New year, new beginnings, so lots of trash from the year that just pasted to dispose of. Chunks of my January have been devoted to purging and streamlining my home and life for an uncluttered, simplified and more meaningful 2016. I was also ready for the "grand purge" due to my recent divorce, which took place just in December. More reason to let go off "stuff" that once had meaning, but is now just dead weight.

Things. We love things. We work so hard for them, idealize them, research and shop around for them and get giddy over them when they are finally ours! Then, with time, those same things lose their sparkle and start to feel like burdens if left in our environment too long. Annoyances, reminders of past memories, indulgences, misjudgements - and we can't wait to let them go. That dress that you once you drove for clear across town, (then texted your girlfriend about, posted on FaceBook and meticulously cared for the first two times at the dry cleaners), is now like a candy wrapper, thrown in the corner of the closet, ready to be disposed of. Those "to DIE for shoes", dated, scuffed up,  only reminders of memories of events past lived in them. Sometimes happy memories, which makes it confusingly harder to just let them go.  But it's just stuff.

I've always had a strangely close and symbiotic relationship with "stuff". Growing up in communism, there were few material goods available on the open market in Poland of the 1970's.  Communist manufactured stuff was Orwellian drab, boring and brown - and that included toilet paper and clothes, and everything in between. If something made it across the tightly controlled borders from the West, it was "oooh'ed" and "ahhh'ed" at as it was colorful, sleek and cool - if you could get it!  I could never get enough of Western made goods. Sometimes it was just a department store catalog from West Germany brought by my grandfather and I'd be slouched in the corner at grandma's for an hour, pouring over pages of matching bedding sets, meticulously displayed kitchens, matching "mommy & me" dresses and so on. It was mesmerizing. We had nothing, absolutely NOTHING like that in Poland then.

Sometimes my grandma would make me and my cousins matching dresses from whatever fabric she could get her hands on. If we were lucky, the fabric was brought back by my grandfather from Italy, Greece or Spain on his way back from his work station in Egypt every year. So I always did feel special because I felt my "stuff" was often more special than everybody else's. My classmates in 4th grade (my last year of school in Poland) may have been wearing polyester outfits under their polyester school frocks in 1979, but there was a good chance that I had hand-me-down import of a wool sweater from somebody or other in West Berlin under my polyester frock - or better yet, a frilly cotton batiste concoction made by grandma and copied from those Western European catalogs.

I could go on and on about stuff. The subject continues to follow me into the fifth decade of my life, and one of the most indulgent ones yet.  Oh, the stuff I've recently had the pleasure and excitement of owning, handling and displaying - enough for a lifetime and a half!  What ultimately did it leave me with and how was I changed by being in constant contact with some the best designer brands and top quality products in the world on a daily basis? Well, that's a subject for a full chapter in my book, and it's coming!  You may be surprised.

Meet Anna

Anna Danes is an advocate for passion-pursuing and an unstoppable dream-chaser. A former lawyer and stay-at-home mom who at the age of 43 reinvented herself when she turned to singing as a way to find her voice and to change her life when the love in her life was no more, Anna is soon to be renowned as one of the most effective transformational leaders in the world. Read More


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