Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Use it or Lose it

Use it or Lose it
I know you’ve heard this advice before. Your mind? Use it or it’ll turn to mush. Your body? Use it or your muscles will turn to mush.

So we do crosswords and sudokos. We walk (loving my new Fitbit, the ultimate pedometer).

But I’m talking about something else. Use your stuff or lose it.

We don’t use our stuff and it piles up. It's there but we've lost it. We lose it to the back of the closet, to the drawer that never gets open, to the storage unit that hasn't been entered in months.

A few years ago (okay almost four years ago now) my brother and sister-in-law brought me back a beautiful scarf from Italy. Cashmere and silk, in wonderful red and gold tones. It was so lovely, I didn’t wear it. First I draped it in my living room where I could see it everyday. Everyone admired it, including me. I loved it. I just didn’t wear it much.

Once in a while. On a Very Special Occasion.

So now the scarf is four years old and it’s been hanging in the closet for the last two. What’s the point?

Last week, on an ordinary day, my neck was cold. I needed something to go with my favorite red shirt. I was wearing jeans and going to Starbucks to write, then for an oil change and to meet a writer friend for coffee. Then to the gym. A pretty typical day for me.

I pulled out that lovely cashmere pashina, tossed it around my neck and went off feeling great. No need to save it for that Very Special Occasion. I looked and felt marvelous.

What else wasn't I using? I found a pack of frozen strawberries. I'd picked them and frozen them at least two years ago. What was I saving them for? A Very Special Occasion. Each day I've putting those berries on very ordinary cereal and savoring the wonderful taste.

Fabric. I’ve got fabric that I bought in Sedona. I haven't been to Sedona in 15 years. Do you think it might be time to use it? Or should I wait for a Very Special Occasion?

What are you holding on to? What could you use this very week? Use something you've been saving (for a Very Special Fancy Occasion) and let me know how it felt. I think you'll enjoy it.


Annie said...

When I was eight years old, i made my very first sewn article. I was a Brownie Scout and my leader helped me to make a white batiste apron on her treadle sewing machine thst gave to my beloved Gran.
Afte she passed away, 40 years later, i found that apron neatly folded in the tissue paper I wrapped it in. Now, I have it in the drawer of her hutch where I keep the treasured embroideries that I'm saving for a special occasion.
Last week, I was looking desperately for an apron... Do you think that I even thought of my little white apron in the drawer?
No! but -- I'm going to use it! I made it for Gran to use when she cooked all of the foods that I loved. I was miffed when I found that tissue paper package and realized that she never used my apron.

Humph, now I'm gonna!

Terri Thayer said...

Yay! Annie, way to go. Use it! Do what your Gran couldn't do. Wear it and think of her.

Camille Minichino said...

Friends gave me 4 lovely china lunch plates, very high end. I kept them in a cabinet, very safe, for years!

It took my being ill last spring to take them out and USE them, which I now do every day.

Thanks for reminding me to see what else I need to take out and use.

Dru said...

My mom gave me dollar house furniture that sits in my closet. I have a empty shelf that I could place it there. I might just do that.

Carol S said...

When my mother downsized her house, she gave me back some hand towels I made her on a small loom years ago, never used. I like to use things given to me. She made me embroidered kitchen towels years ago; all soiled and used up now so she made me new ones this Christmas. Hurrah!
I am a firm believer in getting the good china out for an ordinary dinner. If one doesn't think your own family is important enough for it, you might as well break it in the fireplace. Everything gets used at my house.

Terri Thayer said...

Yes, Camille, exactly! Free those lunch plates!

Bring it out, Dru, to where you can enjoy it.

That's the spirit, Carol!

I like the idea of all these things being brought into the light of day.

Monica Ferris said...

I use things, unlike my late mother, who used to put special gifts away in a drawer. I wonder if occasionally she would open that drawer and gloat over her treasures - but I suspect not.

Terri Thayer said...

Let's hope that she enjoyed having them, Monica. Glad your special things are out where you can use them.

Ellen said...

As a collector and former museum curator, I have a different view on such things. Leave something alone long enough, it becomes collectible. Leave it alone longer, and it's a museum piece.

There are some things I really should use more, it's true. And old clothes can go to Goodwill. A balance should be maintained; things you want to dispose of should be examined carefully for sale value. I got a lot of money selling off the old comic books. And some of my old stuff is now in museums - museums other than the one I worked in.

As long as I don't grow a junk house, I'm happy with neither using nor losing.

Lani Longshore said...

Doreen Speckman always said we should use the good fabric first, otherwise after you die your family will turn it into clown costumes. I'm trying to remember that, and take out that "special" collection for each Challenge Group project.

Terri Thayer said...

Ellen, someone has to be a collector. Otherwise what would we do with all of our stuff! I'm glad there are people like you out there.

Lani, a great quote from Doreen. She is still missed. In a class I took, she told us all to look at everyone's else's fabrics and admit that theirs was better so we could move on. She was a genius!

Ellen said...

Terri - One of my early counted cross stitch projects is on display in my office at home: "It's not junk, it's a collection".

Jaye said...

YES! YES! YES! Thanks for the reminder. I have been putting things slowly in the Goodwill box, but I am also going to start using my special fabric. If I use it in something, then I can see I and enjoy it every day.

Terri Thayer said...

Ellen - we quilters have a poem about how no one expects a stamp collector to use his stamps, so why should we use our fabric stash!

Jaye, you make a great point. If I get that Sedona fabric into something, it'll always remind me of that trip in a good way.