Category Archives: Minimalism

Embarking on a New Path

One beautiful aspect of this life is that there are no constants. 

Now, for a control freak like me, that concept is always first handled with trepidation.

But when I remember that life isn’t stagnant, that change is necessary for growth and to reach goals, I feel emboldened and blessed as I take the first tentative steps on the new path I see before me.

Independence

The BHE and I are both very intelligent and fiercely independent people.  We both would love nothing more than to live off the grid and thrive on our own efforts and ingenuity.

However, living in this time and place, and having been raised the way we were, we both cling to a few ideas of the modern, connected world.  Like health insurance, adult conversation, and the Internet.  I for one would like to know I have a steady income that includes benefits from a company, at least until my children are a bit more mature.  And our farm is functioning independently.

With independence comes greater responsibility, especially for oneself.  When you are beholden to none, you are more so beholden to yourself and your God.  I care not for the judgement of my peers but rather His view on the quality of my stewardship of His earth and gifts.

So the BHE and I have been talking about our options and alternatives.  I am a SAHM who would love to be a WAHM so, by golly, I gotta be independent and forge a new way.

Please, Lord, show me the next path I must thoughtfully walk upon.

Financial Independence

The goal here is to provide for ourselves, our children, our families, and our friends without depending too much on other people.  Reciprocity is the name of the game, rather than being borrowers to lenders, as that never ends well.*

For now, though, we do have a mortgage(s) and car loan (please don’t get me started on my student loans) and two small children.  We must be smart about our steps towards our end goals.  Which is why the BHE returns to work each day.  Which is why I have begun searching out ways to both save and earn.

If I do not have a steady income as a stay-at-home mom, the least I can do is be a good steward of the money we have been blessed with and use the considerable brain power God gave me to come up with new ways to work towards financial independence.

Saving

I’m known for my budgeting and my coupon-clipping and my bill pay spreadsheets… and my penny-pinching.  I will be the first to raise my hand and admit that I am a tight wad.  For all the hosting I’ve done, I can tell you I have upset a few guests in the past with how tight I hold my fist.

I found some new ways to save, and I plan on writing up my reviews of the apps that are helping me do so.  In fact, a couple of the apps are more than Saving; they cross the line into Making.  It is pretty cool.

If you want to get started on your own, I am using:

Checkout 51
Flipp
Coupons
Ibotta
Every Dollar
MobiSave
Walmart’s Savings Catcher
Target’s Cartwheel
And Payless’s (Kroger) digital coupons

Making

I decided to take it one step further.  Part of my approach to minimalism has been selling as well as donating and trashing the things we don’t need or want.  Now, after the passing of my beloved father-in-law and the subsequent inheritance of all of his shit crap garbage hoarded stuff belongings, we have a major inventory with which to work.  Antiques and collectibles, unopened boxes of supplies and tools, decorative items that have no place in our home, clothing and accessories that fit no one we know… the list goes on.

Thank God for the Internet!**  I have opened both an eBay shop and an Etsy shop as well as have posted items on all Craigslist sites that cover areas within an hour drive of me.  Also, if you didn’t know this, go take a peek at what’s around you in terms of Facebook pages labeled “yard sale” or “ rummage” or “swap”.

Here are some items I have up for sale:

blade.jpgashtraycoke-case

 

Here is the link to my eBay store, DeichMileFeirme, and my Etsy shop, Thoughtfully Sought.

Branding

While you’re online, reading this post and checking out my shops and the various apps I mentioned above, go ahead and check me out in the other corners from which I shine.  See the fun, colorful, crazy, thoughtfully sought path we are treading on my Instagram account.my Instagram account.  Find out what inspires me and what my big project ideas are on my Pinterest account.  Go crazy and LIKE my Facebook page.

If you’re trying to make a little extra on the side (and I do mean a little), start stretching your touch to various parts on the Internet.  There’s so much out there, and what goes around comes around. ***

How have you earned a little extra lately? 

What was the big-ticket item you last saved a ton on? 

If you were going to brag about how little you spent at the grocery, how would you explain how you did it?

 

*Proverbs 22:7 – The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.

