About a month ago, while quilting with a friend, she mentioned that she had been stuffing things and reshuffling things in her attic closets that she no longer could get to anything, find what she wanted, or fit anything more in.  She and I do not see each other very often, even though we intend to.

I offered to come over and help her.  Doing that sort of cleaning/organizing could be much more fun if you had company, wouldn’t it, I said.  She was shocked that I offered.  I was amazed that she was shocked. She was looking at a huge undertaking, I was looking at fun and conversation.

We are about half way through the memories now and I highly recommend this activity to friends and family.

1.  When I get to her house, she meets me at the door with a wonderful smile and we immediately go out to lunch.  At lunch we catch up on events, and plan our strategy for the day.  Before this project, we would always mention getting together for lunch but it never happened unless we were at a quilt retreat. We always have things to talk about even if the last work day was yesterday.

2.  We wish we ate less when we bent over to move boxes.

3.  There is almost a reliving of what I would be doing had I ever stayed in one place for any length of time.  Each old memory of hers would spark one of mine, even though I don’t have that first crayon drawing one of my kids brought home from school or the graduation picture or the family reunion pictures that grew with each year.  I did, however, have to ask her after about the fourteenth envelope with a child’s tooth in it, how many children she really had or were her kids scamming her.

4.  Sometimes tears were at the surface, but most of the time we laughed and sighed and had a wonderful time making new memories and it became easier and easier for her to toss stuff.  It is hard to face the fact that sentimental value is so personal.  You save all these things to pass on to your kids and no one is interested.  I think we should have taken out the phone, taken pics and twitter-ed them.  That might pique their interest.

5. We try to stop each workday before we are over tired and our minds check out and the order of piles becomes blurred – garbage, recycle, good will, relative, keeper. Each day we dispose of the garbage, recycle, and good will piles so there is no temptation to  change its destination.  It’s working.  I think her keep pile is only about 15%.

6.  When I get home I feel refreshed and happy and full of friendship, and I pay more attention to what I keep and what I buy.

This whole process has been a truly rewarding experience and I highly recommend it.  The moment has to be right for the owner to let go, and the helper needs sometimes to sit back, let the quiet hold with no pressure, and wait, but the things that are happening in the air around us (no, not the dust), and in our hearts, and between our souls I can’t describe.  I can only say, if you think there is nothing you can do to contribute world, go sit with someone and keep them company.  The whole project just bursts out into the universe in so many unexpected ways.  Even just the smiles on our face at the end of the day affects every one we see for the rest of the day.

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