I just spent the better part of several months slowly and incrementally packing my life away to move from Orlando, Florida to Seattle, Washington. It was a big move.
In the beginning, I put the packing off. I didn’t want to tackle my cabinet under my sink or Jesse’s bookshelf in his office. The was stuff everywhere. We had simply merged two lives together, which meant two of almost everything. Add to that Jesse’s collection of musical equipment and my collection of paper goods & keepsakes (cards, mugs, and anything else handmade) and we were swimming in stuff. Oh, did I also mention that Jesse is a Star Wars fan and I am a Harry Potter fanatic? Yeah, we had enough knick-knacks from a galaxy far, far away and Hogwarts to last a lifetime.
I felt so overwhelmed. I began by going through the stuff I knew I could tackle, the things that wouldn’t hurt so much to condense down, like the bathroom. I began to look under the sink and I ended up changing the way I view my life and how I live in those few hours of cleaning and organizing.
I found multiple half-used bottles of hair products that never worked out, so much eye shadow and make-up a drag queen would be envious, and bulk items like toothpaste the two of us had barely made a dent in. We were two people! We didn’t need a 20-pack of Crest no matter how cheap it was.
I threw it all away (or donated it).
Then I went on a spree. I started looking at everything I had and asking myself, “When was the last time I thought about this item and/or needed to use it?”
Nine times out of ten, the answer was never. Sure, that card my grandma gave me in 2009 when I graduated college was really touching, but I remembered what most of the sentiments of all my cards were. I don’t need an entire box of cards to feel loved. The people I surround myself with tell me that every day.
We had so many books. It sure made us look well-learned, but all it did was make me feel like we had more stuff we would never use. I rarely re-read books and Jesse occasionally picks up a book on his iPad. We kept the reference materials and donated the rest.
It went on like that. On and on until our house was sparse with the few things we needed and the other items we just loved. I got rid of a lot of clothes. It was sad, because I love clothes, but I hadn’t worn any of the things I gave away more than once in the past year if at all.
Then I saw this article on Etsy yesterday and I knew what I had done with all our stuff had been intuitively the most healthy choice I could have made. Turns out, clutter is really stressful. We all have way too much crap. It’s not surprising in this capitalistic society. We value new toys, new shoes, new things. We don’t want to give our kids hand-me-downs if we can afford better. We don’t want to have just one doll or one toy, we have to have the whole set! We have to have it all. Isn’t that what it’s all about?
No. I want to walk into my house and feel like I have room to breathe. I don’t want to have stress hormones oozing out of my pores because I have to organize my collection of salt shakers or my counter top piled with bills. I want to free myself of things. For those of you who have seen The Labyrinth, I feel like there was something very profound about the scene where Jennifer Connolly almost forgets about rescuing her baby brother from the goblin king when the Junk Lady starts trying to lure her in with things. I don’t want to be the lady with all the things because it’ll make me old and haggard. I want to be the lady with all the stories.