Day 8. – Sunday in Brooklyn

A walk through my favourite parts of Brooklyn brought with it unexpected surprises and a small detour.

On an unseasonably warm March Sunday morning; Brooklyn beckoned for a long walk through its tree lined streets and quaint neighborhoods. I have been feeling the effects of a sedentary winter, the crazy health scares and the political scene, like many of us; so taking a long stroll was just the medicine needed to wake up my winter body. It seems my idea was not a novel one, as there were many fellow sun worshipers taking their long awaited dose, of freedom as if they had been let out of their winter prisons.

Kensington, Brooklyn

After a hearty breakfast with a friend at her neighborhood Greek diner, ( yup every neighborhood has one); I decided to start my walk admiring the incredible victorian inspired architecture of Ditmas Park, with the final destination aimed at the neighborhood of Bay Ridge, ( the other Greek enclave outside of Astoria, Queens.

Kensington, Brooklyn

I first walked though my old neighborhood, taking a fresh look at familiar streets, eyeing suspiciously at new stores opening up where neighborhood staples had been open for years. The obligatory stop to say hello to my favorite Yemeni neighborhood bodega near my old street lead to a quick conversation and a joyful reassurance that god will look over us all. I suppose as a spiritual atheist I’ll take all the blessings I can get. I kept my pace walking up the hill between Greenwood Cemetery and Prospect Park. There lies a little secret street not many people know about well protected from real estate sharks tucked in a triangle all on its own. The architecture is a mixture of old wooden houses and pre WW II two story single family homes. Thankfully most of them well preserved and owned by old timers who desperately hold on as best as they can. Primarily an Italian American neighborhood until the late 1970s.

Windsor Terrace, Brooklyn

I know now that making time for diversions on my walks is always rewarding, because as I stood at the top of a quiet crossroads between my old neighborhood and Greenwood cemetery, I caught the eye of an older gentleman sitting on his stoop taking in the sun while reading his newspaper. I didn’t have a deadline except for making sure I was back home by sunset, which left a good 3 hours for my stroll. I greeted the older man who introduced himself with a smile. “Hello!” I say “taking in this lovely sun I see.”

Jack, is a genuine Brooklyn local, born, raised, married, had a family and lived on this block his whole adult life. Italian- American ( as are most of the old timers of this neighborhood since the early 20s) from the island of Favignara just off the western coast of Sicily.

-You’re looking well! I said which was part encouragement part truth, and he quickly replied “it’s all the extra virgin olive oil from the mother land!” To which I replied “oh I could not agree with you more, I’m from Athens and I don’t buy anything other than olive oil from my country” What unfolded was one of the loveliest conversations I’ve had the privilege of having.

Jack introduces himself with a sweet smile on his face, probably quite glad someone from the neighborhood stopped by to say hello. He is a spry 91 years young, and despite his blood thinners and according to him horribly restrictive diet, has a youthful demeanor about him. He has lived in this very neighborhood since he married his lovely wife in the early 1920s. He quickly pulled out his wallet to show me his wedding day picture which showed a handsome dark haired man with his strong gaze, standing proudly next to his elegant Italian beauty of a bride of 61 years. They moved from their cold water flat to this gem of a neighborhood, had two children, 3 grandchildren and 2 great grand children. I asked if his wife was around and a slight sadness overtook him as he explained her passing 2 years prior.

– I’m lonely now, everyone I know has passed on, my kids live outside the city, yes they visit but not often enough. He said as his eyes grew darker. Things have changed here over the years. You know what did it? That damn highway, ripped through our quiet neighborhood and changed everything since the 60’s.

-You don’t like change, Jack?

– No! He responded quickly in a distinctive Brooklyn accent now rarely heard around these neighborhoods.

– These ugly apartment buildings going up all over the park, I hate them!

– I don’t like change either, but what can you do? I’ll visit you Jack! I said and I meant it. Having lived with my amazing land lady of 95 years, I know how older people crave company.

-If I’m alive! He quickly responded.

-I just found you Jack, don’t leave me just yet! I joked and he laughed a toothy smile.

