Thursday, March 26, 2009

Letting Go

I am moving. I am also moving on.

Deciding what to take with me, and what to leave behind or give away was feeling like an enormous burden until I read a column called Clearing a Space for Change in the on-line OM column I subscribe to. (Register here for free OM newsletter.)

In this particular column I was reminded that it’s easy to... "convince ourselves that unused possessions might come in handy someday or that parting with them will cause us emotional pain." So true. I have souvenirs from long-ago holidays that are simply collecting dust, and clothes that I keep 'in case' I lose 10 lbs, and the drawers in my desk and kitchen are overflowing with trinkets that I simply haven't been able to part with. Each one of these objects has a special memory attached to it, and until now, I felt unable to let them go.

But the OM goes on to say that ... "when your personal space is filled with objects, there is no room for anything new to enter and stay in your life. Your collection of belongings may “protect” you from the uncertainties of an unknown future while keeping you stuck in the past. Holding on to unnecessary possessions often goes hand in hand with holding on to pain, anger, and resentment, and letting go of your material possessions may help you release emotional baggage. When you make a conscious decision to fill your personal space with only the objects that you need or bring you joy, your energy level will soar. Clearing your personal space can lead to mental clarity and an improved memory. As you learn to have a more practical and temporary relationship to objects, positive changes will happen, and you’ll have space to create the life that you desire."

Okay, it won't be easy, but as I pack up the belonging that I truly need and are still useful to me, I will try my hardest to leave behind those possessions that no longer serve a purpose in my life. After all, who doesn't need improved mental clarity and improved memory?

Back to packing...

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Why read?

I once sat on a panel of children's literature book enthusiasts at a conference. One of the questions that came from the audience, and it was clearly facetious, was "why is it so important that kids read anyway?"

It was an interesting question, and one that forced those of us on the panel to articulate a concept that seemed so obvious to us, yet one we'd never put into words. "Why," the audience member continued, "is it not good enough that kids just watch TV or movies? They get stories in those mediums too."

My pat answer was to rattle off yet another quote. "I've never met a bigot who was, as a child, a reader." (author unknown)
The other panel members had more thorough answers. First of all we established the fact that we use and challenge a different part of our brain while reading as opposed to viewing TV or movies. Very important. Then we reiterated that it is only through reading that we learn what it feels like to live in someone else's skin, in their circumstances. Through reading we develop empathy and understanding. The more widely we read, the greater understanding we gain of the world outside of our own little lives. We learn what it feels like to be the opposite sex, to live in a different country, a different era, a different political system, with a different set of values. In short, we learn tolerance. And bigots, of course, are anything but tolerant.

In my last post Leslie named the book that turned her onto a reader as a young girl. The Girl of the Limberlost. The book I most vividly remember as a young girl was Harriet the Spy.

What was it for you?

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