On Being Free

//On Being Free

On Being Free

Born free . . . but now I’m expensive.

This was written on a key chain my mom gave me – along with that smug grin of hers – a long time ago. There was a picture of a lion as well, to drive home the “born free” part, but also because I’m a Leo. I roar.

It actually disturbed me. I mean, I’d rather be free than expensive. How did this happen? Am I being true to me? Education was what mattered growing up, not stuff. My parents were intelligent, yet had been raised in simple surroundings – my dad’s dad was a farmer, my mom’s blue collar. My family home was loving and clean, not opulent.

So, I wondered. Is it me wanting more than I grew up with? Is it the influence of the people I hang with? Is it a general trend toward a higher standard of living?

I suspect it’s a combination. And now here I am, thoroughly enmeshed in the last third of my existence (in 2012 life expectancy in Canada was 81.24 years, the US 78.74), needing to get rid of half my stuff. To downsize. And to reclaim my freedom. Plus, who really cares about your stuff after you die? I’ve had to deal with a few deceased family members’ belongings and I can tell you this: the only one who truly cares about your stuff is you. Well, unless it’s a 2017 Mercedes S550.

Stuff bogs you down, saps your freedom, needs to constantly be looked after. Sorted. Cleaned. Fixed. Insured. Expiry date decided on.

Do you get emotional attachments to your stuff? What do you mean? Toss my wedding dress from 1979? My daughters’ competitive gymnastics suits? My son’s gangsta silver basketball hoop pendant? What about the giant brass-plated bird of prey atop the fireplace. Once, at a family gathering, an uncle sidled up beside my late husband Hugh, nodded upward, whispered, “That an eagle, staring down at us?” “Yeah,” Hugh said proudly. “You like it?” My uncle shook his head. Said, “No.”

Well, I like it. That’s always the thing right? Do you like it? I’m feeling somewhat overwhelmed having just spent a couple of weeks house-shopping with my husband B. Looking at other people’s stuff arranged in such orderly fashion (staged?) I realize I like a lot of things. What is my style? I don’t know. Eclectic?

While instant messaging with my almost sister-in-law the other day prior to heading out to the garage to purge she gave this good advice: “keep what makes your heart sing – only! – no looking back stuff!”

“What makes your heart sing”. That sounds like freedom to me. Remember when you were a kid? When you were truly free? Before you knew what was expensive? What made your heart sing? Me? There’s some recollected stuff. A beautiful doll with blue working eyes called Victoria. A book about kittens with fuzzy mittens. My pink nubby bed spread. A wooden jewellery box in the shape of a heart because it was an unexpected gift from my dad upon his return from a trip to Wheeling, West Virginia. I still have it.

Mostly what made my heart sing? Experiences. Riding my bike with the banana seat off into the windy unknown with my best friend. Playing hopscotch. Doing cartwheels and walkovers. Watching Truth Or Consequences while standing on my head. Competing in field day at school. Reading an interesting biography from the library.

We are born free. We live in a free country. How do we stay free? Here’s a thought: Less having. More doing. Sounds like a Home Depot commercial.

Website photo – Family handstands are one sure fire way to feel free. My sister and niece show my bro and I how it’s done.



  1. Cathy Popovic August 31, 2016 at 2:05 pm - Reply

    Boy do I have a lot of stuff. We need to move just so we can purge lol. Where are you guys thinking of buying, Rita?

  2. Julie September 1, 2016 at 8:41 am - Reply

    I get it. ‘You’ are the only one that cares about your stuff. I’m trying to do the same thing and only keeping what makes me smile. A work in progress. When something comes to me or I go to buy something I’m now thinking about my kids gong through my stuff…..I laugh…..Not my problem! That only lasts a short while. I question material things now. Do I need it and why? Freedom is an appealing thought. I look forward to being free again soon.

  3. Teresa September 1, 2016 at 10:01 am - Reply

    Beautifully said, Rita. I truly enjoy your blogs.
    I keep trying to purge stuff that doesn’t make my heart sing,but my husband likes having ‘things’.
    My rule is, “If I haven’t worn it, used it, touch it for one year, it’s gone.” He doesn’t understand that, and gets quiet disagreeable about it.
    Although I have special things that belonged to my Grandmother, that I refuse to give up. Those things not only make my heart smile, they warm my heart with love. I’m keeping those pieces.
    I’ve set a goal to eliminate extra things from the house, and difficult people from my life. I will see it through.

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