-Ok let me ask ya a personal question. He goes.

-Ask me anything, I respond ( fully knowing what would come next)

-You have someone ? he asks with a concerned look.

-Ah Jack… Not really.

-What! A lovely woman such as yourself?

-You wanna be my beau, Jack? I smiled.

He smiled back, and at that moment another neighbor brought by some chrysanthemum bulbs that he couldn’t use, and I lingered a little longer before I said good bye.

– I’ll see you soon Jack! Take care of yourself. I’ll bring you some spinach pie next time I come around. I won’t put too much feta in it.

– May god keep you happy and healthy always. Take care of yourself, you’re a lovely young woman. He gave me a soft embrace and I reassured him I would keep my promise to come by again.

As I walked up the hill towards the cemetery it hit me, how many times I drove by Jack’s house in the four years that I lived down the street from him and never passed by. The time was right and I do hope I get to see him again. These precious moments for him are morsels of sweetness in a life that has long changed since he moved to this quiet hill in Windsor Terrace.

Jack’s House

– Bless you Jack! I waved as I resumed my stroll, realizing I had spent a good 45 minutes talking to my new friend.

The sun hit my face once more and I took in a deep breath. Thanks Jack, you’re a gem.

Greenwood Cemetery— Windsor Terrace

Till tomorrow. Keep walking.

March: 27 Day Challenge

What started as a daily commitment experiment for personal growth, self discovery, and a writing challenge, has now become a personal writing tradition. This year I’m hoping I can make this challenge a bit more vulnerable and personal. As done in my last challenges; during the month of March I will be writing a daily post; observation and reflection. This daily posting challenge is a way to push open personal boundaries and redefine my commitment to writing and sharing more of what I see, what I experience, what I am deeply moved by, and how I rediscover the similarities in the cultures I encounter including my own.

This year I will add one more element to the daily challenge that will accompany you; my few but loyal readers on this 27 day journey.

This element, especially in my rediscovery of what it means to be a yoga student, instructor, and a person who genuinely loves guiding people towards better and more self empowered health; is my most challenging. For the past two years I’ve been redefining my own personal practice, and in that light; I will be adding posts and thoughts about my personal physical, spiritual and wellness life, and how it is informed by daily yoga practice, unscripted kinesiology and movement exploration, crazy dance classes, food creation and wellness routines. As my body ages, I realize I’m capable of far more than I had ever tackled in my teens and twenties as a dancer and young yoga student. I invite you to place your own personal 27 day challenges and share them with your friends and loved ones. Motivation sometimes comes from inspiration and I hope this challenge will give opportunity for inspiration and discussion.

Day 1. The Peoples Park

Running on empty.

This past winter, both physically and mentally has been a bit of a challenge. Even though the winter was far less harsh than in previous years; I felt I had to work twice as hard to self motivate. Pulling myself by my bootstraps, as it is often passed around in the U.S, by those who feel the need to show off their unwavering personal resilience to failure. I challenged myself to a biweekly (no matter the weather) run in the park. My body in the last year has gone through some welcome and unwelcome transformations. This morning, as I had done last Sunday, I got out of my winter skin, and with a chilly sunny day, as a backdrop took a very slow run in my favorite park in New York : Prospect Park.

Some may argue that Central Park is better, fancier, more sophisticated, has more to see, and they might be right, but for me Prospect Park has been my sanctuary, my safe haven, my meditation spot, my writing spot, my open gym, my place for self reflection, and where I go jogging from April till November. It’s filled with little nooks, beautiful open lawns, nice shady spots, drum circles and open air concerts. It’s a back yard, a meeting spot, a quiet space and a gathering space. Unlike any park I know in Athens, New York parks are stuff of legends and many stories. Since I don’t have a garden to sit in anymore, the Park has provided a green haven away from everything that reminds you, that you live in a crowded city. Today was no exception. Gorgeous sun reflected off the lake shimmering the waters as people ran, biked, played music and took in a few late winter rays.

