Do your things serve you, or do you serve your things?

Image Credit: Bikurgurl 2016

It’s a thought provoking thought.

My husband framed this question to me when we were considering getting rid of my sons drum kit. Like many things we own, it wasn’t just the cost of the drum kit, or the love my son had had of the drum kit, but my emotion connection to the drum kit.

Let me explain.

We moved cross country 8 1/2 years ago. In that move, my, then, young son had a small drum kit. It was expensive to us at the time – a Christmas present costing nearly $50 – but to him it was freedom.

Freedom to be loud

Freedom to make music

Freedom to jam

Freedom to rock out

Freedom to be himself

Needless to say, when we moved, the drum kit was damaged. It was damaged beyond repair. It made sense to replace something he loved so much. But, there was a catch. We had moved from the Midwest USA where we’d owned, what we thought, a small home of only about 2500 square feet on nearly an acre of land. What a surprise to move to the Pacific Northwest and find not only homes, but home lots, measured in square feet and not acres!

Image Credit: Bikurgurl 2015, Tones of Home

When we moved, we purged about half, or more, of what we owned. We carefully drew out our townhome we were moving into. We measured every room, every closet, every piece of furniture we had. While it would have been nice to start from scratch, in all honesty, many of our furniture pieces were new. We loved our enormous black leather sectional couch. We loved our new Master Bedroom furniture. We had scrimped, saved, and paid off all of these things of beauty and function.

To let go of some of these pieces was not only a financial burden {our things were moved out as part of a job relocation package}, but an emotional one. As a result, the furniture we kept, the drums we did not replace. Not only was there a space issue, but spending $50 on an item that would take up more floor space in our now approximate 1200 square foot home with about 60 square feet of outdoor space, was not a viable option. My son, understandably, was disappointed. He didn’t understand, being a young boy of not yet 4 years old. He also always requested he get another drum kit.

Well, needless to say, those first couple of years after our move were difficult. Being away

Bikurgurl 2016, Instagram Image: Going Home

from family, friends, familiar culture, and our spacious Midwest home took their toll. We scrimped, saved, to fly back ‘home’ as often as we could. I kept hoping, praying, wishing, and pleading we move back – and get back to our lives.

I digress.

In this time, we found that the townhouse wasn’t a good fit for many reasons. After purchasing it at the top of the market, we ended up selling at the bottom of the market. Thankfully, the bottom of the market in the Greater Seattle area isn’t as low as the rest of the country in this age of technology and innovation. For us, it took every penny and then some to get out of our townhouse.

The townhouse had owned us from the beginning.

It had been a mistake to purchase a home prior to living in the area. It was a tough lesson we learned all too soon. Unfortunately, the lesson learned was a costly one with regard to our finances, but also our relationships. We served the townhouse instead of it serving us and we had to let it go.

We moved into a single family home, more familiar to our home we had left. It wasn’t as spacious as our Midwest home, but it had a fully fenced yard and almost double the space of our townhome. I felt like I could breathe. I felt like I could live.

Image Credit: Bikurgurl 2016

Enter the drum kit.

So we saved up and decided to splurge on our now 7 year old son and purchase him the drum kit he had wanted for years. It was a joy to have saved the money to be able to purchase him exactly what he wanted, in his favorite color, and much nicer than the toy set he’d previously had. My son was thrilled! He played, he drummed, he made music and noise.

It was joyful.

But it was also fleeting. Gone was the long-term enthusiasm. My husband and I talked: We wanted him to have that spark, that longing, for this instrument he’d pined for for so long. He took lessons, we offered rewards for practice, we cheered him on and joined him.

The drum kit was always waiting, ready, but his interest had largely been lost.

We scrimped and saved and were able to purchase our ‘forever’ home. It wasn’t perfect. It was actually less square feet, both inside and out, than our rental. What this home had was

Image Credit: Bikurgurl 2015, Our Office pre-construction

move-in-ready form. It was on a cul-de-sac, what my husband had always wanted. It was near schools, near the bus line, near parks, near our church. It had garden space and native plants. It had children, boys, my boys ages. The baseball coach lives next door!

