Is it possible to live simply without all the stuff?

I’ve been trying to declutter my closets, drawers and all of those spaces where you can put “stuff” for about 5 years. I’ve donated over 30 pairs of shoes and many bags of clothing….I even got rid of the majority of a “60 mug stash” that loitered my kitchen cabinet. So why do I feel that I have not accomplished much? Answer: My closets and drawers are still full and I’m feeling somewhat defeated. But I have to believe that there is still hope, on my journey to living simply without all of the stuff.

The Minimalists Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus, teach that it is possible to live simply with only the things that are important in your home….the things that have meaning. I’ve learned from these simplicity gurus, that I have to stop consuming. I have to stop buying things that “I think” will make me feel better, look better. The feelings of acquiring new stuff is initially exciting and then it wears off. Then the cycle begins again…buy, feel good, feel bad, buy, feel good, feel bad, buy. Does this sound familiar? The feeling of buying stuff to feel good is pretty crazy because the satisfaction is fleeting.

Marie Kondo, founder of the KonMari MethodTM, teaches you to keep only the things that “spark joy”. Well heck! I must have a whole lot of stuff that sparks joy, because even though I have removed bags and bags of stuff, I still have stuff! But you know what, I can honestly say that the stuff that I still have doesn’t entirely spark joy. I have this habit of keeping stuff for their quality…even if it doesn’t fit! Just a few minutes ago, I looked at some pillow covers that are 100% wool and were made in Turkey. I am having a hard time getting rid of them because of their quality, but you know what? I don’t even like them!!! The wool is rough and scratchy on my skin. Rant over…I am putting these pillow covers in my pending garage sale pile.

Speaking of piles, I still have too much stuff neatly packed away in drawers and closets, giving myself the illusion that I have decluttered and gotten organized. Somehow, I think that if it is packed away in a pile, it is neater! If it’s in fancy baskets or containers, it’s okay. It’s not okay, it’s “nokay” as Gus, the father in the movie, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding”, expressed so passionately about his daughter marrying outside of the Greek Orthodox Church! Check out the movie…it’s hilarious!

So how do I get to the point where I am living simply with only the most important things in my home that have meaning and spark joy? These are some of the things that I am learning and beginning to apply:

  • I have to stop bringing things into my home. I must assess whether it is here to stay or only temporary. If it is the latter, I must get rid of it as soon as it has fulfilled its purpose. For example, at church, bulletins, magazines, flyers, etc. are distributed almost weekly. After a while, I noticed that my nightstand drawer was full of them. The solution is to not even bring them into my home! Leave them at church!
  • · Taking 20 mins per day to do a quick purge in one specific area can make decluttering more palatable. It has been difficult for me to look at the big picture of decluttering and simplifying my home, so doing it bit-by-bit is less daunting. I just have to remember to do it DAILY! For example, tidying/purging one dresser drawer at a time for 20 minutes a day, beats doing all six!
  • Another tip that gives me hope, but I have yet to try, is when I buy something new, say a pair of shoes. I must give away a pair that I already have, but haven’t worn in a while. My husband is a master at this! He purchases nothing but quality clothing, shoes….and everything else. His shoes will cost him $300 to $500, but they last, after a few resoles, for 10 to 20 years! Yet, when he buys a new pair, he donates a pair that he has hardly worn! As a result of this, he only keeps things that he loves and uses!
  • This last tip, I learned from The Minimalists as well. It’s the 90/90 Minimalism Rule: I simply take any item and determine if I have used it in the last 90 days, then determine if I will actually use it in the next 90 days. If not, then it’s okay to let go! It’s that simple, especially if it doesn’t spark joy! (Note: As I write this, I am thinking of a skirt that I absolutely love, but I have not worn because it’s a little snug. So it sparks joy, but doesn’t fit……hmmmmm….what do I do?? Help Marie Kondo!)

To wrap up this post, decluttering and simplifying my home is indeed a journey….a journey that I am willing to take, no matter how long it takes me to apply the above tips consistently. The fact is, I feel better when I have purged or donated things that I have let go. As a popular organizing show put it (I can’t remember the name), “Love it, Use it or Lose it”!

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