Cheryl's Blog

Sharing history with strangers

It had been nearly an hour of combing through racks of vintage and upcycled clothes when I finally struck gold. Stashed behind a well-worn, olive-green army coat, I spied a sliver of robin’s egg blue that seemed to vibrate with light. I reached for the item only to have my fingers land on fabric that felt worthy of a warm fire and a cozy cup of tea. I gently pulled the garment out of the mix and discovered an intricately knitted cardigan with a lacework collar, fancy front panels, and matching yarn-covered buttons. I put it on over my T-shirt and went to find a mirror.

As a young woman, I loved vintage stores and second-hand shopping. Whether I was furnishing an apartment or my body, it felt like hunting for treasure. The idea of wearing history, recycled materials, and saving money was appealing, and unique pieces often stood the test of time. The items I purchased stayed with me for years.

Standing in the mirror looking at the blue sweater, I knew it was a keeper. When I asked the gal selling it about the origin, I learned that the cardigan had been knitted by her 97-year-old grandmother. “My Nana Aline made all kinds of clothing,” said the proud young woman standing next to two carefully curated racks of garments. “She designed pants and dresses, and she knitted beautiful sweaters. It makes me happy to know you love it.” And I do.

Just yesterday, I struck gold again. After three years of searching for a writing chair for my bedroom, I purchased a vintage, scalloped-back, velvet gem that my friend Susan found on Facebook Marketplace. When we went to pick it up, we learned that it belonged to Claudia, the owner’s mother, who purchased it in the forties. It’s been in their family ever since. After learning about her mom and the history behind the chair, I left feeling like the lucky recipient of a beloved gift.

This morning, wrapped in the blue sweater and sitting in the chair working on this blog, I’m inspired to let my own beloved items find a new home with those who will appreciate their usefulness and/or beauty. Not only does it make letting go of things we no longer love or need easier, it gives us a chance to make new friends. Now, each time I wear the sweater or sit in the chair, I’ll think of Aline and Claudia and smile. Turns out, it’s a lovely thing to share history with strangers.


P.S. – Ready to explore what it means to age consciously and joyfully? Join me at Omega Institute for our Self Care for the Wisdom Years retreat the weekend of October 6th-8th. You can get more info and register here.