Less is More: Part 1

“The world is not running out of stuff”
                             -my cousin Bibba

These are the words my dear cousin Bibba reminds me of when I’m debating a material purchase that might possibly produce more anxiety than blessing. The world – indeed – is not running out of stuff.

Recently, I have been on an organizational journey and spring cleaning extravaganza. And its been quite a kick. I’m not here to offer any strict advice. And I am most definitely not an expert on home organization. But I would like to share my progress and hopefully inspire and liberate some you to do the same – to simplify, unclutter, de-stuff.

This project all started two weeks after Laurie was born when my mom came to stay with us. She came to help with babies but also to help me establish my new normal. As we began to wade through all the newborn things and general household items, she suggested that I throw away 50 things. And I threw away 60. Then 70, Then 80. I couldn’t stop. By now I’ve thrown away {or given away} hundreds of things. Old things, broken things, things we don’t use anymore, and things we have duplicates of. I purged big time. It felt great.

That’s where it began…by setting a goal, a small goal, and getting rid of STUFF. Clothes that were too small, out of style lampshades, stacks of papers, books I will never read, stuff, stuff, and more stuff. Gone.

The challenging part about getting rid of things is 1) the “what if I might need it one day?”  and 2) the sentimental aspect.

The book I mentioned before, Unclutter Your Life in One Week, has some excellent suggestions for dealing with the sentimental aspect of getting rid of things. The author suggests taking pictures of certain items, storing documents digitally, etc. Another suggestion she has is not to have more stuff than you have space for. Like not having more cookbooks than you have room to store in your kitchen. This rule of thumb really helped me draw the line in many cases of deciding what to keep or not. Example: I have lots of gift bags and tissue paper but little room to store them. So I designated one single box to it. I kept the best and rest was history.

When parting with much of my stuff, I had to constantly remind myself that these things are just that – things. A book {that I never intend to read} with my grandmother’s name and handwriting in it doesn’t hold a candle to the actual relationship I had with her. Not to mention that I have dozens of books with her writing in them, one being her Bible. Also particularly hard to part with were some of Stephen Small’s newborn clothes. I found myself having an unhealthy attachment to a set of stained, white, gerber onesies and had to force myself to push through and throw them out. What am I going to do, keep everything he’s ever worn? Those onesies are nothing compared to the little boy that he is, the millions of pictures I have of him, and the precious memories I have to cherish.

Ecclesiastes 3: 1 (NASB)
There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven–

…even when it comes to your material world.
You – I – we – have to let go.

My point in doing all of this {this uncluttering} is to live a fuller Life, to not be so bogged down by what I call “the management of stuff”. I want to spend more of my waking hours playing with my children, making phone calls to friends, reading books, cooking, exercising and less time straightening my house. Of course there will always always always be stuff to manage, BUT less really is more. Less stuff equals less maintenance.

Two things to note:
By no means do I think stuff is wrong or bad. Stuff is necessary. I love stuff. Also, there is always a need for new stuff. I recently got a double jogging stroller, a new crib, a boat load of cute hand me down girl clothes, and numerous baby gifts from friends that we so appreciate and enjoy. With a new baby as with any new season in life there is a need for new and appropriate stuff. Stuff management is a continual and ongoing process. There is no rest for the weary.

All this being said, here are a couple of things I found so tremendously helpful in my recent stuff detox.

1. A liberator. You need a liberator, someone to help you sort through the piles. A fresh set of eyes. Someone to say “keep that, toss this.” My mom was my liberator. Let’s call her “Lovie, the liberator.”

2. Sometimes it takes a 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and on certain occasions, a 4th cleansing. I went through all my books 3 times, finding a few more to pass on each round. Then I had Stephen Grande go through them with me a 4th time. Often I’ve found it takes several looks at the same area or items before you know what you really want to keep and what you don’t care for.

3. Give yourself time. I’ve been working on this project for five weeks. I know the book says you can unclutter your life in one week, but its taken me five and counting — and I don’t consider us to have an abnormal amount of stuff. Its just a process, but totally worth the work in my opinion.

To end this nerdy organizational post on a cooler note, I must share that I love this Stephen Small boy more everyday! He’s not only a genius when it comes to throwing away his trash, he’s also a fabulous dance partner. Tonight I sang “Play that Funky Music White Boy” and – he – broke – it – down.

This kid is awesome!!!
More {or less} to come 🙂

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