Thoughts are Things (and vice versa)

by farrah on July 25, 2017 · 0 comments

As long as I can remember, the three most influential women in my life (mother, grandmother and great-grandmother) would say to me ‘Thoughts are things…remember that Farrah.” And it made absolutely no sense at all to an irrational child. The strongest memory of this phrase is from when I was pregnant with Lincoln & Chase and ‘things’ were not going so well. I was reminded (quite frequently) that ‘Thoughts were indeed things” and if I thought negatively about that pregnancy, well…

So anyhow. Fast forward almost a decade or so and everyone’s fine. That phrase has grown with me and evolved as have our lives and living situations. Today I find that living this temporary and uncertain life means that my thoughts are the strongest things of all. What I think about my kids, my husband, my village. They’re the things that make me happiest and give life the most meaning. 

I want to hold onto those ‘things’ with everything I have. When we’re away from this place that I’ve loved for five years- I want THINGS that have meaning to remind me. THINGS that symbolize what we had, what we did and who we spent our time with. Thus, for the past two years or so I’ve had this idea that I was going to buy Dutch dishes to have forever and ever and ever to place on my dining table.

At first I found a set that I loved from a shop in town- and they were beautiful. But the price tag was high and that meant I’d probably not let the boys touch them. No way could they be our everyday, knock around dishes that we could pack up and move with us wherever the wind went. So I kept looking.

I put a call out on my blog’s FB page for suggestions of Dutch place setting designers or brands that I could look into. I was given some wonderful suggestions and told myself that when the time came, I’d start collecting those.

Well here we are, over a year later and I never went shopping for dishes. The cheap IKEA 16pc/€20 set was still going ok five years on, give a chip here or missing plate there. I don’t have the luxury of just going out and replacing stuff on a whim because I’m tired of a pattern. I’ve grown to just make do with what we’ve had because there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s a waste of money, and/or we’re just going to move so why take the chance of destroying it?

And now as I’ve mentioned (probably a bit too much) we’re getting mentally prepared to move again. As a family we decided to pursue another international destination (which is still unknown) instead of hanging it up and moving back to the States. No forever home just yet. No craftsman dream 2000 sq. foot beauty to say ‘We’re staying put a while‘ right now. That all means that we’re starting to purge as expats do so well – just as we did before we moved over (hence no dishes waiting for us in our storage!).

But we also hang onto things. The things that remind us of being here or there or where we want to go next. I’ve since been acquiring ‘things’ in the form of those dishes I mentioned at the beginning. But they’re not fancy, expensive, or anything other than practical. Kind of like us.

Ironically enough, the dishes are a promotion by the grocery store I’m always crowing about- Albert Heijn. From time to time, AH has promos for everything from glasses to knife sets (which we also bought into) to dinosaur cards and mini gardens. The quality is usually quite good- and I diligently collect my stickers for every €10 spent, to acquire the given promotion. Yeah they’re made in China- but they’re Dutch designed and the point is that I got them HERE.

Anyhow- I painstakingly collected my stickers for these slick melamine dishes- the ones to be our Oisterwijk plates for everyday, to move with us, to drop and scrape and share. The prospect excited me- to have an entire (matching!) set of plates and bowls perfect for our life today and tomorrow… until my husband pointed out that the promotion was going to end while we were on holiday and there was no way I’d get the required amount of stickers before we left.

He suggested I put a shout out on FB asking for help. I did- and the response absolutely floored me. I posted in a free group, and on my personal page. I ended up getting so many stickers I have been able to collect enough to more than what I set as my goal- an 8 person place setting. I have enough for 12. I’m thrilled.

Over the past few days I have had people drop by my house handing me their stickers, putting them in our mailbox, or inviting us to drop by and pick them up in person. All methods have reminded me yet once again how lucky I am to live here. It’s something so simple and relatively innocuous that a person might not even appreciate such a thing- neighborly help. But for me the icing on this whole ‘keepsake dishes’ project is that I’ve had help from the very people I want to remember.

That’s how much this all means to me. If we’re living in Singapore, Stuttgart or Charleston- these plates are going to sit on our table. I’m going to have meals with family and friends and share a bit about where we were and what we did. You know that if I ever get asked where I got them I’m going to start with.. “Funny you should say that…” and launch into this whole story. But that’s ok. Thoughts, as they say, are indeed things.

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