“But it was my grandmother’s!”
Just in case you think I’m immune from that refrain, today’s challenge is all about this particular story.
I have a cedar chest that my mother says belonged to my dad’s mom. He claims to have never seen it before.
Are you following this? I have a cedar chest of dubious provenance.
Regardless of where it DID actually come from, one thing’s for sure—it’s in my home now.
And I think of it AS my grandmother’s. That’s where the story starts.
I’ve been thinking of painting it for some time now — it’s got a nice distressed cedar patina going on, but that worked better at my place in PA than it does in my NYC apartment.
It also had some trim details on the face of it: a half-round dowel and a funky cap that was attached at the end of the dowel to finish the look on either end of the face of it—framing the face.
One piece of the trim, the cap, is missing on the right side.
Last night I pried the remaining three pieces of trim off.
And then I got stuck.
Here’s more of the story:
It’s old cedar with a nice patina.
It came off the trunk that MAY HAVE belonged to my grandmother.
I can’t just throw them away … can I?
Yes, I can.
But I had to sit and stare at the trim and then the trunk for at least 10 minutes before I became clear that there is no GOOD reason, and really no reason at all, that I should keep this trim.
I’m definitely not going to put it back on the trunk.
I’m not going to put it on something else.
No one else wants it.
And because it’s varnished, it can’t be burned or recycled.
I’m sad about that.
But not sad enough to tuck it away in my closet … for “later.”
I’m not going to be any less sad about it ending up in the trash then.
An old boyfriend used to say, “the only thing better than good news is bad news fast.”
And while he ended up a bit of bad news himself, I still believe the expression perfectly captures the mood.
Rip off the bandage and keep moving.
Today’s challenge: set a timer for 60 seconds and settle into your breath. Then set the timer for 7 minutes and find one thing you’ve been holding onto that you are sure are you finished with but still have a story running that is keeping you from letting it go.
Repeat the story one last time out loud. Record it on your smart phone if you like. Then get rid of the item—either put it by the front door to be taken to the thrift store, shelter, consignment shop, recycle bin or trash.
Advanced challenge: Set the timer for 15 minutes and see how many items you can gather up in that time. Follow the above instructions for how to dispose of the items: thrift store, shelter, consignment shop, recycle bin or trash.
One of the pioneers of professional organizing and productivity, Andrew Mellen is the best-selling author of Unstuff Your Life!. He travels the world speaking, teaching, and coaching individuals and global brands including the New York Mets, Genentech, American Express, Time, Inc. and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.