then got rid of them (either thrown away or put in a box to donate). I have to remember that those memories are not dependent upon holding a small glass box or a little wizard bear figurine. I have those memories with me all the time. The items bring it to the front of my mind but it’s not as though it ceases to exist if I don’t have the item physically with me.

In the end, I can’t take any of this stuff with me when I die. I’m not sure how to get across how I feel when I look at my worldly possessions. It’s something like annoyance, disgust at consumerism, frustration, and exhaustion. I don’t want all this junk in my life yet here it is and I keep getting more of it. Hopefully over the next few weeks I can go through a lot of this stuff and finally throw out what I don’t need or haven’t used in years.

Not sure what I’m really saying in this post. It’s just a few thoughts I’ve been having. Does anyone else look at their things like I do? Like, “How did I get all this junk?” Yet, you feel like you can’t gt rid of it either because it either cost too much, you’re not ready to part with it, or what if it might be useful someday? I guess in the future if I need a broken figurine I bought at the dollar store when I was 12 I’ll have to live without it.

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I Am the Worst at Small Talk

I Am the Worst at Small Talk

Lots of us aren’t very good at the whole, small talk thing. I’m not as terrible as I used to be but I still have a lot of issues with it that stem from my complete and utter lack of caring. When I go somewhere like the grocery store or anywhere that’s public (and not where I would specifically expect to engage in small talk), I generally don’t want to talk to people. And because I don’t want to talk to people, I assume they don’t want to talk to me.

Well, sometimes I’m wrong.

SO

VERY

WRONG.

Why do complete strangers want to talk to me anyway? Does my blank expression just scream that I would love to hear about the complete list of recipes you’ve learned from a book series? Like, I’m okay with people for the most part and I have my group of people who I really like but it takes me a while to get to that with anyone and I think my biggest hurdle in doing that is, as I said, my extreme lack of caring.

I look at people as investments of my time and energy. If I’m going to spend part of my limited time on earth with you then I need a good reason. Standing in line at the grocery store: not a good enough reason to use up my energy making conversation. I’m polite and usually respond to those who talk to me, but it’s a good bet I won’t continue the conversation. I’m open to relevant discussions but small talk, for the most part, isn’t really about very relevant topics. It’s about… I’m not even sure. Random snarky comments about the weather? Lame jokes about how if a product doesn’t have a price tag then it must be free? Talking about how you’re from such and such a place? I don’t know.

Basically, I don’t want to engage with strangers. I have friends and I’m not really looking for more right now. So in order to keep myself from getting too close to strangers, I don’t let myself care. This, in turn, makes me bad at small talk. Now I don’t have to worry about investing my time at all because I don’t care enough to do so.

I recently did a story for the local paper about a festival. I wasn’t given a lot of instruction besides to find out stuff. This was particularly difficult because what was I supposed to ask? Who was I supposed to talk to? How was I supposed to just find out ‘stuff’ with no more direction? But the biggest problem was that I would approach someone like a vendor or a person attending the festival and my mind would go blank because I didn’t care. I didn’t care about why they were there or how many years they’d been coming or what they thought of the festival overall. I just didn’t. It doesn’t matter to me what their thoughts on this event were.

But I had to ask questions because it was part of my job and eventually I found the right questions and altho I still don’t think I started caring much, I got my job done. I still didn’t ask all the questions I thought to ask later but, as explained in last week’s post, that’s because I have to consider information and I went to the festival blind.

I had to make myself care at least a little about this festival and the people in it. It was no easy task. I prefer to keep to myself and not deal with others.

Thing is, I’m not sure if I consider my apathy a strength or weakness. It’s good because I don’t waste time, I maintain my privacy, and I don’t have to be sociable. It’s bad because I don’t get to learn as much as I could, I treat people like an inconvenience, and as a Christian I should care about human beings. I can’t make connections with people if I don’t care a little bit about them.

It also hurts my writing career since a lot of this whole process involves self promotion and I won’t ever make it to share about my writing if I can’t start a decent conversation with some small talk.

This is a social skill that I’m working on. I’ve been meeting new people at work and have made an effort to get to know them through small talk and conversation. I still find myself zoning out during conversation but I’m catching myself a lot more.

Perhaps I’m overthinking this whole thing. Do you find small talk an insane challenge or can you connect with people pretty easily? If you can connect easily then tell me your secrets so I can practice the same!

I’ll Have to Think About That

I’ll Have to Think About That

I’ve already tried to write a post for this week about four times today. I’ve been sitting at my computer for over an hour, trying to get some thoughts out on the screen. I couldn’t figure out why I was having such trouble and now I think I’ve got it. I haven’t given this topic enough thought.

