Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

I hadn’t planned on writing this at all today.  Or ever.  I mean, I do have a list of future post ideas.  But this wasn’t on it.

This post is the result of an event that happened yesterday.  A very unexpected event.  And one that’s since given me something to think about.

Yesterday, I broke my favourite tea cup.  I’m not joking (I wouldn’t joke about something like that – ask my husband).  I just couldn’t believe it.

Just a few days before, I’d once again threatened Olivier that there would be trouble with a capital ‘T’ if he broke my favourite tea cup, so he should be careful.  True story.  I’m like that – bossy.

Yesterday, Olivier was at school, teaching.  I was at home, relaxing.  I decided to have a cup of tea, so I put the kettle on and thought about which tea to have.

I’ve been drinking a lot of green tea with Jasmine recently, so I decided to have something different this time.  Do you know the flowering tea balls?  They’re not only good for your health, they’re fun to watch as they open up and slowly turn into a beautiful flower in your cup or pot.  So, I decided to have one of these for a change.

tea
A nice cup of flowering tea balls

Flowering tea balls

The tea I usually drink is in a cupboard over the table.  The flowering tea balls that I decided to drink yesterday are in a tin on top of the microwave.  My favourite cup is – was- also on top of the microwave.

As I reached with my left hand and took the tin of flowering tea balls, the bottom of the tin somehow caught the side of my favourite tea cup and flipped it sideways, off the microwave.  And then, everything was suddenly in slow motion.

In the next second or less, my thoughts were many.  I wondered how I could have possibly been so careless.  Then a thought came that there’s a chance, if I have good enough karma, that my favourite tea cup will land on the kitchen floor and bounce, not break.  I thought that if I’ve been a good girl this year everything will be ok and my favourite tea cup will not break.  It won’t break.  It can’t break.

All those thoughts in less than one second.

And then I watched it as it slowly fell to the floor.  I didn’t even put out my foot to try to catch it in the hope of breaking the fall.  It probably wouldn’t have influenced the final result anyway.

The kitchen floor is tiled.  If it had been carpet there might have been a chance.  But no, it’s tiled.  Fine bone china and kitchen tiles are not a good mix.

The noise it made was surprisingly pleasant.

brokencup
It smashed just like this

My favourite tea cup had smashed into about a hundred pieces.  My heart dropped.

I stood there for a few seconds (or hours, I don’t really know how long it was since time had become something it hadn’t been before), then I turned around and took the dustpan and brush, and swept up the pieces.

house-cleaning
What I did next

I carefully checked the floor for smaller pieces, sweeping all around.  After putting the pieces in a plastic bag, I wrapped it in kitchen paper and put it all in the bin.

I took my ‘old’ tea cup out of the cupboard, which I hadn’t used for 5 years or more, and made my tea, cursing the flowering tea ball in my cup the entire time I was drinking its tea.

If I hadn’t decided on flowering tea balls I wouldn’t have broken my favourite tea cup.

Then I decided to reflect on the situation a bit more maturely.  It’s time to let go of material things.  It’s just a tea cup.

And if you know me well enough, you’ll probably be surprised that I have – or rather, had – such a strong attachment to a tea cup.  It’s not like me at all.

The story of my favourite tea cup

One of my students gave me my favourite tea cup many years ago.  I can’t remember the occasion, but it was probably Christmas or New Year because that’s the usual time students give presents to their teachers.

The student who gave it to me was really quite good at English, but she never seemed happy in class.  Once or twice I asked her if she was ok, and she said that she was so I didn’t push her.

So, when she gave me the present I was a little overwhelmed because I had always thought that she didn’t like me, or didn’t like my lessons.

