| A Meaningful Translation

A Meaningful Translation

A little bit of Australia had been sitting in my bottom dresser drawer for over 16 years.

I have been wanting to explore Australia for a long time now.

In my twenties, I had a dream to visit 30 countries at age 30. When my then-boyfriend-now-dear-friend Chad and I went diving and lionfish spearing in Belize a few years ago, my dream came true. Now that I’m in my thirties, my goal for this decade is to visit all 7 continents by the time I’m 40. Entering my thirties I had 5 under my belt, with only Australia and Antarctica left to go. This fall I will be taking the entire month of October off to explore the land of poisonous beasts, Mars-like landscapes and my favorite item on my list- The Great Barrier Reef. The best part is that I am going completely by myself- a thought that gives me a little thrill each time I pause to think about.

Some of you know from travel experience or hearsay that Australia is hella expensive. Anything to offset the trip costs was going to help tremendously. I wanted to get creative while paring down, and for the twentieth time in the last 9 years since I became a professional organizer and fell in love with minimalism, I went through my belongings looking for things to sell.

This is when I got to the bottom dresser drawer; here is where I stored all of my mother’s fancy headscarves that I inherited when she died of breast cancer 17 years ago, when I was 16 years old.

I remember my mother wearing *some* of these, but never the ones in boxes that you see above. This wasn’t the first time I had asked myself, “What good are these scarves doing in their boxes at the bottom of this drawer? I’m not a scarf person any more.” But then the justification-to-keep thoughts came up: “You might change your tastes some day.” “Your family might be pissed if you get rid of these.” “You aren’t desperate for money at the moment, so just hang on to them.” And so on… And so I shut the drawer every time, thinking, I’ll address this later.

Finally I opened the drawer again last fall, and this time my thought was, “What could send me to Australia?”

That was almost enough motivation for me to let go of the scarves. The other huge factor was that I met a friend last year, James, who moved to Kansas City having operated a decluttering and junk hauling business in Austin, Texas. We instantly bonded over our shared and strongly held belief that experiences enrich life, while stuff can dilute it. Like me, James has coached people to let go of things for many years, and we have this shared skill in common. But James has a highly valuable skill that I do not have: He can sell things for people- he knows what sites to sell on and how to price. Once I met him, I thought… “Australia is my motivation… James is the right person… Now I am ready to let go of these scarves.” I was only too happy to give him a percentage of the sales.

It was a meaningful translation. Items that occupied space in my drawer magically turned into my flight from Sydney to LAX- with a one day layover in Honolulu to visit my great aunt Eppy whom I haven’t seen since my teens- and then I will spend three days in Los Angeles with my mom’s little sister Ellie, her husband Matt and their 3 little ones before flying home to Kansas City. (Bonus- I get to take my cousins trick or treating!).

So to recap! Scarves in boxes = Flight home from a great adventure, first visit to Hawaii, time with Hawaii and west coast family. That’s one hell of a conversion. I think my mom would be pretty psyched that I did this, especially that I get to spend time with her sister.

A bunch of fancy things in pretty boxes can be your ticket to a beautiful gift to yourself, too. If you have ever sold something with the intention to translate it into something better and intangible, please share it with all of us below in the comments.

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  1. Kris Campbell

    Love it, Eliza! Your mom would certainly be proud!

  2. Rebecca

    What a beautiful translation and way to honor your mom!

  3. Tricia Woolbright

    This is great. I once got a Loom from a friend for Cameron who was into weaving at the time. He used it a few times, it was large, and difficult to deal with. I posted it finally because I wanted to go to Oregon to see the redwoods! This Loom bought our Christmas Perfect Air BnB complete with super cool hosts that took us on a flight! and lots of wonderful memories. 🙂