Paul and I live in a lot of clutter. We have a big house so space is no excuse. We haven’t lived anywhere for a long time, so we can’t use that one either. I’m not sure why or how our space gets littered with things. I look around and I’m amazed, because I hate shopping. Where does this stuff come from? The things must mate like rabbits or blow in the door like autumn leaves on the driveway.
One thing I’ve learned about myself is that I’m a perfectionist and a linear housecleaner. Fly Lady has shown me that it’s my perfectionism that freezes me. It’s true. I focus on a corner and clean that corner until it’s perfect. Meanwhile, the house is a disaster. Also, if I clean — I move from room to room, beginning at one end and ending at the other, pushing the stuff ahead of me until I have to deal with it. You guessed it, the whole house rarely gets done. I only have time for here or there. I can never focus on the whole house. It will make me feel overwhelmed and I don’t get any housecleaning done at all.
But we don’t have time for age-old excuses now. Paul and I are fed up with talking about the simple life in the middle of a mess. The things are choking us, drowning us, suffocating us.
Part of the Fly Lady routine is decluttering every night for just 15 minutes. Tonight, I told the girls we would declutter. I told them to ask themselves this question: does this thing make me happy? The other question I had them ask is: have I used this in the past few months? If either question had a no to it, they were ordered to toss it.
There’s so few things that bring me happiness. I’m always drawn to the Japanese style of home decorating where there’s nothing but the bed in a room and a little sphere in the window sill. I like that. It makes me feel like taking deep breaths. I want to notice the view. I want to chat over a book or read or write, and I can, because there is nothing to pick up. That’s the good life, the life of simplicity.
I asked Paul about the things that we owned that actually gave us happiness. The cuckoo clock, a rocking chair, an espresso machine, cast-iron skillets, my mixer. As we ticked them off, one by one, I imagined my house only having these beloved things in it. I breathed deeply, like a weight lifted off my shoulders.
Surrounding ourselves with beloved things and ridding ourselves of all else is our next task. We want the freedom of few, the simplicity of space, the liberty of little. Unburdening ourselves of things is part of our living an authentic life — where our beliefs match our reality.
Part of what has kept us keeping stuff for so long is this feeling we need to sell it. Dave Ramsey starts piping in my ear that here is a way to make money. But both Paul and I get swallowed into a sinkhole of despair if we think we’ve got to post pictures, post an ad, or do a garage sale. It paralizes us. We stand in the middle of a room, slack-jawed, turn in circles and wonder where the camera is, where the cord to put the pictures on the computer is, how to get onto one of these sights, how to post.
Ten minutes later, you’ll find us both asleep on the bed with the weariness of it.
So to solve the problem, we’re going to give it away. It’s so much easier to load it up and cart it away. That sense of satisfaction is heavenly. We’ll unburden ourselves of the clutter and assess what we’ve got — the things that really make us happy.
We’ve tried this before, you know. Paul and I start to quote Steve Martin in The Jerk about then. We say, I only want … and then we start to add, and add, and add.
But just because we failed before isn’t going to stop us from trying again. One of these days, we’ll figure it out. One of these days, we’ll really let go. One of these days, we’ll release it all to the universe and we’ll see if we start to float from the freedom of it.