A couple of months ago I started an online decluttering course run by author and blogger, Joshua Becker. I have been reading his blog, Becoming Minimalist for some years now. I have liked the idea of having less stuff and buying less possessions. But I have also got some habits and thought patterns that are hard to change. You see I am a bit of a hoarder, a saver, a let’s-not-get-rid-of-that-just-in-case-we-need-it-one-day kinda girl. As kids, my Mum and Dad didn’t have a lot of money, however they always made sure we had everything we needed and more. My grandparents were the same. They had migrated from overseas to Australia many years ago and had brought pretty much nothing with them but their immediate family. They were wonderful examples of hard workers, savers, bargain hunters and recyclers! I am so thankful for their example!
Working hard and saving for the future has been modelled to me my whole life. This is a beautiful blessing! However, we live in a different world today than what my grandparents did when they were my age. We live now in a consumeristic world. A use it once and throw it out world. A world where in our society we just have too much stuff. While saving elastic bands off the junk mail can be helpful (we can reuse them to tie up our protea flower bunches; while helping the environment and saving some money on elastic bands). There is a limit to how much we can and should save. A limit to how much we should keep in our home in the society we live in today.
The emotional ties
Emotional ties are the hardest for me in regards to all of our stuff! I have noticed in my own life that I associate many memories with different possessions. Therefore I find my emotional strings towards certain items hard to cut. I will give you an example:
When my husband and I were dating, he would often cut roses from his families rose bush and give them to me with little notes. I loved it! These flowers and notes were so special to me! I worked out pretty early on that roses dry really well. So I decided that when they dried out, I would keep them! And this would be a nice little reminder of all the roses he had given me and how much he loved me. I grabbed a vase and every time he gave me a rose and it started to die, I would put it in the big vase with all the other dried-out, dead roses. Fast forward a couple of years and I had quite a large bunch of dead roses sitting in a vase in my bedroom. They didn’t even look lovely anymore…they were just taking up space and collecting lots of dust. But I found it so hard to let go and throw them away!
One day my Mum finally said to me, ‘Tneal you need to throw those things away – they are dusty and they have cobwebs all over them.” Her comments even though I didn’t want to agree, were quite helpful in the process. I really needed someone else to tell me to let go. I needed someone else to say, “It’s ok to get rid of them. You know he loves you and he knows you love him. You don’t need the dead flowers to show that.”
And so I (or we) threw them away. I didn’t like it, but I also did. It was quite freeing in one sense. I knew I didn’t need them, but letting go was hard!
For some of you who know me, you might be having a little chuckle to yourselves right now. Yet for others, you might be thinking, ‘it’s not dead flowers, but there are definitely other things I am struggling to part with and let go of in my life.’ This example is just one of many, but it shows the emotional attachment I have had over the years to things that have been given to me or bought by me.
Why do I do this?
Why do I keep all these things – old birthday cards or bits of paper someone wrote me a message on? Why do I keep it and then allow myself to be stressed by all the clutter and mess in our house?
It is not worth it!
Reasons for decluttering and simplifying
Our reasons for decluttering and simplifying over the last few years haven’t really changed. We want to reduce the amount of stuff in our home, so that we have less stress and more time. I don’t always want to be sorting items back to their homes. I want to spend more quality time with my husband and kids. I want to strengthen my relationships – with my family and with my creator, God. I want to be hospitable without having a freak out about the mess in our house. I want to share God’s love with others. I want to be available to help those in need. I want to cook healthy, nourishing food for my family, homeschool our kids, enjoy growing our own veg and enjoy spending time outside in God’s creation.
As I think about it…it’s the stuff that is linked to memories, that I have resisted to get rid of! It’s this stuff that is in the way of making new wonderful memories with the people I love the most. Joshua Becker lists 21 Benefits of Owning Less which really resonates with our family!
He writes ‘But there is more joy to be found in owning less than can be found pursuing more.’ And we are beginning to see this!
Moving to the country from the city has been the best thing for us! It has given us the chance to slow down, to breathe, to minimise, to work with our hands, to prioritise. And now as I do the 12-week Uncluttered course, with my family and my Mum, I can see I am ready!
I am ready to change!
Decluttering has been slow going over the last few years, but it has been happening. We went from a 5-bedroom house, to a 3-bedroom house. That meant we had to sell and give away a lot of stuff! We went from renting in a city on the coast, to buying a property in a small town in the country. Now the next step begins…the step of getting rid of the stuff that is causing the mess in and around our home. The step of living simply and contently without feeling the need to buy more stuff – more homeschooling resources, more cooking books, more clothes, more toys. The step to simply see; if we buy less, we actually don’t need to earn as much and we can slow down and achieve some rest.
Decluttering and simplifying for me is now about bringing life to my family!
Let’s live a nurtured life
I want to live a nurtured life! Not a busy, stressed, rushed life. Who wants to join me?
What are you going to do this week to nurture your life and the life of your family?
What are you ready to ‘let go’ of? 🙂