I’m deeply introspective and I care a lot about what I post on this blog. I want my posts to be well thought out and meaningful. I can’t do that when my brain hasn’t had time to process what I want to write about. Some topics I’ve posted are things I’ve pondered for weeks beforehand. I really want to get my thoughts in line, I want to know what I’m trying to say before I put it down for others to read. My favorite blog posts have been the ones I’ve mulled over, edited, and rewritten before posting.

Problem is, this week I only just came up with a topic and obviously it needs more thought because, as I said, I’ve already tried writing it a few times tonight.

I tend to think on a topic for at least a few days before I start putting anything too specific down for a post. Sometimes this is annoying. Like today. Because this topic (actually multiple topics that are kind of related, which is why I think I’m having trouble writing one post about it) came to me this afternoon. I haven’t had time to pick it apart and separate related ideas and get down to what I really think about all of it.

I was actually thinking a little about this last week. Someone came up to me the day after I posted and shared a few comments about what I had said. He brought up a good angle that I hadn’t seen before. In the moment, I didn’t know how to react because I thought his insight was really smart but I didn’t know how I felt about it. So I sort of just agreed and kind of repeated back what he had said. Then I got out of there as fast as I could because I wanted to think about it. If I was less introspective, I probably could’ve given a more coherent response in the moment. But, *sigh* I have to think really hard about everything.

Being put on the spot is nerve wracking. Don’t get me wrong, I love to hear what people think about what I post, in person or online I want to hear your reactions and insights. (I like to pretend there’s an understood, “What do you think?” at the end of all my posts.) Just don’t be surprised if I don’t respond right away or if I give you little more than a blank stare. It’s because you made me think about something that I hadn’t considered before and I need a moment to process it.

Even apart from my blog posts, there are countless moments in conversation where someone will put me on the spot and ask an opinion and I just go totally blank. I haven’t had time to come up with an opinion but now I need to share one? So I share what I can and often regret it, or go over my words a million times in my head afterwards because I probably sounded like an idiot or oh my gosh, that is not how I feel at all why did I even say that? But it’s too late because they think that’s how I feel and what I meant and it’s often difficult to change that in someone’s mind later on or they’ve already acted on what I said.

I try my best to not share my thoughts lightly. I want to be understood and I want to be as clear as I can be. I weigh everything against my past experiences and against what I believe. I want to align my opinions and thoughts with my values so that they are honest. Writing is a serious job for me. I do have fun with it but I also know that there’s a level of responsibility that comes along for the ride.

I know I can’t be the only one this happens to, what’s your experience when asked to share about something you haven’t adequately considered? Do you have a go to response? Please share it with me because I still haven’t figured out how to politely decline to tell someone how I feel before I have time to think on it.

As a Christian Who Listens to Non-Christian Music

As a Christian Who Listens to Non-Christian Music

Recently I heard a short discussion from a few parents about what kind of music they allowed in their homes. It was short because anyone who spoke up agreed: only Christian music allowed in their homes and cars. That’s absolutely their decision and I don’t think it’s a bad one. The two women leading the discussion both have young children and I commend them for taking a stand to protect their kids from, hopefully, the majority of questionable music out there. If I had young kids I would be inclined to make that kind of decision but probably not to the same extent.

In the past, I’ve really loved Christian music: Skillet, Thousand Foot Krutch, Jeremy Camp, News Boys, etc. While I still enjoy some of this music, I find a lot of it, well, boring.

Not to say I find the act of praising God boring. I find the music boring and it lacks a challenge for me.

I enjoy hymns from time to time because I feel like a lot of them seek to challenge the listener/singer. But Christian music these days feels all the same. Same sound, same words, same analogies, same metaphors (I mean, really, we all know God’s love is an ocean, a fire, etc. I don’t need to hear it eighty times in 2 minutes). It’s just so boring to me because I hear the same things over and over. (There’s something good to be said for repetition but I’m not going to say it here.)

When I look beyond our very tight Christian circles I find a rich and diverse land of music that I can really dig into. The band Twenty One Pilots is my favorite right now. They have such an eclectic taste in their songs that I’ve only found a few that I actually dislike. This is the beginning of their song Trees:

I know where you stand
Silent in the trees
And that’s where I am
Silent in the trees.
Why won’t you speak
Where I happen to be?
Silent in the trees
Standing cowardly.

I can feel your breath.
I can feel my death.
I want to know you.
I want to see.
I want to say hello.

THIS speaks to me about God in more ways than reminding me 62 times in 34 seconds that He’s loving. THIS is the struggle of wanting so badly to hear from God yet hearing nothing. Sometimes we aren’t really listening, sometimes He’s already given us the correct path to follow. But sometimes it’s incredibly lonely to feel like you’re doing everything you can to hear Him and yet come up empty. I know where God stands and I’m trying to be there, silent, listening, terrified that I’m going to do everything wrong, yearning so badly for a word yet feeling only a breath.

