Thursday, June 26, 2008


In my wanderings on the web, I read about a guynameddave who is challenging himself to live with 100 personal items. He is being pretty realistic about it and I am intrigued by it.

Lately, Robb and I have gotten our finances in order and we are managing them pretty well, meeting goals and paying down our debts. This has freed up some cash to be not quite as rigid as we were just a year ago.... when taking an extra ride in the car seemed like too much strain on the budget. What this has led to, however, is a kind of willy-nilly spending on my part with the "extra." It is buying season for my business, and it feels, quite frankly, insane. I can't warehouse all of the stuff that is available to me to buy and ultimately sell. And when I consistently wander into situations when I can fill a bag with top-quality clothes for the fam for just 3 can see that this house is full to bursting. Along comes the 100 Things Challenge and I just stop and stare, dumbfounded.

I've had moments lately of true fear. I am terrified of becoming the crazy old lady who hoards things. Certainly, I am genetically wired for this kind of behavior...on both sides of the family! As I've looked around at all this stuff in my house, I know that I have a plan for most of it, and the other stuff, I can incorporate into my business, but still...I feel afraid sometimes.

Which of course, leads to my next logical dilemma. I sell stuff to other people. I sell stuff that is nice and all, but not always terribly practical. I do believe deep down, that vintage items are of higher quality and have greater interest than new items, but still...nobody really NEEDS any of it.

I don't really know how to do SIMPLE. I kind of believe it is a myth, really. I believe we live in a complicated time, in a complicated world, in complicated day-to-day pursuits. I find minimalism a comedic approach to controlling that. And I don't know many poor people who are minimalists...mostly you see that style in upscale decorating magazines, depicting people who have A LOT, no matter how sleek their homes look. On the other hand, I realize that sounds very sour grapes of me...and I understand why it would sound like that. I really love to be surrounded by beautiful things and I find many things beautiful.

So, in case you are wondering, I am not planning on reducing my personal items to 100...however, Robb had the great idea of getting rid of 100 things...which appealed to me very much. I have begun to root out this pile for myself, which will be a true challenge for me.

I don't really have an answer to my discomfiture. It is the question in my mind right now that I roll around while writing my Etsy and Ebay descriptions....trying to imagine the kind of person who will buy my vintage clothes and shoes and books and ephemera...They ARE pretty little things. Things.....


Ron said...

living the "simple life" by choice is a pretty easy thing to do for linear thinking people, but for non-linear (read ADD) it's counter-intuitive, and almost unhealthy for that mindset. There is a balance - like riding yourself of litteraly half-a ton of crap I had held on to for over a decade, but keeping the things that spur on creativity is a good thing (in my opinion).

As for those that don't need the cool stuff you sell... do they really need art to hang on their walls either? At least they have an appreciation for the items representing how things used to be and there's a value in that.

Alright, enough big brother mumbo-jumbo. Sponge Bob is back from its commercial break.

gerbmom said...

I hear you Ness. I was just discussing my mess and my difficulty with cleaning and culling due to my ADD. sigh. I wish you lived around here cuz maybe we could support and encourage each other.....

I also think hoarding comes genetically, but also comes from "not having". What I mean is, when you don't have money you tend to hang on to everything because you might need it, and you don't have money to buy another. Thing is, I really don't NEED it in the first place.

So, genetics, and environment AND ADD. Oh my goodness - SIMPLE has suddenly become VERY complicated!!

Mini Me's Room said...

OK THIS I can answer too...When I was a stalwart don't think of it as "getting rid of 100 things" no no no....Do the 17 hustle...AS FAST AS YOU CAN, throw away 17 things. Have your kids..>THROW away 17 things...little things count, GO.
Do that several times a is amazingly freeing. My house is feeling lighter.

Mini Me's Room said... says mini me..but it is ME

Cindy from 12-arrows said...

