One Step at a Time

We spent all day Saturday . . really . . all day . . cleaning.  There’s just too much stuff in this house.  To some degree, the “stuff” controls me.  That’s not good.  I was thinking about becoming a minimalist.  Really!  I’m tired of every cabinet and drawer bulging at the seams. I’m tired of trying to cram more stuff under the beds.

I came across this blog post on Becoming a Minimalist.  That post got me to another blog post, The Best of Slow Your Home.  There are quite a few things on that list that I already do but there are many things I need to do more.

While reading about the Bird to Bird book, I was reminded of when Chad was in school and he had to write.  He so disliked writing and any time he had a writing assignment, I knew there was going to be trouble.  He was paralyzed at the thought of writing.  If the teacher said “Write a three page report”, he struggled to get one page done.  All he could think about was getting those three pages written.

One summer, I think it was the summer between middle school and high school, we had spent a week in Georgia at a cabin in the woods.  We did a little “exercise” in writing. We decided that we would both write a story about our trip to Georgia and we didn’t set any minimum page count.  Chad wrote something like “We went to Georgia.  We fished and caught a few fish.  We came home.”

I wrote page after page of how we planned our vacation, how we found cabins on line, we contacted folks to see who would allow pets.  We decided on a cabin.  I made out the menu plan.  We drove to Georgia.  I talked about the stops along the way, about a funny incident that happened.  I talked about getting to the cabin and checking the kitchen to see what kinds of pots and pans we had.  I wrote about our trip to the grocery store.

When we compared stories, Chad was shocked to see how our stories differed. It helped him realize how he could more or less make an outline by hitting the high points and then go back and fill in more details, which often results in more ideas forming, which add to the story.

That’s how my cleaning and “living with less” is going to have to evolve.  I’ll start small. I’ll expand on the high points.  I hope I will eventually have way less “stuff” in the house.

No, I’m not getting rid of fabric and yarn that I will use.  I’m not getting rid of food I have stored.  We will use that.  I’m not sorry I bought a new love seat and moved my sofa to the sewing room. I’m not sorry I bought the new stove and have the second stove set up in the shop.  Some things need to be done.  Some things need to be purchased.  I will continue to do those things but I am getting rid of clutter.  I am getting rid of things I no longer need in order to live a good life.

When we bought the house in MO with the lime green kitchen, I found several really cute lime green and white polka dotted candles. Big pillar candles.  I never lit them . . just kept them sitting around looking pretty.  I still have them.  They match nothing in my house but they remind me how happy I was with my lime green kitchen.  Those candles have now been placed in the buck with my emergency supply of candles.  They no longer sit around and collect dust.  They will be used.  I will not mourn the loss of my lime green and white polka dotted candles.

It’s a start.  I have a long way to go.  I may be successful or I may fail at my decluttering, minimalist efforts.  I will not know unless I try and . . I am trying!

Comments

  1. 1
    Micki clemens says:

    Good for you! I think many of us need to do this to one degree or another. What helps me is thinking of having to move it! Micki

  2. 2

    Thanks for posting the links. Since we moved 6 months ago we have been astounded by the amount of stuff we have. Like you, some is necessary because of kids and seasons. However, do we need 3 toy chests of toys? Do I need all my sewing books that I buy to look at the pictures? Not really, I can copy or make the things I like and pass the books on. Maybe keep the ones like the stitch encyclopedia. The internet has everything else. The toys can be donated once they get their favorites. What about the small appliances people give me that are my “back-ups?” I don’t need 3 coffee makers. I don’t need two mini-fridges. There are some that I do need; like the two different sized pressure canners and the waffle maker. But they need to be moved into a storage room and not reside in my VERY small kitchen. These are the things that help to make life a little less messy and a lot more simple. I know I am preaching to the choir but it helps me to write it all down, too. Oh, one thing I know that helps is getting my husband on board to STOP BUYING THINGS.. or at least know where he is going to store things BEFORE he buys them… :o) Vince and Greg have some things in common when it comes to sales! My husband has been know to buy a truck load of toilet paper, and our freezer now has 5 turkeys! But we are a large family and in the long run these are wonderful savings.

  3. 3

    I’ve been working at this, too…. it’s just too much at times.

  4. 4

    I usually feel this way in the spring, but lately it has hit here too. I’m not a shopper – where does all this ‘stuff’ come from? I keep telling myself that when the kids settle into their own homes, I will tell them to come get what they want. Alas, I don;t know if I can wait that long. :)

  5. 5

    We’re becoming what you call minimalists. It’s more like simple living. I’m tired of having things in storage or in boxes forgotten. If it is going in a box/storage, why keep it? It’s not serving a purpose in our life. So, ever since we started packing for the move, I’ve been slowly discarding things (goodwill, recycle, or trash). We are now unpacking and I’m still going through things and discarding things. If it has no function or purpose in my life, then it’s gone.

    I do keep things that give me joy; but, it must remain out and not go into storage. If I decide I don’t like it that much, then someone else will get joy from the item instead of it residing in a box out of sight and mind.

    Any new thing that comes into our house must serve a function. If it doesn’t, then we will not buy it or bring it into the house.

  6. 6

    it is hard to get rid of stuff. every once in a while i get a wild hair and clean out closets, walls, whatever and just take piles of stuff to the thrift store or the trash. invariably, the next week i need/want something that i threw out. it’s frustrating. my walls are now pretty bare of ‘stuff’. they used to be covered.

  7. 7

    Oh, I hear ya about the clutter. My new habit is keeping a cardboard box kind of handy, so when I come across stuff for the good will store I can just drop the stuff in the box. Then I try to remember to TAKE the box when I drive in to town.