It’s a little bit of magic. You will see everyone from the surrounding neighborhoods come together. Kids running through and playing with trees, cyclists whizzing by; re-construction on the old gazebo in the lower end of the park. Today I ran so slowly, even an old grandmother passed me by, but I pay no mind as my feet slowly got used to the rhythm of my heart rate. The Park transports you to places of the past as the trees have secrets only they will ever know. After cutting through the lower half of the park; the wind started to cut through both my hoodies as I walked home. It’s still too cold for me but I’ve pushed through today’s first satisfied with my progress but mostly exhausted and sore.

This for sure will be an interesting month.

Stay tuned…

When life gives you lemons

How to change your viewpoint when the circumstances won’t.

Whatever life can thrown at us, we and only we have the power to transform something negative into something positive. There is no magic trick or special potion. Moments are cultivated and transformed with the idea that the only thing between progress and stagnancy is our own point of view.

When we’re faced with a twist of fate, a turn of events, or something we didn’t expect it feels like it’s all coming apart; our lives hanging at a balance, and the only thing really available to us is how we choose to see our circumstance. Yes of course easier said than done, but how else can we turn shit into gold? Be washing it off and starting over.

Each and every moment is a chance for creating a new line of thinking. The question is do we see the opportunity, in the silver lining or do we focus on the clouds? If life gives us a chance to change, then however painful or challenging that may be, resistance is never going to provide the result we want.

Making the most out of what may seem like misfortune, can lead from failure to success and a glass of lemonade.

NYC State of Mind

A story about finding and rebuilding a home.

Falling in love with Gotham is not an easy love. It’s not a quiet love it’s a passion unlike any other.

I’ve fallen in and out of love with New York City, its culture and its people for as long as I can remember. First in 1999 and now 20 years later. It was and is a place where you undergo change in order to survive, you must evolve in order to thrive and you must find yourself before you get lost.

This place is not for the faint of heart, and most importantly it’s not for the faint of mind.

Finding myself, my purpose and identity in NYC is the deepest journey of self knowledge I’ve undergone in recent years. Very few cities I’ve visited or lived in have had the same effect. For those who are natives, lifers, and full time residents; it’s a daily chess game of willpower and focus. You have to stay ahead of the monster and the game.

Yet the city has changed.

Whatever bohemian, free, society New York once was; has now been transformed, altered and deeply changed. For the better, or for worse , only time will tell.

Part of me liked the dangerous, mysterious Gotham to the fancy free NYC full of kombucha, beard oil and gluten free butter biscuits. New York at its core is not hip or cool, it’s subversive, loud mouthed, deeply spiritual, proud, driven city. It’s a city of newcomers and visitors, a city of passage and immigration and a city who’s pulse is in the hustle.

The give and take and heartbeat of nyc is on its streets. It’s not a romantic place. I’ve written about the lack of eros in this city since I first stated writing this blog. It lacks the finesse, and the flirtation of older cities but makes up for it with a true heart.

New York is not a place for the faint of heart. The love here is fierce, possessive and demanding. She’s drunk in the middle of the night with mascara running down her face. She’s messy she’s unforgiving she’s crude. She’s remembers everything. Yet hers is a love that teaches you first and foremost to love yourself.

Cheers to New York Fucking City

Η απόσταση κάνει καλό.

Πως να μη χανόμαστε στην ιστορία μας.

photo Eleana Kouneli— Acropolis, Athens September 2019

Πρέπει να χτίσουμε μια υγιή απόσταση από τις αναμνήσεις μας.

