Sunday, December 31, 2006

Out with the old...

For the past two days, I’ve been busy tossing things out, shredding old receipts, boxing up books I’ll never want to read again, learning to let go. I am a packrat, no question about it. Maybe it comes from having moved so often while my children were growing up, leaving behind all the things that would take up too much space in the moving van.

Or maybe it goes deeper than that. I remember collecting comic books, paper dolls, and trading cards in my childhood. I remember sitting on the daybed in the basement, where my teenaged uncle slept during the hot summer months, looking one by one, with much admiration, at each specimen in his matchbook collection. (One of those matchbooks contained what I now recognize as a condom.) There's just something about groups of similar objects that appeals to me.

Most of my books will still be on their shelves when this bout of de-cluttering is completed. My elephant collection will be intact, as will my more recent collection of tiny replicas of beautiful shoes. I’m not yet ready to give up the old vinyl record albums, either, but I’ve begun to think about it.

As much as I enjoy reflecting on the past -– and a single piece of paper can transport me back thirty years –- I want to live more in the moment. I want to rid myself of some of the clutter that steals my time and diminishes my enjoyment of the here and now.

Part of my "packrat-edness" has been my desire to leave a trail for my children and grandchildren, a path of documents and mementos to show them where they came from and to tell them what happened along the way. And so I’ve stuffed things into drawers and onto shelves, waiting for the right moment to dump all that “stuff” into their laps. My goal for the new year is to break that habit. Coincidentally, the accomplishment of last year's goal will help me do it.

I don't make resolutions, but my "goal" for 2006 was to set up my own blog. I thought it would be a difficult process, and I postponed it for a few weeks into the year. Then, one night in late-January, I sat down to explore what I’d need to do to get started. Before that evening was out, I was up and running. What a thrill!

And here I am nearly a year later, realizing that the stories I want my children to know, the photos I want them to see, don’t have to languish in a drawer or on a dusty shelf. With a few keystrokes, I can send them out into the universe via the Internet, where they can be retrieved with a few more keystrokes if and when somebody’s interested. How about that for a neat space-saving device!

Blogging has brought something else into my life, too. For introverts like me, those of us who thrive on calm, quiet places, it’s painful to put ourselves out into real-world gatherings long enough to scout out others like ourselves. In fact, the others like us are not usually found at large gatherings; they’re home in their own calm, quiet places. Many of them, I’ve learned this year, are at their computers, opening their hearts, baring their souls, making friends the way we like to do it: one at a time, slowly, quietly.

You, dear readers and writers, have made my year! I wish each of you, as well as my delightful and widespread family, a happy, healthy 2007. May your candle burn even brighter in the new year.


  1. What a lovely post! I'm so glad to have found you out there in cyberspace, my life would be less rich if I didn't have all the friends I've made on my blog. It's been a blessing for us introverts, as you said so well.

    Procrastinator that I am, I haven't gotten around to purging, but I will. I don't have children, so I doubt my nieces and nephews will be interested in keeping what I've collected, which isn't worth anything except intellectually. I have saved all my blog posts to my computer, which can conceivably be put onto a CD-R for posterity, if anyone's interested in a hundred years. ;-)

  2. All is as you and Janet have said so eloquently, so many new and wonderful friends through blogging it has opened up a whole new world of similar likes and interests I would have thought impossible. It has been a real pleasure knowing you Velvet and your posts have been a constant inspiration. Happy New Year to you and I wish all that you wish for yourself and your family is granted. Believe always in the magic of the world.
    Happy New Year, Velvet.

  3. Well Velvet, each year I go through all of those old recipts and shred things I do not need to keep. It takes quiet a bit of time to shred so this year I am going to burn them in my fire pit. I have a walmart bag full to the brim and the first time I decide to sit in the yard and lite a fire that bag is going in there.

  4. Life synchronicity, I'd say, since I've spent much of the day going through old files and shredding like crazy!

    Happy New Year, Velvet. It's so good to read your stories and to know there's a bright, thoughtful, sensitive, caring, funny, dog-loving southern woman who makes me laugh as close as my computer.

  5. Happy New Year, Velvet. I am just the 3rd sister...never was sweet and I have quit trying to pretend to be.

  6. Well it's a whole world of us introverts finding ways of expressing ourselves I guess. It's always a bit interesting for me to see whose blogs I look forward to everyday and whose I follow for a while then forget about. Since the first time I read about your pups, I've been a regular reader. Take care and have a peaceful New Years Eve.

  7. Beatifully put as usual Velvet. Thank you for sharing this year. My goal in 2007 is quite similar, declutter and destress as much as possible.

  8. Velvet, and a very Happy New Year to you. I've enjoyed getting to "know" you a little here - you've made me smile, think, and feel - and I like all those emotions. All the best to you in 2007.

  9. Velvet, happy new year. I am so glad that you joined the blogosphere. It's been a pleasure to read your words over the past year.

  10. Happy New Year! (if I haven't said it already!)

  11. Happy New Year Velvet!

    I wonder if you shouldn't keep some of the mementos and photos? My own mother kept absolutely nothing (but perfect order) which left her daughters feeling vaguely but truly smacked. I don't exactly know why....

  12. Third-Cat, that's a very good point. I'm definitely keeping the meaningful stuff, but I'm trying to distinguish between what I think is neat stuff to keep around and what really is worth keeping.

    For example, I find it interesting to look at old check registers and see how cheap things used to be in comparison to today, but I have way too many things like that boxed away and taking up valuable storage space.

    As far as the photos, they'll have to pry those out of my cold, dead hands, but I do love the concept of sharing them with everybody now via the Internet.

    Then there are other things, like clothes I love but will never wear again, a perfectly good dining table with no chairs (Butch ate them), etc. It's occurred to me that I can take photos of a lot of those things and give the actual items away.

    Yesterday I was feeling sentimental about the dogs' expired vaccination tags, and they're still not in the trash. If I err in this process, it's likely to be in the direction of keeping too many things.

  13. It is very true, people can open up on the net and be a lot more bold than they are in real life. I, like you, do not seek out noise and excitement. I won't be going to any parties or large gatherings. I prefer a quiet evening at home and journals on the web. It's a nice way to learn to be a bit less closed up when I'm out in public.

    I have enjoyed your journal this year. Your goal ended up being a gift to many. You can't beat that.

    Your book shelf is beautiful. I saw elephants when we passed the zoo the other day. Beautiful creatures. The bull was magnificent.

    Don't toss the vinyl, they could be worth a fortune. You could buy storage space for stuff you don't really want to toss but guilt says you should. :-)

    Here's to moving forward,

  14. Austin, I was late finding this comment, but I'm glad I did. Your kind words make me feel warm and fuzzy.

    I've been fascinated by elephants for a long time. In fact, my mother said my first-grade teacher told her about finding me crying in the classroom, and the reason I gave was that I didn't know how to spell elephant. Weird kid, huh?

    I'll keep the vinyl records for a while because I have one corner where they fit exactly. Besides, who knows when I'm gonna need to hear some Gordon Lightfoot or Bread.


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