I read that the singer for Twenty One Pilots was raised Christian. Whether or not he is one, I don’t know. I believe that all art can hold godly meaning regardless of where it comes from. You know what? I don’t know if anyone in “Christian bands” are Christians either. Isn’t that a funny thing? I don’t know if they’re studying scripture to write their songs. I don’t know if they’re in a good place spiritually. I don’t know if they believe in anything they’re telling me. Some songs end up on Christian radio that aren’t by Christian artists at all and no one bats an eye.

The label “Christian” doesn’t guarantee where it came from, just that it’s supposed to be uplifting and non-offensive. A lot of the music I choose to listen to is uplifting and non-offensive, it’s just lacking that Christian label. I listen to it because I feel like it challenges me to really think about things (I also like the style/sound of the music). I find a much deeper discussion of the human condition in secular songs than I do in Christian songs. I find God in songs by some very depraved people and there is both a beauty and horrible brokenness to that. It reminds me of God’s love in a very real and personal way. I have something that fills the emptiness so many artists (and everyday people) feel and hearing them sing about that reminds me I need to share God’s love.

Circling back to that discussion about what music is allowed. I think it’s good to limit music for kids. They often lack the discernment to find messages being sent and they lack the biblical foundation to really analyze those messages. It’s not a bad thing to shelter them so they can have a good knowledge of the Bible before going into the world. At some point though, I don’t see why they can’t be allowed to branch out. I was in high school when I started listening to secular music and then college solidified my love of some bands. I don’t make uninformed choices about what I listen to, I have lines I draw, I don’t listen to garbage and justify that it’s actually poetry because there IS music out there that I believe Christians have no business listening to.

Music can be a touchy subject for a lot of Christians and I wanted my voice to be added. There is a great deal more to say about this and if I feel that I should continue to share then I will. These are just my thoughts for now. I’m not justifying a playlist full of lewd, blasphemous, songs that glorify sex, drugs, and what-have-you. I’m simply open to some great music that doesn’t carry a Christian label. God is very present in a lot of songs. You just have to take a moment to look for Him.

 

 

You can listen to Trees on Youtube here and I pulled the lyrics from AZ Lyrics.

No, Bestfriends Do Not Constantly Argue

No, Bestfriends Do Not Constantly Argue

If they do, it probably means there’s something fundamentally wrong with the relationship.

I get really sick of Facebook posts about how “I may annoy you all the time and act like a brat but I will always love you!” No. Shut up. If someone annoys you all the time then they’re not a good fit for you. If you act like a brat all the time with someone and they put up with you then firstly, you don’t deserve them and secondly, they need to wake up and get away from you.

The first ‘best friend’ I ever had was a girl who constantly argued with me. We couldn’t spend more than a couple days together because we would end up in a shouting match about some stupid little thing. I thought we were friends, we talked about everything, we had fun together. But the relationship was poisonous. It was no good for me and I’m glad that the friendship ended when it did. When she decided to end the friendship (out of the blue, mind you, with a typed letter after ignoring my phone calls for over a week), I was devastated. She was my only friend at the time and I didn’t know what to do. Slowly, as I gained some distance from her, I realized how we had never gotten along.

I have a real best friend now and while we’ve had a few arguments over the course of our nearly 8yr friendship. They were never petty disagreements and we always worked it out between us quickly. I operate my friendships on the basis that nothing should ever simmer between us. If I get upset I let my anger cool and look at the situation to make sure it’s not just me. Then I address it as soon as I can. I never want resentment to enter into any of my friendships so talking about something as soon as it comes up is very important to me.

When I hear about people who argue with their best friends on a regular basis I have to really wonder why they’re friends at all. How can you get so angry with someone to have shouting matches on the regular but then act like everything is totally okay? How do you invest yourself into a person you know is going to piss you off by sundown? 

Friendship is about give and take and a mutual affection for each other. There’s always compromise but it should be something both can live with. If you argue with the person you consider your best friend more than once a month then you need to examine that friendship and figure out if it’s really healthy or not.

Relationships work because the people in them work. If that work is including a lot of anger and resentment then it’s not working for either of you. You’re both better off with less contact. Not everyone is going to clique and that’s okay. Getting away from someone can open up your time to find someone who really will be your friend. A bad friendship is like a weight around your neck, and it will keep you from letting go of resentment and anger that needs to be gone for you to cultivate healthy friendships.

I didn’t willingly get myself out of the bad friendship. I was lucky she dropped me before I wasted any more of my time on the relationship. Now that I know what a bad friendship looks like I can avoid them in favor of good ones. And I have plenty of good ones now.