Friday, November 15, 2013

Can I please be a minimalist?

For a few years now I've felt strangled by our possessions.  I can't exactly pinpoint the moment it started. Maybe it was during this last move we made, when it took me months just to get all the boxes unpacked. Maybe it was the moment when I realized that even though the house has what I initially considered to be way more than adequate storage in the kitchen but I still could not fit all our kitchen items into it. Maybe it was another move altogether, even. Lord knows we've moved plenty of times, and each time with more "stuff" than the last. The point is, lately, I really have been wishing that I could just walk away from all of it.

I find myself looking back in time to my first apartment, when I was able to fit everything I (and my son) owned into the bed of a pickup truck. I remember how much I would long to have "things" when I would go to a store window shopping. Having no money was my biggest problem because I wanted nearly everything I saw. I was driven to buy this and that just because I didn't have anything. My creativity would go nuts imagining how things would look in my home. Yet now that I am older and have gotten so many things that my home is overflowing I wonder. Would I be better off without all the clutter? Do I really need to have every surface in my home covered with "pretty things"?

I imagine how nice it would be if I could start and finish cleaning in just a couple hours on a Saturday morning. I imagine how wonderful it would be to open a drawer/cabinet/closet door and not feel like the contents are so disorganized that it's all going to fall out on me.  I recently decided to move some of the items in my kitchen around so that I could store actual FOOD in the kitchen, and moved the small appliances into the pantry in the laundry room. And the funniest thing happened... there were FIVE small appliances that I did not remember having, including one that we have never used yet. How sad is that? 

I have gone through my clothes several times in the last two years.  Before we left Wichita Falls I packed up sixteen big, black 13-gallon trash bags with clothes and shoes that I felt I did not need and donated them to Goodwill.  Then, after moving here, I packed up another seven of them with even more clothes and shoes (some with price tags still on them!) and donated them at a local dropoff for abused women and children.  The result? After all that purging I still have what would probably fit in another ten or so bags of clothing left, more than enough to survive on. In fact, I probably could stand to get rid of some more. I was pondering just this morning whether I should go through all those thirty pairs of flip-flops I have stored in a shoe organizer hanging on the wall behind my hanging clothes. Out of sight, out of mind, but still taking up space that I could probably use for something else.  And don't even get me started on my husband's clothing! We have a HUGE closet, and since I have whittled my clothes down so much and he hasn't yet started on his clothes, he takes up three-fourths of it!

All in all, I keep looking around my home and thinking about the things inside it.  Would I feel more relaxed without having all those how-to books?  Would getting rid of all the extra dishes, bed linens, towels, curtains, and things that are not being used make me feel better?  I already got rid of half our Christmas decorations, and when I recently put the tree up I realized that I still have a LOT of extra stuff that won't fit on the tree, should I get rid of that? How many blankets are too many?

The bottom line is, I am ready for change. I am tired of being owned by my possessions. I am tired of having so much that I am overwhelmed.  If I could get rid of 90% of our things, then maybe I would be able to focus on the really important things. And maybe the house would stay cleaner. But I have a non-supportive husband who is the complete opposite of me - a hoarder! And therein lies the problem. No matter what I do to simplify life and get rid of all the things weighing me (and my spirit) down, he will always be not only hanging onto all the useless things, he will continue bringing in more stuff. Into the garage, of course, but it's still more stuff to pack up and move if we ever decide to do so again. And since we've moved at least twenty times since we've been together, I'm thinking there is a really good chance of that. So I will just continue to get rid of anything that is mine. Maybe eventually, all that will be left of me in our home will be just a few clothes and shoes in our closet. The rest I will leave for him to pack. And unpack.

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