Όταν χανόμαστε στην ιστορία του παρελθόντος μας, χάνουμε το νόημα του παρόντος. Ομολογώ πως έχω υπάρξει πολλές φορές θύμα της νοσταλγίας μου. Είτε γιατί αρνούμαι να παραδεχτώ ότι έχω αλλάξει, είτε γιατί αρνούμαι να πιστέψω πως έχουν αλλάξει τα πράγματα γύρω μου. Σε κάθε περίπτωση τρώγοντας μια σφαλιάρα πραγματικότητας επανέρχομαι στο παρόν είτε εύκολα και ανώδυνα είτε με πολύ κόπο και πόνο. ( το δεύτερο για κάποιο λόγο το προτιμώ για λόγους που δε θα αναλύσω τώρα)

Το φετινό μου ταξίδι στην Αθήνα αποδείχθηκε ένα από τα πιο ζόρικα στα 7 χρόνια που μένω στη Νέα Υόρκη. Φέτος έτσι οπως ήρθαν τα πράγματα, δεν έκανα καμία παύση από τις καθημερινες υποχρεώσεις μου ούτε στην Ελλάδα ούτε στην Αμερική. Όσοι με ξέρουν προσωπικά και όσοι άγνωστοι με διαβάζουν εδώ (δεν είναι όχλος αλλά για μένα είναι μια ουσιαστική επαφή) γνωρίζουν ότι επιπλέω μεταξύ Ελλάδας και Αμερικής από τα 13, όταν αποφάσισαν οι γονείς μου να φύγουμε οικογενειακώς από την Αθήνα και να εγκατασταθούμε στα χωριά της Δυτικής Μασαχουσέτης.

Έκτοτε ζω μεταξύ Αθήνας και Νέας Υόρκης με μια ανεξήγητη ευκολία αλλά και την αναμενόμενη δυσφορία που παρουσιάζεται στους Έλληνες που διαλέγουν να ζουν σε δυο εντελως αντίθετες χώρες με αντίθετες νοοτροπίες.

Απο τα 13 έχω κρατήσει και διατηρήσει επαφές με φίλους, συμμαθητές, συνεργάτες, παλιούς εραστές, και οικογένεια με την επιμονή και ευλάβεια που λίγοι θα είχαν την αυτοκυριαρχία να συντηρήσουν. Επιμένω σε αυτό γιατί εμμένω στην ιδέα ότι το παρελθόν μας είναι η κλωστή της ιστορίας μας.

Αφιερώνω χωρίς δεύτερη σκέψη χρόνο και ενέργεια στην επικοινωνία εξ αποστάσεως κατά κύριο λόγο γιατί δε θέλω να χάσω την επαφή με το παρελθόν μου. Τα τελευταία χρόνια ομως ( λόγο ηλικίας, ή λόγο εσωτερικης αλλαγής) Η προσαρμογή στα άκρα και η δυσκολία του να κρατήσω μια ισορροπία μεταξύ των αναμνήσεων και της παρούσας κατάστασης εξασθενεί. Άθελα μου και αναγκαστικά, έχω αρχίσει να αφήνω πίσω μου ανθρώπους που δεν ταιριάζουν στην τωρινή μου εικονα.

Κρατούσα επαφές, και φιλίες για χρόνια με ανθρώπους που είχαν ως μόνο κριτήριο για μένα μια παλιά τάξη πραγμάτων χωρίς να λογαριάζουν τις αλλαγές που όλοι μας δεχόμαστε για να μπορέσουμε να εξελιχθούμε και να πάμε μπροστά αντί να αναμασάμε και να ανακυκλώνουμε παλιές ιδέες και καταστάσεις.

Επιστέφοντας στη τωρινή μου βάση στη Νέα Υόρκη, κατάλαβα μετά από μια επίπονη διαδικασία ότι πολλοί ρομαντικοί σαν εμένα αναλώνουν πολύτιμη ενέργεια στη προσπάθεια διατήρησης επικοινωνίας με το παρελθόν τους, με αποτέλεσμα να χάνουν ουσιαστική επαφή με το παρόν. Ο Έκχαρτ Τόλλε τα λέει πολύ καλύτερα από μένα στο βιβλίο του The Power Of Now, για τα παιχνίδια που παίζει ο νους με το παρελθόν μας και τη προσκόλληση μας σε αυτό.

Το παρελθόν σου δίνει μια ταυτότητα και το μέλλον περιέχει μια υπόσχεση σωτηρίας. Και τα δυο είναι ψευδαισθήσεις-

Έκχαρτ Τόλλε

Αυτες οι σκεψεις με περιτριγυρίζουν ενώ κάθομαι στο σαλόνι του πρώτου Νεοϋρκέζικου σπιτιού που ένιωσα για πρώτη φορά (στα 7 χρόνια που μένω σε αυτή τη τρελή πόλη) σα το σπίτι μου.

