The basement

I am spending these last days of 2008 in my basement… cleaning, paring down… And being thankful. And here is how it began:

Three and a half years ago while Liam was a baby, I had had just moved into our new house and had to take a quick trip to Portland. A little uncomfortable in my new neighborhood, I hid my favorite jewelry in the basement for ‘safe keeping.’ The problem that many nursing mothers can attest to is that brain cells aren’t the same after giving birth. In any case, I hid them so well, I hid them from myself.

I won’t go into how often I go down to the basement and look for that jewelry. But I couldn’t find them if I tried because it’s such a mess down there. I decided that it was time to get rid of what should no longer belong to me, and bring order to the chaos that is the underbelly of my home with no attachment to the outcome. Ok… a little attachment… because I really like that jewelry.

While I’m in the basement, I am reflecting on so many blessings: artwork I have made spanning over twenty years, every piece of dollhouse furniture from my childhood, and yes, all my old stuffed animals, Mexican retablos and skeletons for Day of the Dead ceremonies, computer parts and rugs. So many visible treasures.

I also spend time thinking about what are largely invisible treasures in the form of experiences in the last year: the yoga retreat in Italy, studying in India, training people to become yoga teachers here in the bay area, as well as therapists in Utah at a residential treatment center for adolescent girls, witnessing lives change every day because of yoga. I have met remarkable people who are doing remarkable things like building schools for children abroad. I have watched people who didn’t think they were so remarkable change many lives by taking extraordinary action that maybe a few years ago they had no idea they were capable of. So many blessings.

I love my things. In fact, that is why I’m in the basement in the first place. And my feeling about it is we are blessed, blessed with a responsibility of sharing our blessings, both visible and invisible. Too much stuff makes us feel encumbered and brings lack of clarity. There are so many who would benefit from the material possessions that no longer truly serve us. Somebody could be playing with my stuffed animals…

All the invisible gifts we were given on the inside in the form of talents are also meant to be shared. When we truly share ourselves with others, we open a great wide window into our own deep sustainable joy, the kind that is not dependent upon circumstances being the way we want them to be.

So I’ll be down in the basement until I am satisfied with what is mine to have and what is mine to give. And maybe I’ll find those rings, and maybe I won’t. But in the meantime, I’m wishing you the time to sit and appreciate your many many blessings. It’s a great way to begin what will be a great year!

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