**Seriously, I think I say that twenty times a day, if not more.

***Hebrews 13:15&16 – Therefore, let us offer through Jesus a continual sacrifice of praise to God, proclaiming our allegiance to his name. 16 And don’t forget to do good and to share with those in need. These are the sacrifices that please God.

A Challenge for You

I feel I’ve hit a block.  Runners get to it.  Writers get to it.  Apparently, minimalists get to it.

Am I A Minimalist?

It is hard to define where I am on the path to Less Equals More.  I know what I want.  I can see with my mind’s eye the ideal I am striving for.

But I can see with my real eyes what my house looks like right now.  I wouldn’t say it is a mess.  In fact, the load on my shoulders feels much lighter, knowing what I have accomplished.

However, you wouldn’t be able to tell I have done anything.  There’s a reason I’m not bothering with before-and-after pictures on the blog.  To the casual visitor, my house doesn’t look changed at all.  Only if you’ve seen me (or the BHE) loading the rear of our SUV multiple times a week for drop-offs at the Trinity Mission or the recycling center would you know I’ve been doing anything different.

I want to reduce.  I want to have less Stuff.  I want less weighing on my mind and filling up my to-do list.  I want more time to invest in my children and my other passions, like visiting and hosting friends, writing for my blog and that fiction novel I’ve been talking about for years, going to parks and volunteering at the library.

I know I can DO more if I HAVE less to take up my time.

But I’m at a Standstill

Between the crawling infant and the rambunctious toddler, between being a friend and a wife as well as working on the renovations in our large old house, between the needs of my family and the need for rest, I feel I’ve come to a standstill in my decluttering work.

I know there is much more to do.  I cringe when my eyes land on the attic door, knowing full well what lies behind it.  Every time I leave the house, there is something in the back of the car that needs to be donated or recycled.

So I know I’m still making progress, but it just doesn’t feel like I’m progressing as fast or as steady as I was.

What’s that line from the tortoise?

It will all happen as it is meant to, through our brain and brawn.  We will keep working towards our ideal.  It may not be a big project that shows amazing results within hours or days.  It may be lots of little projects that will never be seen by the casual eye.

But it will get done.  My shoulders can relax as I know I am making progress each day.

Each day, I look to my List of Sevens to do another little something to move us forward.  Each day, I paw through at least one box from the attic.  Each day, I fill a trash bag or recycling bin with Things we don’t need or are truly trash.  Each day, I remember that getting rid of Stuff will not take as long as it did to acquire it all, now that I’ve seen and felt the goodness that comes with becoming unstuffed.  Each day, I am grateful for God’s grace, life’s blessings, and how I am physically and mentally able to remove the Stuff to make room for more grace and blessings of a less tangible kind.

Maybe I Need to Spice It Up

Join me.  Check out this challenge and think on the reality of it:  are you ready to get rid of the excess?  Are you emotionally and mentally ready to shed the extra Stuff weighing you down?

If so, send me a message or comment below.  We’ll go at it together.  We’ll share photos of our successes.  We’ll virtually back-pat as more gets taken out of our homes.  We’ll give encouragement and challenge each other to take one more step, remove one more Thing, and make one more change that leads us down a cleaner, greener, healthier, happier path through life.

We will WIN this challenge together!

Are you ready to take that step?

 

 

A Thought on Sevens

From a previous post:

The number 7 wasn’t arbitrarily chosen, either.  It is a number that is quite significant in the Bible.  I’ve been trying to incorporate it more into our lifestyle and these changes.

I feel that saying “five more minutes” or “ten Things” or “30 until dinner is ready” has reduced certain numbers to meaninglessness.  You can say something  will take you five minutes, like that’s how long you have until you walk out the door, but that time allotment has lost some meaning from overuse and could be a span from three minutes to 15.

Seven takes some thought.

Seven seems just so exact.  You obviously aren’t rounding or suggesting a number in the ballpark of…but you mean precisely seven.  Or a multiple of seven.

I decided to place this thought elsewhere on our path.  I decided to make a list of projects around the house that could be done in 7 minutes, or in a multiple of 7, for those times where you know you could be productive but don’t know where to start.

So Many Starting Points

We live in a 115-year-old+ house.  When we bought it, it was in definite need of major work.  We worked on it for 6 months before we moved into it.  That was 6 years ago and this little dream of ours has a ways to go before it is “ready.”

