“You Are What You Keep”

I have been staring at that statement ever since I read it in one of my online quilting groups a few weeks ago. It was posted as part of an “Eliminate 2010 things in 2010” challenge from another group.

I have been on a quest to reduce my possessions for twenty years. That makes me sound like I own one of everything in the world, or am a total hoarder (well, I might be) but really all it means is that I am triply conscious of what I buy and why I buy it, and what I have and how long I’ve had it and if I’ll ever use it again.

Marguerita kayaking in Prince William Sound, Alaska

I think this mindset really started when I gave up kayaking about fifteen years ago. I loved my kayaks more than any possession I’ve ever had. But, I had stopped kayaking. The kids were getting older and were into things like being driven to events and all my friends had already been out kayaking with me at least once, and I’d kayaked all the places I had wanted to go. So, they sat for a couple of years while I slowly changed my priorities and how I spent my time, and then, because I loved my boats, I sold them to people who would use and love them instead of letting them deteriorate and take up space in my life.


Ever since that day it’s been easier and easier to look at “things” and say “don’t need it, let’s put it in the hands of someone who does”.


I do that now with my quilts, fabrics, books, magazines, clothes, and anything else of even the slightest value and everything I remove makes me feel like I’ve just lost about 5 pounds. I feel lighter, freer, more altruistic, happier and less stressed by my surroundings.

7 Responses to ““You Are What You Keep””

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  1. NancyB in AZ says:

    I, too, have been reading “You are what you keep”. I kept thinking I would use “it” someday. NOT. I just put together a large bag of fabric which I will donate to a group that makes quilts for people in need. I feel so much lighter! Now I can concentrate on my current projects; and not have that monster in the closet screaming at me. I am now ready to address other items – such as “why” I collect/buy. I can do this. thanks for the encouragement.

    • Marguerita says:

      Yay Nancy!! Yes, you can do it and it really feels good. The best advice that I have is, once you’ve packed things up, get them gone from your house ASAP. If the box sits around, I tend to open it, dig through it and put stuff back. Which is pointless because it feels bad to do so, and I just end up packing the same thing up again a year later. Once it’s actually gone I can’t even remember what was in the box in the first place ๐Ÿ™‚

  2. Robin says:

    Hi – I’m new to this Web site. I found it thru browsing after I found your sewing table and making an attempt to make it. I’m hoping it will work with my Pfaff although the measurements are a little different. The whole front of the machine swings open where the bobbin is and that part is around 2″ tall.. although it slopes down from the plate. The foam board I bought is 2″ and 1″ so I’m hoping I can figure it out. Anyway – about getting rid of stuff, this is an inspiration to me because I have fabric I’ve had for 30 years (yes, I’m that old) and keep thinking I will make something out of it some day. Yet I still buy more ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll let you know how it goes because I can’t possibly use all this, even though I’m on my way to having 6 grandchildren and another 6 step grandchildren. Plenty of loved ones to make things for. Thanks for the instructions on the table, and for the en”lightening” insights.

    • Marguerita says:

      Welcome Robin! I have so many adaptations for that table – email me if you want to chat about it ๐Ÿ™‚ I have a front loading bobbin, so I just cut the whole piece of foam in front of the machine and when I need to get to the bobbin I just pull that piece of foam away from under the vinyl.

      I have given away a lot of fabric and I am still at it, but now my new love is scraps! I have kept them for years and years and now I am finally starting to use them ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Roxie says:

    i started my downsizing back in May, and it is still in progress. I had lots of sewing/quilting ‘stuff,’ which had not been used in a long time. Donating fabric, books, magazines, even most of my beloved quilt collection has been a huge blessing for me. My woman-cave is now easier to navigate & a more pleasant space to use.

    • Marguerita says:

      Ahhh Roxie, you just hit on my weakness: books. I want them to go to “good homes” but I just don’t know the right place. I’d rather not sell them, although I could be talked into shipping them….. Who/where did you let your books go to?

  4. Megha says:

    The Quilt Police have no power, unless you give it to them. I am a ttndirioaal quilter but I like to change things up and have been the bane of many Quilt Police wanna bee’s. So when they say its wrong, you can’t do it that way, just reply: yes I can as you can see I did. Love the pillow!