A Fresh Start, Part 1

ChecklistThere’s tremendous chaos in my home of late, but it’s chaos of a good sort. My parents gave me and each of my siblings a generous check for Christmas, and I decided to use the money to buy a new television. The set I’d been using pre-dated my marriage. I’m serious. I recall using the tax refund I received in the spring of 1994 to purchase it: a large 36-inch Mitsubishi TV. It was my first non-apartment-sized television set, and I was terribly pleased with my purchase.

Later, Michael and I purchased a green faux-antique armoire to house the bulky TV and our growing collection of audio/video components. It was very state-of-art for 1995. Twenty years later, however, it was undeniably old-school technology.

Amazingly, the television was still working, but just barely. When Dad came over to watch Katie while Mom and I took tai chi class, he had to “warm it up” for twenty minutes before loading a DVD. I couldn’t remember when I had last used the VCR or the dual tape deck, let alone the auto rewinder for the VHS tapes that had long ago been donated to charity. It was time, well past time, for an upgrade.

But before I could buy a flat-screen TV, I needed to get rid of the old one—which Dad and I could barely budge, let along lift—plus a few other things. I started to make a list. There was the plaid, upholstered chair and matching ottoman that Katie used when playing with her iPad. The piping was torn in spots and the arms were stained and sticky. (Don’t even ask what we found underneath the seat cushion!) There was the huge mahogany desk from my ex-father-in-law’s office that Michael had left behind when he moved out. Plus the seriously ugly rocking chair from his ex-wife that neither of us wanted. And the burgundy leather wing-backed recliner that Michael had insisted on years ago. It had never really been my style, and whenever I looked at it I remembered the four month I spent sitting in it, waiting to see if my vision would return. I hated that chair, and that was before my last cat had clawed up the leather.

As I studied my list, I realized most of the items were things I had acquired with my ex-husband during our life together. Why had I stored Michael’s cast offs for nearly a decade? Partly because I couldn’t move them myself, but mostly because after losing so much in the divorce I felt I couldn’t afford to lose even more, couldn’t cope with further change. I was stuck in a mindset of lack and holding on, instead of one of abundance and letting go. Perhaps I feared too much empty space.

Whatever the reason, I was ready now. More than ready. I wanted a fresh start.

When I realized a modern flat-screen TV wouldn’t fit in the faux-antique armoire, I decided that needed to go too. The list grew and grew. In the end, my boyfriend Nate, his friend Gus, Katie, and I moved furniture for an entire day. The guys hauled an enormous load to the dump and another to Goodwill. Yet another load went to the e-waste recycler. I sorted through all of Katie’s toys and gave most of them away. It felt tremendously freeing to clear out so much unused stuff (dare I say junk?).

It was, it turns out, a great way to kick off the new year. Even if I still don’t have a new television….

Until next time,

About Cynthia J. Patton

Writer, Editor, Advocate, Speaker, Special Needs Attorney, and Autism Mom. Also the Founder and Chairperson of Autism A to Z, a nonprofit providing resources and solutions for life on the spectrum.
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