By Dawn Onley
A bad wind storm this spring caused an oak tree to fall on my house. My husband and I were sound asleep as the wind howled outside, only awakening to the BOOM of the impact.
We were forced to leave our home while a general contractor essentially rebuilt from the roof down, including a master bedroom suite, bath, a second bedroom, an office, a patio, a porch, a garage and a laundry room. Finally, after more than 9 months, we received the all-clear to move back in.
It’s daunting, the amount of unpacking and cleaning and reorganizing we have left to do. Looking at the boxes and bags that still need to be sorted and put away, I’m determined to chew this elephant one bite at a time — to prevent me from becoming overwhelmed at the sheer enormity of what awaits.
But it’s a good thing, too, because it will force me to seriously consider each pair of shoes, each garment, each purse, each toy, each bathroom accessory, even some furniture, before allowing it to secure a spot in a room, on a shelf, in a drawer, hanging in my closet or on a counter. This will force me to declutter and to only keep the things that I absolutely love and that bring me joy.
I will sell some things, but I also foresee giving away plenty of stuff.
Just looking around at the boxes has me pondering when I accrued so much. And, better yet, why?
It has me thinking back to Anna Quindlen’s memoir “Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake,” where she discusses how we have become a nation that builds storage garages because we’ve run out of space for all of our stuff. Rather than donate it to people who could use it, we allow storage units to hold our excesses while our homes burst from the seams, Quindlen writes.
We have become a nation who overindulges in just about everything – from food and clothes to gadgets and kitchen utensils.
I accumulate stuff like the best of them. I have three full sets of dishes. While I love opening up my cabinets and choosing which plate to use, it also baffles me as to why I need three sets of dishes.
Imagine this magnified with clothes, pictures, shoes, art, toys, accessories, hair care products, bedding, etc. So many items. Too. Much. Stuff. And yet somehow, it’s never enough.
“You can never get enough of what you don’t need, because what you don’t need won’t satisfy you,” says Dallin H. Oaks.
Well no longer. I’m opting for a simpler way of living. As I’m considering ways to downsize and purge, I look at my daily surroundings and know that there are items I can eliminate to become lighter and less cluttered.
This thought is drummed home as I watch shows on tiny houses on TV. While my family won’t be going to that extreme, I must admit I admire the simplicity. I applaud the decision to get back to the things that matter the most in life. Family. Friends. Fun. Experiences.
As the never ending stream of store circulars screaming SALE flood my mailbox and inbox this holiday season, I want out. I generally love Christmas, but what I don’t love is the messaging that screams out to us every time we turn on the TV or go to the mailbox: BUY MORE STUFF!
Maybe I’m just becoming crotchety in middle age. Or maybe I’m becoming crystal clear about the things that matter, and the things that don’t.