You don’t have to be superstitious to believe in the power of a charm

See that gold zip in the
picture above?  That’s fastens up my
wallet.  I love my wallet.  It’s navy leather and the inside has a purple
silk lining.  Using it makes me
happy.  Sometimes, on bad days when I
feel like I’m barely holding it together, getting out the wallet to make a
payment acts as a pick-me up.  How can
life be that bad, I think, when I possess such a beautiful object?    

Even more than that, the
wallet acts as a useful prompt – a visual reminder of how good, how confident,
how self-assured, I can feel.  Sometimes
that prompt alone is enough to help shift my mood in a better direction.  Looking at its beautiful lines, I tell myself
that the woman who owns such an item cannot possibly be a slatternly, uncouth,
slobbish, incompetent fool (a selection of the words that most regularly
feature in my negative self-talk hotlist).
The woman who went into a shop and selected that purse was calm,
content, knows her own mind (or at least her own taste) and able to make good
choices.  

And if I could be that way on
the day I bought the wallet, I can be like that on other days too.  

The wallet isn’t magical, but
it does feel like a talisman for me.  It
has the power to change how I feel – or, perhaps more accurately, I have assigned
it with a level of meaning that can affect my mood.  More important than what it says to the world
is what the wallet tells me about my identity, my desires, my aspirations – who
I am and how I want to be in the world.  

Perhaps you are reading this
thinking I am potty, viewing an essentially practical item as some kind of
charm.  Maybe you think that declaring
such strong attachment to any object as a sign of materialism, with all the
negative connotations that carries.  

Or do you recognise what I’m
saying as being true for your relationship with a particular possession
too?  Think about your most treasured
belongings.  Are some of them important
to you because of the feelings they evoke about yourself?  

The shoes you wore to an
interview that you absolutely nailed?
The dress that you had on when you finally told your ex-partner that you
would not tolerate their behaviour any longer?
The necklace you bought when you earned your first pay packet?  The ‘proper’ cookware purchased to mark
setting up a home of your own?    

This is not simply about
particular memories but visceral feelings.
I believe that we all own objects which have the ability to evoke strong
positive reactions, objects that can remind and reassure us of our own
strength, power and agency.

Let’s make greater use of
this!  It’s not uncommon for people to
wear jewellery that they regard as talismanic but what about other items?  Which of your personal possessions take you
to your best self, your wisest self, your most awesome self?  And are you channelling that enough?  Can you use them more often, wear them more
regularly, display them more prominently?

If you’re struggling with
this, think about anything you own that makes you smile whenever you see it or
use it – that could provide some clues as to your own amulet.

And if you know what yours
is, please share a picture.  Get in touch
by commenting below or via social media: there’s Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook page.  And of course you can also
email me (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).  

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Repurposing: the joy of the toy-box

This
morning, my mum sent me a photo message showing my poorly eight year old nephew
clutching a well-worn soft toy in the shape of a panda.  Pandan, my nephew used to call him, and for
years he was never far from his side.  I
was always extremely thrilled by how much Joe loved Pandan as I had bought the
toy for him (although it is perhaps more accurate to say that I collected
tokens from the packets of a well-known brand of toilet paper and sent them off
with £1.99 for postage and packaging).

Now Joe is
almost nine, I hadn’t seen Pandan around for a while.  It was so heart-warming to discover that he
continued treasured him and still drew comfort from his frankly manky and
slightly discoloured fur.  It’s funny
which toys find a place deep in our heart and which remain simply
playthings.  

I replied
to my mum’s message saying that maybe Joe will put Pandan in a future toy-box
too, a joking reference to the toy-box that I have recently created.  Over the last few weeks, I have been boring
friends and family talking about my new toy-box (okay, so talking and making them look at it).  

The toy-box
(pictured above) is one of my latest mini-obsessions.  I love it almost as much as I love some of
its contents.  I had thought about
putting something like it together shortly after moving into my new home in
mid-April, having realised that we live in possibly the most un-child friendly
space ever (think lots of potentially dangerous items at low levels and little
to distract curious small people with).
Whilst we don’t have kids of our own, I want visiting children to be at
home here and want their parents to feel relaxed rather than nervous or
worried.  

One Sunday
afternoon, I read an Apartment Therapy post that mentioned the same toy-box
idea and that was that: I seized the moment and tore round the place gathering
up any suitable items.  Some pencils,
plastic cups, a few children’s books that happened to be in unpacked
boxes.  I had a large basket just right
for the job.  I even remembered the two
hand-knitted rabbits, one of whom featured in my first day at school
photograph, suffocating in a plastic box under the bed.

In the
weeks since, more bits have been added.
I picked up a colouring book from a coffee morning.  My boyfriend put in his childhood chess set.  I’m keeping my eye out for suitable bits
(please someone somewhere get rid of some Lego!) but most of all I’m
encouraging my mum to get up the loft and find more of my actual toys out.  I’ve already begun bringing things from my
parents’ when I visit, including the first book I ever remember, yet I know
there is more still in the attic.  

Suddenly
all these possessions that I’ve never been sure what to do with have had a new
lease of life.  This sense of repurposing
has bought me genuine joy and contentment.
Lots of the standard advice on sentimental items or such like instructs
you to have a clearout, perhaps taking a photograph as a reminder of a
once-prized object.  But is that really
what we always want?  Whilst drowning in
reminders of the past can stop us from getting on with life in the present,
surely we can find ways to forge a new path where we give space to honour our
earlier treasures and let the happiness that they bought us then infuse our
worlds now.

That is
what I feel my new toy-box does.  It is
my own way through.  It isn’t getting rid
of everything, although there will be much from my childhood that I won’t
keep.  Nor is it shoving it all in some
place out of sight (under the bed, the loft, a spare bedroom – preferably in
someone else’s house), hoping to never have to deal with it but also never
getting any pleasure from it.  Seeing
another child being entertained by toys that you also happily played with is a
beautiful sight.

Of course
it doesn’t have to be a toy-box.  This sense
of repurposing can be applied to other possessions too.  What item in your home (or left elsewhere!)
is languishing?  What stuff aren’t you
sure what to do with?  Is it something
that you can breathe new life into in some form or another?

If you like
the idea of upcycling then Pinterest is full of amazing ideas to give you
inspiration; I’ve made a board with some of my favourite ideas.  Not that you have to be artistic or crafty;
if you love reading, can you simply spare some shelf space to your favourite
childhood books?  

It may be
that you decide repurposing actually does involve giving something a new home
or to a new owner.  I used to have a
gorgeous ragdoll that an older cousin made for me when I was born; when she had
a daughter, I passed the doll on to her.

Or do you
need to rethink in a broader way?  Is
there a different way of looking at the item(s)?  It may be that a mental shift is more useful
than a physical transformation.  Old toys
were literally just old toys until I recognised that they still held their
magic for a three year old today just as much as they had for me thirty years
ago.  

Share your
repurposing below or via Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest or the A Life Of One’s Own Facebook
page
.  If you are finding it difficult to
think differently about a possession and would like some help exploring options
then get in touch too – as a coach, offering a different perspective is part of
what I do!  Again there is social media
or you can email me (rae@alifeofonesown.co.uk).  I’d love to hear your repurposing stories.