The Smile

I haven’t been here in a long time, and I’ve really missed it. I’ve missed you all!

I’ve been in a vortex – tunnel – tidal wave – whatever you wanna call it of selling, buying and moving houses. And along with it, a long drawn out process of weeding out things we no longer need. The accumulated stuff. The boxes that got moved last time and have almost never been opened. The detritus. The evidence of stuff that no longer matters, and may already be forgotten. I’ve run across everything in my own past. All my old letters. All my old relationships. Friendships. Old writings. Ideas. Thoughts. Journals. Too much. Too much. Too much!

I’ve managed to eliminate a lot. Because I realize that the people aren’t in those things. They are in me. And so I’ve let a lot of paper evidence go. To lighten the load. And to allow my heart and mind to do the work of remembering, instead of leaving that precious task to a dusty box. Yes, much I’ve shredded, tossed and sent packing. Much I’ve kept.


I’ve found things I’d forgotten. This was one of them. I painted this for an early draft of a book I made with Janet Champ, Ripe. It made me happy to see this again. It felt like amessage that had been sent forward from the past.

At 52 I am far happier than I was when I painted this. Happier in my skin. More content. And I am grateful to be able to use that word full of soft-landings and second chances. I hope time is giving all of you that same gift.

The wind is howling outside. Spring turbulence. Things never sit still, do they?

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10 Responses to The Smile

  1. Cook-Tench says:

    A blog post from you always feels like a gift Charlotte – a rare thing in a world of a billion plus bloggers. Thank you for sharing your wit, intelligence and insights with us.
    PS. Having recently sold a home of 18-years and given away three quarters of my “detritus” I’m feeling much more free and uplifted. It looks like the same is true for you. Congrats on this new chapter.

  2. I LOVE getting rid and giving away. It is incredibly liberating! Best to travel lightly…Love keeping up with you too Diane. Where are you living now, if that’s a comment-correct question. Don’t answer if this arena’s too public. Take care!

    • Cook-Tench says:

      Charlotte, I’ve moved back to Richmond after about eight years away. The city is changing a lot with a growing craft beer industry, tons of startups, and a hip outlook on life along the river. It’s even been named one of the top foodie cities in the US – something unthinkable about 20 years ago. My daughters live here and we cook it up a couple of times a week.

      • That makes me happy. All of the above. You and your daughters cooking together. You back in a the city. The growing excitement. These changes are so healthy. Milan is abuzz too. It’s just taking off. I am excited every time I walk out the door. We’re moving into the historic center and it feels like a totally new start. Here’s to us!

  3. Gerlinde says:

    What a touching post Charlotte . I can feel for you, what do you toss and what do you keep? We have to do it but it is so difficult . I have been living in the same house for over 20 years and I have been pretty good about getting rid of stuff, but some things I just can’t let go and when the days comes it is going to be hard. You did a great job freeing yourself for a new home. Congratulations !

  4. I didn’t get rid of everything Gerlinde. Just a lot. And to come perfectly clean here, I had to. We are moving into a smaller house with an entirely different kind of space. It’s house that requires order. I’m glad. I read a hysterical and useful book that’s being talked about all over the internet now, so probably not news. But I really recommend it to anyone in the process of getting rid of things, because it sort of gives you permission to let things go and explains why it’s OK. I found it very helpful. It’s called “The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up” by Marie Kondo, and where it’s not instructional, it’s actually funny.

  5. dayphoto says:

    What a beautiful and moving post! I always love your blog posts! Wonderful new adventure for you and your family.


  6. Joselin says:

    Soooo happy to see you online again. I describe your blog post as the next best thing to receiving a letter in the mailbox. I envy your ability to go through this process, especially since I haven’t finished “unpackng” since we moved 10 years ago. Unfortunately, I seem to know what’s in each box and can tell you the story it contains without opening it. Every one of those stories feel so so so important.

    I can’t wait to start following your new experiences in your new home. make sure you haven’t in nearby for when we finally make that GPS journey to Italy!

  7. All the blogs I read end up feeling like a friend’s living room to me. (I mostly read a few blogs about farms and food…I must have been a farmer in a former life. And I read yours when it’s there.) I’m glad you’re at home here. And I’m glad it’s one of the tiny ways we keep in touch. It helps.

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