I smile these days each time I walk into the kitchen.
In spite of its minuscule size, I like my kitchen. We painted the cupboards a crisp white and the walls a deep red and added white backsplash and countertops, and the two windows frankly feel quite luxurious in a space that size.
I have gradually gotten used to the refrigerator drawers, for without them I would have very little counter space. Yes, the counter space is needed for normal cooking activities, but over the years I have collected green depression glass, and I love having a selection of the green containers full of spices and sugar and flour and other necessities visible and close at hand.
Something was missing, however, but I didn't know it till it reappeared in my life.
Recently, we had a major garage sale. So much of what we have collected over the years, especially the years we lived at Sweetwater Farm, was packed away when we made the decision to move from Madison to St Paul. We followed the current "sell your house" rules and decluttered and staged and neutralized etc. We knew when we moved into this much smaller house that most of what we had collected would not be used again.
Bruce did a great job of marking and displaying everything, and what a great response we had. Along with buying, people wanted to know our story, and we shared our lives as collectors over the course of our 44 years of marriage. It was gratifying to hear people say this was the "best garage sale ever" and one little girl, perhaps five, said, "This is just like a real store."
A friend wondered, however, how it felt to let go of so much at one time. We have done this before--had a big sale a year ago and have also sold lots piece by piece on Craigslist over the last couple years, but the question is a good one.
My answer is that this feels right. And freeing. I feel lighter. I am totally at peace with this downsizing stage of my life.
At least I thought I was until I noticed the apple cookie jar displayed in one of the cupboards. My grandmother had one just like it, and I had searched a long time to find one for myself. I loved having it on my counter at the farm and often filled it with homemade cookies. I didn't know I missed it until I saw it in the garage sale.
I promptly reclaimed it, finding a place for it on my kitchen counter. It looks as if it has always been there.
So what does this mean? Am I really not serious about downsizing? Am I too attached to the material things in my life? Did I take a step backwards by claiming this piece of the past?
I don't think so. Instead, I realized at this time in my life I get to decide what stays and what goes. There is not a big rule book I have to follow. No one is shaking their fingers at me and saying, "Not allowed. Put it back."
I could have reclaimed the matching salt and pepper shakers and a sweet smaller jar, but I didn't. As people bought many of our loved treasures, I felt no regret. In fact, recalling when I had used a set of hand painted china plates or where a piece of white pottery was located in our 1802 farmhouse, I smiled and said to the buyer, "Enjoy."
But the cookie jar will stay part of my life, at least for now. Soon I will fill it with cookies, and I will think about my grandmother and I will honor my own life as a grandmother.
What needs to stay in your life right now? Is there anything you thought you were ready to release, but it just isn't time? What have you missed, but you didn't know it? I would love to know.