Are you a ‘hanger on-erer’? Some people would call it hoarding, or collecting, and I agree that there is a fine line between all of these things. But I have some things I hang onto for a variety of important and valid reasons. I am a very emotional person and have strong connections via photos, trinkets and letters etc. I find it hard to throw away things that have emotional connections. I feel like my world may change if I were to lose these things, although I know that is not true.
This Easter weekend we are cleaning out lots of paperwork. I am talking we have hired a secure document bin, which we have already filled on day 1…….Most of the paperwork is housed in the lovely room my hubby built for me as an office in the back half of his huge shed when we had Maxwell – but which became a dumping pit, as these spaces tend to do. In the spirit of mindfulness I took no before shots, no images to show you how amazing the difference is in the room already. I may share once it is finished, but I decided that I was going to stay totally mindful and in the moment as we worked through this daunting task. I had one black spider land on my arm, which for a spider phobe was a meltdown moment, a few moments of thinking I couldn’t do it (think Hoarders when the said hoarder wants to throw in the towel) and lots of exclaiming “Ooh look at this!” to Mr Recycled, as I travelled through a journey of over 15 years of my life. I now have very tired legs and very dirty feet, as well as a much emptier room and a much fuller document bin.
We are cleaning the shed room out so we can use it for it’s original purpose, an art space for me to paint, a music room for all of us and another place to sit quietly and work. It is also about a deep clean, a tossing away of old memories and rubbish that we no longer need and a finding of the treasured ones that should be kept. The room is lined and carpeted and air conditioned, and at the back of the garden, so you look out the little recycled window into trees and shrubs. I painted it in Sheoak which is a minty green, my favourite. It feels peaceful and snuggly out there. We also have a second hand sofa bed in there for any of the boys friends who come over for sleepovers, or just in case any of my boys need to come home once they have flown the nest. I like to think there is always a place for them here.
It has taken me all afternoon to sort through filing cabinets and drawers today, because I found so many magical things in there. Like love letters from my children, and love letters from my boyfriends, and love letters from my Mama. The cheeky flirty messages my best friend and I used to send back and forth to police officers when the welfare department we worked for shared the same internal computer records system with the police – before the internet and email! There were school reports and psychological assessment reports, and my workcover claim reports from when I suffered a breakdown from post traumatic stress in my child protection work (not a good memory). Car accident reports. Tax files going back to the 1980’s. Birth certificates and marriage certificates and passport photos. Poetry and pictures and pieces of fabric. The communication book my sister and I used when we shared a house, because you couldn’t sms back then about what was for dinner. Some things I couldn’t believe, like every school newsletter from my first son’s primary school days!!
There were also all the records going back to 2001, of my journey with my diabetes blog and charity. How I rose from the ashes of the work breakdown I suffered, and depression and panic, and took a little idea I had about an online counselling service for people with diabetes, to the national award winning charity it is today. All the letters and reports and research. The awards and grants. The communication with so many people. My face in articles and on covers of magazines. Fundraiser planning and recognition certificates. My first home made business cards and brochures. It really hit me how wonderful this thing I created was, and is, and how much I still want it. It cemented for me that finishing my PhD is paramount and that working in diabetes alongside this blog, will always be my destiny. I felt proud and sad and wistful and invigorated. The memories of trips and conferences, discussions and planning and dreams, was overwhelming. Lots of magic, and hard work , triumph and heartache. Many journeys. A life.. My life. Memories collected in words and images are so important. I think that is why so many of us love blogging and instagram.
We filled up the document bin as well as a few large boxes full of rubbish and recycling, and a few for the op shop. But lots of magical moments and memories are still in the drawers and filing cabinets. These are the ones that need to stay. The ones that tell our family stories. Have you see Bridges of Maddison County? I love that the film, and besides how beautiful Clint and Meryl are, I love that the story is based around her children finding all of her memories and learning about who she was after she died, all the things she never shared with them, the parts of her that were hidden from them. I hope that when I am no longer here my children will be able to sit and take a journey through my life, and theirs. That they will take pleasure in discovering the moments I kept for them. Their first steps, their fat fingered drawings, their successes and struggles, our love. That they may learn a little about me that is other than their mother.
If you are also a hanger onerer I raise my cup of tea to you. I know exactly why you hold onto things. We are the keepers of the memories, the ones who keep the narrative going and honour those stories. The historians and the archaeologists. And that is a perfect kind of hoarding if you ask me.
Happy Easter. May you do lots of memory making this weekend