Thursday, November 29, 2012

Feeling 50 items lighter ... just in time for Christmas

I bought into the challenge to "Throw Out Fifty Things," offered by Gail Blanke. (Link here) I also decided to keep track of the first 50 things I tossed or donated or sold between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

After a week, I'm only on #12. Mind you, we count 20 magazines as "magazines" (= 1 item not 20.) It's not like things haven't been moving out of the house before that, either. This past year, every time "the Blind" or "Disability Services" or whatever charity called, I promised them at least one bag of stuff. You know, I can't remember what was in those bags. I haven't missed any of it.

Many of us feel gorged by stuff. We've purchased without thinking ahead, adding to our collections instead of replacing the old with the new. Now we're drowning in things. Consider this:
  • Possessions take time to clean, store, and use. Therefore, they take time from relationships and other priorities.
  • Things may offer false self-esteem. People won't like us more because we set a pretty table or drive a fancy car.
  • Stuff costs money, which we earn by working. Before buying, consider how many hours of your future you'll invest in your new plaything or clothes.
  • Gluttony is not just about food. We can over-indulge in God's blessings, encouraged by materialism and advertising. Then we feel food, obese and unable to move, trapped by too much "good stuff."
  • Could we invest in others as we clear out our lives? Can we bless someone less well off who needs our excess bedding or furniture? If we have adequate resources, would someone unemployed be able to sell our collections and live off the proceeds? (I have a few of these: any takers?)
  • Consider a No-Purchase month. Mine is until Christmas. I admit I've filled several online shopping carts, then hit the delete button. WHEW. Purchasing is addictive and I need to STOP IT! How about you?
My house clearing started two years ago by shedding 18 bags of books and magazines from ONE enormous bookshelf. Since, I've dumped clothing, furniture, rugs, bedding,  lamps, fabric, cleaning supplies, and more. The house is still full. (Let's not talk about the basement and garage.)

I can breathe in a few rooms. The living room and dining room now usually await guests, tidy and picked up. I'm rarely embarrassed about the state of the kitchen, though hosting last Sunday's lunch while the walls were being painted was a challenge. (Things normally on the walls and counters lay in piles, helter-skelter.) My office wouldn't please a perfectionist but everything I need is at hand and the floors and desks are clear. Our bedroom is emptier.

I'm pleased by the progress to date. I'm also aware that there are more things that need sorting and giving away. After Christmas, I'll purge more ornaments (currently down to 9 bins from 15, lucky me. I know. I know. But our tree is 10' tall! Let me know before Monday if you need gold ball ornaments and I'll have one bin less.)

I gave several of our kids the annual ornaments Grandma and I bought for them each year. They weren't grateful. Or nostalgic. It was just stuff. One couple traditionally has a 1' tree, hardly big enough for 25 years of two ornaments a year. Whether they keep it or not is up to them: once one becomes an adult, "precious" things get to be your own decision! "Keep or toss. It's up to you, kids!"

What are your challenges as you look through closets and examine your rooms and offices? Have the blessings become burdens?

What are you going to do about it? Why not start with the Throw Away Fifty Things workbook: find it here. I'd love to hear about your initial reaction and any progress in the comments below.

1 comment:

  1. I have to admit that just reading the title of your blog today gave me mild panic. I definitely need to let go of some 'stuff' that clutters storage and closets. It's hard to do. I find I am emotionally connected to far too much, and other things involve projects I intend to get to. But, I do realize my 'bucket list time' is growing shorter, so it would be a nice gift to my kids if I'd follow through with my good intentions. I applaud you!