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Monday, March 28, 2011

Finding Gratitude

I was planning to tackle the basement storage room on Saturday, but then my boss offered me the opportunity to come in to the office for project work, which pays way better than my normal job. I was supposed to work from nine to around midnight, but I know from past experience things rarely go as planned. I decided to skip the basement and take a nap instead. Good thing I did ~ it was nearly four a.m. before I got home.

Working late meant I slept in on Sunday, and the day just kind of got away from me until after supper. My brother and my nephew were playing video games in the basement, and when they came upstairs my brother's allergies had kicked in, big time. Even though we couldn't see or smell anything mildewy, we knew then that something was going on down there. I couldn't wait anymore. The stuff on those shelves is mine; I had to start sorting through it.

When I finally started in on the storage room, what I found made me angry, then sad. I really believed when I bought all those Rubbermaid totes that my stuff inside would be protected from water damage. It's not like we had a huge flood, or a couple feet of standing water. We had an inch or two of standing water that was cleaned up within hours. Regardless, I have hauled two large construction bags full of moldy holiday decorations and gift wrapping outside, so far. At least in boxes, the damage is immediately apparent. The totes not only hid the damage, they hid the mildew smell until I took the lids off. I had no idea I was cultivating penicillin until I opened each container.

Pretty much the whole first tote full of Christmas stuff had to go. I did decide to try to save my Christmas stocking - I have had it literally my whole life, so it's soaking right now in a washing machine full of soap and color safe bleach. It didn't have visible mildew, it just smelled bad, and everything else in the box was moldy. I have no idea if I can save it but I wanted to try. I also saved the Halloween costume my mom made me when I was five. I kept it all these years, hoping I would have a daughter to wear it one day. It actually still fits me - it's a red cape with a hood so it's pretty forgiving. I was Little Red Riding Hood for years, then I turned it into a devil outfit using a headband with horns and a pin-on tail. Anyway - it's soaking in the same bath as my stocking.

I was feeling pretty bad when I was hauling everything out to the trash, but then I started thinking of all the people in Japan who have nothing. Literally nothing left. Some of them don't even have their families. What right to I have to whine about losing some "things" when there are so many people in this world who have lost everything but the clothes on their backs? I feel like a jerk about now.

I'm also feeling like a jerk for trying to find something to salvage in those boxes. I wasn't thinking about my brother's allergies when I stirred everything up. I should have hauled those totes outdoors the minute I knew there was mold in them. I just didn't think.

My not thinking started me thinking about something else: not only do I have too much crap, but I am too attached to it. It's just *stuff*. At the end of the day, what's important cannot be found in a Rubbermaid tote. I need to be more mindful of just how good I have it in life, and stop getting caught up on little things that don't really matter in the end. It's time to let some things go.


  1. The ads by Google on your sidebar feature, "Decoration Storage" "Plastic Storage Boxes" and "Plastic Storage Container." I'd be pretty angry also if stuff I thought was protected had been ruined. I'd probably be sending off a letter to Rubbermaid just to let them know how ineffective their products are. Comparing your loss of stuff to Japan is apples and oranges. There are tragedies happening every second of every day to someone, somewhere, and you can't beat yourself up over your own good fortune. I find guilt a great motivator to getting stuff done but don't let it extend beyond that point.

  2. To much crap sounds like our place. Sorry you had so much damage to what to you were valuables.