July 17, 2015

Heirloom Guilt

Hi, my name is Sara and I have heirloom guilt. What is heirloom guilt? It’s a mental health issue, kind of. A psychological block that brings about feelings of guilt at having to get rid of family “heirlooms”. And I use heirloom loosely. It sounds fancier than “getting rid of the “crap my family couldn’t” guilt”.

I openly admit to still, after nearly 18 months, having most of my grandmother’s belongings in storage. Some of it has been in storage for almost 4 years since we put some things in storage when she moved to Phoenix. But, at that time, it was her stuff. It wasn’t for me to discard. She and I would discuss going to the storage until “when it was cooler”, “when I feel better”, “when I’m not so tired”, “after the holidays”. You know, later. Another time. A time when the memories won’t flood and make her sad. Sad to be without both of her children and husband. Sad to think that soon she would leave me alone.

Those days going to the storage unit never came. After she passed away I only had a short time to clear out her apartment. So nearly all of it went into storage. And now, nearly two years later it’s still there. Untouched. In the same boxes I packed long ago believing I would go through it “when it was warmer”, “when I had an unscheduled weekend”, “later”.

The reality is that I don’t need any of the things in storage. I’ve done fine without them this long. Organization experts say that if you haven’t used something in 12 months it’s time to get rid of it. But this is my family’s history. Memories. Connection. Our past. How do you get rid of someone’s past?

All rhetorical questions, I know. It happens every day. People purge stuff all the time. We move. We downsize. We get tired of dust collectors. The bags and boxes fill up, we pile them in the car, and drop them at the donation center without making much eye contact lest they see we aren’t sure we should be doing this.

I know I can’t keep everything that’s packed into two storage units. Actually, I can’t keep most of it. I also can’t keep paying the monthly storage fee. That’s idiotic. I’ve already paid several thousand dollars. If I hold on to it for a few more years I could have bought a really nice car with the money paid to store all this stuff. That’s kind of stupid. My grandparents taught me better about using my money wisely. Ugh, more guilt!

Heirloom guilt is very real. Sometimes it’s debilitating. I drive to the storage unit but can’t even go in to the locker. It’s overwhelming to think about getting rid of my past. My memories. My history. At the same time, though, it will all just end up a pike of garbage if I do nothing.

I think of selling or giving it away and my heart gets heavy, my chest becomes tight, the adrenaline starts to rush, and the thoughts of not having a past swirl. I think of those who lose everything to fire, flood, war. I think of them and try to understand that the stuff isn’t what hold my memories. I hold the memories. I am responsible for sharing those memories. For sharing the past. That this stuff can’t speak and tell the story. If I don’t tell their story they’re worthless.

Ultimately, though, it’s not about the stuff or the memories. It’s about my own realization that I’m the last one. That I’m alone, in some sense of the word. That my family is gone and all I have are these trinkets. And either I let go of the guilt or I’ll be controlled by it.

So, I take a deep breath and close my eyes. And believe that it’s OK for me to let go of the stuff. And the guilt.

Sara

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July 3, 2015

Switchers Remorse

Disclosure: As part of the Verizon Influencer team I have been compensated to share with you a situation in my life where I made a decision I later changed or wish I had. Because, really, who among us hasn’t had at least one of these?

Have you ever listened to Snap Judgement? It’s a show on NPR and I love it. It’s addicting (fair warning)! Mainly because I think the stories are so different than anything I would do. It’s stories of people who make decisions that take them down a path they never imagined. It’s so fascinating, and usually throughout the entire show I’m on edge and my heart is racing.

I’m not a seat-of-the-pants decider, but I know how to make a quick decision. I’ve had my fair share of times when I’ve over analyzed or have gotten into that “analysis paralysis” mode and have made decisions I regret as soon as the words come out of my mouth. That being said, I will never have a story on Snap Judgement. Ever! Really, those stories are just that weird. Anyway, …

When I look back, I don’t have many regrets for the decisions I’ve made. That’s probably because I was raised to make informed decisions and believe I made the right choice. My grandfather was a missile instructor. Making the wrong choice when you launch a missile can have grave consequences. And since I lived with my grandparents, my grandfather had a lot of influence in my formative years.