However, having two little ones plus the BHE working 55+ hours a week during two seasons a year, it is hard to find large blocks of time to get work done.  We have to break things down into bite-sized pieces if we want to make any progress.

That’s where I came up with the List of Sevens:  a large piece of craft paper, tacked to the wall, with different tasks listed under 7 Minutes, 14 Minutes, 21 Minutes, and 28 Minutes.  (Any project that takes more than a half hour needs to be better prepared for.)

Do It

This list is meant to be a quick reference during those times where we know we can do SOMETHING before dinner, naptime, baths, or whatever is coming our way in our routine.  If it is 5 o’clock and I know I need to start making dinner around 5:30 but I don’t have any other pressing thing to be working on, I can peek at the list where it is posted in our pantry to see what I can do.

Sure, we all know there’s a load of laundry ready to be started or a dishwasher that could be emptied.  But those are daily chores that will get done.  I’m talking about the things we don’t necessarily think of until we are struggling to fall asleep and that little annoying lightbulb comes on in our heads to say, “DING!  YOU COULD HAVE DONE THIS INSTEAD!”

Clean a ceiling fan. Mop the bathroom.  Wipe out the fridge.

Organize the supplies to start painting the upstairs hallway.

Put away laundry.  Scrub the cabinet doors.  Pick 7 DVDs to donate.

Gather all the trash and recycling, and load the bags into the truck.

Write a ‘thank you’ card.  Clean out a file in the cabinet.  Throw away last month’s receipts.

Take inventory of the basement and make a list of what tools we need to buy for the next big project.

One Bite at a Time

What I’ve learned in our approach to a minimalist lifestyle is to break down everything into bites that we can chew in the time we have.

For the bigger tasks and projects, when we do find ourselves with a whole day or even a whole weekend to get some work done, we need to be ready to roll into those projects rather than wasting precious time gathering the tools, discovering we don’t have all the supplies, and making an extra trip to town to go to the store.

What I have also learned is that the more Stuff we remove, the less clutter we deal with in the physical sense, means we have fewer Things in our way on our thoughtfully sought path to creating a cleaner and happier home.  Without stumbling over boxes in the attic or having to move furniture we don’t need just to work on the house we love, we can get more work done and are that much closer to our goals.

Our long-term goals will not be achieved when we are inundated with unwanted work.

Our tasks that lead to completed projects will be finished more efficiently and with ease with fewer Things in our way.

Our to-do list is much more manageable when it is broken down into pieces.  Little pieces.  Seven pieces.

How do you break it down?

Why don’t you try creating a List of Sevens and let me know how that works out for you?

These are a Few of Their Favorite Things

In all of this process, taking these steps on this thoughtfully sought path of ridding the excess, this marathon of which I feel I am just at my starting line, I have suffered two great losses.  My beloved grandmother passed away in February and my grandfather followed shortly thereafter in July.

Let us not address the emotions right now.  Let me bypass the discussion on grief.  Let me bring down that wall, for now, so that I may continue on with our discussion of Stuff and minimizing and jettisoning and becoming unstuffed.

Let me be cold about the pain for a bit while I focus on the steps I’m taking towards Minimalism.

Other People’s Things

My grandparents had multiple lifetimes’ worth of Stuff in their 3 bedroom, 2 dining room, 2 living room, 2 bathroom, 2 car garage house.  Lucy was in her late 80s and Frank was in his mid 90s when they passed away.  They had two sons.  Each of their sons had two children.  They came from large families where each member in turn had a large family. My grandfather was a veteran of WWII and my grandmother was a sentimentalist.  And a clothes horse.

Dear Lord did Lucy have a lot of clothes! 

Holy Mother, I wasn’t aware how much she had until a trip to their house shortly after her funeral.  My grandfather led me into the front bedroom to show me the closet.  I picked through blazers and lightweight jackets to see what fit my body and my lifestyle*.  Then he took me into the back bedroom for more of her clothes, the casual wear and sporting wear (golf and brisk walking, people, really).  Then we went into the walk-in closet in their bedroom.

Seriously, what on Earth was this little old lady doing with ALL THESE CLOTHES!?  Holy crap, people.  I think I took 5 or 6 totes FULL of clothes, the great big totes, and maybe five garment bags stuffed with coats and such…and took maybe only a third of what she had.

