Friday, May 13, 2011

Use It Up, Wear It Out, Make It Do or Do Without

I was raised with that saying as a way of life...I don't remember if it was actually ever said but it was certainly lived.  My parents are part of a generation where that was simply what you did - there weren't a lot of material goods and so each item was treated with respect.  When things broke then they were fixed.  If they were broken beyond repair then the item was saved to be used in another way.  I have a very strong admiration and respect for that way of thinking and very much believe it is a way of thinking that our current culture could benefit from. 

Last year S brought home some wicker furniture that was on the side of our road with a free sign on it.  My husband knows that I love things made of natural materials, that I love a bargain and that I'm always happy to do what I can to make something last a little longer.  A little while ago he also brought home some paint so that I could fix up this weathered (somewhat sad looking) furniture.  I painted it and then I decided to use some thrifted cushions and some material I had been given to make some "new" seat cushions for the two chairs.  So now we have two lovely looking and comfy reading chairs, a table and a loveseat to put on our patio.  It makes me very happy to be able to furnish our lives in this way and to so rarely have to buy anything new, I very much enjoy being able to fix things in this way - it gives me a deep sense of joy.
And now I am also working my way to finding a balance in this.  I am determining what "projects" I can let go of and pass on to someone else.  I've realized that I can't *fix* everything, and that I don't want to spend all my free time working on things - remaking, repairing, re-purposing.  I realized that what was a very worthy value at one time - saving all material items to be re-used in some way - can quickly become overwhelming in this age of "too much" stuff.  That it isn't up to me to save everything from the dump and that I can let go of some of the projects I have tucked away so that I can free up some time to just be (don't get me wrong, this doesn't mean I will be throwing things in the garbage, it just means I won't be taking on any new projects for a bit and that I will see if I can find someone else who may be interested in some of the things I had planned to fix). 
Do you ever have those moments in your life where you see very clearly that time is precious?  Heartbreakingly clearly?  That it passes by so quickly that in a blink your children are almost grown and that things - those constants in life- can change in an instant?  Things are coming together right now in my life to show me this lesson clearly...and I'm grateful for the ability to be able to really *see* this.  And so, for right now, I am working on letting go of "too much" so that I can fully enjoy "just enough".   And for now this may mean some daily quiet reading time in my "new" comfy wicker chair. ;-)

What about you?  I'd love to hear if you have experience of this feeling.


Kathy said...

The repainted, re-cushioned chair looks so comfortable and nice on your deck! We are also very much of the re-use and re-purpose school of thought. We use a lot of things that other family members or friends no longer wanted and try to pass along what we no longer need to those who might want them -- whether I'm the giver or receiver, that kind of thing always makes me happy.

Amanda Medlin said...

The chair looks great! I feel very similar to you. I also love to thrift as well as not throw anything away in order to be as "green" as possible. But I do also get overwhelmed at times at all of the "junk" I accumulate. Above all I want to live simply, so whenever I feel like I am getting too much STUFF, I like to pack up a box and take it to the thrift store. That way I'm not throwing it away, but hopefully someone else can use it.

sheepish said...

I also feel like the universe is trying to teach me to let many things go in order to enjoy the time that is now. I do my best to heed the advice, but am not always successful. I feel like this should be an easier process since the idea makes so much sense to me.

Katherine said...

Your post made me smile, Heather. There is so much wisdom in this. Living conscientiously shouldn't have us overwhelming ourselves, but it can and that's why we have to combine it with living consciously. It's so important and so true that we need to see the value in the time we have in our life, that it is finite and not lose sight of that fact.

Enjoy some quiet time in your beautifully refurbished chairs. You've more than earned it. :o)

donna!ee said...

amen sister...i too embrace simple, uncomplicated gratitude for all that i have been blessed with. forward thinking to find and create a good use for everything upcycled. waste not, want not! thank you for sharing this post... :)

cargillwitch said...

I have felt a great awakening as my two eldest children have left the nest that I am no longer in the "gathering stage" of life I was prior. Where you are always scouting for a pair of rubber boots for one child,bunk beds and bikes etc.. I now am in the pairing down stage! It has brought me great joy and a sense of freedom to give away to my daughters all the " extra" towels, linens, bakewear etc. that I had accumulated for a large family. It frees up space, mental and physical. It brings me closer to realizing how little we really need.

Elizabeth said...

Yes, I have experienced this many times. It is a delicate balance of saving for later and ridding yourself of too much. Many times I have done a purge only to find I need just that item a few weeks later! Murphy's Law.
However, a friend who was moving across the country and was giving away an amazing (to me then) amount of their household goods, told me something I will never forget. Simply put - Things weigh you down.
Society has the opposite message of course and takes advantage of the fact that, like it or not, our brains are hard-wired to be attracted to a shiny new toy.

Btw, I have a wicker set that I found on the curb, too!

daisy g said...

I hear ya, sister. I have to purposely keep walking when I see things in people's recycle bins-most of the time.
I try to find homes for useful things and we have purged so many items already this year in preparation to move.
Letting go allows room for new experiences into your life.

Love the new cushions!

Vickie LeBlanc said...

Great job on the furniture - paint and new cushions. Every single day I'm reminded that time sure does go by too fast and that things can change in an instant... life is short and we should live it to its fullest.

Rebecca said...

I can totally relate! I'm forever seeing "the potential" in things...but finding the time to actually repurpose them...well that's a different story. :) Every so often I have to go through my collection and purge. Just recently we filled the entire back of our pick-up truck with clothing for our local thrift shop. Yikes! It felt SO good to let go, though. Thanks for the inspirational post!

Erin said...

These is such honest beauty in what you wrote Heather, I've held tight to the thoughts and words over the weekend, when I first read this. I had much to ponder before I responded!

One of the comments above touched on being in different stages of life, and she mentioned the "gathering" stage. I am in this place that you both talk about, and I think it is coming to me slowly to begin a letting go...not so much of projects, but maybe of other things.

Life is for the living, and when i get caught up in my thoughts, or curiosities, or concerns (I am worrying this week about fire and flood victims and shedding tears over that), for too long, I am realizing that my energy is also lessened. I need to always remember to be in the now, and let things fall more easily to the periphery...

A hopeful and thoughtful post, Heather. Thank you :)

...and your sweet chairs, oh I just love talented and such a great eye you have!!

Anonymous said...

Oooh Yes! A diagnosis of possible death any time is a HUGE wake up...One reflects on who and what is important.....Elizabeth, I totally agree'things weigh you down'
I think and interact with very close family and friends more and notice the beauty and wonder of Nature much more.........sometimes I feel like I am the only person in my busy part of the world to notice 30 birds fly bye, or the sky just then and there.
My house is in the process of a big handing on:)

Kate said...

Yes, I know what you're talking about. I probably fall on the side of not holding on to most things, unless I (a) have a pretty good idea of what could be done with it, and reasonable certainty that the project will get done, or (b) it's something so versatile that there's a very high probability that it'll come in handy for a project that's not even on the list yet. We dumpster dive on construction sites and haul off as much salvageable lumber as feasible. But the other stuff we find in there I try to be much pickier about. There's a fine line between provisioning oneself with useful stuff and hoarding. Besides, the garage can only hold so much stuff.