"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 off the remaining three pieces of trim.

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—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.


Photo: David Costa under CC License

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About The Author

Andrew Mellen's picture

Andrew Mellen is an organizational expert, public speaker, and the #1 best-selling author of Unstuff Your Life!

Andrew has helped tens of thousands of people worldwide to declutter and simplify their lives while regaining time for the things that matter.

A sought-after authority on organizing and productivity, Andrew's addressed audiences from The Great British Business Show to TEDx. 

Corporate clients include American Express, Genentech, NetApp, Time, Inc., and the US Depts. of Education and Homeland Security.

The media has dubbed Andrew “The Most Organized Man in America.” He writes a featured column called “Ask The Organizer” in Real Simple. In addition, he has written for and/or appeared in: The Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, Oprah Magazine, America Now, The Lisa Oz Show, The Nate Berkus Show, Oprah & Friends, Martha Stewart Living Today, ABC, NBC, CBS, CW11, HGTV, DIY Network, LiveWell Network, KnowMoreTV, Better Homes & Gardens, Ladies' Home Journal, Woman's Day, Family Circle, USA Today, GQ, InStyle, All You, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Healthy UK, American Way, numerous trade and travel publications, and NPR.

He leads workshops and speaks internationally while maintaining a private practice working with clients ranging from Fortune 100 companies, trade associations, and non-profits to CEOs, award-winning filmmakers, and authors, as well as overwhelmed parents everywhere. 

In 2013, Andrew founded Unstuff U®, the world's first completely virtual personal organization training center, offering classes, workshops, and other online resources for businesses and individuals. 

Andrew is a member of the Experts Collective and serves on the faculty of the New York Open Center in New York City. He speaks frequently on the intersection of spirituality and organization at places including Omega Institute, San Francisco Zen Center, Tassajara, All Saints Church, JCC Manhattan, and the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, among others.

Previously, Andrew was an award-winning playwright, actor, producer, and director and the former Artistic Director of Alice B. Theater (Seattle), DC Arts Center (Washington, DC), and Shuttle Theater Company (New York). He is a contributing author to Yes Is the Answer: (And Other Prog-Rock Tales).

Andrew lives by his motto: More Love, Less Stuff!® 

Find him on the web at andrewmellen.com.

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