Too much stuff?

Another re-post from my blog.

Who can honestly relate to the harsh reality of having too much stuff?  Who grows weary of all the “stuff” that fills up our homes, our time, our lives?  Who is tired of schlepping possessions around?  Who just wants to say “chuck it all”?  I’ve been there for so much of my life.  I move a lot.  I get tired of staying in one place (and I think it has to do with clutter).  Honestly, I could live in an RV and just travel around, but I have this little problem of toomuchstuffitis!  I really do.

For a little backstory, I used to have few possessions.  Quality items that lasted.  But I was a kid and my parents had bought them for me.  At one point, though, my dad had decided to semi-retire and we were living on one income and we had to cut corners where we could and I wore a lot of hand-me-downs from my cousins.

It all began when I had moved out on my own and kinda went off on this “I need to buy this to make me happy” spree.  It was a spree that lasted about, oh, two decades.  I didn’t buy expensive stuff and I didn’t buy stuff every day, but it was enough.  Cheap.  Unsuitable.  Didn’t fill the void. This was one of the best times of my life, but I had this deep place in my soul that ended up being filled with “stuff” every time I had a bad day or I saw something I just had to have!  Oh, I can’t live without that!  Sure.  Been there?  Done that?

Then I got married and we had a baby.  Wow.  If it was on sale, I bought it.  Couldn’t resell any of it at consignment, because it was all off the $1 rack from the big box store.  We did buy quality glass bottles and BPA-free teething rings (which BPA-free may be worse than actual BPA, by the reports I’m seeing) and we bought a quality 4 stage crib that turns into a full-size bed, eventually, when we buy the rails for it.  I can’t tell you how much stuff I brought into our house.  The older he got, the more I bought to make me happy that was really just junk that I thought was crap he needed.  But the more I pay attention to what he plays with, all we really need to keep are the Legos and a few sticks out of the back yard.  Seriously.

He doesn’t wear all the clothes, even though they were on sale and I bought them a size too big so he could wear them longer.  He doesn’t read all the books I bought at the library sale.  He doesn’t play with all the toys we’ve bought and he’s broken half of them, because they were cheap and he really didn’t care about them.

But I sure felt better about buying it all.  Until bills were due and I didn’t have all the money.  And then we had to move (not because of the money) and I had to pack up all that junk and move it.  We don’t hire movers.  We do it ourselves.  Every.  Single.  Time.  And the older we get, the less we want to move.  Our next place will be our permanent place.

This last move required that we get rid of as much as possible.  Mind you, 7 years ago we had a 3/2 house that we were renting.  It was FULL.  We have gotten rid of more and more and more and more things, possessions, and junk as we go along.  And we STILL have too much stuff. When I look at pictures of homes I admire, they aren’t the big mansions that are filled with priceless works of art.  They aren’t modern homes full of all the latest tchotchkes and gadgets.  They are the homes from the 40’s, 50’s, and 60’s.  They have limited, but quality items that are able to be put somewhere and not clutter up the house.

I keep seeing these quotes and articles about what needs to be kept.  I have problems with all of these.  I don’t like all the stuff I have, but I can’t get rid of it, because:

  • someone gave it to me
  • I might need it some day
  • I may have to buy it again if I get rid of it
  • it reminds me of some point in time with good memories  (makes me feel good)
  • I know I have to keep moving it and cleaning around it, but I can’t part with it because X,Y, and Z.

Well, that has to end.  I’ve separated from so many items, it’s unreal.  All I ask for in gifts now is gift cards, coffee, and chocolate.  I don’t need to bring anything else into the house.  I have stuff I still need to part with and acquiring more things is not going to help.

So far, we have:

  • sold furniture
  • sold old electronics
  • thrown out/shredded useless paper items beyond their retention period
  • gone through clothes we don’t wear anymore or never like (but bought because they were cheap)
  • sold toys or donated them
  • donated books and magazines or sold them to a used book store
  • donated to thrift stores that support women and children’s shelters

Wow.  Have we gone through the stuff.  Our last garage sale did really well.  But we still had to rent a 15′ truck to move.  Mind you, we kept our bed, dressers, 4-stage crib/bed, ALL of my kitchen stuff (which I use), plants that I love, and other things that we have not parted with yet, or have no desire to.  You know, keepsakes.  I still have about 3 HUGE boxes to go through that are literally all paper and junk.

The freedom that comes with minimizing (yes, I said it) is amazing.  I had so much fear about letting things go with such unreasonable emotions as stated above.  When I started letting it go and we made a few bucks off of selling things, it almost became addictive!  Then I’d hit a brick wall and have to keep something.  At that point, I’d quit.  I found over and over that once I hit that wall, it was best to just take a break and try again later. But letting it all go was so freeing!

Now, when I consider any purchase, I keep in mind these things:

do I need it?

is it useful?

is it beautiful?

is it quality?

will it end up causing frustration (taking up space, etc)?

I’ve NOT bought many things due to these questions.  Do i really want it?  Or is it just going to satisfy some temporary need in my moment?

As I consider our next home (can you say IKEA?) and the furniture I want in it, there are clean lines; muted, but light colors (with pops of accent color, of course!);  open spaces; empty cabinet tops; uncluttered closets; small storage spaces that aren’t jammed full.

Simplicity is such a beautiful word and brings peace and rest to mind. And the freedom that comes with all of these things being gone from our house has made for less time spent cleaning, less time looking for things, less time moving a pile of papers from the end of the dining table to the edge of the desk (crash!), more time and space to do things like build with Legos (and they’re easier to find now, too!), more time to go out and do things, more time, more time, more time, and more space.  All that fear I had about letting things go was 99% unfounded.  I’ve not missed most of it and I can’t remember most of what I let go!

Freedom.  Simplicity.  Space.  Time.  Life.

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