Pages of my life…

How Much Is Too Much ???

Posted on: July 22, 2009

I am well under way in the process of paring down the mountain of belongings that once graced the interior of a few homes.  The sheer volume of "cool" things I accumulated over a period of not that many years simply boggles the mind.  It made me scrutinize my motives and ask the question…how much is too much ???  There is no shortage to the amazing possessions any girl can desire at any given time.  There are clothes for every possible occasion…accessories and shoes for the clothes…and simply matching colors and fabrics along with preparing for a variety of climates is a thankless project that is never finished.  I could honestly wear the same one or two outfits day in and day out and be perfectly content.  I have no hidden agenda to be part of any fashion parade.  One glimpse could tell you that I truly do not care what others may think of my appearance.  I have forever been so incredibly comfortable in my own skin…that I know who I am without need of meeting anyone’s approval.  Having said that…there are places in this world that demand more of you than others.  I have an abundance of tropical wear…as I should given the quantity of time spent and frequency of visits to island paradise settings.  I too possess an amazing array of more formal attire suitable for world class cities and trips with more elaborate settings.  Alas…there are still social situations where etiquette mandates compliance with dress codes.  I am old enough to recall a time when everyone wore their "Sunday best" to travel…and airports were filled with handsome looking gentlemen and lovely ladies.  It took many years of enduring extremely long flights before I finally succumbed to the notion of dressing down for comfort.  Sadly… I actually miss the days of dressing up as an expectation of sorts.  Furnishing a home used to be quite a different matter as well.  If you were lucky enough to own a home…the process of building the interior decor was a daunting one.  Fixtures and furniture aside…patterns and wall hangings were expected to last for a decade or more.  As you began your quest to feather your nest…the basics were clearly defined.  Items for cooking and baking were high on the pecking order.  A young woman sought to be practical in her choices…frugal with the budget…and pretty much everything was spelled out by sacrifices made by the generation  that preceded yours.  Waste not want not was the order of the day.  And then along came the baby boomers.  The world expanded and shrunk all at the same time.  No longer was it a big investment to reinvent yourself…your home and personal style.  With the addition of giant super stores and the elimination of local buying…the world became everyone’s proverbial oyster.  I got caught up in justifying the means to an end when I found myself knee deep in impulse buying that would make any squirrel proud.  I foraged and hoarded one treasure after another as rooms and then homes became filled with every possible creature comfort.  You can learn a lot about yourself just by looking around at what you have done.  I have enough beauty supplies (mostly bathing and bubble bath to your chin luxury items) to be a dozen women with a long life span.  My clothes would circle the exterior of any nice size home.  I have a fair number of shoes…none expensive…all geared to meet the essential colors any girl should have.  I have plenty of jewelry but almost never wear any at all.  I have some very tasteful small decor pieces…none of whom make sense.  I have never lit the candelabra…or filled the lead crystal ice bucket or placed flowers in vases chosen for elegance not function.  The antique china and silver sit waiting for a dinner party that will never transpire…along with napkins rings and velvety place mats that thrill me to fold and rearrange from time to time.  My furniture in every home had to be "just so"…perfect in every way…though I never invite anyone within the confines of my home.   And then there are the endless piles of "keepsakes" that I could never begin to part with…even if I were starving.  One day…I woke out of a sound sleep…remembering my grandmother’s possessions.  She had trays upon trays of rings and every kind of jewelry you could imagine.  Her closets were brimming with beautifully tailored outfits.  The velvet furniture in each of the formal rooms were covered with plastic so as to not soil them.  The china and silver finery were reserved for another place in time…and while we were well schooled all in the social graces expected in a fine country club environment…it was the charm school and later modeling rules that truly set the stage for who I would someday become.  I was prepared for everything…filled my homes to adequately accommodate everyone…and then walked through my own personal little "perfect" places…and invited in no one.  I was well trained and schooled to be at ease and most comfortable in any social setting…dining with royalty…forming close friendships with "super stars"…seeking out intellectual stimulation wherever I went…and seemingly lived my life in short little snippets of interaction.  I am the girl you could talk to for eight hours consecutively without drawing a breath on a transatlantic flight.  I am the helpful stranger that would gladly drop what I was doing and give you an incredible tour of London or Paris or anywhere that feels like home to me.  Sorting through the mountain of things that represent me…perhaps gave me the most amazing insight into my heart and soul.  Arms length is how close to hold the world.  Short and sweet is the right amount of time for any personal encounter.  If you have an ever ready supply of "toys" to explore…gadgets to learn about…and a level of comfort that makes you never need to leave the sanctity of your own four walls…why would you even realize what had transpired ?  A garden oasis was hand built to surround my homes like a moat…filled with flowers I never picked…and amazing features I very seldom if ever sat and enjoyed.  If you sit looking from the safety of the other side of a glass wall…the attachments you never allow yourself to form can never disappoint.  As a young child we moved more often than anyone I knew…and in the midst of a bitter custody battle that dragged on for years…we most often moved in the middle of the night…hundreds or thousands of miles away.  Not a moment was provided to say goodbye to friends we had made along the way.  Each home quickly became four walls…a means to an end…and it did not take long before we realized…that nothing was forever…you had to live for the moment…form quick friendships but no strong bonds…if you were smart and did not choose to have your heart broken over and over again.  I learned at a very young age to approach strangers heart in hand…and to adjust to a posture that was chin held high and an internal voice that constantly reassured to say "that’s okay"…I could always find another best friend or get another (fill in the blank) that had to be left behind in the blink of an eye.  In retrospect my life has been the equivalent of having endured one tsunami after another…with everything and everyone randomly swept away without warning.  So…while I will be knee deep in sorting through mini mountains of stuff likely for years to come…it brought about the ultimate question in the "what is a keeper" game I now must decide.  How much is too much ???  And what do you really need in today’s society given the convenience and cost of everything.  Acquisition syndrome and my brother’s Dr Phil intervention teasing aside…we all hoard and pay a much larger price for the things we buy than the price tag at the time of purchase.  We pay for a bigger place because we have too much stuff.  We pay in lack of organization and time lost because we cannot find what we need or focus on being productive because we have too much stuff.  We rent storage spaces and build shops and garages to hold "stuff" we own…and half the time end up selling things at a great discount or losing them when the cost of storage becomes too great.  I will now confess to"dumping" keepsakes on unsuspecting relatives because I can no longer carry the burden of having so many possessions.  As I have gone through beauty items giving them away left and right…and have shared an enormous quantity of jewelry and cool appliances and home decor these past few weeks…I am hard pressed to explain why I have been unable to make myself part with more than a piece or two of clothing.  Undoubtedly it all goes back to years spent living in "hand me downs" with at last one actual brand new outfit to my name.  And since we bounced back and forth between the lap of luxury…country clubs to cockroaches…and dared not divulge the circumstances in which we really lived…it is highly likely that along with keeping a hideous quantity of food in my home while I was raising my children…it is knowing that if your home burned  down…or you lost everything you had in some unforeseen tragedy…there would be another home down the road and around the corner or across the state or further north that would have everything you left behind and more.  Self therapy is a good thing…since the daughter of a psychologist would never have considered seeking out the services of a professional…but I think everyone with or without childhood baggage should look around at their pile of possessions and and ask yourself out loud…how much is too much ???  


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