Friday, April 18, 2008

Decluttering

I've been thinking about making a list of goals for my 32nd year. But really, after thinking about it I really only have one main goal for this year: I want to be less of a consumer and live more simply.

This has been a background goal of mine for a couple of years - you know the kind... it sits in the back of your head and you know its there, you just don't give it a whole lot of attention. I'm putting it into action now, though.

Part of achieving this goal, for me, has been to declutter my house and begin to declutter my head. Its been difficult - not difficult to declutter since there is a lot of clutter, but difficult to let go.

I have a basement with a crawl space. Until recently it was filled with boxes of STUFF that were waiting to have something done with them. I had intentions of having a garage sale, so things got packed away. I had intentions of selling clothes and other items on ebay, so things got packed away. Other things got packed away because I thought I might use it sometime in the future. In the meantime, as the crawl space got filled, I got smothered and crowded. Although I didn't actively think about all of that stuff, I could feel it in my gut. And it crowded my mind - I knew it was there, waiting for me to take action on it.

Part of achieving this goal, for me, has been learning how to open my hands. Stop gripping so tightly to all of this and let go - and open my hands to welcome other blessings that I might receive.

Part of achieving this goal, for me, has been to freecycle the following things:
* A brand new sewing machine that I got as a Christmas gift (that I asked for) a couple of years ago. I thought I could learn to sew, but had no ambition to do so... So the machine got packed away "until I have time to figure it out." A couple of weeks ago I gave it away to someone who will actually use it - and my head felt clearer.
* Two full queen size bedding sets. They got packed away because I figured I could get some good money for them in the garage sale that I wanted to have, but never wanted to put the work into. Someone picked them up from my front porch this morning.
* A brand new doorway chin up bar. We bought this along with our exercise machine a few months ago, but it didn't fit in any of our doorways. It got packed away with the intention of selling it on Craig's List. Someone picked it up a few weeks ago and her stepson is getting great use out of it.
* Our second crib, mattress, stroller, & infant car seat. A full crib bedding set. All of these items were being saved with the intention of making money on them at that elusive garage sale. A family picked them all up last Sunday for their baby who is due next month.
* A wok and some extra pans - all sitting in my cupboards waiting around for us to use them - someday. A girl picked them up for her boyfriend a few months ago.
* ELEVEN boxes of girls clothes size 0-3 months - 18 months. ELEVEN BOXES.

My list goes on. I have gotten rid of so much STUFF in the last couple of months. And not surprisingly I still have a lot of STUFF. And still have a lot of STUFF to get rid of. And I'm not dying without the stuff I gave away. I don't miss it. I have not once wished I had any of it back. My head is clearing out as my house is clearing out.

Part of achieving this goal, for me, is to not buy more stuff to bring in to my house. To stop accumulating. I am trying to only buy what is necessary and not excess - including groceries.

Part of achieving this goal, for me, was to buy 1 bottle of Shaklee Basic H and make 3 different kinds of cleaners from it (in addition to its many other uses), rather than have a million different cleaners lying around my house and getting replaced before they were used as I tried something new.

Part of achieving this goal, for me, was to quit my job. This was a big way of decluttering my head. I didn't realize it, but it was taking up unnecessary space in there. And I feel free-er and clearer without it. I also feel much more focused on my kids - and given our knowledge of Georgia, I think that is a good thing:)

Part of achieving this goal, for me, will be to figure out what are the absolute essentials for our family? What is the bare minimum? For example, how many extra sets of sheets do I need in my linen closet? Probably only 2 (beyond what is on my bed), not the 4-5 that are in there. How many shirts do I truly need? How many tshirts do we really need for working out? Which special utensils do we really need and what can we get by without having? How many pans do we need? How many pieces of tupperware? Really, do I need to have cupboards full of stuff for "just in case?" How much tv do I really need to watch?

But you know what I'm not getting rid of? Books. I can't have too many of them and I can't read enough. And I can't set a better example for my girls by keeping them around and showing them that I read a lot. So I will not be freecycling them:) And we will be accumulating more. But then, reading and learning is a high priority for our family - I'm hoping that consuming and accumulating is becoming less of a priority for our family.

Living simply = high priority. Crowding the house and our heads with STUFF = less priority. That is my goal for my 32nd year.

