Powerful Placement • Powerful Presence

Q-Tips and the Piano

One day, I was cleaning my piano and thinking. I was thinking about all of the work that I have done for myself and  others that has defined the distinction between holding on to something and cherishing something. This often comes into the process when I visit people in their environments, personal and professional, and we, together, assess the appropriateness of current possessions in their lives. The ultimate goal  is to reach congruency with present time.

As I was cleaning my piano, I found myself using Q-tips and being very determined to not only capture every speck of dust so it was clean, but also to honor it as my treasured possession. I thought of all of the possessions that I had cleansed over the years, keeping them in good order, even the ones that I do not use everyday. They are a part of my history and when I see them, I light up.  The others have been recycled, repurposed and repossessed by those who will appreciate them.

Shortly after this pondering cleanse, I was talking to my mother on the phone and she said, “I am so glad that you kept the piano because I went to work so that you could have it.  That is what your dad and I did; when we needed something, I went to work.”

And there it was, the essence of the piano, the holder of deep love and sacrifice and the joy that was created as its sound lilted through the house on Melhorn Drive in Alhambra, California.  I could surrender the mystery of why I was driven through every move I have made, to always, always, keep the piano with me.

I also have my great grandmother’s well oiled  mortar and pestle and my mother’s punch bowl. These will always be with me.  I remember the punch bowl at all of the showers we had in the family for babies and weddings and I remember longing to have it be a part of my celebrations.  And it will be a part of my daughter’s and son’s as well.
Tradition. Treasures. Trust. Holding space for special; making room for cherishing.

I encourage you to hone your trust level when you are decluttering; there is a reason for holding on to anything and anyone.  The  reason may be revealed to you as mine was to me.  Just make sure that cherishing is there.  It adds an authentic warmth to your choice and creates a mirror of your values.


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Dale Dillon Lips
11 years ago

This is so wonderful, I have to share it! The timing is perfect for me as I simultaneously am “repurposing” my parent’s household items and thinking about my own as we prepare to downsize.

11 years ago

Great, Dale! I have many clients who actually inherit garages full of family possessions and have to sift and sort and decide, all at once on a timeline. So glad that this inspired you and helps at this point in your life! Thanks!

Dale Dillon Lips
11 years ago

I was back in VA sorting things in my parents’ house recently, and helping my Dad move into the independent living apartment, and helping care for my mom. The nice thing is that she is in nursing on the 2nd floor and the apartment is on the 11th floor. I only kept a few things for myself, mainly for my daughter. My house hasn’t sold yet, but in anticipation I am in the repurposing and simplifying mode! Thank you so much for the reminder of Feng Shui principles.

Laura Selis
Laura Selis
11 years ago

Thank you, Ellen. I did inherit a garage full of family possessions, three generations worth and sifted amazingly well. I emptied the temporary storage unit and integrated the remaining items into my home, but then got “stuck” and became indecisive with a box of kimonos. It made me crazy. Do I need seven? A friend helped me decide that it was okay to keep seven. Camille is very self-expressive in her appearance and clothing choices. When she’s older she may repurpose it into something contemporary and original one day. Having seven, gives us choices in the way we honor and cherish the beauty of our past.

11 years ago
Reply to  Laura Selis

This is terrific, Laura! You honored the memory of your mother and your legacy at the same time. Sounds like you talked to the right friend.
Thanks, Laura.

Kathy Hoyer
11 years ago

What a story Ellen…it brought tears to my eyes…Really! You have soooooo clearly defined what we all struggle with….THANK YOU for this clarity.
For me…It is an interesting process to go through again and again. Always defining what has real meaning in my life, and then allowing that also to be questioned. I know it is good to have things that anchor me in this life and remind me of those people and places I love. In the end for me it is all about love and how much does any particular thing resonate that feeling, memory, experience. One of my most cherished things is a very cheap little tin box that my father used for his candy….he was a diabetic…the memory of the look on his face when he would open it up is priceless to me, and through that little box it will always live in my heart.

love and light!

11 years ago

Kathy, it sounds like your silver box is my piano! How wonderful that you have kept that with you along with your father’s smile. Thanks!

letty watkins
letty watkins
11 years ago

Dearest El,
What a beautiful letter! At first I thought iy was a housekeeping tip. and I thought, “I must send this on to Ellen” until It suddenly became too familiar, and big light bulb over my head.

Love you so much. Mom

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