Giving Away is Good Medicine

I have learned that “feel the feels” is best done by moving…shaking off anxiety by bouncing on my rebounder…expressing rage by beating a foam bat…catalyzing tears by curling up in a ball on the floor and listening to a sad song.” - Andrea Howe, my old friend and colleague, responding to the May Gazette.

Downsize! Why didn't you downsize? We'll be here the rest of our lives, going through your stuff.” – A lyric from a old friend's as-yet unproduced musical about three siblings getting their late parents’ house ready for sale.

This song plays in my head, unbidden, every time I walk into my office, followed by the memory of cleaning out my mother’s house. I then cringe at the thought of my sons having to go through the papers and pictures from their grandmother’s garage, the ones their father never sorted, along with 50 years of my reviews, headshots, juggling equipment, costumes, masks, journals…you get the idea.

A month ago, a dear family friend offered to help me downsize; much to my amazement, it’s working and I’m even enjoying it! Dusty boxes are bursting with my mother’s and father’s dissertations, her correspondence with my brother after he moved to Rhode Island at 15, notes from my grandfather and great aunt, poems my mother and brother wrote for special occasions. Since I’m the only one left, these yellowed pages are helping me deepen my family relationships.

And I love seeing precious possessions, which have sat, unused, in my office for decades, coming to life again – a puppet from the ‘70s was snatched up even before the staff at East Bay Depot for Creative Reuse could put it on display; a friend now owns, and is repairing, a Pulcinella mask I bought in Venice forty years ago, and three young performers are sporting old costume ensembles from Vaudeville Nouveau, The Pickle Circus, and my first play Dog Tails.

Downsizing, it turns out, means sending your stuff out into the world to make other people happy.

With love,


Faeble Kievman

Photo: My former student Faeble Kievman in my old Vaudeville Nouveau costume and flap shoes I ordered from a cobbler in Arcata circa 1980.