Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Our “We Have Too Much Stuff” Journey…

has been a crazy one. We moved to this home in Sept. 2005, leaving the hustle and bustle of Southern California for the slower pace of Eastern Washington. The problem? We brought all our stuff with us. We filled up two PODS to do it. Seriously. Two years into our new life here, I found myself looking around and wondering to myself, why did we bring all this stuff with us ? What was I thinking? How could I have paid to move this stuff? What did I think I would do with it all? Those thoughts were quickly followed by questions about lifestyle patterns, value systems, and future goals. Why were we reinventing the life we'd been so eager to leave behind? Were we just following patterns we'd absorbed since childhood, without any deliberate plan? (Short answer: Yes!) Obviously, a change was needed. I started reading books and blogs on clutter and organization and living in small places (great sources for ideas about deliberate living) rededicating myself to the ideals I paid lip-service to. I think I sounded like a broken record a lot of the time.

Superman was slow to come aroundholding on to things "just in case". Some of our oddest conversations involved things that came with the house: "Why do we have to keep the hot tub? We don't like the hot tub." "Can't we get rid of the above ground pool? The kids don't use it and it is a lot of work." His responses were varied, but adamant: he didn't want to get rid of them. They added "value" to the property. What? They didn't add value to our lives. They caused us tremendous stresstrying to keep the water levels properly adjusted, paying to keep the hot tub warm, getting the cover on and off the darned poolthey were not worth the energy they required. Honestly? I hated them. Finally, Superman wearied of the discussion and I sold the above ground pool to a family with younger children (look, teenagers don't want to play in 3.5 feet of water). With the departure of the pool, Superman saw the light. He was amazed how much lighter he felt without the worry of the pool. A few months later, the Jacuzzi was gone.

In the two and a half years since I had that epiphany, I've been off-loading belongings like crazy and, sadly, our house is NOT empty. Not even close. But I'm still chipping away, trying like heck to whittle down our belongings to those that a) we use all the time or b) we are passionately in love with. If an item doesn't meet either of those benchmarks, it is gone.

Now that Superman is living away from the family for a year, he's realized how burdened he's felt with the responsibility to maintain our "lifestyle" and how much of our lifestyle we fell into rather than deliberately created. (Yippee!) He's revisiting some of the ideas I presented to him when he wasn't so receptive. One of the most interesting articles I've found recently sums up so many of the things I've learned over the past two yearsif you're at all interested in the topic, you should head over to Small Living Journal. This article on 10 Guidelines for Living Tiny written by Hillary at "thistinyhouse" was absolutely fabulous. No, I don't live small, but the guidelines are applicable to all of our lives.

Two Guidelines to whet your appetites:

"#1 What you own, owns you." think about it. Anything you own requires your attention, your thoughts. Once you get rid of it, the space in your mind that item took is free for other endeavors.

"#2 What makes us feel liberated is not total freedom, but rather living in a set of limitations that we have created and prescribed for ourselves." again, think about it. How much of what you do is because you've actually thought it out and decided that this is indeed the path for you and not because everyone else does it?

What is in store for the next year? Well, with Superman's blessings, more and more stuff is leaving our house. I don't need it, don't want it, and most of all, holding on to it doesn't make me use it, it just makes me responsible for it.

What about you? Am I the only one on this journey?



10 comments:

generationsgoneby said...

No, but I'm not allowed to read posts like this. I already have us down to the bare minimun according to my poor husband (who is only allowed to keep an overstocked garage and man cave) so I try and not get excited about cleaning out any more. I am a true minimalist. LOL

Andrea said...

We have tooooo much stuff and I am slowly convincing the hubby to off load.
Blessings, andrea

Joyfull said...

Thank you for a great post and the links. We have too much stuff and although I try to keep clutter and "things" down to a minimum, I needs lots of help in this area! Cheering with you on your progress though! Keep it up!

Erin said...

Phew! I was worried I was the only one.

Alicia said...

No, you are so not alone! I love decluttering, and one thing I try to do (I got this from my friend) is when I buy something new, I get rid of something old. This prevents clutter! My friends house is sooooooooooo clutter free, it's unbelievable.

Danielle @ Transforming Home said...

I completely agree with you! I make it a point to donate at least one bag of "stuff" to Vietnam Vets every month. And I am much more aware of what I buy now. Who needs all that stuff, anyway?
Have you ever watched Hoarders? I swear watching that show has cut my spending in half....
Danielle

Cheryl B. said...

I found true motivation to 'unload' - the youth group is going on a missions trip this summer to Costa Rica, which equals a very expensive missions trip. They are planning on having a huge fund raiser garage sale this spring, and everybody in the church is encouraged to donate items towards it. I have quite the stack ready to go to their holding spot. ... ... I just won't allow myself to actually attend the sale ... best plan on visiting my out of town kids that weekend o;-p

Thanks for coming by my blog :->
Yes, it can be ground ginger which comes in a little container from the spice section. In-fact, truth be told, that is all I've ever used.

http://thebzhousethatlovebuilt.blogspot.com

PlantSomeRoots@Lakewood said...

This is a great post, Erin! Keeping things manageable makes life so much easier.
Cindy at Lakewood

Growing Up A Country Girl said...

This is a great post - and no you are not alone... I take one room at a time and sort and sort... Stuff goes to goodwill and to the second hand store... I just keep on doing one room at time ... by the time I get to it again there is more to get rid of! I like the idea - you get rid of it and you have space in your brain where that item(s) were.. Motivates me to get going on another room!

JJ said...

One more inspirational post. Thank you. I'm on a declutter journey that involves much more tangible items! So needed another peek into that "I'm not alone world". Good luck to you!