Friday, August 29, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

It’s that time of year when you need to let go of things

DebraDeAngeloW

By
From page A13 | December 29, 2013 |

It’s that lame-duck time of year. Christmas is over, the new year is yet to begin, and there are still piles of wrapping paper and empty boxes to pick up — and the recycling bin is conveniently stuffed to the hilt, so the piles will remain as testament to my lack of energy at this time of year.

Evidence of precious time with loved ones dot the house — extra blankets here, a left-behind sock there, an abundance of towels in the laundry pile. That makes it difficult to dive in and undeck the halls. So I won’t. I’ll deal with it next year, which, of course, is staring me right in the face.

I’m not ready to face a new year.

Or, maybe I’m too ready.

It changes from moment to moment.

As the new year approaches, I feel compelled to get rid of things — an impulse that horrifies my inner hoarder. I still have blue jeans from high school that will never, ever fit me again, and jars of spices three years out of date, and baubles and trinkets and whatnot (lots of whatnot) that I can’t seem to discard. I pick something up, and it reignites the memory attached to it (faded blues/nostalgia) or the plans I had for it (gingerbread/hope) or simple clinging (could it be Christmas just one more day), and the real, imaginary or symbolic value makes me stuff it back in a drawer again.

I still have jars with my kids’ baby teeth in them, people.

Oh, it’s much worse than that.

I have a jar with my own.

And then I married someone with his own collections of junk that are meaningful only to him and look like garbage to everyone else. Just try to set a spoon down anywhere in our house without having to stack something else. Just try.

It’s hit critical mass. My house, my life, and my head need de-cluttering.

The first step is awareness, right?

Wait, no.

Step One: Admitted we were powerless over clutter; that our lives had become unmanageable.

So, that’s my plan for 2014. Letting go of internal and external clutter. What things aren’t serving me well? What things can I, albeit reluctantly, pry my physical or symbolic fingers from and discard? To do it all at once is overwhelming and psychologically impossible. So, I have a strategy: get rid of just one thing each day that A) no longer serves me well or B) causes me active distress or C) is merely taking up space and compounding the “critical mass” issue.

Just one thing. And, even a tiny thing will count. Like my daughter’s dried-out felt pens, that remind me of her back in high school, in braces and pajama pants, concentrating on her drawing. When I see the pens, I see her. Throwing them all out at once feels like throwing away the memory. So, maybe one pen at a time. Maybe one pen cap at a time. It will still count.

Professional organizers insist that you can hold on to memories, and let go of the things. This is only partially true. It assumes that you can remember anything you want, any time you want, and easily call up any memories on demand. At 54, that’s an awfully big “given.” Past 50, your brain doesn’t just spontaneously generate cherished memories. I mean, how do you even know what you want to remember? When you pick up your son’s baby shoes, see your husband’s handwriting scrawled across an empty red envelope that once held a sweet, sentimental Valentine — that’s when the memory pops up.

If I discard these things, will I ever remember to remember them again? Clearly, I’m already forgetting some things, in contrast to my children, who have total recall of my every shortcoming. Who is this whackjob B-list mother of whom they speak? My memory is that, all things considered, I did a pretty decent job. I most certainly did a better job than my own parents. A quantum leap better. I’m also certain that I did the best I could with the abilities I had at that moment in time. Trouble is, your best can fall short in someone else’s eyes.

Regrets… I have a few…

Sing it again, Frank.

But… regret no longer serves me well and actively causes me distress and is merely taking up space and compounding the critical mass of crap inside my head. I want to discard regret, but it’s a little trickier than tossing out felt pens.

I know that the first step of regret is giving yourself a break for your shortcomings — reminding yourself that, OK, although it was a great effort, sometimes in life, the effort/result ratio is less than optimal. This is a fact. I could try and try and try to be a ballerina or a mathematician or an opera singer, and the effort will always outweigh the result on a massive scale. It just ain’t gonna happen. I recognize that going forward. But recognizing it in reverse still pinches.

Maybe you have to acknowledge your shortcomings before you can forgive yourself for them. So, here goes:

Dear kids, I regret my parental shortcomings more than you could possibly know (until you have children of your own). I wish I could have a do-over, and go back and right every single wrong, and whisk away every tear. But I can’t. I can only go forward and do the best I can do, with the abilities I have, at this moment in time.

Regret. It’s a tether that keeps you looking backwards instead of forwards. It keeps my eyes on the rearview mirror instead of the road ahead. I need to let go of it.

I’ll start with felt pens. Baby steps, people, baby steps.

— Email Debra DeAngelo at debra@wintersexpress.com; read more of her work at www.wintersexpress.com and www.ipinionsyndicate.com

Comments

comments

Debra DeAngelo

  • Recent Posts

  • Enter your email address to subscribe to this newspaper and receive notifications of new articles by email.

  • .

    News

    Davis Innovation Center team fields questions

    By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Saving Putah Creek: a quiet concert at sunset

    By Elizabeth Case | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Mr. Dolcini goes to Washington

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
    Winton to be feted for her many years of community work

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: A1 | Gallery

    Researchers solve mystery of Death Valley’s moving rocks

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    California extends review of $25B delta plan

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

     
    Assembly approves statewide ban on plastic bags

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

    Forum explores local mental health services

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Solar-cooking workshop set at Food Co-op

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Celebrate the Senior Center at Sept. 9 luncheon

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Need a new best friend?

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3 | Gallery

    Equestrian eventing competition slated

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Dinner, auction benefit Yolo County CASA

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Kids can sign up for a library card and get a free book

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Explorit Science Center: Volunteers supercharge summer camp

    By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

    Tee off for Davis’ continued prosperity

    By Lily Holmes | From Page: A4

     
     
    Bodega Marine Laboratory hosts open house

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5 | Gallery

    Local group charts a year’s worth of beauty in flowers

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

     
    Free blood pressure screenings offered

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

    Name Droppers: UCD honors two of its own

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A6

     
    Books, conversation and poetry at Logos

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    .

    Forum

    Let’s sell the MRAP on eBay

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Seeing both sides of ‘tank’

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    What if we need MRAP?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    How could tank be helpful?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

     
    Tom Meyer cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: C2

    Don’t sentence our police to death

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: C2, 1 Comment

     
    Will Davis see river water?

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: C2

    Travel buddy is getting too fat

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    .

    Sports

    Forget the score; focus on the energy brought by Aggies

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Returning seniors, new faces lead promising DHS links squad

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    Devil golfers return from Scotland with smiles on their faces

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    Devils scrimmage with Sac

    By Wayne Tilcock | From Page: B1 | Gallery

    UCD-Stanford: the clock is down to counting the minutes

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

     
    Sports briefs: DHS girls fall by the slimmest of net margins

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B6 | Gallery

    Wire briefs: Aces cruise past Cats at Raley

    By Wire and staff reports | From Page: B6

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘The November Man’: Who can be trusted?

    By Derrick Bang | From Page: A9 | Gallery

     
    B Street’s ‘The Ladies Foursome’ is aces

    By Bev Sykes | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    .

    Business

    Technology makes a great car better

    By Ali Arsham | From Page: C1 | Gallery

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Margarita Elizondo

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    Elaine Dracia Greenberg

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

    .

    Comics