24 Things: The Letting Go Challenge starts today.

Via Marylee Fairbanks
on Apr 15, 2011
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Day 23: Fireplaces, Ladybugs, and Chicken Feet

Today, I vacuumed fireplaces, eight of them.

Our old colonial farmhouse shares the land with wild turkeys, deer, and coyotes.

The spring thaw brings hundreds of ladybugs out of the cracks in the ceilings. They huddle together in the sunlight.  My son gently catches them and transports them to plants for safekeeping.

The oversized kitchen hearth boasts a bread oven that doubles for a hiding place for gifts, and a long, steel hook for cooking. A rusted pot dangles there and I often imagine what was stirred in it, over the past 300 hundred years.

I lugged the soot out to the garden, for the 3rd time, and silently paid reverence to the hundreds of women who have cleaned out those fireplaces, over the centuries, without the aid of a wet-vac, electricity, and running water.

This house is a treasure.  We are only the fourth family to live here.

Governor John Albion Andrew grew up on this farm. Governor of Massachusetts during the civil war, he was depicted in the movie Glory, as one of the men, who established the first all black regiment; The 54th Infantry.

Indian shutters pull out from inside the walls for protection in case of an attack. Arrowheads are found in spring, when the cornfield is tilled and planted.

I purchased a metal detector, against my husband’s wishes, but everywhere I pointed it, it beeped. What I need is an Un-metal detector to show me where there isn’t an old rake, handcrafted nail, or horseshoe.

The attic, a place I never go alone, has three cramped rooms where the indentured servants lived. I look at the shreds of wallpaper left on the walls and wonder who they were and how difficult it must have been up there in the sweltering summers and numbing winters.

The attic’s mystery deepened when we discovered a centurion (voodoo). Chicken feet were tied with a leather string, and suspended from beam above the entrance. I have no idea what they mean, but since things have gone well here, I won’t disturb them.

Another untouched feature, are the enchanting murals in the hallways.  A man named Rufus Porter, who my friend Denise swears she has seen, hovering, in a long black coat, painted them, in 1835.

If any place can teach you not to over identify with things, it is this crooked, mysterious, charmed, old house.  It has seen us mere mortals come and go, but she still stands. She knows we were not the first to live under her protection, and will not be the last.

The decedents of the ladybugs, who visit us each spring, will be here long after my family has gone.

Like the people in the attic, we leave signs that we once lived here.  We have entombed pictures, and letters in the walls during renovations, buried our beloved pets in the yard, and made our small contribution the distinctive, welcoming vibe, that everyone feels when they enter.

Day 21:  I let go of soot, perhaps an easy thing to toss, but did the work with reverence and gratitude for being a part of the history, of this old place that I love. (I also tossed some vases and candles just to make sure I got rid of something!)

A Rufus Porter Style depiction of the Andrew/Fairbanks house and dogs in the yard. -Created by Martha Stevenson.

The 24 Things encourages us to let go of the past and make sacred space in your life.  Inside that space, you can create an inspired future.

Are you joining in the 24 Things Challenge? Leave your thoughts at The 24 Things

Other pieces by Marylee:  The Princess Of Garbage Day, Sing Out, Clara, and Letter From A Bully.


About Marylee Fairbanks

Marylee Fairbanks is a columnist for Gaiam, elephant journal, My Life Yoga, and Bliss.com, Her essays explore Motherhood and yoga, but mainly focus on her experiences with her young son and the many ways he helps her grow. She is a registered yoga teacher and founder of Chakras Yoga and The 24 Things. She teaches Chakras Balancing workshops and yoga classes. Prior to having her son, she performed in Broadway musicals across the country. Marylee lives in Massachusetts with her husband, son, and dogs. Find her on her website and follow her on twitter.


23 Responses to “24 Things: The Letting Go Challenge starts today.”

  1. Great idea, Marylee.

  2. soybean5 says:

    OMG! I love this story. You make me laugh. I still can't believe you shredded your journals.

  3. Juliana says:

    This is awesome. I'm totally doing this…..actually I'm behind. But I am going to go toss five items and catch up. Thanks for the great ideas!

  4. Yeah. Juliana. Go to the24things.com to read about the other days and see what others let go of too!

  5. Kim says:

    Maybe I want Harry instead??????????????

  6. we are ridiculously in sync. did this as well. more to come.

  7. marylee says:

    I am in the midst of struggling with my CRATE of musical theater CD's.. this is a hard one

  8. Great idea and perfect for spring!!

  9. marylee says:

    thanks Tanya.. so glad you are in!

  10. marylee says:

    Hows it going Juliana? did you catch up?

  11. marylee says:

    Never opened them once in 22 years and when I did last week?…..oy….nothing to hold onto there..

  12. marylee says:

    Thanks BOB!

  13. Marylee says:

    Thanks Tanya. So glad you are joining in!

  14. get rid of the case and artwork and house cds in binders OR

    give them to your local library OR

    a retirement home.

  15. Christianne says:

    good idea. being a disney princess is not all it is cracked up to be.

    miss your face. 24 things is awesome. i keep throwing myself out of my apartment so i don't have to deal with the workers. does that count?

  16. marylee says:

    Oh Belle, you would know! If you want to take a trip to MA . you can stay here with us

  17. Christianne says:

    shooting for a wee job in provincetown for a month. near? in boston for a bc lacrosse game very soon but it's all family all the time. we shall find one another at some point…other than snared in the threads of interweb.

  18. […] to let go of an attachment? Try using the generally-perceived-as-negative principle of procrastination to […]

  19. Elizabeth says:

    I will begin the ’24 things challenge’. I probably have more than 24 things that I could let go of..it’s a bit of a stretch, I’ll start @ 24h. (“;)

  20. marylee says:

    Elizabeth.. we do this 4 times a year.. Next one is July 1st! So yes, you can toss 24 things in the next 3 days but part of the challenge is to do it daily and make letting go a practice in your life.. Join me on July 1st! Now that I have dumped (way more than 24 items) but for 24 days., everywhere I look i want to toss! My husband is nailing things down.

  21. […] to let go of an attachment? Try using the generally-perceived-as-negative principle of procrastination to […]

  22. Elizabeth says:

    Thank you Marylee, I’ll begin with the closet. I have outfits that I haven’t worn since 2000.
    July 1st will be perfect, that’s 3 days before my birthday. Another year to start all over again..and begin to let go.
    Thanks again (“,)

  23. Denise says:

    Your home–I have always felt–is a member of your family. It gives off, to those who pass through, a warm and loving embrace. Rufus included! Some may assume it was a choice to live there, but I believe it was planned…