She made her own stuff or bought really high quality clothes.  She didn’t own a stitch of denim, everything was very classy and smart.  She was my height with a similar build, albeit with much less butt and thigh, at her healthiest.  But she shrank and twisted as the years went on, so she was a rather short and boney lady in the end.  I’m not.  So most pants and skirts plus shoes and accessories were left behind.  I’m told a charity connected to the Catholic church came in, boxed it up, and took it to where it can do some good.

Picking Through the Pieces

It was 5 months later, after my grandfather passed, that I finally went through those totes. I had to!  With all the other household Things we acquired, even with all the shedding of Stuff before this happened, I needed the space.  Things had to go!

I re-applied the Konmari approach.  I tried on everything.  If it didn’t fit, needed mending (or shoulder pads removed), or truly wasn’t my style, it went in the discard pile.  Also, there were a lot of sets, like she made a jacket, skirt, and slacks out of the same material.  If the jacket fit but the two bottoms didn’t, I put all three into the Donate pile.  Someone somewhere will have some really high-quality suits.  If the whole suit fit but the jacket had shoulder pads, I first thought I could one day sit down and do the necessary tailoring to remove the pads.  Then I realized that was a pipe dream because (a) I don’t want to make the time for that nor (b) do I have the skill necessary to do it right.

Donate pile!

I’m quite happy with, and know I am very blessed with, the items which do fit me: my body, personality, and lifestyle.  I also know that just about every item has my tears on it because it all smelled like Lucy and some pieces even had a tissue in a pocket or a jeweled pin on the collar.

Hold up, gotta bring that wall back down!

I know, this is a lengthy post about Stuff and I’ve given you way more details than necessary about going through hand-me-down clothing, but this is cathartic and healing and you’re still reading.  Thank you.

And Again

So after Grandpa died, the situation at their house was much different.  After Grandma, there was still someone living in that house, using those Things, looking at Stuff.  What Grandpa wasn’t using, like Lucy’s clothes and the Christmas decorations that were still out, was what could go.  As the only granddaughter, that meant to me.

After Grandpa, the whole house needed dissected, split apart, divvied up, whatever you want to call it.  Three bedroom suites, two sets of dining room tables and chairs, two living rooms’ worth of furniture, a combined 180+ years of photos and memorabilia.

There was just. So. Much.

I came home from the 3-day trip with a box truck full of furniture, beds, linens, a vacuum, THREE SETS of ancient wedding china, TWO SETS OF CRYSTAL THAT I HAVE NO EFFING CLUE WHAT TO DO WITH, these damned totes full of toys from when I was a kid AND WHEN MY DAD WAS A KID, and lots of odds and ends like incomplete sets of silverware, FIVE NUT CRACKERS, table lamps we’ll gratefully use, and so much more.

Thank God we began Unstuffing before all of this.

So we picked up our pace with cleaning out Stuff and getting Things to various donation centers.  We sold nice things for cheap on Craigslist and Facebook. We made hard and fast (very, very fast and surprisingly not so hard) decisions on what stayed and what could go and what must go.

Don’t Tarnish the Memories

I’ve personally had to learn to let go of things I wasn’t even aware would hurt until I said goodbye.  It was hard going through Lucy’s clothes just like it was hard to walk away from the really nice furniture in the front living room that had so many memories attached to it.  It was hard not taking decorations off their walls that I knew they cared about and that had stories to go with them.  It hurt to turn around and sell the one bedroom suite we have no room nor need for, just because I know what it meant to them.

There was just so much we had to let go.

I just had to remember that the people I love are not in their Things.

Have you clung to some Thing in your home that is not necessarily yours but rather an item which you feel you MUST hold onto?

What have you considered ridding yourself of only to keep it because of guilt?  Because you think it would hurt their feelings?  Because you don’t want to seem ungrateful?

What bit of clutter is just as much a Thing in your house as it is Stuff weighing on your mind?

 

*I later joked with my father about how going through Lucy’s clothes was like shopping with unlimited credit at Librarians R Us.  Librarian Bryant?  J.C. Library?  Libraropostale!