  8. 8

    I’m also in the midst of cleaning and tidying for Thanksgiving company. We moved about a year ago and I had found a place for (just about) everything. So, why am I finding little piles of receipts going back to 2009? My hubby is unable to throw away anything!

  9. 9
    Karen Sutton says:

    Several years ago when we moved my parents out of their home of 43 years it took my brother & I and our spouses over a week to clear the house of their ‘stuff’. We had countless bags of trash and giveaways. I remember opening a drawer and finding it full to the brim with little black combs – Dad used to get a free one everytime he got a haircut and he’d toss them in the drawer. I promised myself then & there that I would start clearing my own house of stuff I don’t use anymore. It’s a slow process with the occasional backslide but I’m making progress.

  10. 10

    Testing

  11. 11
    rose barnes says:

    Something that many of us, quilters in particular experience.
    Think of our mentality! Now with the cute book about what to do with salvages and the treasures that can be made with them, I’m now saving them! You should approach it like you do your stash report for next year. It will inspire all of us to get rid of excess and give it away! Spend just 15 minutes a day and be liberated of stuff!

  12. 12
    Laceflower says:

    The first thing you are going to have to get rid of is Vince! Getting rid of stuff will make him feel anxious and he will have to replace the stuff you got rid of with new stuff. ‘in gest’ Good luck with your endevour and I hope you find lots of things you have lost track of!

  13. 13

    This timely for me. I’ve been working on the same thing. It’s a slow process. I don’t want to be keeper of the stuff anymore.

  14. 14

    I started doing this a couple of years ago, and it is amazing at how much stuff I had that I did not want or NEED. And need is the key word. It simplified my life tremendously. Did I really need 10 chairs? Nope. Well, yes, but I replaced the extras with folding chairs that can be stored and brought out when needed. Did I need so many kitchen utensils that I had to store some? Nope, I kept only those that are multi-taskers or those that I used on a regular basis. And they now all fit in a drawer. All of those garden tools? Nope. Kept only the ones I used. I figured I really didn’t need “backups”- if the need for a replacement arose, I could simply go out and get one at that time rather than storing one for years on end.

    I encourage you to go with it, Judy. It is very freeing. You won’t have to buy replacements of things you can’t find because they are buried in boxes and clutter. Just be sure the shopaholic/bargain hunter is on-board! It won’t get any better if for every carload you take to the thrift store, another carload is brought in. I used to buy things that were a deal, too, but I came to realize that it wasn’t such a deal if I spent the money but never used the item.

    My home is now somewhere I can easily relax. I own some stuff, but the stuff no longer owns me! Like I said- freeing!!!

  15. 15

    I sure know how you feel. My house is small and things keep coming into it, but few leave. I’m beginning to look at things with an eye to what can be gotten rid of. CDs? They’ve all been digitized, why am I keeping them? DVDs? They could be digitized too. Weeded out the books several years ago, as well as a bunch of magazines. I saved some stuff out of those but haven’t looked at it since so I guess it could go. Clothes that I don’t think I’ll ever get into again. Some Country Living & Backwoods Home magazine will go to my son & daughter-in-law now that they have their acreage. I’m considering giving the majority of the Christmas decorations away. I like the simple look better now rather than having the house decorated to an inch of its life. Same with Halloween decorations. Now to just DO it!!! And how do I convince the DH that he has a lot of stuff that could go too?? He’s a worse packrat than me. :)

  16. 16

    I have been working on reducing my stuff because I know I am going to move again in a few years. The more I get rid of now the better. Every time I reorganize a room I get rid of more and more stuff. I recently did the garage and now I have so much room! I was tired of tripping over stuff and now it is clear all the way around the car and I enjoy that every time I use the garage! This reduction plan may take awhile, but I feel good as long as I make progress. I alway take before and after pictures so I can admire and see the progress I made.

  17. 17

    3.5 hours ago I started a decluttering project. Once I week I do some type of decluttering – a closet, a drawer, sometimes a bigger project like the shed, sometimes a smaller project like going through old magazines. I did not give myself a deadline but accepted it would be an on-going thing. It took 2.5 years before I began to see a big difference, but I can see it now and am happy with the results. Not once have I regretted tossing or donating anything. My “deep winter” project is to transfer as much paper stuff in my house as possible to an electronic media – patterns, handbooks for appliances, tax documents, recipes, etc. Paring down and decluttering has been, in a strange way, liberating. I pretty much know where everything is in my house now. I couldn’t say that 3.5 years ago.

    • 18

      I’m curious, how to you transfer handbooks for appliances to an electronic media. Please give examples of what media. It sounds like something I would love to do if I knew how. Thanks much.

      • 19
        denise russart says:

        Dar – Do you have a computer printer that is also a scanner? If so, you just scan them into the computer and save them.

  18. 20

    Thanks for the interesting site, I checked it out and it has very good sugestions. Im a keeper and have way too much and when my parents passed on, all sorts of stuff came in. The things with the emotional attachements are the hardest to let go of. I also live in a very small duplex and for years have had the ‘someday when I live in a regular house…’ Thats probably not going to happen unless I win the lottery so I need to clear out. One has to be ready to be ready to do it. Im getting there.

  19. 21

    A few ytears ago my house burned to the ground and I lost EVERYTHING. Ever since then I have had little desire for things……yes, I do have a stash of fabric and yarn…..and yes, I have lots of baskets around because I love them…..but I am now more of a minimalist and it feels good. :)

    sao in Midlothian, VA

  20. 22

    Wow, that blog was so inspiring an amazing – especially this time of the year – I will try to remember to take it one bird at a time when feeling overwhelmed by the holidays. Thank you, this is why you are my must read with my morning coffee.