Monday, March 8, 2010

Weary of Stuff

I had a breakdown of sorts last week. I went upstairs to face my sons' bedroom and the "playroom" and it was not pretty. I mean NOT PRETTY. I spent 3 1/2 hours cleaning and organizing those two spaces. It was awful. I was mad and fuming and upset about it all. The conclusion I came to? We have TOO MUCH STUFF!!

As I cleaned I couldn't help but picture the millions of families around the world who have next to nothing. Simple dwellings with few things. Not much stuff. In the earlier years of my life I looked down on those cultures with a sense of pity...oh, I wish those poor people had more! I felt like we as Americans had the good life and the good stuff and aren't I so glad that I don't live there?!

Now I have come to see how truly rich those people are. Rich in simplicity, priorities, relationships. As I cleaned those rooms, I envied those cultures. I felt a sense of pity for me. How distracted I am by stuff! How much energy is drained on organizing my stuff! How much time is spent trying to get a good deal, perusing catalogs, rummaging through thrift stores for more stuff?!

On Friday I grieved and told my husband that I don't want to look back on my life when I am 80 and realize that most of my time on earth was spent organizing and rearranging and fiddling with stuff. My kids don't get my best hours...my stuff does. My kids tend to get my leftovers after all the stuff has been dealt with. It's a sobering realization.

I don't have any clear answers right now as to where I will go from here. But clearly there needs to be a serious shift in priorities. Paring down and simplifying even more.

16 comments:

Prairie Chick said...

Had to smile when I read this. Wanted to pass on a few links that I thought would resonate with you. I'm in the same mindset. Less stuff + more time = a whole lot of good.

http://completeorganizingsolutions.com/2010/03/clutter-fills-the-heart.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+completeorganizingsolutions%2FXSSR+%28Complete+Organizing+Solutions%29


http://overcomingbusy.com/2010/03/08/the-time-cost-of-our-stuff-guest-author-mandi-ehman/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+OvercomingBusy+%28Overcoming+Busy%29

amanda said...

oh mama...i feel the same way!! my problem is i like our stuff...but i spend way way too much time organizing/cleaning/buying it and we have too much for our small home. letting go is a continual process. we have implemented clutter free saturdays...no shopping and we go around the house and fill a bag with things to send to salvation army. it really helps. cause the clutter just keeps coming. now i'm off to clean out those closets once again!

movinginspirals said...

What a wonderful gift you will be giving yourself and your family as you pare down. Just thinking of that alone will surely lift you up to move through the task at hand with joy.

Have you seen Annie Leonard's The Story of Stuff? I'm teaching a teen class on No Impact and the kids are watching it this week. You may enjoy it too.

Flo said...

I grew up and spent the 1st half of my life in a 3rd world country. We weren't poor, but we didn't have many "stuff." No toys, and just the basic things. We were happy, rich in relationships, free from want, and spent most of our free time outdoors. My kids on the other hand... well, we are on a simplifying journey, but it still would not be the same. No matter how much we let go of material possessions, we we still have more.

Aimee said...

LOVE The Story of Stuff...I rewatch it about every 6 months :) I think that I feel frustrated that I have decluttered for YEARS and still feel like stuff creeps in...it's crazy.

LOVE the links Prairie Chick :)

Kate said...

Oh thank you so much for this video Aimee. I have been decluttering for a while now and I really needed this to push me over the edge. I am never again going to let anything steal my JOY. Kate

Pom Pom said...

I think you are on to something. Less stuff, more love, more life.

Linda said...

It seems there are many of us with similar thoughts these days Aimee.
I have one more website for you. Do you read Tonia's blog - Study in Brown. She has some wonderful posts on simplifying.
Here is her address:http://www.studyinbrown.com/

Anonymous said...

I love what you wrote and know exactly where your coming from. This is sooo what I need to do. I am depriving my children of the wonderful time I can spend with them and instead I am just overwhelmed and consumed with my too much stuff. I do think so much about the simple life and how they don't have to deal with this. I will check out the links that some of our friends have posted.

The Mangerchine's said...

I get this feeling all the time... like my stuff owns me, and weighs me down. But I don't know how to break free of it... to truly live counter culturally here in America. We're just so indoctrinated by it.

Shannon

Anonymous said...

I have been looking for an answere. I wasn't sure for what but I knew I would know when it came alnong. This is it. Thanks

Hill upon Hill said...

Oh I look forward to hearing more about where your thinking takes you. I too have come to exactly the same crossroads. I do not know what to do about it. Some steps already taken have been to talk to Godparents and family members and agree not to exchange presents.

I am concerned as it is not my stuff to throw out so I need to be careful with my decluttering as well.

I totally agree, it is ridiculous that 'stuff' absorbs so much of our energy.

Fiona said...

Oh I have exactly the same feelings! I feel that since Christmas was over I have thought everyday "I'll just get this area decluttered and THEN I'll spend time with my kids.." only I'm thinking it everyday! However I am slowly seeing some progress, thankfully. I can't even imagine a life beyond stuff at this stage ...

kristinwithani said...

OH, Aimee, I felt the exact same way last night. I've been looking for a new home for almost a year and was smacked in the head last night that I just have too much stuff in my current home and might just need to be content there and get a grip on getting rid of at least half my possessions.
Your voice echos in my ears every time I go through the Dollar Spot at Target...

Aimee said...

Linda, have loved tonia for a long time :) She is so dear.
Kristin, I went into Target briefly yesterday afternoon to get a few things for an American Girl Club meeting I was hosting this morning. As I walked past the Dollar section, it felt like it was SCREAMING at me to come look and touch and buy b/c "it's so cheap"! It took everything within me to say "I DON'T NEED THAT!" and keep walking.....QUICKLY, i might add!!

Olivia said...

Thank you for the reminder. I completely agree... just today I was thinking, hm... I need a new sofa and this and that, when in reality, I just don't like the way they look. I could use that money traveling, doing something awesome with my family. Sometimes we all need to rethink our priorities and realize "stuff" is just that, stuff... and nothing more.