Wednesday, June 19, 2013
I have often heard that what we don't value we use. This goes along the same lines as use or lose it, so often used to persuade people to walk longer or strength train. Today I had wanted a New Yorker magazine, but I soon realized that all the nearest bookstores had closed down.
Washington, D.C. used to have bookstores on nearly every block in downtown, but so many are now gone. Even when bookstores were open, such as the Barnes and Nobles at Georgetown, many people seemed interested in the coffee and reading the books and magazines while hanging out, not buying them. That store closed, along with a nearby independent one. Just one of many.
In addition, the major chain pharmacies just cut back their magazine offerings even more. The selection gets dismal.
I actually had to think for a moment where the closest bookstore was, then a light went on for me. We have a fantastic independent bookstore and cafe in D.C. that is so great that people fly back into town just go there. Often it is the first place they go upon returning to the city to visit if after moving away.
Since I needed exercise, I made it a point to walk over an hour back and forth to buy that magazine from the store, so grateful it is still there. This is a place I used to frequent nearly every weekend, like so many places. I would beg my husband to take me to that cafe, trying hard not to look at the desserts on the way through.
This awesome bookstore has stacks of books people really want to read, and a staff of book lovers who are great at finding what people need. Of course, this wondrous place had a huge stack of the New Yorker and other great magazines for sale, not to mention a tantalizing array of books on display.
Some time back, I wanted a book that sold out across the city. I tried so many places and couldn't get it. Even Amazon couldn't help. It turned out this bookstore had one copy of that book left. A staff member, good for his word, held that book for me as I actually ran to get that book, very happy to hand him payment and hold that book in my hands. How many places would do that for a person now?
An elderly relative of mine used to frequent bookstores in New England every chance she got, and she mourned the closing of one bookstore after another. Like so many other people who got older, she found reading more of a challenge for her eyes and likely reads much more often. But she kept warning me that my Amazon orders and Kindle love might result in this kind of thing.
I'm the person who let go of hundreds and hundreds of books because I had so many books that my home resembled a library. With a dusty allergy, the books collecting dust had to go. I donated them, making every attempt to give each book a good home, trying not to worry that I might give to a charity that would ground the books into pulp.
My humble abode is still full of hundreds of books, the ones signed by the authors, a few first editions fresh off the press, and many books I do love to paw through from time to time.
Admittedly, once I got my PaperWhite Kindle, I began loading up books to that instead. "Wild" by Cheryl Strayed was one of the first to go on the Kindle, a fabulous book. I downloaded several books on meditation and even one on fasting and detoxing by Cheryl Calbom. The worst choice might have been to download several vegan books I couldn't get at the library. I will likely by the paper copy of cookbooks and uncookbooks in the future.
Today I did a serious decluttering of my bathroom, happily tossing out what I no longer needed, like shampoo full of chemicals, sun screen with questionable expiration dates. For some time, I have celebrated having few if any prescription items in my cabinet, a sign of healthy progress for me.
At the library, another place that many people have forgotten these times, I picked up a copy of Kim Barnouin's excellent book that has helped me to choose or make my own cleaning products, beauty and personal care products, and read up on chemicals that I absolutely don't want to have in anything around me on me, or in me. Famed as one of the Skinny Bitch authors, her book set me on the road to trying new products or making my own.
Listerine is gone from my bathroom, along with regular toothpaste. I use Tom's toothpaste now because my dentist approved it. But I will look at other options for that and other things as well.
Now, as I declutter another part of my humble abode, on a roll today, I look over at my books with new respect, new value. Having gone to that wonderful bookstore and seen the dedicated staff pulling out new books from the boxes, stacking high new offerings and old favorites, I know what I what I want to do on an upcoming weekend.
I remember only too well how I loved to spend hours in the bookstores, how I poured over the books, anguished that I couldn't buy every single one that I wanted, going back and forth. Somehow there I had such a sense of the authors, including some who risked their lives to get their manuscripts out of their country and into print. Other books drew people into fascinating debates or a window into how our history was repeating itself.
My grandmother was a serious book lover who took me to the library at least once a week. I learned to read early and was a lifelong book lover.
As I declutter, I learn that there is so much that we need to release from our lives to move on and to free ourselves. But there is are some things that we should keep, some treasures that we should keep close in our lives.
So today I had to walk through all kinds of construction areas, work projects, to get where I needed, but I got my exercise, and I managed to get my magazine back home before the rain drops began to fall.
This is the book I got from the library to help me to create some healthier options once again is Kim Barnouin's Skinny Bitch book on Home, Body, and Style.
Also I found that the Environmental Working Group has fantastic online resources to help.