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Bethany Thies Headshot

Off the Grid

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A few weeks ago, I got "the itch." I looked around my domicile and every square inch was covered. The tops of cabinets held dusty artifacts that had long ago become cozy homes for spiders. Cabinets were as packed as my pants. There was no room at the inn.

The thing about stuff is that it permeates every pore of our idea of what home is and all of our empty spaces beg and plead to be filled. We happily concede away from minimalism. We are all collectors. We are connoisseurs of life's flattened pennies. Things = time and time passes quickly.

I started with the goddamn kitchen because that's what I call it. The goddamn kitchen was full of the mother I want to be. The stand mixer that I'd never used. I took it out and I let it go and with it, I let go of my dream that one day I would be the woman making 15 dozen cookies for my son's soccer team. He hates sports. I burn cookies. The English stoneware tea set I found at a hospice store in Burbank before my daughters were born. I was so sure we would have a tea party with real teacups. It turns out, I am not the mother who plays tea party with real cups. "Let me go!", they said, and I did, because some dreams have to die -- or be shipped to Chicago to another mother who will find the cups and saucers' true calling.

And for days and now weeks, this practice has continued. Letting go of the small toys that their big hands no longer touch. Letting go of the idea of who we are and who they are. We were frozen in time, tied to dusty wooden train tracks and clinging to the dolls with dirty faces and unbrushed hair.

And my closet... dear Zeus... my closet. A time capsule of forget-me-nots and 4-inch heels and sizes my hips would burst through like the Kool-Aid pitcher through a brick wall. I need to make room in my closet for the body I have because I love it and it deserves its time to shine. It's hard to find space for the new you when your hangers are pressed against a size 4 teal number that looks like you stole it off of an extra on the set of Showgirls. I am not that girl anymore. Wait, I'm that girl's much older sister and, while she is still there, she is not living fully right here and right now and my closet was a f*cking living memorial to my 20s. I flung things onto my bed, and when I was done, I kept the glitter zebra print Pat Benatar shoes because you'll have to rip my beating heart out of my chest before you take those.

This process is intense and really quite beautiful. Every day we learn to let go, and the fear that kept us clinging to these things is gone. The fear that says, "I can't. I can't. I can't. This is who I am and I can't let that go."

"They're JUST things," I've been known to say. But I know it's not true. They are pieces of a life built and they mean something. They mean a great deal. But there is a difference between reverence for the past and being held captive by it.

We're not done. Not even close. A little bit, every day, we watch our rooms and home transform into our present selves. It's inspiring and it's exciting. Seeing how much space we have to grow into the next chapter. What is going to fill that spot of the stand mixer? Probably a recessed wine fridge. Yes, change is good.

I may even wear those zebra heels next week. To the market. On a Tuesday morning at 11:00 a.m. -- just to pay reverence. If for no other reason than the fact that after the great purge and a great reconciliation, you should really embrace and honor the things you keep. A reminder of how far you've come and how damn good your ass looks when you wear heels.