The interesting part is that he believed you can correct course on most decisions when it came to life. And that’s what I was taught. Few decisions in life are fatal and those that are require serious attention. I’m a “serious attention” person for almost all the decisions I make. Although I can make quick decisions, I don’t make them without consulting as much information as I can within the time I have.

There are a few decisions I’ve made that I regret, but there are a few I wish I would have done differently. Fortunately, most are pretty low-level. But still, let’s take a look at a few decisions gone wrong. And don’t say you can’t relate.

SFH 1990Totally 80’s hair – Probably the best decade for hair. Unfortunately, some of us kept it well past its prime.

Shoulder pads – Melanie Griffith in Working Girl I was not. But I loved that “put together ” look. Looking back, I was probably a big ol’ “fashion don’t”.

Blue eye shadow – make that cheap blue eye shadow. Although it’s starting to make a comeback, no one ever really needed opalescent powder blue eye shadow.

Bonfire in the desert – maybe your high school wasn’t near a desert so you don’t know about these, but in parts of Texas they’re pretty popular. And by popular I mean a place for doing things you know you shouldn’t but you’re in high school so you know more than everyone else. Thank goodness there was no social media back then.

SFH 1987Hideous prom dresses – what were we thinking? These were more confections than clothing. No wonder there are websites now that totally mock our 80s clothing choices. Just wait, though, they’ll come back in style. Mark my word!

The Brick Phone – Please don’t make me feel old by saying you don’t know what I mean. First mobile phone, my friend. OK, I didn’t have enough money to afford one so I had the lame cousin of The Brick Phone, The Bag Phone. Yep, mobile phone in a leatherette bag. As if I was some undercover agent or something. I probably still had the 80’s hair and thought I was totally stylin’.

People who don’t understand distance – I’m serious with this one. The first month of college I needed to go to Target. I couldn’t get a ride so I figured I could walk there. I asked a few people who said it was “not far”. So I set out. About an hour later I stopped in a store along the way, and asked where the Target was. “Just up the road a few blocks” is what I was told. Liars! They’re all liars! If I was in a car I’d have been there in 20 minutes. But I was being transported by two size 8s and that darn Target store was like 5 miles away. And so now I rarely ask people for directions (thanks GPS!), because I walked 10-freakin’ miles for a stupid laundry basket and other random junk I likely didn’t need. Could I have turned back at any time? Sure. But the call of Target was strong! Not far, huh?

Volunteer MugHalf the times I’ve said “yes” to volunteering – Ugh! When people ask me if I’ll volunteer for things because I can’t say no. I grew up in a house where service to others and volunteering were part of the fabric of our lives. It’s so ingrained in me, it’s taken me until recently to actually say “no” or ask if I can get back to them. I’ve said yes to standing in sweltering heat handing out water bottles to band kids, of which I had none. I’ve said yes to getting up when it’s still night-time to help set up, and then when other people didn’t show I stayed despite being so tired. And while I always had a positive outlook and did my best, after a while I just started to feel like I was being asked because they knew it was more of a rhetorical question. But then my friend staged an intervention and gave me this mug.  Which I love!

Hitting send – I think we all have a story about hitting send when we shouldn’t have. Whether it’s work-related or personal, there really needs to be an “undo” button on anything we can send. In my younger years, it wasn’t all that much an issue because you had to schlep yourself to the post office and that time gave you an opportunity to think about all that would go wrong. But these days it’s so easy to be “keepin’ it real”. But “keepin’ it real” does go wrong. And while my moment of regret when I hit send wasn’t all that bad, it did require a meeting with one of the firm’s partners and an apology letter to a client. Which I why I never participate in those stupid forward-this-to-5-people-and-Bill-Gates-will-send-you-$5 million schemes. And why Snopes is one of my favorite websites.

I’m sure you have decisions you regret. Hopefully they’re nothing major and you were able to change course pretty easily. Or, at least, learn from them.

If you switched away from Verizon and are regretting it, don’t worry. They’re making it easy for customers to come back. For more information, head over to your local Verizon store and tell them you have #SwitchersRemorse.

Sara

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Teens, Tweens, Tech Safety and Making Mistakes

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Totally Taken Care Of This Summer With Listerine

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5 Out Of The Box Teacher Appreciation Gift Ideas

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