And it wasn’t just a tea cup.  It came displayed in a box, with a matching saucer.  And it was beautiful.  I never thought to take a photo of it – why would I?  But now I wish I had.  I’ve now taken a photo of the saucer for this post, because I want you to see it.

saucer
The saucer minus the cup

So I was touched that a student who didn’t seem very enthusiastic in my lessons would give me such a beautiful and useful present.  But I didn’t use it immediately.  In fact I think I had it for a couple of years before I realised how much I liked using it.  And since then I’ve used it every day when I drink tea.

Until yesterday.

So, why was I so attached to this tea cup?  Was it an emotional attachment connected with my student (or my old school)?  Was it just an attachment to a habit – using the cup every day?  Or was it just because it was so nice to drink out of?

I don’t know.

But it was my favourite tea cup, so precious that I had warned my husband to be careful not to break it.

And I broke it.

What happens next?

So I decided to think it through a bit more deeply.  I decided that I had to break the cup to learn to break my attachment to ‘things’.  No matter how beautiful it was, it was still just a thing, something useful, but easily replaced.

You see, I’ve been talking to Olivier lately about how much stuff we’ve got in our flat.  When we arrived together in Moscow over 9 years ago we both had a suitcase each and a couple of other bags.  They were stuffed full, of course, but it was mostly just clothes and some books.

Over the years we’ve bought stuff for the flat, a little furniture, stuff for the kitchen, more clothes, stuff for teaching, more books, shoes, more clothes, more stuff for the flat… and I’ve reached the point where I’m feeling a little bit suffocated living with all this stuff.

get rid of stuff
We need to get rid of some stuff

So I had been planning to get rid of a lot of this stuff.  Because some of it just sits where it sits and we never use it.  It’s in a box or a basket or a cupboard, and there it lies, waiting to come out for some fresh air.  But it just stays there for years and years and it doesn’t move.

Leaving Australia

When I left Australia at the end of 2006 to come to Moscow for the first time, I packed up the stuff in my little flat in Perth, and although I gave away my furniture, I kept almost all the stuff that I had.  I left about 15 boxes of stuff with my sister.

Over the years, each time we visit Perth, I’ve gone through my boxes and either thrown stuff out, or given stuff away.  Once we took a whole bunch of stuff to a charity shop and gave it to them – mostly kitchen stuff, clothes, CDs and god knows what.  I can’t even remember what I had.  All gone.  Goodbye.

Last summer during our trip to Australia I went through my stuff in Perth again, and now I have only two suitcases of stuff left there.  It’s mostly sentimental stuff, there’s not really anything useful to anybody.

However, in our Moscow flat it’s a different story.  We’ve been adding to our stuff for years, and it’s time to let go.  We’ve got too much.  It’s time to say goodbye to some things.

goodbye

And that’s why I think it was necessary for my favourite tea cup to break.  I had to be reminded that the things we  attach ourselves to are just material things.  They are meaningless, even if they’re useful.  We can replace them later if necessary.

It reminded me that I have to let go of some of these things, either to have some room to breathe, or to make room for other, more important or necessary, things to come.

Goodbye

So, now that I’ve said goodbye to my favourite tea cup, I’m ready to say goodbye to the things in our flat that I don’t need.  It’s time to clean out the cupboards, get rid of the things which are just collecting dust, and to get some air circulating around us again, instead of being suffocated by the things that we have surrounded ourselves with.

After the holidays, before we go back to work, it’s my plan to at least get a start on this, and to say goodbye to some of the things in my life that are collecting dust (literally and figuratively) and aren’t being used anymore.  It will be a slow process I think, but it’s a necessary one, and I think it will be a useful one.

Do any of you feel the same?  Is it time to say goodbye to some of your stuff?  I’ve done it before.  Believe me, it’s a great feeling to live with a minimum of things around you – only the necessities.  How would you feel about saying goodbye to stuff you don’t need or use but are hanging onto for whatever reason?  Maybe you also have a plan to reduce the amount of stuff you live with.

Let me know in the comments what you think of saying goodbye to stuff, and if you think that maybe we’re all a bit too attached to it.

