There’s a scene in the movie Matilda where Miss Honey describes her Aunt’s special chocolate box, each one wrapped in a precious gold foil, only eaten during special moments.
Anytime I think of that scene I’m reminded of how simple things can become treasures when we place them in a sacred space, give meaning and value to their worth, and treat them with respect and care.
In parts of Polynesian and Melanesian cultures, there is a strong belief in spirits and their ability to have an impact or power on objects. This power or force is referred to as mana and can be interrupted in many different ways depending on the object, and whether or not it has a negative or positive attribute tied to it. In Traditional Native Hawaiian culture, many believe in the mana present within the bones of the deceased. Burial grounds are considered sacred spaces and many believe that foods nourished by the soil of these bones can contain special healing properties.
We also see a similiar belief in the practice of Feng Shui founded in Chinese culture. Objects and the “flow” of a home are believed to carry different levels of Chi or “life energy.” The practice aims for individuals to live in harmony with ones surroundings, being mindful of the placement and interaction with the physical energy in a given space.
And then there’s my personal experience growing up. Having my Mother call me into her room next to her vanity and asking me to sit down to see if I’d like to wear a piece of her jewelry. Those moments always felt magical and cherished. Watching her open the doors of her wooden jewelry box, hearing the jewelry slide gently over the red velvet lining. I rarely paid any attention to whether or not I actually liked the piece, I was too excited and enthralled to be able to hold the magical piece of gold or stone that my Mother had kept safe for what I could only imagine were lifetimes before me.
We all have things that hold their own “mana” for us. A birthday card you received decades ago, a piece of jewelry that reminds you of how in love you are, an old perfume bottle that’s fragrance brings you back to a time when things felt simpler.
And sometimes there are things that aren’t attached to memories per se, but instead make you feel a certain way. For me, this is my box of Kawaii collectibles that I’ve been slowly cultivating lately. These things have absolutely no meaning to me, and quite frankly, and pointless in existence from a logical perspective. But they do something that serves as a heavy reminder — they remind me to be young, to cherish the joys of what makes me smile, and to never let go of what brings me inner happiness, no matter how “silly” or “childish” they may be.
I mean, one of these things is a fake squishy hello kitty donut. But you guys, I cannot TELL you how happy it makes me to open up my little mini trunk of goodies, and marvel at the treasures before me.
In my aim for a more minimalistic lifestyle, this can often be challenging. So when faced with something beautiful, pink, or glittery that I find at a craft store, I have two options: take a few extra moments to marvel at it’s majestic qualities in the store and set it back down, or set an intentional space for it in my life and physical space at home. Knowing that I can appreciate something without having to own it can often feel incredibly freeing.
There are several ways to cherish the things you own and allow them to bring you even more joy. Perhaps purists will argue that this is materialistic, but I believe that there is a great balance to be had when it comes to the things we own and how they make us feel.
Gather your treasures and trinkets that hold deep meaning for you
These will probably only be a small handful of things you automatically think of. Objects that make memories come back to life, jewelry that holds a history, books that you read over and over again. Identifying all of these things and bringing them into one space can feel like walking into a party with all of your favorite memories.
Place them in special boxes to protect their energy
Objects often make me feel intense emotions, conjure up deep past memories, or spark random uncontrollable smiling — and in that way, I believe in the “energy” they hold. Finding a sacred space for things that bring us joy continues to validate their “power” and worth in our hearts. Had my Mother thrown all her cherished jewelry in a zip lock bag, it just wouldn’t have the same effect. Think about the power of gift wrap and packaging. Even a small gesture can be doubled in it’s “value” when its in a box, wrapped in beautiful paper, and sealed with a bow. Finding special places for our valuables that bring us joy, continues to “protect” them from being seen any differently. In a sense, it holds their magic in place.
Create a Ritual Around Them
Moving, storage sheds, and giant scary attics can be the main culprits of making us forget about these treasures. I often make time to look at the few things in my life that hold meaning for me and remind myself that the practice and art of doing so, truly is an act of self-care. The year I got married and moved across the country with my husband, my Mom sent me off with something that I come back to often. It’s a metal heart about the size of my palm and inside it, a small ball that makes a subtle gong type sound when shifted. It lies in a small red, velvet bag, with a drawstring that hugs its way around it in protection. When my Mom gave this to me she instructed me to hold it in my palm, feel the weight of it and know that that very real feeling was also how real her love was for me. She encouraged me to “ring” it whenever I missed her and years later this is something I still do.
Embrace the Joys of Organization
“A place for everything and everything in it’s place.” Okay, a little Stepford Wives, but it really can make a different in how we feel at home. I’ll admit this now before you find out on Instagram, but I’m a huge collector of all things stationary. Stickers, paper, cards, envelopes with glitter liners (dear god help me). A girl can’t resist a sale on stationary sets! Part of what really makes me overwhelmingly happy about these things is the way I’ve organized them. Special bins in colors I love (like mint, who decided everything should be in mint — I love that person), small trays to keep things orderly, pretty pastel or floral boxes to house washi tape and Shopkins (yes, I have these). My point is that organization is a huge aspect of self-care we often overlook. Knowing where things are and how to find them can relieve a lot of hassle, stress, and make creative time that much more easier to go into, especially if you’re limited on time.
I herby grant you permission to openly express and love the things you have in your home. You no longer have to feel guilty that you actually own things — and really really enjoy owning them. You’ll find that when you come across things that don’t hold meaning or give you a burst of happiness, that you may no longer want them. This process may actually help you let go of clutter. Either way, finding ways to identify with your space at home and love what you’re surrounded by can help bring you mental clarity and well being.
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