We were ready to really begin our lives in the Pacific Northwest. We made a decision to change our thoughts from our move being a stopover to our move being permanent. It was a huge decision that my husband and I didn’t take lightly. I had cried, pleaded, and begged to move back ‘home’, but in the end it wasn’t the right choice for us. It wasn’t the right choice for our boys.

So here I was, packing up a rental that was larger than our new ‘forever’ home, again purging things. The drum kit wasn’t even a question. We moved it into the living room as we had it in our rental, but my son wasn’t playing it. Moreover, he didn’t want anyone else to play it. I chalked it up to the move being stressful, changing neighborhoods and routines.

As time went on, we wanted the real estate in the living room for something other than the drum kit, so it moved into his bedroom. The drum kit sat there, in his bedroom, largely unplayed. I sewed a cover for it to keep dust off of it. I should have known that was the kiss of death. The drum kit wasn’t played. He took more lessons. The drum kit wasn’t played.

We started our home makeover, remodel, last year. When we got to the point this summer when wood floors were installed, we moved the drum kit downstairs again. We had ‘the talk’: we love the drum kit, we love for him to play, we’d love to have him enjoy it. However, if he wanted to keep it, it’d have to stay in his room. He had just requested it not be moved back in. He had more lessons. He quit lessons. Again.


Image Credit: Bikurgurl 2015, Our Christmas Tree

It was decided the drum kit would be set up in the living room where anyone could play it. The boys each played it — like twice. I had given them a deadline: the drums are played ‘regularly’, with no stipulations on what that meant, or by December, the drums would have to go and make room for our Christmas tree.

Well, Thanksgiving came and so many other interests in my boys lives are changing. It was time to let the drums go. The drums had long outlived their purpose. The drums were more of an emotional touchstone, a symbol, for me of what we could provide our children.

In the end, we were serving the drums. We were giving the drums shelter, care, concern. I made the drums a ‘cozy’ to keep them clean and dust free. I lovingly played them, practiced, encouraged my children, but the more I loved them the less my boys did.

We took the drums this week to consign at the very drum store we’d purchased the drums from. We looked around, tried feebly to sell them, all the while I think I was hoping my boys would change their minds about this thing I’d invested so much time, effort, and love.

This thing. I was serving this thing that I wanted to fit which, clearly, no longer fit my son. It no longer fit our lives. It longer fit us.

Humbling? Yes. Watershed moment? Emphatic Yes! If I was texting you on my iPhone, I’d send it with a slam and lasers.

As we continue with one of our final phases of construction, which is really just finishes by

Image Credit: Bikurgurl 2016

having our painter paint the scuffed and common areas the same, calming blue in our living room, I’m on a tear. I’m recycling my paper mess at a crazy rate. It’s embarrassing how much I’ve hoarded. It’s not just homeschool papers, flyers, notes, and books. It’s also photographs, thank you notes, letters, art work, crafts, CDs, DVDs, and VHS tapes {yes, we still have a VHS player!}.

Oh. My. Goodness.

I don’t even have an image of when it was at it’s worst. I could still take an image now, but I’ll be honest – once I pulled it all together into my office that I share with my family, particularly my husband. It’s embarrassing how much I serve these things. I’ve been

Image Credit: Bikurgurl 2015, Our Office getting wood floors…swoon.

ruthless this week. I’m on a purging streak. I still have much to do, but I’m making progress.

Yesterday, it took me most of the day to make it through one Ikea box full of momentos. These momentos were saved to add to our scrapbook albums which already house our family professional pictures. Much like ripping off a band-aid, it’s always more difficult to get started than to finish.

It’s finishing that’s important. It’s having the freedom of my things serving me, not serving my things. It’s never completely finished and, remembering the whole thought process behind the Marie Kondo method: If it doesn’t give you joy, let it go.

Do your things serve you, or do you serve your things?