Ζήστε το τώρα… όλα τα υπόλοιπα είναι χαμένη υπόθεση. Καλό φθινόπωρο σε όλους.

Photo by Eleana Kouneli ( Kent, September 2019)

How Not to Fit In

Be a square peg in a round hole.

There is nothing more worrisome than predictability or more damning than fitting in.

If I were to start an advice column that would be its title. It would advise against prudence, predictability and letting things slide. Although anyone taking advice from me should probably check with their therapist first. I have never, ever fit in, and I have never had the desire to try. There was a very brief time in my early puberty when I convinced my mum to buy me a pair of Timberland boots and a puffy down filled jacket, because for whatever stupid reason, that was in fashion with the IN kids at the school I attended in Athens.

A year later I left the school to move to Western Massachusetts. To a fault, and deliberately I clash with the status quo, in ways that simply aren’t very forgiving at this stage of my life, and yet (there is always a yet); I am deeply in awe of people who are good at conforming, making due, and getting along. Sometimes I wish I could do that, but then I slap myself like Cher does and snap out of it.

I come from and was raised by a long legacy of women who world sacrifice everything instead of accepting their circumstance for the sake of convenience. Even though fitting in, going with the flow and just getting along would have been happily accepted by those around them; they broke the stereotype, every, single, time.

And here I am in my empty living room, boxes all around me; with the sound of a fan humming in the background; knowing full well, that living the life of a simpleton is not my cup of iced tea.

It took generations of women, ( and some men) before me; some still going against the grain, to instill in me the strongest desire to do better than what’s expected of me, differently, and often. Be something, and someone bloody different. The times of the what if’s and how comes are a waste of breath.

At the end of the day, our defining moments as humans are paved when we dare to transcend expectations. What saddens me the most about people and the choices they make, is not when they act differently than expected; because defying ones expectations of us, should be our greatest motivator; but when they react, respond and end up exactly as you thought. I’m more inclined to like someone when they defy society’s narrow view of them.

Men and women who have broken the stereotypes and moulds handed to them since the beginning of time, are the people I aspire to be like and learn from. What pushes you to move beyond the norm?

It’s been a while , since my last blog post, but I’ll defy expectations and get right back to that keyboard. If you care to see what I’ve published in the past feel free to pass by the posts section of the menu.

I’d love to hear your stories of defiance, small or large.

Be the Lion among the kitty cats lovelies.

Instant Gratification is not your friend.

Quick fixes do more harm than good.

Ever present is the idea that, if we take a pill, our problems will be fixed. If we commit in the surface of going to the gym, eating right, practicing meditation or yoga, going to therapy; things will just automatically lift off our shoulders and all the issues we’ve been battling with since childhood; just disappear.

Change, betterment, transformation, improvement, and healing are long term commitments; not the short term “feel good” solutions, they are portrayed to be.

I’ve been practicing yoga and fitness for 20 plus years, and the vice that always got in the way of my practice, my life, and my relationships with others, is the need for instant gratification and instant solutions. Staying with something long enough to see change, or realizing that ephemeral enjoyment doesn’t translate into long term change, is something I learned the hard way. It is all too often that I see these patterns with my students and clients. If I give them “homework” to do most of them don’t follow through or forget to commit to their own self improvement, giving in to excuses, and short term inadequate solutions. We all do it.

Setting a goal and achieving that goal is the difference between an idea and a plan.

If you see instant anywhere in your life, coffee, food, fitness, (sorry Suzanne summers), business plans, sex, affection, repairs (yes those too); step back and think again. Taking stock of what we really want to achieve in our lives, steers us away from doing what’s easy or fast. Committing to doing what is best and maintaining that, demands a very fine balance of personal accountability and self knowledge. Giving in to our cravings, our instant joy, our sweet tooth, or social pressures to “get it done quickly” will only harm and derail us in the process of self improvement, depriving us in the end of setting any goals worthy of follow through.

