What would you carry? (Guest Blog)

I met today’s guest blogger, Bev Boyden-Van Staden through her amazing daughter, Tamara. Tamara was 11 when she first walked into my office with an idea for a pay-it-forward project she was doing in her Grade 5 class. She wanted to sell the jewelery she made at the art-show we were mounting for the artists of the Wildrose Art Studio at the shelter. Over the next five years, Tamara and her friends would raise over $9,100 for homeless charities.

And always, Bev was there, standing beside, behind, with her daughter. Supporting her, guiding her, showing her the path to living on purpose.

Recently, Bev sent me a FB message sharing her thoughts on de-cluttering. When I asked if I could share her words here, she quickly replied, of course. And that’s who Bev is — willing to step in and be of service, to share however she can, whatever she has to light up the world.

Bev and Tamara continue to give to community. In 2008, they set-up Heartprints: Kids for a Cause Foundation,ย and have expanded their products to include hand-knit scarves and dishcloths, beaded lanyards and other beautiful items.

Thank you Bev for all you do to create a world of difference. You are the change you want to see in the world.

What would you carry?

by Bev Boyden-Van Staden

Your postings of purging, decluttering and giving away one thing per day prompted memories of my 1983 travels (on a “shoe string” throughout SE Asia and the fact that I had to carry everything with me on this 3+ months adventure through Indonesia (Bali, Java and Summatra), Malaysia, Thailand and Singapore and back to Thailand before heading back to Canada.

Items of extreme value (passport, travel cheques and main supply of $$) were secured on a “purse” made from an extra large pocket from jeans secured to a long shoelace that hung around my neck and was tucked under whatever I was wearing and which I even slept with. Everything else was in a durable oblong daypack … compact enough to put on my lap during transit. If memory serves correctly, that pack weighed between 7 to 10 lbs.

Your recent postings had me thinking “what would we keep IF we had to carry with us everywhere what we wanted?” Sure, at major cities throughout my travels, I had the option to mail back home keepsakes, but mostly I had to make a daily choice about whether an item was really necessary to be packing around in the sweltering heat every day. I was a lot tougher about getting rid of unnecessary stuff at that point in my life than I am when I permanently settled (home).

We’ve been in our current home since 2000. Being a creative individual, everything has potential. I usually find that I have a tough time throwing things out … except when I get in one of those rare moods.

Over the years we have had a craft area and have collected (and stored for “just in case”) many things from a perfectly shaped flat rock found on a walk to cardboard and styro-foam.

For example, when my daughter, Tamara, was younger and into Barbies, she really wanted Barbie furniture (unit price $75 and up if purchased then at Toys R Us!, which wasn’t in my budget!). So I started making Barbie furniture out of styro-foam, old leather (or fake leather) purses, fringe material and a glue gun. Voila, Tamara and her friends had a grand time turning the “Barbie Room” into a girls’ dream place to play with all this funky furniture.

Fast forward many years later and we tackled the task of purging, throwing out or giving away so much stuff in order to turn areas into a teenagers’ hang out. Still it was with fondness that Tamara said ‘goodbye’ to her favourite Barbie couch I had made from styro-foam, black leather, and black fringe (including arm rests). All the stuff that another young child would enjoy we boxed up and donated to The Children’s Cottage … to the delight of the staff there!

Decluttering is an ongoing process. Now and then I tackle a drawer, a closet or shelves. I’m not drawn to other people’s garage sales anymore (haven’t been in awhile now!). What triggered my decluttering over 2012 is the passing of my dad in January 2012 (he was 84). He lived in BC, on his own (his partner pre-deceased him by less than a year). Soon it was discovered that his house and shed were in horrific state with so much junk collected over so many years. Some precious keepsakes like photos and such were found among his belongings, but most of the stuff was just that “stuff”. My oldest sister, as executor, vowed never to leave such a mess for her children to clean up after she is gone. That influenced me to rethink the state of my closets, drawers, cupboards and storage space areas.

Still I am amused when I think of my traveling days throughout SE Asia and wonder how much “stuff” I would keep around this house, if I had to carry it all with me everywhere I went. One extreme to the other, I know; but I am inspired to find a balance.

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Today’s poem is posted at A Poetry Affair: Time Flows

16 thoughts on “What would you carry? (Guest Blog)

  1. I wouldn’t have any space in my bedroom if I didn’t ‘let go’ of the old stuff, Louise… and I’m thankful to be able to say that. Once upon a time I didn’t have the funds to have any surplus….!
    There are always so many way in which to see something… ๐Ÿ˜‰

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  2. While I do not like the process of de-cluttering, I do like the release felt afterwards. I especially like it when once treasured items can find a good home to be treasured by someone else for awhile.

    The annual Community Free Shredding Event in March/April across Canada (put on by Shred-It) is a great time to get rid of paper clutter for those who are conscious about the risk of identity theft. Annually, I bring a tall box of paper stuff (accumulated over the year) for shredding and I love seeing all those papers shredded in lass than 10 seconds! Just like that “done!”.

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  3. This sounds like my mother and grandfather. My mum moved my grandfather into a nursing home in 2010 and it took her and my brother 6 weeks of fulltime cleaning and purging to pack up his home. Not so easy to do when we were his only family and he lived in Portland, Oregon and my mum and brother live in Australia.

    My mum said the same thing though – she will never leave so much ‘hoarded’ stuff for her kids after having to do this for him.

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  4. My sister and I had to clean out our mother’s apartment when she moved into assisted living. It was an arduous two weeks! And sad. I had to turn off my thinking so I could just focus on the job at hand. by the time we were done, I was exhausted!

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  5. Love this. My parents and I often joke about the time I will have sorting out their basement when they die โ€“ I am an only child so the task will fall to me and hopefully some close friends and cousins I can rope in. This will be hard but interesting.

    I have helped in cleaning out the houses of two single great-aunts after their passing โ€“ the first I was only about 7 years old, but we still tell the stories of finding cans of food in the basement that were so old they did not have French on the labels!

    The second aunt passed away when I was 15. Her small Toronto apartment was filled to the brim with many years of travel and collecting. My mom was the closest niece to here, so my parents, and uncle, and I worked to sort out the variety of things left behind. I acquired a few tea cups, some pots and pans, and a few other special and useful mementos from Aunt Maryโ€™s apartment. But what have always been more meaningful are the things that we did not keep. Aunt Mary was a proud and active member of her church, to whom many items went to be donated or sold at a bazaar. Watching these things go, things that I knew had meant a lot to Aunt Mary, was at once sad and hopeful. Hoping that these things would help someone in need was all that we needed to know to be able to let them go. All we can ask for our ‘things’ is that they mean something to someone after we are gone.

    I was also struck by the redundancy of many things we found in Aunt Maryโ€™s apartment, like countless packages of paper napkins, and dozens of jam packets from local restaurants (some partly used!). This all spoke to her frugality, but also just made me shake my head at times. I smile now to think of Aunt Mary and her jam packets, and cat mugs, and knitted blankets. We miss you!

    An odd wish, but I think that every 15 year old could use to clean out a loved oneโ€™s apartment โ€“ some very interesting life lessons learned!

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  6. I have recently returned from four weeks away where I had one bag with a minimum of clothing. It felt great to have so little!
    The people who call themselves minimalists are SO correct that you start to focus on people and values and the quality of time that you have, once you stop thinking and worrying about ‘stuff’!
    great post!

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  7. Pingback: Her Heartprints Live On Forever | Dare Boldly

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