For about a year now I’ve had a case of what I call “reverse nesting”. “Nesting”, of course, is that primal desire to “feather” a home before a new baby comes that just about every pregnant woman seems to go through. Soft pillows and blankets. Pretty, shiny adornments. Anything that makes a house more “homey” gets this glow about it that says “buy me!” I certainly went through it. But just before G turned one, a flip switched and I found myself with an overwhelming desire to clear it all out.
New babies come with a lot of stuff. Things you need. Things you think you need but don’t. Things you originally don’t think you need but later discover you do. More things than you expect.
The Mr. and I are both have many, many different hobbies, all of which seem to require piles and piles of supplies. Until this house, we were moving homes every year or two. I never threw away curtains or rugs or any sort of decorative accents for fear I’d have gotten rid of them, only to find the “perfect” use for them at the next place.
Between the three of us, it was just too much.
January rolled around and I found myself surrounded by piles of new gifts, old curtains, craft supplies and dirty dishes. I couldn’t find my shoes because they were buried under piles of shopping bags. I couldn’t find my phone charger because it was buried in piles of fabric. I couldn’t find anything in the basement because we’d been using it as a dumping ground for things we didn’t want to deal with. I frankly wanted to burn our house to the ground.
I decided I had to change. I wanted to stop buying into the idea that I needed the newest, greatest thing. I wanted to stop holding on to useless things for “sentimental” reasons that weren’t sentimental at all. I wanted to stop buying just for the sake of buying.
It hasn’t been easy. Corporations and marketing agencies have our numbers. They’ve spent decades and millions of dollars studying how to make us emotionally vulnerable to the suggestion that we need their products to be complete.
One of the things they’ve discovered is that Christmas music triggers people to buy more.
So now we get to see how serious I am about this.
This year I’ve cleared a huge number of clothes out of my closet. I’ve gotten rid of uncomfortable shoes, I’ve given away purses I never carry. Clothes that are too small or don’t fit right have been turned into baby clothing. Systems have been implemented for keeping my paperwork in order and paperwork I really don’t need has been gotten rid of.
It’s a very long process, because I want to make sure I’m creating systems that work. It’s far too easy to find the newest Ikea organizational system and throw everything in it and call your life simplified. That’s just a band-aid fix.
I’ve found a lot of inspiration from the blog Small Notebook. She talks about simplicity, perceptions and how her life feels fuller with less things in it. This post in specific really spoke to me.
I made it through “Opening Day” of the crazy shopping season more or less intact. Yes, I shopped on Black Friday, but I didn’t do it for the deals, and I most certainly was not up at 4am waiting in a line for a door buster. We needed groceries. Once I was in the store, the siren call was of course there and I wound up with a few more things than I intended, but a few rolls of wrapping paper and a bag of chips aren’t too bad of a relapse.
The Mr. and I have decided that as neither of us are particularly in need of anything more this year, we’re going to restrict our gift buying for each other to consumables and favors. I suggested he could get me nice soaps and he asked that I tailor some shirts to fit him. I expect I may receive some gourmet chocolate and he may receive exotic spices or aged vinegar. Either way, it will be things we regularly use and won’t end up cluttering our basement or closets in 2 years.
I plan to keep paring our belongings down and staying out of the stores whenever I can. The less I walk into an environment full of mass-produced, junk-food merchandise, the less likely I am to buy it. I want G to be able to have beautiful things. I’d love to be able to exclusively dress him in my g.c.b. line…but because I currently have so much stuff I have to organize or trip over, I can’t sew fast enough to keep up with his growing. I’d love to make more of my own clothing, but if I don’t have time to do it for him, I certainly don’t have time to do it for me! I want to be a better cook and I want to be a better gardener, but all these things take time. I want to stop spending my time on things. On looking for things, on organizing things, on cleaning things.
I just have to remember that the next time I walk into the store, hear “Jingle Bells” and see the “cutest new thing” on sale.
…wish me luck guys.