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Possumhaw: Life is so very, very good


Shannon Bardwell



"Our house is a very, very, very fine house, with two cats in the yard. Life used to be so hard. Now everything is easy 'cause of you." 


Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young 




The lyrics played in my head as I watched the two cats frolicking on the front porch and thought about a Thanksgiving column and how much there was to be thankful for ... even two cats rough and tumbling across the porch. On my ottoman rest my latest minimalist book obsession, "Zero Waste Home," by Bea Johnson. We have so much; we need so little.  


I thought about need as the biggest shopping day of the year, Black Friday, and early Black Fridays loom ahead.  


We are a country of abundance and thankful for it. Almost daily people say they eat too much, they have too much, they do too much and certainly at times I am one of those people. I've been trying to minimize for about two years now. It's a lot better now -- less stuff, healthier eating. I say this as the Thanksgiving feast and a challenge to our "no sugar" commitment inches closer. 


It's said we are the only country in the world where people deliberately starve themselves to lose weight. We are probably among the few complaining our closets are too full and that we can't get our two or three cars in the garage for so much other stuff.  


I asked my friend, "How many storage units do you have?" 


He answered, "10, but I'm cutting back." 


Dee Williams, author of "The Big Tiny," in her memoir about building an 84-square-foot tiny house, says the average American house is 2,349 square feet; in the UK it's 815.  


I love that Dee lists all her 305 personal belongings, from her toothbrush to the junk in her truck's glove box, on one yellow legal sheet of paper. I did that for my fall/winter wardrobe, along with little sketches. It was so easy to see what I had and how to mix it all up; what I needed, what I didn't. I'm struggling with an inherited family trait. We find something we really like and buy it in multiples because surely, they'll stop making it next week. So you end up with lots of stuff.  


Bea Johnson ends her book with "Our Legacy." She describes what she wants to leave to her two boys. Bea says Barry Lubetkin, a psychologist and director of the Institute for Behavior Therapy in New York, observes something called "heirloom guilt." I know several people that have it. They have inherited or been given rooms of things they cannot use and do not want but feel they can't dispose of it for fear of disappointing those who have gone before. The objects are now controlling their lives, maybe even their finances, and making them miserable.  


Bea's legacy is to leave her boys valuable knowledge and life skills. Now there's something you can take to the bank. 


This Thanksgiving may you be grateful. May you eat well, shop moderately, give generously and enjoy your good life. May it be so.


Shannon Rule Bardwell is a Southern writer living quietly in the Prairie.


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