March 2013 Quote–and thoughts about Stuff

Be

Truthful,

Gentle

and Fearless.

Gandhi

I retook a class last weekend that reminded me of some important values and desires of my life. How support is so critical in moving forward. It also helped me identify where I’ve been getting stuck (More on that later, I have a post drafted)

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Stuff. Consumerism. Excess. Then yesterday I read this post from Dooce about her own reflection on Stuff and life changes. And quite honestly, I’m feeling a bit disgusted with myself and all the physical Stuff I’ve collected over the years. When I was single, like post college/early Seattle years, I moved every 9-12 moths. I learned to keep only the most important sentimental items so I wasn’t lugging around all this Stuff from house to house to apartment.

Lately I’ve been looking around my house and just feeling paralyzed by all the Stuff. I have this anxious energy to purge. Granted, being honest with myself, some of this is also wanting order and not so much chaos. In my worst anxiety moments, when I have trouble sitting still, I can’t even think if certain aspects of my house are out of order. Yes, I talk to my therapist about this. Yes, I’ve been working on reducing the list of Stuff that has to be in the Right Place so I breathe and deal with the issue at hand. Which usually has nothing to do with the Stuff to begin with.

I digress.

I’ve been slowly purging small spaces in the house. When I put the holiday decorations away this year, I got rid of a lot of stuff. I’m determined that those decorations are maintained to 4 storage containers and no more (maybe you think even that is a lot, maybe you think that’s nothing) This past week I’ve been cleaning shelves in the kitchen. Getting rid of old mugs, even some that at one point held sentimental value (goodbye big-ass Philly mug from Starbucks).

We are talking about redoing the family room and need to pick the weekend in March to actually do the transformation. I think it’s a perfect opportunity to purge that space and get organized. My vision of the room is like a Real Simple article…bins with labels, everything in its place, children putting toys back on the shelf. I want the room to look lived in, I also want the room to be free of tornado aftermath.

I was thinking this morning that when I was a teenager, and my dad got totally fed up with the state of my room, I would be sent there and not permitted to leave until it met Standard. I don’t think he realized how much I loved doing that. Yes, I was a pat rack (I kept *receipts* from memorable experiences with friends and family) but I did purge some stuff. Plus, I got to blare my stereo with whatever band/album I was obsessed with at the time.

We live busy lives. Norman and I both work and have our own individual activities that help keep us sane and feeling fulfilled. A has her own list of events and friends and classes outside of school. What I’m trying to say here, is as much as I want to lock myself in the house for a week and do nothing but purge and organize, I need to be realistic with myself that I can only eat that elephant one bite at a time.

I think the happy medium is to actually schedule time on my calendar to eat that elephant. To create an agreement with my husband and my child that for that time, I want to be left alone with my organizational mind, trash can and music. To look at everything I pick up with a critical eye if I truly need that Stuff or if I can take a picture for the memories and move forward (hello Kid Art!) Even better – each one of us should have a list of areas to purge. The family room is the best place to start so we can do the room transformation on time and take it off the home project list.

When I feel the need to change I often don’t verbalize it. Then no one knows, I can continue to beat myself over the head and I don’t have to face the work. So here is my first declaration to the universe that I’m ready to move forward with reducing the Stuff in my life. (Bonus – I believe doing so will open up other opportunities in my life) Particularly since this Stuff rules space in my brain that can be better utilized.

And so the work begins….

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