29 July 2011

The Joy of Less

Lately, I've been telling everyone I'm on a cleaning "bender." Pops keeps telling me not to use that word. He says the connotation is specifically for drunken binges. Like a weekend of wearing one of those hard-hats with spots for two beer cans and tubing that goes straight from can to mouth. Hmmm. I could never make that work with one of my outfits.

So while I am decidedly not riding any carnival of inebriation ... I do feel rather drunk with the desire to reduce. our. stuff.

A couple of months ago, I picked up a book at the library called The Joy of Less. I've got to tell you, I found it inspiring. Sure, the author is a bit extreme. She got rid of her bedframe so she didn't need to have night-stands and could just stick a lamp and a clock on the floor by her head. Uh, yeah. I'm soooo fine with having a bedframe and night-stand.

But, peppered throughout the book were really excellent bits of wisdom. Some of them quite logical and familiar, and others shocking. Such as ... Apparently, buying more transparent bins to "organize" junk still leaves me with stacks of prettily-boxed ... junk?? You mean, spending half a paycheck on bins might not be the solution to all organizational woes and world peace? You mean if I get rid of stuff in the bins I'll have empty bins on hand? Part of my brain just exploded a little bit.

Amongst the scattered nuggets of truth, the main thing I took from the book was to be intentional about stuff. Stuff isn't bad or evil. Stuff isn't the problem. It's the hold that it can have over us that is. This resonates so deeply with me. Does my stuff make my life more full or just fully overwhelming. I'm realizing that the "stuff" I actually want to have around me really can actually fit into at least one three categories: Do I find it truly useful? Do I find it truly meaningful? Do I find it truly beautiful? Intriguing, right?

The result for me, is utter pleasure of pawing through the house ... just little manageable bits at a time ... and determining if I use, find precious, or just love an item. And if not ... it is my joy to be done with it. Liberating, I tell you.

And get this. I have not used my label-maker, bought a bin, or strapped alcohol to my head. "Bender" or not, I think I'm becoming addicted to wanting less and truly loving what I possess.

Does this resonate with you, too?


  1. I am completely with you on this. Over the course of the last six or so months, I have greatly purged our home and still can't get over how much we still have-but life feels much easier and less cluttered! And I am loving that!

  2. So what are you going to do with the stuff - sell it? donate it? And, what are you parting with? I just so love reading about people's purges. It inspires me so.

  3. Resonate? Oh yeah! We *always* have a pile going of items to donate.

    One thing I've been thinking a lot about lately (as in the past 2 weeks) is how easy it is to become enslaved to stuff without actually being materialistic in a keeping-up-with-the-Joneses kind of way and without making your stuff idols. My parents are in the process of de-junking the house they've been in for 30+ years and what I'm seeing is that, in a way, they've become enslaved to 30+ years of stuff simply because they have it... not because they ever wrongly valued it. Make sense?

    I hear ya on this one girlfriend. One of my biggest struggles in this area is knowing how to guide my children in managing their "stuff", which we all know, can quickly consume the house!

  4. I'm all about getting rid of stuff. Unfortunately, my husband is the exact opposite of me.

    ME: I haven't listened to this CD in seven years. Let's get rid of it.

    HIM: But what if you want to hear that one song again? Then you have to buy it again.

    ME: Let's please not buy any more Hot Wheels cars for our son. He has more than 100, guaranteed.

    HIM: They're only a dollar.

    Hmmm...isn't buying a song on iTunes only a dollar?


  5. First I have to say, that photo is stunning. I really love it.
    And oh my yes, me too! I'm totally on the same non-alcholic bender! Thanks for the book reccomendation.

  6. I'm with you on this. We had to move about 8 months ago and we rented a dumpster and boy did it feel *great* to fill it up! What's amazing to me is how much we had when, really, we are not pack-rat type people.

    But what I have really found so freeing is not bringing things into the house in the first place.

    Due to some financial difficulties a couple of years ago we had to go on a definite spending freeze. And it stayed that way for quite awhile. And now, thankfully, the habit has stuck.

    It is so freeing to not be looking and wanting. To just be content with what is here.

    Hmm....maybe I need to do a post about this on my blog too. (o;

  7. Yes, yes, yes! this has been my whole summer! Opening closet after closet and saying, "@#%^@ why is this here?!!" I will have to check out that book. And yay for you that you got it from the library and didn't buy it! Half the things in this world that encourage your to minimize and organize are just a sneaky way to get you to spend money! AKA.....The Container Store- love that place, by the way!

    Keep us posted (no pun intended!!) on how you're doing and what you've done away with!!

  8. oh YES - this is totally on my mind! Our Sunday school class is reading and discussing "Living More with Less" by Doris Janzen Longacre (there's a new edition just published with updated stuff). Feeling convicted and also a little stuck, I confess.

    And I also adore the blog Small Notebook - her mantra is that you don't have to buy containers to get organized. She's great - I've learned a lot there.