Thursday, January 22, 2015

let it go

I am just shy of 10 moves in 10 years, though if we move by the end of this year, it will be 10 for 10.
It seems the fall brings me to my knees: packing boxes and wrapping up my stuff for another jaunt into the to-be-settled & sorted.

Ashley, it's January, why are you talking about fall.

Well, as it stands, we moved in the fall, and even though it's January, I'm still unpacking. Two households into one means a lot of letting go, a lot of purging, a lot of sorting and, certainly, a lot of throwing out - because, yes, in some cases, I have been moving garbage. What the heck? Read: old paperwork. This mad-drive to simplifiy is an old theme for me. I won't do it for you, but I imagine that if you looked back through my writings, you'd come upon a "what do I have all this stuff for" post every year or so, likely in fall, while or before or after I took all my stuff from one place to another.

It's taken me a long time, and there's still more to go, but I've finally gotten sick of looking at my things. Maybe magic happens on the eve of THE DECADE OF MOVING, wherein the emotional gag-reflex ties itself to the items long-carried.

Every time I move, I sort. I purge. I wrestle with my nostalia. I throw out a lot of stuff, and give away households worth of belongings. This time, I finally managed to purge myself of the excessive amounts of paper that had been ruling my life. Two giant boxes of recycling & shredding later, I'm down to a teeny file box of must-keeps. Shall I tell you I had paperwork from 2002 in the ranks? No, that would be too embarassing. I'll keep that to myself. What I will tell you is this: they're gone, and I feel free. As Margot Starbuck puts it, in her article (linked below),

               "releasing physical objects from my home has had the spiritual effect of putting me
                in proper relationship with the ones that remain: though we have to wash bowls more
                often, we have enough; though the pantry is no longer jammed with all the extras I
                used to buy, we have enough; though there aren’t extraneous rows of pillows on my bed,
                there are enough.  ...“enough”—which used to seem so elusive—has come into
                clearer focus..."

Why do we have so much stuff? It's non-essential, weighted, and messy. I have things I've moved with me for a decade, guys, a full decade, that haven't come out of the box, photos of people whose names I no longer remember, clothes I haven't worn but can't seem to give up. No more.

I've been keeping a mental compliation, of The Most Effective Things I've Heard or Read on how to Keep Belongings SIMPLE:

1. Beautiful. Meaningful. Functional.
Anita let me in on this methodology a number of years ago, and I've been happily chewing on it ever since. It really helps me  >> OBSESSIVE NOSTALGIC <<  approach my belongings & memory boxes. Does the item in my hand meet at least 2 out of these 3 criteria? Yes? Keep. No? Go.

2. Touch everything only once.
I read this one recently (though I can not find the article), and admittedly, it's rather difficult. If I pick up the item in the basement and it goes upstairs, it means I go all-the-way-upstairs and put it where it belongs. If I open the backpack I deal with the papers one time, the lunchbox one time, the calendar one time. If I'm moving laundry out of the dryer to make room for a new load, I fold that dryer load immediately and then I put it away immediately so I don't have to touch it again. Maybe it sounds simple, but in reality, I'm rather famous for, and rather crippled by, "I'll just put this here for a minute"-itus. Slowly, I'm breaking free from my clutter-forming habits. I'm not there yet, but I'm working on it.

3. Clean the corners.
My husband told me this, early on in our relationship. He knew, then, about my penchant for hibernating in paper and memories. I was particularly overwhelmed one day, buried underneath all of my stuff, and he said something to me that his Nan used to say to him: Clean the corners, and the middle will clean itself. I probably laughed, but through a crack in the pile I was under, I saw a corner; it was a corner I knew what to do with. So I cleaned it, though it didn't feel like much. I did that a few times. Before I knew it, the madness in the middle had sorted itself out. I don't claim to know how it works, but it does.

Keeping it simple, since simplicity is today's theme, I'll stop there. Here are two brilliant writers that have swifly kicked my rear:

1) "I’d not recognized the weight I’d been carrying—of paying for the stuff, and caring for the stuff, and storing the stuff, and moving the stuff around in the front hall closet so I could reach the other stuff behind the first stuff." Margot Starbuck, Stockpiling Treasures in my Junk Closet.

2) This entire website:

A final word, though it's obvious: most of the world has less than you. In your drive to simplify your life (yay!) don't throw your re-useable things away. Give generously, and be inspired to give generously, by the many organizations near you that are hands-on & available to those who need/don't have everyday essentials like clothing, household items, & furniture. Look for: shelters, women's, men's, & children's organizations, youth workers & organizations that support our youth, and refugee organizations. Plenty around, plenty in need of the stuff cramming your hallways.

photosource: pinterest.

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