Editor’s Note: This is a post in the series, Simplicity in Action.
My story is still unfolding. I grew up on the road for half of my growing up years. My Father was an evangelist and my Mother was unwilling to kiss him goodbye for months at a time, so she loaded up the kids, made arrangements with our school to take the curriculum with us, and went along. We always kept a house, but would be gone from it for weeks or months, and would live that time out of suitcases, hotels, others’ homes, and our car. One might think this would lead to a satisfaction with doing with less, but the opposite was true for me.
Having to “do without” an extra change of clothes or options of that nature, I found it difficult as an adult to get rid of ANYTHING. I kept it all. Receipts, letters, shoes, jewelry, books, you name it, I kept it. As I married and had children I accumulated more and more. We moved to a bigger house and put more stuff in it. I began to be burdened down by all the stuff. Organizing it, arranging it, cleaning it, storing it … it was just exhausting! I discovered that I no longer owned all that stuff; instead, it owned me! I had to get free!
I was so overwhelmed. My house was over 3000 square feet, and every drawer, shelf, cupboard, and closet was stuffed to the gills. I had to start somewhere. Somewhere small. I chose my closet. I paid two of my daughters to spend the day helping me empty out the closet. I was not even sure what all was in there. All I knew was that I could not see the floor, and every time I opened the door to my closet, my heart was burdened down with the mess inside. It was an ambitious undertaking. I decided to empty it completely, vacuum the carpet, and then put back only what I would keep. My family was amazed when they arrived home that evening to find that my bedroom had disappeared under layers of clothing, notebooks, decorative items, shoe boxes, etc., and the stuff even spilled out into the adjoining room nearly filling it up as well. They decided my closet must be magic because there was NO WAY all that stuff could EVER have fit in there. My husband half jokingly threatened to call Hoarders.
Some things were really hard to let go of because of sentimental attachment, but I decided that if I was not using it, I should let it go. It was unpleasant to keep it since it was crowded up under more sentimental items, and my memories would not suffer if I did not have that thing. I found that I had to make that choice by myself. If someone else forced me to let something go, it would hurt more. I needed the power in my own hands, and I could square with the sadness of letting go on my own terms. This worked better for me than having a friend or family member hound me to let go.
Less than half the original items made the cut back into the now sacred closet. My husband and my family were so proud of me, and Good Will was happy to see me coming with a trunk brimming with treasures for their shelves and racks. I am happy to open that closet door now, and my success, limited to that one space in my home, fuels my desire to take on another brimming-over storage space in my house. It’s such a process, both getting over-burdened with too much stuff, recognizing that fact, and making positive change for the better. I am applying the same principles I used to take back control of my own closet in other areas of my home, and, bit by bit, I am becoming free of the shackles of too much stuff.
And that’s a beautiful thing!
Read more from Cynthia at All About The Details.