The Quest for Less
In the past year or so I've become more aware of the minimalist movement and how I can actually apply that to my life. I've always been pretty disorganized, and I can also be a bit of an impulse shopper. I'll buy something because it's pretty, or I think it's cool (usually online) and then find that it's really not that great and it ends up in a junk drawer or just taking up space on my counter. I moved recently, and in the process got rid of literally truckloads of household items. It was horrifying and rather embarrassing. I really had no idea I had so much useless stuff; clothes, artwork from when my kids were little (ALL their artwork), bits and pieces of lumber, old electronics, papers and documents I don't need anymore etc. It was endless. When it was put together for disposal, my entire garage floor was a huge pile of junk.
The thing is, having so much stuff is stressful. It really is. You know it's there – you look at it and then walk away because it's really just too much to deal with – or at least that's what I do. Out of sight out of mind – except it's not out of mind. Once I'd had it all removed the relief was enormous; life altering! I felt lighter, physically, mentally, spiritually – all of it. I had no idea how much it was weighing me down until it was gone.
I'm moving again soon (that's another story!) and I realized yesterday that the process is nowhere near to being complete. There is still a lot of clothing that I don't need, even after getting rid of so much. There's more household stuff that needs to go, quite a bit actually. So the purge will begin again! And this time I'm actually looking forward to it. I'm looking forward to feeling and being lighter still with fewer encumbrances in my life.
Last night I watched a couple episodes of “Tidying up with Marie Kondo” on Netflix. Marie Kondo has a couple of books and is the current Queen of Organizing. I actually really enjoyed the program – she's lovely; the woman oozes charm and energy and happiness – she's pretty hard not to love. Marie talks about whether or not an item gives you a “spark of joy”, in other words, is it something that makes you happy, something you need/want to keep? If it doesn't she says to thank the item for its service and discard it. Marie also gives advice on how to fold clothes and how to organize drawers etc. Sounds dry and boring – not so! This woman is so good that I'm actually looking forward to piling all my clothes on my bed and deciding what sparks me and what doesn't, and then folding accordingly. If you knew me you'd realize how very bizarre this is! I watched two episodes and both times the families she worked with were so much happier and “lighter” when they were finished with her method. They positively glowed. You could see the change in them and I want that glow!
Many of us become very caught up in our “stuff”. The clothes, and the gadgets and the newest thing – and then with our busy lives it's so easy to just let it accumulate and not necessarily even know what we have. So this next move I'm going to do it again. I'm going to go through all my things and decide what it is that I actually want, what it is that sparks my joy. The older I get the more I'm realizing that the stuff doesn't matter so much – everything doesn't have to look perfect, or match, or be new. I don't have anyone to impress but myself and that's the most important thing. If I have things that are meaningless, that do nothing for me except cause stress, if I'm so disorganized that I go buy something I forgot that I already had because it's away in some mess of clutter and I can't see it (yes, I do this regularly) then what is the point?
I've been very conscious lately of using less disposable stuff – things like paper towels, disposable cleaning wipes, excessive plastic etc., and I think this is all along the same continuum. I feel the need to have a smaller “footprint” with the veganism, the recycling, the composting and the awareness of the waste I put out in the world. All this extra “stuff” is waste too. It's a waste of money, of time, of brain space, of stress, and ultimately it ends up in the land fill (or at least a large portion of it does) – I donate what I can, but in the end some it is just garbage. And that's not OK.
In an hour or so, I'm going to watch another episode or two and then tomorrow I'm going to work on it some more. I got a little bit done today and already feel so much better. I have a tendency to complain a lot without actually doing anything about my life, and today I felt the momentum begin to build a little – so onward! Bring on the lightness!