Monday, August 3, 2015

My Journey to Less

Over the past several years I have been introduced to and intrigued by the idea of having less "stuff" in order to live a simpler life with more time to do enjoy the simple pleasures of life like simply spending time
with my family. I have read different articles and books and talked to others about this and, over time, have really come to believe it would help me be able to have a cleaner, more organized home and live a life closer to the life I dream of.

Right now different items from different categories are scattered throughout the house. I have more things
than can comfortably fit in my cabinets and closets. I have difficulty finding what I'm looking for. I have many items in the house that have no real home, just a junk drawer if they're lucky. It's all I can do to keep my house "picked up," while being actually clean and truly organized has honestly never happened! At any given time, I have an impressive pile of laundry in the laundry basket, next to the laundry basket, in the washer or dryer or both, and usually a clean pile on the floor of Dan's office. If I get a spare moment, I'm picking up random things or trying to find a place for random belongings. It's an endless and exhausting job.

It causes me stress when the house is a mess or even when it's picked up but I know there are a bunch of things hiding under the couch and the bed and my drawers are overflowing and the linen closet is overwhelmingly disorganized. I have really come to believe that the key to a truly clean, organized home is owning far less. A sizeable fraction of the clothes in my closet I literally wear a handful of times a year. The majority of items in the office closet or the attic I have not used in over two years.

Keeping things because they hold a random sentiment does not add anything to my life. The memory itself does. Guilt follows me as I refrain from discarding it but try to store and organize it and move it time and time again. I can discard that item and still have the wonderful memory from that experience as vividly as I did with or without the physical object.

I am learning through sad experience that all these things that are meant to make my life "easier" and more enjoyable are in reality making my life more complicated, difficult, and are clearly taking away from the things that truly matter. For example, I have spent hours researching iPad cases, cracked screen options, troubleshooting, or wasting time on meaningless tasks when a few years ago I was perfectly content setting aside the time to sitting down and using my computer when I needed to. Adding to that, I now check things randomly on my phone/iPad that may seem important at the time but are NOT of true value. Oftentimes I'm spending my time looking things up that I need to know about how to take care of and maintain another object I own that I really don't even need! Think if I still only had a laptop or desktop computer, if I had something to "look up" or do online, I would plan and group them together and when the kids were in
bed or I had an appropriate moment, I would sit down and do what I needed to do. If something truly was not necessary for me to "look up," it would fall from my mind by the time I sat down to use the computer. With our handheld devices so readily and easily available, we are using them CONSTANTLY to do things that are essentially meaningless and we are oftentime using them at inappropriate times. Just imagine the sum total of the minutes and hours we spend doing meangingless things on our devices and what else we could be doing with that time. Thinking about it makes my heart skip a beat.

I can't tell you how many clothes have never been worn, how many plastic toys have broken, how many projects have never been tackled, how many pictures have never been hung, how many books have never been read, and how many toys have never been touched, much less appreciated. I feel that if we are more intentional and better plan and purchase products of lasting quality, they will last longer and be used. I visited a friend for dinner a while ago and was all but obsessed with the "vintage" metal tractor collection. I was even more enamored when I learned that those toys belonged to her husband when he was a boy and that he has vivid memories playing with them. What an incredible concept that seems hard to believe now! Those toys were built with such quality that they are still working great for the next generation to enjoy. Toys are built so extremely cheap now, they barely last a year! (In my family at least!) I marvel at how much I could save and how much more we can enjoy our things if they are of the utmost quality.

I am choosing to end the exhausting cycle of consumerism in my life. I do not need several pairs of tan shoes or need to spend my time shopping for things I don't need. (Siyanara, Target!) I want a better, simpler, more
sustainable and frugal lifestyle for myself and my family and I believe I can achieve it. I am ready to make a change in my life. I will no longer keep things out of obligation or guilt. I am freeing myself of things that are
cluttering my house and working to creater a cleaner home and an environment where my children can learn and plan and the Spirit can dwell. I feel that it is essential that I have a clean, organized home environment in order to truly teach my children and I, as the mother and "homemaker," am in control of my home.

Just as removing social media from my life has exponentially increased my time for reading, pondering, and simply being present with my family, removing unwanted and unneeded "things" from my life will bring more order, cleanliness, and increased time to pursue other things. The piles of laundry I constantly have would be greatly reduced if I had one or two loads TOTAL for all of their clothes. Consider purchasing zoo or theme park passes, a coupon for a day at the park or the river, etc instead of toys for your children. Instead of rewarding them with toys from charts or for good behavior, have their prize be a fishing trip with Dad or date with Mom or a bike ride at the park or a mini "pool party" in the backyard with a friend.

I recently read "The Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering" by Marie Kondo and I highly recommend it! It changed my mindset and I believe that is the greatest key in being able to move forward. It took that book for me to be able to make the leap I needed to in the process of cleaning out and organizing my home. I am taking baby steps and still have so far to go when I discover something life-changing, I can't help but share it!