Making Peace With My Possessions

Moving onto a boat required some serious head to heart conversations about what to do with all of my stuff – years and years of accumulation.  It had to be dealt with before moving aboard.  As Capt. Chameleon likes to say (over, and over, and over), “the closet on a boat is an expensive piece of real estate.”   

So, here I am – seven months aboard Seamore Odyssey and I’d say the cargo hold is actually quite light.  But until the drawers are no longer packed like sardines, the ‘head to heart’ focus group will continue to meet and work out their differences.  Fortunately those meetings are becoming more productive, which I attribute to the Rules of Engagement between mind, body, and spirit: no name calling (“pack rat”); no pushing the other over board (drowned rat), and no secret hoarding (rat trap).   Collectively, we have grown in the ‘art of letting go’.  But still quite a stretch from mastering it. 

Give away the immaculate Cole Haan boots I snagged from My Sister’s Closet consignment store?  Fine.  Pass along my prized estate sale treasure – a vintage pink London Fog trench coat?  Of course.   Reduce my raggedy ole 7Mile Bridge race T-shirt collection by half?  Not if you value your knee caps.  

What is it about those half dozen, falling apart T-shirts?  Or the glass oil lamp the size of an orange that I haven’t been able to get the wick to burn for years; but it’s from my friend who died four and half years ago?  And the platter, square bowl, and vase, so old they surely contain lead, but they belonged to my grandmothers?  

Last winter, after our home sold it was time to deal with the contents.  The profound relinquishing took me to the land of the loss; a heavy feeling that I was perhaps abandoning a memory, someone’s  affection, or the relationship connected to a picture, table, sweater, book, and book ends, wind chimes, saved greeting cards…you get the idea, just by looking around at your own things. 

I needed to get rid of most of my valued possessions, but how could I feel at ease with it?  The emotional grip of holding on felt icky and powerless.  It took an emergency board meeting, summoned by the head to heart negotiators to pull me from the clutches of declutter despair.   Their strategy was brilliant. They threatened me with mildew.   

I couldn’t shake a vision of my things after I’m dead and gone, rotting away in some forsaken, mildew spotted, smelly antique store.  Possessions stranded on a shelf with stories and memories muted forever.   It’s ironic how we can’t take material things with us when we die, but when we are alive, material things can tether us to a place indefinitely.  

With the fear of mildew, I set out on a journey to spread the love I had for my things, by matching them with new adoring owners.  In giving stuff away, stories flowed, memories resurfaced, and a sense of purpose immerged…encouraging a presence of mind to enjoy those material things, and when it is time, don’t hesitate in passing them on for someone else to have.

I laughed and cried with more family and friends in those two weeks of repurposing furniture, dishes, artwork, and clothes then I had in 16 years.  In downsizing, I found my peace.  Mildew free.

Good night, from Home Sweet Home, where the Captain has agreed to rent half of his T-Shirt drawer to me.  

Seamore Nautical Spirits

P. S.  This week we are preparing to travel upriver to Chattanooga.  We anticipate it taking us 3 days to reach Chattanooga, sight see thru the week then back to Ditto Landing. It will be our shakedown cruise, to get us nimble and limber with all of the bells and whistles of cruising. 


Applied the new boat letters. It will take a bit before old letters completely fade.
Starboard: Storm rolling in.

Possessions I brought along. Old. Fun. Functional items.

Pictures from frames now on fridge.
Spoon holder from 3rd grade teacher. Bowl from great-grandmother.
Pottery from my father and cousin. Anchor from a friend. Gifts from the Florida Keys to New Orleans, up to Springfield, Mo.

Neighbor “Lady”

Morning run along Aldridge Greenway Trail:

Songs about possessions and directions…

5 thoughts on “Making Peace With My Possessions

  1. I can totally relate although. still haven’t been able to part with my ratty old bridge run tshirts!
    I’ve gotten to a place in realizing that I cant pack all my stuff and take it with me when I die…its all in the process.

    • So right. The process that fit me, found me once I startes looking for it. My 7 mile bridge run shirts are staying…they will be here until the threads give way. So many great memories, huh?

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  2. We collect because we care, because we want to remember, because we can, because we are human. Makes getting rid of those possessions difficult. Hopefully each of us embraces the life that fulfills us. Each individual being diverse makes life more interesting. I enjoy reading of your life and know it fulfills you. My life on land with the possessions I have fulfills me. I know at some point I will rid myself of all of these “things”. Hopefully I’m as ready as you were when that time comes. Thanks for sharing and keep on doing so. Sending fond wishes.

  3. You nailed it Mary. Our things are a visual representation of who we are and what we value. I am reminded of holidays and the decorating that we do…your home especially, always exudes warmth and a welcome during the holidays. I have many, many great memories in your home (coveting your beautiful and elegant things. Lol). I miss our paths crossing at Bunco and Bookclub.

  4. I feel your pain, my boat lady friend. I’ve put things in the keep pile, then the giveaway pile, and back-n-forth about 10 times just inside the garage; I haven’t gone thru the closets yet…but I will get there. I think I have as much Saints decorations as I do Christmas decorations, but they all stay! I will most likely add more; I will betrothe the other things…well only some of them…for now.

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