I come from a long line of Clutterbugs. I used to think it only went as far back as my Grandparents…. but a trip to China showed me that my entire race is prone to hoarding broken bits of this and that. My Grandfather’s garage made a lot more sense after that trip.
I have spent a lifetime fighting my genetic inheritance. My brothers find my home unnerving with its vast stretches of exposed flooring, empty table tops, and corners utterly devoid of boxes, papers or “stuff”. I see their eyes darting back and forth like a rabbit caught in the open and they flee the moment it is polite to do so- racing back to their comfortable if cluttered, den.
In reality, I just did a better job of hiding my clutter. “Stuff” invaded every closet, nook, and shelf in my home. My husband and I wanted to simplify and downsize our home, but how could we? What would we do with all the stuff?
I hear that same thought from a lot of you. The overwhelming prospect of rehoming our stuff is the number one reason people live in homes that no longer serve their lives. Each object carries an emotional weight, however small, that adds up to a big, fat, “NOPE”.
But there was just one step we took that allowed us to shed 75% of our clutter and move to a simple, easy lifestyle!
We got help!
Probably not the help you are thinking. There is no ClutterBuster service that magically whisks away your clutter. How can any one but you know what is keepable and what is not? I decided to read that super popular book, “The Magic of Tidying” by Marie Kondo.
Have you read it, or read OF it? I have to tell you, it is hysterically funny. That Kondo chick is several cards short of a full deck…. except…. she isn’t. I would read her philosophy on socks (she says they have a hard life, constantly pounded between your foot and the ground. She says we should fold our socks instead of turning them in on themselves, to give them a chance to rest) and chortle for days afterward.
And then I would try it. You know, for shits and giggles. All the advice worked. Even the sock folding thing.
Here’s the key
The concepts in that book are so outlandish they caused me to think differently about “stuff”. Just like any bad habit, lasting change doesn’t happen with a technique or a lifehack. It happens with a fundamental shift in perspective.
My shift came with the idea that it was more important to think about what I wanted rather than what I needed to throw away.
Fear of loss
Once I started looking at my stuff with this new focus, everything changed. I realized I held onto items from a fear of loss- of fashion opportunity, of love, of status. This clarity made it infinitely easier to see what I wanted to keep.
What I gained
I went on my Magic of Tidying binge two years ago. At that moment we knew we wanted to downsize “someday” but we had no formal game plan.
I eliminated 75% of my closet and about 25% of the rest of the house. A weight was lifted from our lives. It suddenly seemed completely reasonable to downsize now instead of the hazy “someday”. We sold our big house with 2 large closets in every bedroom and moved to a tiny house with two closets…. in the whole house.
It was hard!
I am not gonna sugar coat it. I did everything I tell my clients to do and man, it was hard work, inconvenient, nerve-wracking and emotional. It was also profitable, empowering and ultimately a joyful transition.
I miss parts of my old life. I miss my old neighbors, my jacuzzi tub and a rockin’ Eileen Fisher scarf that somehow left with all the other designer clothes. I miss being able to fit my entire family (28 not counting the baby) in my home on Christmas Eve.
And, occasionally in the deep down dark, I wonder if people whisper that I downsized because I wasn’t “making it”. But then I remember that a.) I am rotten at reading minds and b.) I don’t care. If I wasn’t “making it” I would be the first to say so. I am funny like that.
Life is much easier, now.
Cleaning house takes half an hour and gardening another half hour. The only stuff I miss is that errant scarf. Our mortgage, utilities, and maintenance costs are a fraction of what they once were and, for the first time in my life, I am not worrying about money. Well, no more than any business owner might worry.
In the past two years, more stuff has certainly come into my life. I am a committed “stuff” fan (especially Eileen Fisher and Apple stuff, but I digress), but I am crystal clear- just keep the stuff you really want, get rid of anything else. If something comes in I take a moment to evaluate what I already have.
Is your “stuff” keeping you down?
I hope I’ve inspired you to evaluate your stuff. Perhaps you will free yourself, as I have.
For those who would like a little help, I’ve created a handy pdf. Just fill out the little form below and I’ll email it to you. I’ll include information on the book I read and a list of the local resources I used to simplify my life.
If you need encouragement or just a cheer squad to get you going, call me. We’ve got your back.