Next time when things get challenging or busy or too much, take a step back and fight to finish what you started, no shortcuts or excuses. Do the 30 day challenge and actually stick to it for life.

If you liked this article or any of the previous ones published on my blog, please pass it along, sign up, subscribe and stay on track! Feel free to look back at old posts and archives here:

Day 25. Independence

How do be carve our Independence within an increasingly controlling world.

Rebels with a cause. We want to make a difference, we want to break free from the shackles of conformity, get away from normalcy and shatter the feeling of imprisonment within our own lives. Everyday we are told that Freedom is a state of mind. But it’s clear to me that being truly Independent, free, non bound takes an enormous sense of responsibility and personal effort. True Independence is a lonely and often treacherous path. We claim we are free, we are individuals, we don’t need anyone to tell us what to do with our lives, yet we increasingly depend on others, we want someone to take control and fix things, we want someone else to be responsible for our freedom. And we all know where that leads.

Fighting for Freedom, means doing things on our own without any, ANY help or assistance from others, yet in the highly connected, dependent and “who do you answer to” society we live in, Independence (with a capital I) from the powerful and the controlling has increasingly become a stigma, a stain in the “shut up and put up” mentality .

we want someone to take control and fix things, we want someone else to be responsible for our freedom. And we all know where that leads.

We all need to better understand (myself included) what weight and what importance personal responsibility, and integrity entails. It’s not a burden many choose to carry lightly. Let’s be honest when the shit hits the fan, we all want to blame someone else, and when our independence (with a small i) is giving us gifts, we stand alone on that mountain top thinking we’re kings of our own kingdom, when in reality; shaky ground builds a shaky structure. When we truly access our Freedom, we have to understand it’s gravity and importance; not only in how we see ourselves, but in how we project our Freedom on others. Screaming independence while acting occupied, has been tried all too often as a substitute for the real thing, making it a very confusing message to base our “freedom” on.

See what Independence means to you and how can you really carve a path of Freedom in the eyes of occupied minds.

Want to read previous posts? Check out the links below !

*FEATURED IMAGE BY: Robert Valenzuela check out his work below:

Random thoughts on: Procrastination

Why do we put off things we could do today?

Life happens. We oftentimes set things aside for another day, and that day turns into a month, and that month turns into many months and so on. I have found there are two main reasons (excuses) we use to put things off: a) We believe we have infinite time to finish, b) we’re eternally ill prepared to tackle any or all our lofty goals. But life tends to show us that neither reason is lofty enough to warrant constant postponing. Recent events and not so gentle life reminders have me thinking what a complete waste of time procrastination is; and with that grand introduction:

I would like to introduce you to the queen of procrastination….. Me.

I have been writing a piece on street art for the past 2 months and I have yet to sit down to finalize it. I have also recently put off working on my personal spoken word project that I have been working on for the past year. I have also not taken French classes that I promised myself back in September I would commit to. I have neglected to call friends I terribly miss, and I haven’t finished a small script. Why? There is no sugar coating this one.
Hello- My name is Eleana and I’m a serial procrastinator.

Next week, tomorrow, this weekend for sure, when the weather is nicer, when I’m not so depressed, when I get laid, when it’s summer out, and I can go to the beach, when… I have enough money, when I’ve paid off all my debts, when the trains run on time, when… the gods will allow. You get the idea right? When do we actually get up off our asses, our ill fitting comfort, our complacency and self doubt, and do whatever we’ve committed to? When we have no other choice.

All this talk of putting things off, reminds me of a Greek colloquialism often used when committing to something knowing full well that we won’t follow through with or will ad infinitum neglect, forget or put off until someone reminds us.

From Monday.  (Από Δευτέρα)

The Monday next, I’ll start a diet, next week I’ll quite smoking, next Monday I’ll totally take advantage of that gym membership I’ve been paying for and talking about. From Monday next, I’ll start writing that book I’ve been meaning to start. The list is endless. All these lame excuses always lead me to an amazing line from one of my favorite books about writing, creativity and living life to the fullest, and this can be applied to anything that we set our minds to do.

