A follow-up to my most popular post ever: The Great Purge.
A year and a half ago, I had a sudden shift in habits and mentality about our consumer lifestyle. I realize now that when I impulsively moved to NY, I was running away from my unhappiness and toward what I hoped would be my happily ever after. Our apartment in L.A. wasn't super small (two bedrooms and two full baths) but I blamed its modest size for some of my internal strife after giving birth to Edward (because babies need, you know, so much stuff). I wanted the American dream, a full-blown house with a big backyard and a room for each one of us and all of our future children. When I found my house in NY, this was IT. We moved thinking it would solve all our problems for sure but after my first night in my house, I realized I was no happier in our larger space. I still felt insanely lost and unfulfilled. "I think we made a huge mistake," I told Steve. "We should have gone bigger, like 5,000 sf."
To make things feel better, I went on a major shopping spree. I bought curtains, rugs, pillows, vases, fake flowers, chairs...you name it. I wanted it all. I wanted to be happy so I bought a bunch of things that I thought I needed to be happy. Yes, our house is big (over 3,000 sf) but it filled up quickly. Soon enough, we had all of the rooms filled even if it was filled with just cardboard boxes and remnants of old projects. My philosophy back then when decorating was more is more. We inherited a huge basket collection from Steve's grandmother. I took all the lamp bases from her house. I just wanted it all and I wanted to display it all. Because more is more, right?
Well, let me tell you something to save you from all the clutter and wasted cash from the last few years: You really don't need that much stuff to live a really good life. Stuff does not and will not EVER equal happiness. It is just a temporary fix, an addiction, that puts a bandaid on deeper issues. So I went through a Great Purge a year and a half ago and while the results were good, it did not last. Americans collect so much stuff just randomly (like favors from birthday parties and holiday gifts) that just to maintain some sort of equilibrium in your stuff is an ongoing process. What was also ongoing was editing my stuff to a bare minimum and figuring out what I truly needed to live a good life vs. what is just stuff I am holding onto with expectations of one day needing it. Last year when I was purging, there were still many things I couldn't part with (certain dish towels, shoes, dishes...just lots of random things). I did a big purge a week ago and guess what? All the things I thought I couldn't live without were still hiding in storage, untouched. I am all for having stuff to improve your quality of life. But what we actually use on a day-to-day basis is remarkably limited. Everything else is just CLUTTER.
I had a hard time letting go of things because my stuff carries a lot of expectations with it. I held onto scrapbook making kits, cute tea sets, and clay pots because I KNOW I am crafty and I KNOW I could one day host a tea party and I THINK I like to garden. But guess what? The reality is I don't actually do those things (or not nearly enough to keep all the correlating stuff around) and my attachment to these things is just my failure to recognize what I actually do with my time. Just because I have a scrapbook making kit does not make me a scrapbooker. That fantasy just has to go out the door.
I am not a minimalist because I do like stuff. I do like having really high quality things. But I only want things that I use and I just don't use that much. So in the next few months, I am going to pare down my things to my bare minimum: My camera gear, computer and hard drive, a small book collection, a very edited closet, a box of important docs, toiletries, very small kitchen, a TV, my iPhone, and communal family stuff like a bed, dining table, and sofa. Because there are other people in my household, I can't live as edited as I would like but I definitely played a role in our consumer problem and I am finally finding my equilibrium with the stuff epidemic that many people suffer with. It is pure freedom, I tell you. It makes me love my house so much more when everything in it supports my lifestyle, not take away from it.
Let's take a look at some of the things from Trip 14 to the Goodwill:
|After we made an offer on our house, I panic-bought this dining table runner from HomeGoods because I was sure this was my style and I would never find something like this again. Never once used it in three-plus years. Buh-bye!|
|I bought this handmade scarf thingy from a family friend for a fundraiser. It's been sitting in my closet for two years and I've never found an opportunity to wear it. Don't think I ever will. Buh-bye!|
|Which brings me to this: Cheap and random decorations from Walmart, nonetheless. Except it wasn't all that cheap (I probably paid thirty bucks for this). I don't even know what this is anymore. A floor vase? A table vase? It just had to go. Buh-bye!|
|I tossed the branches that I used to keep in the vase as well.|
|After some reorganizing, a trip to Goodwill, and a thorough sweep, we actually have space to walk out of the car. Heaven!|
|Nothing escaped my compulsion to purge. Including contents in my freezer. I baked a bunch of odds and ends for dinner so I could throw out their bags and be done with it.|
|I salvage as much as I can but some things do just go into the trash. I threw out these tiles from my back splash project because I used up as much as I could (between my kitchen and bathroom) and these really are just mostly scraps.|
|Oh hi, Ben.|