Several years ago a friend of my sons, then going into 5th grade, was killed in an accident. This shocked me to the core. I started looking at my family and myself and all the "stuff" that means absolutely nothing. I realized that my mission was to be the best wife/mom and to somehow in that make a difference for Christ to those around me. I started looking at all the things that I felt were necessary to live and realized they were that, just "things". They didn't have any spiritual significance in my life other than to take up my time moving them, dusting them, etc. I started deep cleaning my home. It has been so freeing to me, to simplify, to pare down. I used to have alot of "other" art work in my home and now I am only hanging my childrens art work. Someday I hope to have it all framed and on display. I have very little cabinets, knick-knacks, and what I did have I boxed and put away. I have one last pile of "stuff" that I am garage saling at a friends and we have pretty much de-cluttered our home and my brain. I am not a keeper of much so to do this was easy but not so easy for my husband who wants to keep everything, so I understand your dilemma. I just don't want my life to count for only cleaning and laundry and that was where I was at a couple of years ago and i realized how very little I touched those around me with Christ's love, ie the family that lost the son, they aren't believers and thats what rocked my world. I was too busy doing instead of living life on life. Take your time, do the 100 item thing, just take baby steps, you are definitely taking spiritual giant steps! Thanks for sharing your heart. I have been greatly encouraged by your honesty!

klasieprof said...

this is what I was talking about...

# The 27-Fling Boogie

We do this assignment as fast as we can. Take a garbage bag and walk through your home and throw away 27 items. Do not stop until you have collected all 27 items. Then close the garbage bag and pitch it. DO NOT LOOK IN IT!!! Just do it.

Next, take an empty box and go through your home collecting 27 items to give away. Suze Orman taught me this in her book, The Courage to be Rich. This will change the energy in your home and bring about good feelings. Every time I do this I feel better and my home is becoming decluttered in the process. As soon as you finish filling the box, take it to the car. You are less tempted to rescue the items.

Rule of thumb: if you have two of any item and you only need one, get rid of the least desirable.

I also sing a wonderful song as I am doing this fun job: "Please Release Me, Let Me Go" as sung from the stuff's point of view.

# The Hot Spot Fire Drill

Here is a problem that we all have and continue to struggle with - Hot Spots. What is a hot spot?

A hot spot is an area, when left unattended will gradually take over. My favorite analogy is of a hot spot in a forest fire, if left alone, it will eventually get out of hand and burn up the whole forest. This is what happens in our homes. If left unattended, the hot spot will grow and take over the whole room as well as making the house look awful. When you walk into a room, this is the first thing you see.


Do you have areas like this that continue to grow if left alone? Does the rest of the family see this as a place to put things when they do not want to put them where they belong? It is our job to nip this in the bud! Get rid of that pile, find the surface underneath and stop this Hot Spot from becoming a raging clutter inferno! Watch for the Hot Spot fire drill reminder - then try it - it works!

# The 5 Minute Room Rescue

This is a reminder to spend just 5 minutes clearing a path in your worst room. You know this area of your home: the place you would never allow anyone to see. Just 5 minutes a day for the next 27 days and you will have a place that you can be proud to take anyone!

12-arrows said...

wow, that was some great advice. I love it and am going to try it too! Suze Orman never thought she talked about issues like that mostly money. I guess you do learn something new every day! Thanks for the great tips.

ness said...

ah, many thoughts here...

which resulted in me getting rid of a bunch of stuff, some I had two of...and then...

going to garage sales and buying some goofy new sell of course...

I think the thing that is different for me is the reason I have the stuff in the first place and what I intend it for...very rarely have I not been able to unload it if I couldn't rework it and/or sell it for a profit. And if something is beyond hope, I have no problem chucking it. It's just that my ability to rework things is slower than my ability to obtain them. It is truly a warehousing problem and a system problem more than a hoarding problem, I think.

I think.

Ultimately I stink at systems. Seldom is anything in the same place. It works here, it works there, why be tied down to one place??? Oh yeah, because I can't find it when I need it...
Which is when, all of a sudden I feel like we have too much.

But living in a small house has taught me A LOT. I wish I had more space for my business, but I know that the things we actually live with are pretty and useful and enduring in quality. I think I'm getting better at that.

still, there are four piles around me as I write: things that are photo'd and need to be listed, things just bought that have been researched, things just bought that have not been researched, and things that are already listed.

It looks like complete chaos.

Karen, I know you are right about the "not having" leading to hoarding. I had the most stuff when we were in our darkest spots.
An excellent observation.

Cindy, I think you are talking mostly about purpose and how everything you do is funneled through that. My purpose happens to include using and managing stuff in order to make things beautiful, build bridges in my community, and give my family opportunities just outside our financial ability without it. I think that when I lose sight of this purpose, I do get overwhelmed and find it all meaningless. But when I force myself to put it in perspective, I realize afresh that every art project is a way of expressing my faith in a hard-fought way. I must create and steward beauty or else I feel like I'm wasting what God gave me.

I'm still thinking...and throwing stuff in trash, to donate, to compost!

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