Bless Someone Else

One step I took earlier on in this process of decluttering and unstuffing was researching the best places nearby to take my excess.  I didn’t want to throw perfectly good, usable items into the trash.  I wanted to make an impact.

I wanted our excess to become someone else’s blessings. 

I asked in a Facebook post what others thought about places that receive donations.  I located a local church that has a thrift shop, I contacted the YWCA in a nearby city, I dug around for information on women’s shelters, I looked up the ways places like Goodwill and The Salvation Army actually help people, and I contacted friends and family who I thought could benefit from some of our Stuff.

Although it would have been much, much easier to just load everything up and drop it off at the Trinity Mission, I felt compelled to take the extra step to know in my heart I made a good effort in finding the best way to help others.

Where is it needed?

I encourage you to do the same when you begin unstuffing your life.  Find out who needs help and how you can help them.  Look into the local charities around where you live.  Personally, we live in a small community in a county with a small population where the majority of people have very low incomes.  So I’d like to help my neighbors, as it were, not just savvy shoppers in the city.

It wasn’t about my Stuff finally having meaning; it is about meaning to help with all the Stuff.

I took all the unopened frilly bath products to the YWCA.  I donated our extra sheets, blankets, pillows, towels, and other linens to the homeless shelter.  I dropped off lots of kitchenware like silverware sets, glasses, crockery, etc. at the Salvation Army.  I gave bags and bags of women’s professional attire to a women’s shelter that gives what it doesn’t use to a women’s prison.  Now I just need to figure out where to take all these paperback books*…

Let us not forget about SELLING our Stuff! 

My goodness, you don’t have to look at it all as a complete loss.  I mean, the Things you donate should leave you with a sense of peace and that you’ve done something good and generous.  Let’s not discount the intrinsic value of this!

But we can be practical and say that some of your Stuff could be sold.  Have a yard sale if you want.  Personally, that is a no-go for us.  I see that as a lot of work for little return; the BHE sees that as an open invite to people we don’t necessarily want coming onto our property to look at what we have, can afford, and may possibly have better versions of in the house.  Yes, I think he’s a bit paranoid and overly protective, but yes, I can see his point.  Me?  I think it is much easier to snap some pictures with my smartphone and upload them to Facebook yard sale groups I’ve joined.

And don’t forget Craigslist and Freecycle!

Let me give you a pointer, though.

When it comes to those yard sale groups and Craigslist, price your Stuff low.  Not just reasonably (so many people on Craigslist are unbelievably unreasonable with their prices) but I mean loooow.

I sold two dresser sets for $30.  TWO!  I think I posted them both for $20 but since the first buyer to contact me wanted both sets and was coming that day to pick them up, I was ok with $30.  The FIVE PIECES of furniture that I wanted gone were gone and done so quite quickly.  And I made 30 bucks.  It opened up the space in our room for the bedroom suite we acquired when my grandfather passed.

Today, as I type, someone is meeting the BHE to purchase a stand mixer that I received as a gift, used twice, and have kept on a shelf for a couple years.  It was new at about $40.  I saw another like it on Craigslist for $30.  Are you kidding me?!  Go low, people, if you actually want to sell the Stuff.  I don’t care about the money so much as getting rid of the excess.  Five dollars!  Yes, five bucks for the mixer.  Get it out of my house!

Now I’ve got $5 I didn’t have yesterday AND that unused Thing taking up space is GONE.  Woot!

Thoughtfully seek out that which you don’t need or use.

We are trying to get ourselves back on the path to a better diet.  Our dietary lifestyle has derailed a bit since the arrival of our second child.  Convenience foods are more than that when you’ve got a toddler and a breastfeeder in the house (both the baby and the mommy need more).  Sadly, convenience foods are rarely good for you.  I’m not saying those pretzel sticks are unhealthy to the point they’ll kill me, but they are a processed wheat product and they are not organic.

We needed to dig through our pantry and the extra storage (the coat closet has boxes on the floor where I put the dry goods I buy in bulk… out of sight, out of mind means the chips last longer!) to pull out the things we really shouldn’t be eating.  We are blessed in that we can be particular about the foods we consume.  We are fortunate to have the options of buying organic or eating fresh vegetables rather than state-approved cereal.

