I like to have homes for things so that I always know where to find them. My car keys, when not in use, are on the console table, just as you walk in the front door. My facial routine is supported by my having all of the supplies for taking care of my face (cleanser, toner, moisturizer) conveniently tucked away in a small basket that I keep under my side of the vanity. All of the cloth bags that I use to carry groceries, along with the mesh bags for veggies, etc, all are neatly rolled and placed in a basket that lives in my van, so that when I stop at the grocery store I can gather up the basket and have everything I need (if I’ve got clean glass bottles that the milk came in, they’re placed in the basket so that I don’t forget them), etc.

Well, my mailbox key has a home. It lives in the change slot of my van. I always put the keys back where they belong. But about a week ago, I didn’t. Put them back, that is. Where they belong, because the next day, when I went to retrieve the mail, the mailbox key wasn’t there, in its little home.

Where could it have gone? I searched the house. I cleared off and dealt with all of the mail that had been accruing, in case it had gotten mixed up in the mail. I cleaned out the van, including vacuuming (something I’ve been meaning to do for weeks now, but had just not been getting to it), and clearing out the two boxes where I store things like kleenex, pens and pencils, a pair of scissors, dental floss, sunscreen, lotion, an emery file, my pair of sunglasses that don’t fit in the sunglasses spot because they’re too big, the CD cases for the CDs in the machine in the car, etc.

Still no mailbox key. I’ve recruited my family in helping me look. I even went so far as to send out an email to our local road association to see if maybe I had left the key in my box and someone had taken it for safe-keeping but then forgot to get them to me. Nope. No response. No one can find the mailbox keys.

So, I call the post office to see if there is some easy way to get a new mailbox key. There is! I wasn’t quite sure if they were going to rekey the lock or have someone come out and figure out how to make a new key to fit the existing lock, but someone from the post office was, for $35, going to get me a new key. But, Wednesday was Veteran’s day, so I would have to wait until Thursday or Friday.

Okay. I can wait. It’s interesting driving past the mailbox, knowing that I’ve got mail that I can’t get to. Knowing that I know I’ve got a check in the mailbox from my Star Wars singing gig.

I finally, this morning, started thinking about what it would be like to just get the mail once a week, when, as I was waiting for some women to show up at the local coffee place and was killing time, cleaning out my purse, I pulled my red sunglasses (the ones that do fit in my special sunglasses spot in the van) out of the purse and started to put them where they belong. Only that spot is jingling. With my MAILBOX KEYS!

I must have, in a hurry, handed the mail to Megan (who would ordinarily have gotten the mail, but wasn’t because of her sprained shoulder), and then put the keys up where the sunglasses go.

Totally out of my routine, and obviously not in the moment. If I’d been fully present, I would have noticed that I wasn’t putting the keys where they belong.


I did manage to find them, and then call the post office. I called the guy just in time, so he didn’t come up to do whatever magic he was going to do. I didn’t have to pay $35 to get a copy of a key that I had found. (By the way, the reason I keep calling them the mailbox keys, as if there were more than one on that ring has to do with the fact that there is more than one key on that ring. There is the mailbox key and then there is a gold-colored skeleton key. The Skeleton key is the charm on the keychain, except that because it’s a key, it doesn’t seem like the charm, though it has charm.)

I’m happy about that.

This also gave me an opportunity to see just how much junk mail I get in a week. I’m going to be calling and canceling a number of catalogs this afternoon. I had done a purge awhile ago, but seem to have gotten on a few more lists again.

So, what did I learn? To slow down and smell the roses (and put away the mailbox key). And to notice that nothing happened when I didn’t get to pick up the mail every day. It was much easier to process all the mail that I picked up today, all at once.

Hmmm, maybe I’ll just pick up the mail once a week. Nah. But I will process it each day. That way I won’t have piles and piles of mail on every surface.

Whaddya think? Will it work?