I love it when something I don't normally pay attention to gives me a life-altering sign.
A few months ago my friend Jackie gave me some magazines she'd finished reading (such a great recycler, that Jackie). One was a copy of the April 2012 Real Simple, which I always see in the checkout line but have never bought, or read. So I took it to work to read during my lunch break.
One article in it was a profile on a lady named Kim Sava, "who lives by an uncommon philosophy: Keep only what you use."
I was hooked. I didn't need to read any further (although I eventually did, a month later). Seriously. It was so simple (duh, hence why it made that magazine) yet made so much sense. That enlarged and italicized line on the page slapped me just enough to knock loose some cobwebs in my brain. I couldn't wait to get home and put that philosophy to use.
|My guest room closet. Not so simple.|
But not anymore. I started going through my closets, keeping my new rule in mind: Keep Only What We Use.
It was almost magically easy. Old-timey-looking telephone that hasn't been plugged in since '05? Donated. Outdated college textbooks? Trash. Five lampshades for a chandelier I no longer own got mailed to friend who can use them. I had more extra pillows than I had room for bodies on beds. Gone.
Very shortly I had three bags full of perfectly good items ready for the Salvation Army, a few things for the trash, and a few more for give-aways. And I've only just begun.
For a long time I held on to the "good" stuff in the hopes I'd be able to sell it for profit at a garage sale (which I'm not even allowed to have in my neighborhood). But knowing that my husband and I hope to move out of state within the next year, I'd rather do a major purge now without the added burden of ohmygod-I'm-moving-in-two-weeks-and-have-to-pack-this-whole-house stress.
My grandparents, who moved something like 43 times in their 62-year-marriage, were experts on keeping only what they used, but were still able to hold onto sentimental items. Upon my grandmother's death we found a boxful of all their congratulatory wedding cards, her wedding gown, and my mother's baby shoes. So living simply doesn't mean living like a pauper or giving up memories. It just means taking a definitive look at what is necessary.
Now I enjoy opening my closets and admiring the extra room (I will NOT buy more stuff, I will NOT buy more stuff...). Clearing the clutter is both freeing and calming for me. Without getting too philosophical, it's just a good way to live your life...unencumbered by extraneous bulk. Holding on to things we don't use is a burden. It can keep us from moving forward, literally and figuratively.
The more you have, the more you are occupied. The less you have, the more free you are.