There is a food pantry in the nearby city that happily and gratefully accepted the grocery sacks of dry goods that, if I were adhering to the dietary lifestyle we have determined to be the healthiest for our family, I shouldn’t have bought in the first place.

Where can you take your excess Stuff?

What is worth the time and effort to try to sell?

Who truly needs what you only want or even don’t want?

How can you help with the Things you’ve already bought?

And consider those donations not just for tax write-offs but also for that tithe the Holy Bible talks about.  And consider that the tithe is only ten percent, where a true Christian would give much more than that.

 

*Yes, your local library wants your books.  If you have really nice copies of popular books, maybe they can replace their well-read ones on the shelf.  Maybe they can turn around and sell your books for 25 or 50 cents and use the proceeds to buy back-to-school materials for local kids or a new resume creation station for the unemployed.  Seriously, libraries love your books.  But they also have a lot of other people that do the same thing.  And the extras, the books that don’t go on their shelves, the ones that don’t sell in the monthly used book sale?  Those go to a recycling center (if we’re lucky) or the dump (at least paper is biodegradable).  I guess I’m hoping to find, like, a prison that needs to stock its library with paperback mysteries published 10 years ago.

Together on the Path

About a month ago, I really stepped up my game of removing the excess from our life.  I’m talking the Stuff in our house as well as the mental clutter that comes from too much going on in our minds and in our home.

However, let us note, that I do not live in a bubble.  I live in a large house with my husband and two children as well as our pets, and we often open our home to our friends and family.  In fact, the BHE’s family lives very close to us.  This is why he definitely had to be in on what I was doing with my days while he was at work.

Thoughtfully informing so it was lovingly embraced…

The BHE was on board with what I was doing for a handful of reasons.  He, too, recognizes the need for less Stuff, for owning only what you truly need or truly love.  The rest of it is just Junk.  He agrees that less Things means less work:  less cleaning and moving and decorating and baby-proofing and so on.

Since deciding that we would like to sell our house and move into a smaller home, we can easily see it is time to remove lots of the Stuff.  Do it now and every day rather than have to box it all up to move it and again go through all the Things we’ve acquired, whether we want it or not.

It is the right thing to do.

He also sees, as I do, how unchristian it is to have all this Stuff.

Never did Jesus say we needed to accumulate loads of Crap just because we are able.  That’s actually quite ungrateful of us, to seize every blessing we can, to excess.  It is also unchristian to not share, to not provide for the needy, to not give and be generous.

When we were buying all this Stuff, we weren’t thinking how it would help those less fortunate than us; we weren’t thinking how all these possessions would better us or the world.  We were just getting Things because they fit in our house or were on sale or looked nice or could possibly fill that blank spot on the wall, in the living room, by the back door, or in our minds.

Yeah, no, it doesn’t work that way.

It was in Ruth Soukup’s Unstuffed that I was reminded that what we have isn’t truly ours but rather God’s.  These Things are His and we were chosen to be His stewards.  So what are we doing with His money!?  Does He really want that Thing, that one more piece of Junk, which fits the theme of that one room in our house?  Or would He rather I spend those fifteen bucks on dry goods I can drop off at the food pantry?

For real, people.

Ask yourself that question the next time you are at a store looking at a Thing that some part of you thinks you want:

What else could I do with that money?

Ask yourself this one, too:

What else could I do with the time it will take me to care for this Thing?

After all, it will need transported home, cleaned, placed, cleaned again, and will eventually end up blending with the scenery or becoming just another Thing in all the Stuff weighing you down.

Do you really need more to weigh you down?  Does your family want to be more weighed down?  Don’t we all want to be a little bit lighter in our hearts and minds?

Jettison

There has been this growing need in me to rid our home of the excess Stuff.

As you know, I did a 40-Day Challenge last year, where I created a list of 40 places around my home that needed cleaned out.  Like, serious tackling and organizing and folding and trashing and moving and cleaning.  I actually enjoyed the process, and I promised myself I would do a similar challenge once a year.  We have a large house and it is just full of Stuff, so I need to stay on top of organizing and cleaning it.

Except… I don’t like cleaning!  

I’d rather spend my time doing other things.  Like reading and writing and playing with my kids.  But I have all this Stuff that I need to clean.  Or do I?

