If it seems like I fell off the face of the Earth, I did. Actually, I was living in a never ending episode of Sanford and Son. My home? A cluttered version of their salvage yard (And if you think that isn’t possible, it is). It’s like I’ve had an awful glimpse into a special kind of hell created just for the condemned type-A’s. They will live out eternity in a small space that is filled with stuff. Boxes of stuff. Loose stuff. All of it stacked in teetering unorganized piles that rise from the floor (not that you can see it) all the way to the ceiling (it must be up there somewhere). You can run. You can drive thousands of miles. But your stuff follows you. It happened to me. And after a few clutter free weeks of corporate housing… the stuff caught up to us. The movers skillfully filled every room of our new home with our stuff. It took hours. At the end of the day, they somehow managed to push in one more box (to their own astonishment)and another and another. Then someone shut the door and the truck drove away. Are my children in here somewhere?
And I knew it would happen!
Moving to a Northeastern city meant living in a smaller space. Good-bye elbow room. Hello charm and adventure. My husband and I were excitedly buying into a lifestyle where everything fun and interesting is just steps away (sidewalk cafes, parks, children’s museum, a working sea port, farmer’s market)… until it hit us.
At 3 AM… WHAT ABOUT ALL OF OUR STUFF?
I panicked. Where would we put our stuff? What about the kids’ stuff? What the about the stuff we’ve carried around year after year, move after move?
Then came the doubt. Maybe we should hit the suburbs or spend more, go bigger… so we have a place for all our stuff. You know, the furniture, photo albums, clothes (we don’t wear but might), five sets of dishes, deviled egg platter, blankets, curtains, eight plastic bins of sewing fabric, picture frames, knick-knacks, souvenirs, a box that contains hundreds of sea shells we collected, a set of linens for every conceivable occasion (that mostly never occur), enough vases to place four or five flower arrangements in every room, etc., etc., etc.
I had a terrible feeling. It sat heavy, deep in my belly like a nasty fast food binge.
Until I realized exactly what I was so upset about.
I was worried about a bunch of stuff. I was worried about how to put a roof over all of the stuff. I was worried about making room for the stuff. I was worried about how to keep the stuff happy. Where would I put the stuff? How would I arrange the stuff? How do I best show off the stuff? The stuff was running the show… and me.
My husband, Mike, felt the same way. And so we came to a decision: Show the stuff the door.
Box by box, pile by pile, loose thing by loose thing, we purged. With every item, we asked, “Do we need this? Could it better serve someone else?” And the truth is, we had enough extra stuff to outfit three other families. And that’s what we did. We gave most of it away.
And if this sounds crazy. You are not the only one who thinks so! Some of my friends make fun of me, saying, “at some point you are only going to have one outfit and a sleeping bag.” Other friends worried I would regret it.
The truth is I don’t regret it. I don’t miss ONE SINGLE thing. I certainly don’t miss hearing the Sanford and Son theme song play over and over again in my head. Life is simpler. Clearing out the stuff, cleared out my mind.
And that means I’m ready to get back to writing, adventuring, and sharing our journey with you! Now about this place called Vacationland…
P.S. We reduced our toy load by half. And the boys? They didn’t even notice. But we’ve noticed that they play with the toys they have a lot more!