Paring Down

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Bad Habits / Simple Living

I am an admitted pack-rat. I come to it honestly, being the daughter and grand-daughter of women with a similar “I’ll get to this someday” mindset. However, just because this is my normal does not mean it is healthy for me. Clutter causes me stress. I get frustrated when things are dirty and I’d rather spend time in ways other than cleaning, and more and more I am aware of how much mental and spiritual energy all of my stuff demands.

Dude is a minimalist. He enjoys art and antiques, and has some of both, including some beloved pieces (we sleep in his great-grandparents’ bed and eat at their dining table, for instance). But he is clear that they are just things, and that the more things we have, special or not, the more time and energy they demand for care.

We have been talking a lot lately about how we spend our resources. We made the difficult wrenching decision to re-home our four cats and two dogs based on those discussions (not done yet, still makes me cry). We are planning trips, and considering building a tiny home in which to live (and possibly travel) in a few years. A tiny home means little room for extras, and no room for clutter.

So I have begun purging. I have bags of clothes to donate, and more still to sort. I realized that if half of my sweaters took up an entire clothes-drying rack, maybe I had too many. This morning I sent all three kids up to their rooms with a box and instructions to find at least 25 things to get rid of. E did his minimum, Girl-E and C both did more (this task is still a tough one for E, so I think I’ll just continue the box thing once a month until he’s mastered it). I’m even looking at my fabric to see what can go–and perhaps be sold toward the purchase of something I’ll use and enjoy even more.

I’m finding this whole process freeing and exciting. What if we lived in such a way that it only took us 30 minutes to clean our entire house? What would we do with that extra time and energy? Could we spend more time sitting and talking around a campfire? Watching a movie together as a family? Taking spontaneous trips?

Letting go of things not only releases me from the burden of caring for them, but it also frees me from the pressure to use them. Books I haven’t read, fabric I haven’t made into projects, art I haven’t hung up yet, etc. all end up feeling like an endless to-do list that it would take a lifetime to complete, and restricts me from spending time, money, and love in ways that are actually fulfilling.

It won’t happen overnight. I go for a while and then get overwhelmed at it all and crash in a heap of fear and guilt, and then pick up where I left off a few days later. But already my mindset is changing, and it gets easier and easier each time I let go.

The Author

I'm a pastor. I believe in radical love and ridiculous grace. I love to sing and sew, and have a shop on Etsy. I'm trying to make my ecological footprint smaller. I have chickens who provide endless entertainment. Oh, and I'm a formerly single mom by choice, son E (born 6/00, placed 11/23/11, adoption finalized 11/21/14) and now making a life with The Dude and his two kids, Girl-E (12/02) and C (9/04). Baby Bumpy due to arrive around 5/25/15! This blog chronicles my thoughts on faith, family, and the wild adventure we call Life!

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Finishing What I Started (Or, Eliminating the UFOs) | A Portion of the Rainbow

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