Sunday, September 21, 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 I still have blue jeans from high school that will never, ever fit me again, and jars of spices three years out of date, and baubles and trinkets and whatnot (lots of whatnot) that I can’t seem to discard.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

    Elementary school counselors: necessary, but poorly funded

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

     
     
    Bet Haverim hosts High Holy Day services

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A1

     
    Teams assess damage as wildfire burns

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

     
    Driver arrested for DUI after Saturday morning crash

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

    Help raise funds for juvenile diabetes cure

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Jewelry, art for sale at Senior Center

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

    Davis Community Meals needs cooks

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    Hawk Hill trip planned Sept. 30

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    UC campus chancellors granted hefty pay raises

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

    Send kids to camp!

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

     
    Da Vinci awarded $38,000 for restorative justice program

    By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A4

    Outdoor yoga marathon celebrates community

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

     
    Wise words

    By Sue Cockrell | From Page: A12

     
    .

    Forum

    Awareness is key to this fight

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

     
    Where is this going?

    By Creators Syndicate | From Page: A6

    We’re living in the Golden State of emergency

    By Debra DeAngelo | From Page: A6

     
    Options for protection come with flu season

    By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

    Are we there yet? Not enough hours in the day to goof off

    By Tanya Perez | From Page: A6Comments are off for this post

     
    Don’t sell city greenbelt

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Paso Fino project is flawed

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    Paso Fino — it’s not worth it

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

    Archer will get my vote

    By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A10

     
    It’s time for Davis Scouts to stand up for what is right

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A10

    Mike Keefe cartoon

    By Debbie Davis | From Page: A10

     
    Building something at schools’ HQ

    By Our View | From Page: A10

    Speak out

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

     
    Maybe David can beat Goliath again

    By Lynne Nittler | From Page: A11 | Gallery

    .

    Sports

    DHS gets on its Morse to beat Edison

    By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

     
    JV Blue Devils drop low-scoring affair

    By Spencer Ault | From Page: B2

     
    Republic FC’s fairy tale season continues

    By Evan Ream | From Page: B3 | Gallery

    Wire briefs: Giants rally falls short in San Diego

    By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

     
    Four local swimmers qualify for Olympic Trials

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

    ‘We’re a way better team’ than record, says UCD’s Shaffer

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B4 | Gallery

     
    UCD roundup: Aggie men pound Pomona-Pitzer in the pool

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: B4

    Davis 15-year-old making a splash in European F4 series

    By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B8 | Gallery

     
    .

    Features

    .

    Arts

    ‘Ladies Foursome’ adds shows

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

     
    .

    Business

    UCD grad’s startup earns kudos at TechCrunch event

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A7

     
    Styles on target for November debut

    By Wendy Weitzel | From Page: A7

    MBI hires VP of marketing

    By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

     
    Taylor Morrison unveils new Woodland community next weekend

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A9 | Gallery

    Rob White: What is an ‘innovation center’?

    By Rob White | From Page: A9

     
    .

    Obituaries

    Carol L. Walsh

    By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

     
    .

    Comics

    Comics: Sunday, September 21, 2014

    By Creator | From Page: B8