Is there a tipping point
for too much?
The subject of this month's lead article is familiar to many of us (I am no exception) who find ourselves insidiously weighted
down by all the material possessions that take up space in our lives. I am referring to
all the chattel and belongings including, furniture, books, clothing, collections, antiques, and paintings - that we collect and then later find little use or no enjoyment. Western culture is particularly focused on material goods. This "stuff" becomes overwhelming at certain times in our lives and is what I refer to as the "tipping point" when our possessions become a burden to us and cease giving us pleasure and contentment. When does that tipping point appear? What's the way to be more aware of this experience? Perhaps a few examples will peak your interest for your own inquiry.
This past summer when my son and I were volunteering in Costa Rica, we were immersed in a culture vastly different from the US when it comes to material wealth, to say the least. Our time was offered to a family of 32 kids adopted by a devoted mother manifesting as an Angel for unwanted and abused children.
My time was spent in the laundry - your imagination will not do reality justice. For an entire morning, I cleaned and organized a flimsy cupboard six feet high filled with toddler and infant clothing. Almost every piece of clothing was damaged (stains, mildew, holes, tears) and would very likely have been long ago discarded in our country. I sorted, folded and stacked the pieces three layers deep according to type (top or bottom) and use (sleeping, play, dress-up). Of the 32 kids, five at most wore the clothes in this cupboard. It was impossible to use most of these garments because there were so many, too many. In this same laundry space, I also devoted time and duct tape to repairing broken plastic laundry baskets. Again, these would be discarded by most of us in the US, but they were being fully used in this home. When I suggested to the program director that perhaps some of the infant and toddler clothing could be given or thrown away, or that perhaps the dilapidated plastic baskets had fulfilled their purpose, a look of horror crossed his face. His immediate response was, no, nothing could be thrown away. Because they had so little and scarcity a daily challenge, it was inconceivable to him that throwing away unused items would actually ease their load. In a world where want was rampant, it was better in his mind, to hold on to what they had even if it had lost all use. Sensing the situation, he did not believe as an American, I could possibly understand.
In the late 80's, after my aging parents-in-law were the unlucky victims of two burglaries in their New York home while spending the winter season in Florida, they decided to "unload" their chattel at a yard sale. While some of their stuff (bronze and sterling pieces, art deco, and contemporary art) was collected intentionally over the years for investment purposes, they began to view their tangible property as a fearsome burden. They wanted to get rid of it and as soon as possible. We were told to take what we wanted from the garage basement. In a room chock full of stuff, my one comment was to be careful of anything valuable as these were "investments" they had made in tangible property. In other words, don't throw everything away. We noted a few collections that would be auction material and offered to orchestrate the sale. They declined and diligently, with one pointed focus, got rid of their stuff at a yard sale. The finer pieces were scooped up early by dealers, other pieces were bought by consumers, and the junk (there is no other word for it) traveled by semi-truck to our home to be stored in our basement. (No, I'm not kidding and later a basement flood somewhat gracefully rid us of it.)
What is the commonality of these stories? Is there an opportunity that clearly presents itself to expand our awareness about stuff and enough? The tipping point for both of these situations is an undercurrent of fear and scarcity.
For the clothing in the foster home, I am not certain when, if ever, the cupboard clothing will reach a tipping point for change. It is the ONLY personal chattel that they have in any sort of abundance. They may need it at some point, so best to keep it, so they believe. In the case of my parents-in-law, long before the yard sale, their enjoyment of their things had dissipated to be replaced by feelings of fear and frustration. It took two burglaries to finally prompt their quasi fire sale.
Is it possible to be aware of these feelings and to take action before the burden sets in? It seems to me a beautiful opportunity to practice a cycle of chattel flow - that looks like collecting, owning and distributing, with awareness.
Are you waiting for a tipping point? And, what's your version of too much? If you want a practice, try this month's 5 Minute Try It.
Tipping in curiosity,
5-Minute TRY It
Give It Away
Minute one: Ask: Do I love everything that is in my environment (i.e. home, office)? If yes, walk around your space and pause for one minute in five different rooms enjoying all that you see. If no, continue to minute #2.
Minute two: Gaze around your immediate environment with the intention to love everything you see. When you lock on an object that you do not love, breathe into your belly and ask: what is the next highest use of this item? Breathe again and allow an answer to arrive. Make a mental note of the answer and move on.
Minute three: Repeat step two above in the same room or choose to move to another room. Make a mental note of the answer and move on.
Minute four: Repeat the step above in the same room or choose to move to another room. Make a mental note and move on.
Minute five: Repeat the step above in the same room or choose to move to another room. Make a mental note. Refresh your mind with your answers and actions. Commit to completing the actions with ease.
Complete your practice by imagining the items you will give away in their highest and best use. Notice the clarity in your decisions. Notice more space.
Investing in Investing
... a hot topic to make you
My assumption is that if you are reading this article, investments are a mysterious subject, perhaps an area of your life that you ignore due to little interest or lack of knowledge. Altogether, if you had your preference, investing in investing would not be a way you would choose to spend your valuable time and energy. These assumptions are noted to attract those who resonate with the above and therefore will appreciate the forthcoming primer on investing and spare those who are well informed and well versed in an investment practice.
Investments or the practice of investing is clear. It is always defined as putting money (or other forms of wealth - time, talent) to use for the benefit of something in return, a potential gain sometime in the future. So when we learn about investing and understand the practice, it is essential to begin with the primary motivation. An investment is about receiving something in return at a future date (seconds from now or many years in the future), it is not exclusive of other motivations, but it is the primary impulse, not good or bad, just is.
When one allocates currency, money, to an investment, there are many choices. Assets can be liquid (easily converted into cash) or non-liquid (it takes a longer period to convert the asset to cash). Examples of liquid assets are: stocks, bonds, money market funds, and checking accounts. Examples of non-liquid assets are real estate, some forms of retirement plans, gold, collections (coins, stamps, paintings) and automobiles.
Please join me for our next
Our topic will be:
Saving, Investing, Directing $ Energy
Monday, October 22nd
The call-in information will be emailed to you.
Women & Wealth Salon
Join me for an engaging dialogue and exploration with other women about wealth in all forms, including money. Experience the depth and support of a wisdom circle guided by my expertise, motivation and intention to liberate women and money matters.
Monday, October 29th, 6:30-8:30pm
Location: Samadhi, 796 Beacon St, Newton