QOTD:
How do you live simply? Give me your best tips because I am open to suggestions!

8 comments:

amanda 1:48 PM  

I LOVE LOVE LOVE this post, Jana!!! Really practical, inspiring advice. I'd really like to de-clutter this place too...and it feels so good to just GIVE stuff away, doesn't it? (Not to say I won't ebay a few things, but overall, I love the feeling of boxing up a bunch of stuff and taking it to Goodwill!)

heidi jo 2:01 PM  

me too. :) wish i could get a handle on my energy issues so i could face mine once and for all. i've done such a good job getting rid of SO much, but like you, i have a LONG way to go... but every time i clear something out of my house it feels like i clear something out of my mind. i totally get this post and how you feel. congratulations on such great progress so far!

Anonymous 2:50 PM  
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Amy 5:05 PM  

Love this post. Here are some things I have done and am trying to do in order to declutter and live simply (we had a MOPS meeting on this a few months ago).

1) Everytime you buy new clothes (for yourself, husband, kids), get rid of some. Or make runs to Goodwill once a month.

2) For the TV thing. Rob and I watched A LOT of TV before we had kids. Then we cut back to just one hour after 6:00PM. Now we have 2-3 primetime shows we watch a week. It's probably harder with sports games (I think you guys watch more sports than we do--we tend to only watch hockey around this time of year when the play offs are going on). I stopped watching some of the regular reality shows like American Idol, Survivor, and the Bacheolor. I thought I would really miss them, but I don't. I also try not to watch TV during the kid's naps every day...but once in awhile I will. I try to do something more productive: cleaing, reading, studying, writing, scrapbooking. Once in awhile I will watch Dr. Phil, but only if the topic interests me.

3) Learn from people who live simply. I read a couple missionary blogs which is really inspiring. They know what it means to live simply more than I ever will. Or volunteer in a poorer area like in a soup kitchen...does not have to be a regular thing, just once or twice. Actually I dream about taking my kids to Mexico when they are a little older and letting them play with the children in the orphanage where I lead mission trips to when I was in Michigan. And doing some relief work or leading activities for the kids while we are there. I learned the most about simple living when I was in Indonesia and Mexico.

This is something we all struggle with. I love to go shopping, but I hate it at the same time...because it just makes me want more.

Jen 7:34 AM  

Focus on the fact the "live simply" is simply a catchy phrase and it looks different for everyone. I tend to have the opposite problem. I get rid of stuff and then months later wish I hadn't b/c it would have been useful!

The kids clothing is something I took my clutter and turned into a business. Now I don't buy for the next season until everything is sold from the last season. Sort of. B/c it's my business, I know what sets will be in high demand so if I see them, I will pick them up. I have a system and it works great for us. You would look at my basement and see about 35 tubs of kids' clothing and I look at it and see a fun hobby I have turned into a business to pay for Christian education.

TV is really not an issue for me. AI and Supernanny is about it for us. Oh, and every White Sox game.

Good luck with your pursuit! :-)

Mommy Brain 9:05 AM  

It is interesting how the Lord will encourage us to aspire to specific goals at certain times in our lives...and I'm sure that if we are obedient we will in time see what his grand design is. Quality over quantity is the way I think I can overcome clutter...still learning very slowly though.

Kristy 9:49 AM  

I love this post too! :) Your a breath of fresh air. It definately is freeing to get rid of stuff. I find it rather ironic,I've been thinking about your post only on the opposite spectrum. Early this morning I was just thinking how I'd like to have more sheets,more cups/glasses,more towels etc.. then I sit down and read your post. My house is rather simple and deluttered already but I've been wanting more 'stuff'. Maybe the Lord is speaking to me through you? ;)

Carol 7:41 PM  

Wow! I love your writing, as I've told you before. Truly inspirational. I love getting rid of clothes in my closet (especially when they are now too big for me!). I just went through my closet this past week and rid myself of sooooo much that I thought I would wear and never did or have had for so long and love, but it is looking worn. I also went through my storage room downstairs. I have recently gotten rid of our dress up clothes and toys the boys have outgrown. Also, all my books and projects from college. I know, I know, it was time. And you're right, it is very freeing. Keep up the good work, my friend! And the good posts!

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