Friday, February 1, 2013

Project - The Things That Feed My Soul

The "Life" part of Lit and Life? Today that's what I'm thinking about. I've been forced lately to do some thinking about possessions - which things do you really need to live, which things do you need to feed your soul?

My mother-in-law has had some health issues in the past couple of months that have necessitated us beginning to think about moving her to a much smaller place. We've had to consider what she "needs" physically and what she "needs" to make a new place feel like home. She cannot take her dining room set, her piano, her couch. Likewise, nothing in her second bedroom. But she absolutely must take the Eskimo sculpture that her husband brought back from a trip he took to Alaska and which has sat on her hearth for 40 years.

This got me to thinking...if we had to downsize, and I mean really downsize, what things would I absolutely have to take with me, which things say "home" to me, which things feed my soul?

Then I thought of Jennie Nash's The Threadbare Heart in which the lead character's home is destroyed in a wildfire. She finds herself need to make a list of the things that were lost (including such mundane things as a bathmat) but also grateful for the things her husband had time to save, including a piece of antique lace from her grandmother. I began thinking about what I would save if I knew my home was going to be destroyed and I had one hour to save as much as I could.

These are things you can't really decide last minute, there are too many decisions to be made, too many priorities to be set. Hence, Project - The Things That Feed My Soul was born. I haven't worked out all of the details: I haven't set a timeline for completing the project. What I do know is that it starts with going through every room, really looking at what's in it.

Some things are a given: our photos, scrapbooks, family history archives are going on both lists. The secretary that was my grandmother's treasure will move with me where ever I go as well as the rocking chair I used to rock all of my children to sleep when they were babies. Unless, of course, it's not already been passed on to rock my grandbabies to sleep!

I'll be updating my progress here as I go, perhaps as part of my Sunday Salon posts. Have you ever thought about what you would save in a fire? What you would take with you no matter where you go?  I'd love to hear about the things that feed your soul and why.


  1. We had to downsize hugely for our current move, and it was really difficult. All these things we were convinced we couldn't live without! But here's what happens: when you get to the point where there just isn't any room, it greatly facilitates decision-making! LOL

  2. I have come to the same realization as you but out of necessity and just "life". I have moved several times during my life and I have things which have been in permanent storage for a decade or so. Suddenly it hit me that it's silly to be attached to so many "things" especially when it costs money and an aching back.

  3. Lisa... you know how much I struggled reading this book, having lost everything in a minute. I have no emotional connection to stuff, which I don't necessarily recommend but you know how I love to declutter!

    I have scanned all 'must keep' photos from the past.

    That said, I would shed a few tears over some stuff that warms my heart.

    Good luck with your project, I hope it's therapeutic for you too!

  4. Recently, a student's family lost their house in a house fire. It really made me question the same thing...what do I really need. For me, it's my photos, some things that have my grandparents signatures in them, scrapbooks that I've done. Those are the things that I am now seriously considering putting into something fireproof because we use a woodstove in the winter months. I still have my rocking chair too that helped me sooth my two boys when they were infants.

  5. We made a list on listography of things we'd take if there was a fire. I couldn't think of anything irreplaceable except for my pets! I've scanned all the old photos, and I guess that, since I had to downsize after the divorce and again after moving to NYC, there aren't many tangible things I can't do without. I've already given my kids several things that were sentimental to us. The truth is, I guess, that all I really care about is the living beings in my life. I'm not sure if that's good or bad, but it just is what it is.

  6. Lisa, this is a great project. Gosh it's hard to think about what you would take and what you wouldn't. My first priority would be my dog if course and Buddy's stuff, my photos, my iPad for sure since I have a ton of photos on it. I have a sweater from my grandmother that I would want and other things that are important to my heart. Thinking about it makes me think it would be a good idea to put all that kind of stuff in one place so you wouldn't have to panic looking for it.

    Anyhow I'll be following your progress and thinking about my own down sizing as well. My home really needs it!

  7. What a great project! I love how you mention your rocking chair. I still have mine from when mine were babies. Jim actually wanted to get rid of it after this last move, but I refused to even consider it. Too much sentimental value to even consider selling it or giving it away. You have definitely gotten me to thinking about what else I would absolutely have to keep and what I could let go.

  8. Lisa,your post got me thinking and discussing with hubby over breakfast! Moving from one country to another we've had to start over several times when homemaking. Now we have two homes one is full of personal clutter and the holiday home only has items useful for holiday purposes. We've been in our Italian house when there have been earth tremors and in the moments when you feel the house sway all that matters is getting out and making sure family members are safe. Having said that, there are some personal items that I would hate to lose such as the family Bible, my grandparents' and my parents' books and other things which gives me a sense of identity.

  9. I'm going to have to think about this. I love the vital pieces you would take with you. I'm not attached to many physical objects ,,my problem would be the cats! This is an isue that's difficult to think about but if something was to happen, I'd be relieved I did.
    I'm looking forward to your future posts about this.