17 thoughts on “Do your things serve you, or do you serve your things?

  1. It’s a hard question to face. Kevin likes to hold onto things and I prefer letting go. It’s hard for me to understand why he holds onto some of the things he does, but I have to let him decide when he’s ready to let go. Perhaps I let go of some things too soon… Thanks for sharing your story!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can empathize. It was jarring to me when my husband said I could recycle Birthday Cards, Anniversary Cards, I had so lovingly picked out….but to him, it was wonderful, but it is over. I am trying to align myself to that same sentiment for my own sanity and calming the chaos that is my paper crazy! Thank you for your thoughts and for stopping by!


    1. Thank you! I am in the midst of more purge today. My problem? So many books, so few bookcases. I’m deciding whether I really need more bookcases or bite the bullet and let go of {GASP!} more books 😉

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post, thanks so much for sharing your journey. I find it so difficult to get rid of certain “things” because I end up imbuing so many of them with sentimental value. It’s been several years since I last moved, and the random stuff is starting to pile up again. I try not to accumulate what I don’t need, and periodically purge, thinking ahead to next time I do move, that everything I get rid of (or don’t buy) now is one less thing to deal with then. But as you say, this involves asking myself some hard questions about what the value of these things are, and whether they have outlived their use or not.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I was talking recently about my goal to not buy more books than I read in a given year, and how hard that is for me (I keep reading more and then I just keep buying more!). At one point I mentioned that I have over 100 books on my to-read shelf, which I feel guilty about. (As “stuff” that I’m not using, therefore I shouldn’t have purchased.) I discovered that many of my friends are the opposite, collecting thousands of books even knowing that they can’t read them all, just for the pleasure of having them and knowing that they’re there, just in case. It’s such a different mindset!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Wow!! That’s on my to-do blogging list: updating my 2018 Recycled Reads list. I choose 12 books per year to read, on average 1 per month, to get to all that book buying read 📚


      3. I have been setting reading goals on Goodreads, which is good motivation for me. This year I increased by goal again, to 40. So far I’ve read 22, which puts me 5 books ahead of schedule. However, I have either purchased or received as gifts 28 books so far this year, so I’m pretty far behind in that respect. And that’s not counting the 17 “extra” books I ended up with last year that I still have to make up for. Of course, “ALL” I’d have to do is stop buying books for a year or so and I’d catch up. Yet somehow that seems impossible… 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      4. 🤣 I totally understand!! I use the library a lot, and we read as a general downtime activity as a family {either separately or together with a read aloud}, and I almost always read a few chapters before bed. I bring a book with me almost everywhere because I never know when I can sneak in a few chapters 😉 I read pretty quickly, but depending on the book, also take quite a few notes. Since I devour nonfiction, my goal a few years ago was to learn to enjoy fiction again — and so far, I’m doing alright — though all 4 books I’m reading now are nonfiction📚🤣

        Liked by 1 person

      5. My goal lately has been to read more fiction that’s similar to what I write (alternate world low-tech fantasy). I mostly read fiction, but I’ve been on a kick of science fiction, urban fantasy, YA fantasy, literary, mystery… pretty much everything except what I write! At any given time I’m usually reading at least three things: usually a novel or book of short stories, a writing craft book, and a reference/resource book (currently one about castles and defenses across history).

        Liked by 1 person

      6. Oooooo! sounds great! I love the research and resource books – we read lots of these as part of our homeschool. We’re finishing up Medieval History — going to museums and even Europe to experience as much as we can in this lifetime. Bravo — I’d love to know what year/s you’re researching and the book you’re currently reading! Read on!

        Liked by 1 person

      7. It’s a lot of fun — all research for my fantasy world. I’m currently reading “Castles” by Sidney Toy (a bit dry, actually). Last read was “The Time Traveler’s Guide to Medieval England” by Ian Mortimer, which was fabulous. Next up is “Red Land, Black Land: Daily Life in Ancient Egypt” by Barbara Mertz.

        Liked by 1 person

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