Thursday, January 21, 2010

Musings on Clutter

A friend of mine just made her children get rid of all but a few dresses, a couple nightgowns, some books, and ONE stuffed animal. Just a few years ago, I probably would have thought, wow, how cruel. But the last year and a half or so I've been attempting to get more simplicity in our house and in my life, and now that I'm not in school anymore it has become something of a priority. I find the more I get rid of, the less it weighs on my mind, AND, as a bonus, I'm only left with the stuff I LOVE. (Which makes me want to take care of it, which means I am neater).

As a child, I too had WAY TOO MANY toys/stuffed animals/etc. I inherited all of my sister's toys and such since she was 5 years older, plus had my own given to me. There were probably 50 barbies, 100 stuffed animals, every character in Maple Town, etc. And I remember playing with a lot of it, true--BUT. I also remember feeling extremely depressed and overwhelmed anytime it was time to clean up. Nothing ever fit anywhere because there was always too much of it. My clothes drawers and closet were ALWAYS overflowing; underneath my bed was always full, my stuffed animal area overflowed onto the floor or was a GIANT pyramid...and I carried it through into adulthood. In college I had too many clothes to fit into a large walk-in closet, plus clothes in drawers and under my bed in storage boxes. I think this translated into a lifelong habit of clutter everywhere--mail on counters, books in the living room floor, clothes all over my bedroom floor, shoes everywhere in the house. Plus I was (am?) a health and beauty product junkie--4 kinds of shampoo, 3 kinds of gel, 10 lotions, etc. I finally decided I don't NEED that much stuff, especially since I only USE 2 shampoos, one conditioner, 1 gel, and 1 lotion. Duh. I cannot believe it took me 26 years to realize this. I still have to go through all the bathroom stuff, which I will do as we put the bathroom back together from Honey Darlin' building the recessed shelves in there.

And now, I have much less than I did then--and like it so much better. Too many choices tend to make me miserable. I'd still say that I have too much clothing, but at least it all fits in the closet/drawers now and everything has a place. And if I don't get healthier like I intend to within the next few months, I will get rid of the clothing that I kept that is currently too small. (It's conveniently separated from the rest of my clothing). And I WILL NOT feel guilty about getting rid of it--in this year-long purge, I've realized that for some reason, I feel guilty for not liking/wanting/wearing the stuff that I want to get rid of, which makes it even harder to get rid of it. How insane is that? Most of it got a lot of use and is still good stuff, it's just not ME anymore. I'm not sure if the guilt is money related (I spent money on that and don't even want it anymore) or what. Thoughts?

My friend, after doing the purge with her children, said that each child individually came up to her and said they liked it BETTER with so much less. If that's not confirmation I don't know what is. I applaud my friend for teaching her children something that it took me 26 years to teach myself. I am happier being less materialistic, having less STUFF, because that's not what really matters. Plus it's easier to keep clean. And a small wardrobe requires FAR less expenditure to keep up than a humongous one.

(I don't blame my mom for this...she isn't materialistic and doesn't have a lot of STUFF. However, my dad is a packrat and would keep everything if allowed. I think this is because HIS parents are materialistic and lived through the depression and so keep EVERYTHING. But my dad isn't materialistic, he just can't get rid of anything. I wish he read stuff like this. It would help him let STUFF go and keep my mom more sane, since she has to live with all his accumulated STUFF). However. I do think that one or both of my parents could have explained that stuff causes anxiety and guilt (for not taking care of it, having too much, not being able to clean it up because there's no more room for anything) and forced me to get rid of more as a kid...but my mom is sentimental, and that probably made her unable to force us to get rid of stuff if she loved it too (even if the love was in the past).

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