What on Earth are we doing with all this Stuff?

We don’t NEED it.  We are inundated with the Things that have accumulated in our lifetimes, from what we had when we met to what we are buying every day.  Let’s not even get started on the attic full of Stuff from the BHE’s father’s house.* Then there are the things we’ve acquired since having children.  Y’know, the furniture, clothes, books, toys, gifts, random colorful things that appear… I hear it gets worse when they start school. *freak out*

So, yeah, overload.  I am a stay-at-home mom that overthinks and was starting to feel like I was drowning in Stuff, and I decided it was time to jettison what we weren’t using.  Not clean it up, organize it, label it, pack it away, display it neatly, or whatever.

It is time to just get rid of it.

The first question I asked myself was what did I hate the most about my “job” as a SAHM.  Simple.  Laundry.  Well, I guess I wouldn’t have as much laundry to do if there weren’t as many clothes, towels, sheets, et cetera around here.  Seeing as I would need to convince my overly sentimental husband that it was time to start shedding the excess, I figured starting with my own Stuff would be best.

I did read Marie Kondo’s work on “tidying up” and decided to follow the guideline of taking everything out of my drawers and closet, tossing or donating what I hadn’t worn or didn’t fit or didn’t like, and then trying on every last Thing I had put in the “keep” pile.  Let me tell ya:  that pile shrank considerably.**

I worked my way around the house, doing a major sweep of the obvious Stuff.  I loaded up boxes and bags of books I’ll never reread from our library, knick knacks that were gifts I never cared for sitting on the mantel, jewelry I don’t wear, blankets we don’t use, toys that haven’t been touched since they were unwrapped back at Christmas or birthday or the previous Christmas.  Gone gone GONE because I’m done done DONE*** with all the Stuff and Things overloading our home and therefore our minds and hearts.

We are not materialistic people, so why on Earth do we have so many Things?!

In this round of the purging of Stuff, it did become apparent there were things we had to buy.  The BHE cleaned out his clothing, too:  he had many more drawers and an extra closet than I do.  Seriously.  He discovered that there were a few base items he truly needed or had to replace.  So I decided to set a rule:  for every one Thing you purchase, you must take out seven items. 

If you need three new undershirts, you better be ready to toss or donate 21 other articles of clothing.  If you buy a cutesy coffee mug, there are seven other cutesy, knick-knacky Things that MUST GO.

The number 7 wasn’t arbitrarily chosen, either.  It is a number that is quite significant in the Bible.  I’ve been trying to incorporate it more into our lifestyle and these changes.  I feel that saying “five more minutes” or “ten Things” or “30 until dinner is ready” has reduced certain numbers to meaninglessness.  You can say something  will take you five minutes, like that’s how long you have until you walk out the door, but that time allotment has lost some meaning from overuse and could be a span from three minutes to 15.

Seven takes some thought.

Seven seems just so exact.  You obviously aren’t rounding or suggesting a number in the ballpark of…but you mean precisely seven.  Or a multiple of seven.

How many Things have you taken out of your life (and out of your way) today?

What is your goal of how much Stuff to get rid of this weekend?

 

*Ok, I’ll briefly get into it.  My father-in-law (FIL) is a hoarder, plain and simple.  Years ago, in an effort to help his father and work on his father’s house, the BHE went through a couple of the rooms that were just full of boxes of Stuff.  What seemed to have any value was boxed up, moved into a storage unit, moved to a different storage unit, and eventually moved into our attic.  I don’t want to stop to calculate how much money (and time!!) we’ve spent on all this Stuff that we don’t even want.  Truly, the point in not throwing it straight into a dumpster or burn pile was to sell it.  I can say without any hesitation or calculations that whatever money we may make off of selling all this Stuff would not equal what we’ve already paid for it.

**No matter how much weight you gain and lose or how you may weigh the exact same 10 months post-partum that you did before you were pregnant, your body isn’t shaped the same.  It will never be the same, not after creating and sustaining another life.  Sure, I can fit those Tommy Hilfiger jeans I bought when I was 19, but that doesn’t mean they look quite right nor feel in any way comfortable when I try to sit down.  Key word here is “try”.

***Anyone else have a Modest Mouse song stuck in their head now?