Most of us have two lives. The life we live, and the unlived life within us. Between the two stands Resistance.

Steven Pressfield- The war of art

What does it take to live a full life without putting off the things that we are most passionate about? When is the time ripe for the taking? Does it take illness? Does it take the death of a loved one? What does it take for any of us, ALL of us to wake up and realize, life is not about next Monday, it is about the present. Life is about now.

From a serial procrastinator….

Resistance defeats us. Don’t let it.

Life is not about folding clothes neatly.

A thought about Marie Kondo and the clutter revolution

I am a self declared neat freak, (anyone who knows me can attest to this). I’ve followed the Marie Kondo craze as diligently as I would watch a clothing cycle go by, and to the avid followers of this tidying up phenomenon I judge no one, to each their own. I’ve heard about the woman, the show, the cult like following, the memes, the hype, of weeding out your stuff like you do a garden; and I am left with major questions and disagreement in my mind.

What “sparks joy” for me, or you, or anyone else in the stuff we choose to keep is superbly objective and deeply personal. Of course we keep things around for too long because we need the comfort and consistency it provides. The concept of compensating for emotional stability with the incessant purchase of things is another debate entirely. However the little things that make us happy aren’t necessary convenient or neat or placed into a well folded category. They are memories, moments, personal and communal history, culture and the connective tissue between generations. Ancient Greeks and Egyptians used to fill the tombs of their loved ones with stuff; gold coins, cloth, food, trinkets and jewelry. The concept of having reminders of your life in the afterlife was imperative to giving the departed a smooth passage into the afterlife. These untouchable and unfold-able threads, are in the stuff we give to each other and the stuff we keep for ourselves. What is fundamentally missing in Marie Kondo’s joy sparking philosophy, is understanding our need to constantly acquire useless, pointless, time wasting and money wasting STUFF, instead of sharing what we all have with our friends, family and loved ones.

Yes throw the 80 corks of wine you have, but keep the 5 that tell the story of your experiences with them. Yes throw away the torn and tattered badly made clothing that doesn’t fit you any more but keep the suit jacket that was hand sewn for your grandmother in the 1940’s even though you never really wear it. Below you will find my personal list of what to keep and why in this world of, forced minimalist trends and “get rid of it all cause you won’t take it with you when you die” lifestyles.

  1. De-clutter your brain along with your house cause if you’re going to throw shit out but still think too much and clutter your brain with old thoughts and old memories you’re a memory hoarder. Make room for new ones and keep the ones that truly matter. Meditate, plant things in your home, repair that thing that keeps bothering you, focus on a single task and stop cluttering your day with unnecessary thoughts.
  2. Don’t Keep anything an ex lover gave you that doesn’t represent who you are. Give it to a homeless person, sell it, or throw it in the trash. I’ve done ALL 3 with 3 different men. It felt great. The only exception you should be making is for gifts like music and books; because someone’s inspirational words and music you can always carry with you.
  3. Keep theater tickets, concert tickets, old family photos, a dried flower bouquet from your first boyfriend, family trinkets, and your grandmother’s silver. But don’t just keep it in an attic somewhere never to be seen. It should be displayed, made into art, re purposed; but never kept closed up in some sterile box. Memories, and family history are always part of who we are.
  4. Books and music should never be thrown out… Give them to a friend, donate to a local library, read them to an ailing parent, but NEVER just throw books out. Even your childhood ones. Those are memories worth keeping. Instead of throwing away an old novel you got at a second hand shop, don’t get trashy novels disguised as literature, glossy fashion magazines, or self help books. Those are ridiculous and waste your time and money on this earth.

We are defined more about the stuff we keep and the stories we share; and less about the stuff we buy to pretend to be something or someone we are not, including Marie Kondo’s personal philosophy on a neat, clean, Japanese lifestyle that doesn’t seem to include the human connection that some, unorganized, inconvenient and messy lifestyles have in common.