~ Cheryl

 

 

 

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Leanne | www.crestingthehill.com.au
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We did a little purge a couple of months ago – I assume we don’t have a lot of stuff, then I check the shelves in the wardrobe etc and find things that have been neatly pushed to the back and haven’t seen the light of day for years. It was nice to get rid of them – some to the bin and some to charity. It’s a constant process when you’ve been living in the same place for a while. Good luck with your purging and happy new year 🙂

Kim
Guest

Moving is great for purging stuff. You think you’ve thrown out loads. Then you arrive and start unpacking and you think, ‘why did I keep this?’

Floss
Guest

I have just cleared out my house to live on a boat. I did this (or thought I did) two years ago when we backpacked with our kids for a year. In two years my house had filled up again! How does that happen?? The benefit of now living on a small boat is that I REALLY DON’T have room for stuff that isn’t essential. But we’ll see how that goes! Good luck with your clearing! Be ruthless!

Amy Johnson
Guest

Yes, I’ve been doing this myself. After living in the same home for over 20 years I’ve accumulated a lot of clutter. I’ve slowly been going through room by room, closet by closet getting rid of things. Such a lovely post. Sorry about your tea cup. Visiting from MSTL

Leah
Guest

We started clearing out just after Christmas. It seems we all have the bug. My husband went through the garage. I cleared out the bathroom drawers and kitchen cupboards. My daughter went through a bookshelf or two and my son went through his closet. If felt really god and now I’m looking at more cupboards and drawers to go through.

Sue from Sizzling Towards 60 & Beyond
Guest

Hello Cheryl and it is lovely to meet you. We are currently downsizing to an apartment on the Gold Coast and it is difficult to part with some items which have had sentimental value. However, as you say, it is just an object and I must admit it is quite liberating clearing up not just your possessions but life in general. Thank you for sharing your thoughts at #MLSTL and what a change for you living in Moscow compared to Perth? We have visited St Petersburg which was gorgeous and hope to do a Russian River Cruise starting in Moscow… Read more »

Christine
Guest

I am dreadfully, hopelessly attached to things, far too many of them. I do try and get rid of excess but I’m so sentimentally attached to so much it’s hard. It’s like a disease. I’ve been blogging about the dilemmas recently, although it does have some upsides. But good on you if you’ve come away from your broken cup with a positive.

Christina Daggett
Guest

Hi Cheryl, So glad to have found your blog. My husband and I became perpetual travelers about 7 years ago, selling off all of our stuff before leaving the US. Now we travel all over with just our suitcases that weigh less than 32 kilos. I really don’t remember the stuff that I left behind in the States. Now we just make memories. I look forward to reading more of your blog posts, and will be sharing this on FB.

Denyse Whelan
Guest

What an interesting topic and I am also doing the cull/purge thing. We have been married for almost 48 years and moved many times and I have done much of the culling of things with an emotional memory. These relate to our 8 grandkids. Watching Marie Kondo on Netflix about Tidying Up even inspired me to do my undies’ drawer. Oh that cup’s sauce looks beautiful and can see why the cup would also appeal. You have me curious now about the tea flower balls. You might like to know Australia is mid- heatwave and it’s not wonderful at all.… Read more »

Molly
Guest

I found myself nodding my head in agreement with every word you wrote.
I know I attach too much sentimental value to some of my possessions … and I know I would be crushed if I misplaced (or broke) them. But I also know it might be liberating. The memories, after all, are still with me long after the stuff has lost its usefulness.
I’ve thought a lot about downsizing lately (perhaps it is all the buzz surrounding the Kon Mari method). I will probably take photos of those items that have stories attached – and someday scrap the memories.

dani
Guest
dani

Goodluck with this. I know how hard it is but it is one of the most satisfying things I have done. =)

Jacquie
Guest

Agree 100% After watching so many of the newest and popular shows–purging my house of items which do not make me feel joy has been my mission! Great read

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