Give me gratitude or give me debt

So I read this article from, and I reflect that one time in Camp Lejeune, I posted a video of the kid next door being silly– and everyone commented on my kitchen –because I filmed it standing in my kitchen.  Now before I hear your mind judging why I was video recording my next door neighbor’s kid?  Let me explain.  Nothing creepy – It’s just that it was hard to not notice that he spins, every day in the driveway, he just goes out there and stands in one place and spins and spins, and well, he just looked so happy!  I can’t remember when I was that happy doing anything.

After I posted the short clip of the happy spinning kiddo my friends were like – OMG your kitchen is so cluttered!

– What all that crap on your counters and blab, blab?  Are those the pots you had from college? And I was like — Really!  And then, of course, my husband agreed which made me even madder. I eventually got so mad, that I deleted that post and threw away Everything in my kitchen– and I mean everything– silverware , pots pans, and all the decorations that everyone couldn’t help but complain about – cluttered!  I will show them I thought –

So we bought new dishes from the PX and new pots and pans, and mom gave me new silverware— spending money on better stuff didn’t help at all– and I missed all my cutesy fun crap.  Then my hubby and I went to war over cutesy crap.  I mean it’s not my fault that I can buy lots and lots for same cost as say 1 guitar so by perspective – he has 1 thing and I have 100 smaller things — Not my fault that his stuff costs so much– 

So then came the big sweep where I got rid of everything including some wedding stuff.  All my dust collecting crap I’m supposed to hold and care about it and put on my mantle— oh it was game-on boy!   In fact, I burned most of it in the backyard– a nice big pile so that he could see how much I absolutely didn’t care about any of it– this is all to prove a point, of course, the point that I was not a hoarder.  I was an adult. I could take responsibility for my finances and I wasn’t allowed to let cutesy crap clutter my home and my heart to not be able to see the bigger picture of what it is to be responsible— GIVE ME GRATITUDE OR GIVE ME DEBT.  I guess I was leaning toward DEBT.

I remember a friend years ago who was one of those collectors– in some circles– a hoarder and walking to her apartment was like climbing a mountain to get through to a very narrow river. I asked her, you know of course, because they understand this condition– and I never really thought of myself as a hoarder– but there are definitely different levels and stages of holding onto things that are useless—It’s one thing to donate good, useful, stuff to the less fortunate, but another to collect lighthouses to the point that they take over your bedroom– Or feeling the need to buy every single Precious Moments figurine ever invented.

So I asked her why she keeps things and she responded by saying that it made her feel safe to have the things that she was familiar with around her all around her. If she could see it, then she would know that it was still there and she felt comforted by that—After hearing this, although I am sure the thrift stores were grateful for my contributions, there are days that still go by that I wish I had a few things that I have let go – like this radio flyer wagon I had, not because I needed this wagon, but it made me smile when I looked at it.  And now, I regret selling it to the spinning neighbor’s kid at my garage sale.

A friend of mine recently lost her home due to a reverse mortgage and she had no choice but to move into a very small apartment. She had to get rid of most of all of her stuff– I asked her if that was hard and what she chose to keep.  She said, remarkably, the things that you think that you would keep– like photo albums– was the stuff that she didn’t keep at all.  She said she doesn’t need a photo album full of pictures to remind her that she got married or that she had a baby or that she lost her husband –instead she kept the smaller things that make her happy– like a lighthouse.  Because looking at it made her smile…

The article reminded people not to look at new things as better than the old things– But to look at old things with new eyes because what makes you smile is what truly matters!  So, in this quick-to-judge internet world of ours, don’t be so quick to start a fire and burn all your stuff.  I had spent so much money and effort trying to please a bunch of friends that posted negative comments about what they perceived my life to be about when they were not seeing the whole picture of what makes me Smile.  I don’t need to keep everything – just need to lean a bit more toward Gratitude.

As military families, we naturally purge every time we move to a new duty station, because houses change/ setups change/ a couch that fit somewhere this time doesn’t fit somewhere next time– so there’s always a sweeping or clearing out a major donation to thrift shops and garage sales that occur every time that we move– but this this time, it was personal.  Showing more Gratitude to get another contract for another 4 years due to the government draw downs, is something your Facebook friends won’t understand.  Don’t try to make it easy on the military movers and have them be impressed with how organized you are, because they are getting paid anyway. In strange duty stations that you didn’t ask to go to, taking something with you that makes you SMILE goes a long way to keeping your sanity.


Duty Station Jumper

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