Several years ago I cleaned out the mugs in our kitchen to a select group that - at least at the time - all meant something to me. The mug from when we lived in Alaska. The handmade pottery we bought when we lived in Lesotho. The one I had made for the Hubs when he (briefly) had an electrical contracting side business. These were the mugs I would never get rid of because we either used them every day, or we liked the memories that they recalled, or... I felt like I spent good money on them and to get rid of them seemed wasteful (but storing them, unused, in my cabinet somehow made the expenditure make sense??).
Over the last two years, my perspective on what is worth keeping and what needs to move on to a new home, has changed. When we adopted five kids, our kitchen usage habits changed. It was no longer a sanctuary for leisurely sipping coffee over breakfast - it became a place of packing lunches and handing out breakfast pastries while giving the minute-by-minute countdown of how long it would be before we needed to be out the door. For a variety of reasons, the Hubs and I switched from coffee to tea, and rather than using something from our carefully curated collection, we were grabbing our travel mugs as we headed out to work and the daily school run. Life changed, which meant our needs did as well.
As I've mentioned before, life with a family of seven has caused our view on stuff and minimalism to evolve, and it's a regular occurrence for me to wander through our kitchen, opening doors and drawers, and asking myself, "What can go today?" As it turns out, last week what I deemed "no longer necessary" were these eleven mugs.
These mugs represent so much stuff - tucked away in the basement, in closets, in storage boxes, in drawers - that used to mean something, but has become secondary to more important things. My perspective has been slowly changing from that of an individual who needed to control everything and had a hard time letting go of anything, to one who can see that it's all just stuff. Only people matter.
This weekend I pulled out some of my big Disney fairy tale story books that had been mine as a child. I'd been storing them away, waiting for the girls to be old enough and calm enough to read and enjoy them. The question that I finally asked myself was, "What am I waiting for?" Yes, I'd like them to take care of them, and I want to teach them to treat books with respect so that they last for years, but in this case, so what if they get a rip here and there? The girls are all into princesses and happily-ever-after NOW...not later, when they're old enough to take good care of the books but will be more interested in driving than dolls. As I brought the stack of books into their room, I was met with squeals and cheers and excitement over the fact that they could keep these books on the bookcase in their room, and read them whenever they wanted. Shouldn't it be more important for me to raise children who love books than it is to preserve the books themselves?
Meanwhile, our ever evolving sense of what we need and how we use things means that we currently have a hot water kettle, a French press, a stash of tea and coffee, and our most favorite mugs set up in our bedroom. Our sanctuary has moved, our needs have changed, and I'm embracing all that could mean for the stuff that now sits, unused, in the rest of our house.