I’ve been thinking ahead to moving day, wondering where I’m going to put things. After writing My Kitchen and My Sister’s Closet, I had a discussion with Elida. She and her friend, Sandy, were talking about the post. Sandy said that we can apply the same principle used in Elida’s closet to the entire home.
“If it’s not a 10,” she said, “get rid of it.”
Do I really love that painting? Does that piece of furniture make me feel good?
Of course, cleaning out furniture is a far greater investment than the closet. Most of us already possess clothes that look great on us. We just need to clear out the clothes that don’t make us look great. But furniture is another matter. Mine is a collection of things that were given to us. I try to have ambivalent feelings toward the pieces — to just be thankful we have something. Dave Ramsey would insist on us having cash in hand to purchase any major piece of furniture. And he would dissuade us from replacing anything until our debt snowball has been completed. Wise advice which will be heeded.
But is there nothing we can do? Perhaps we have a junky bookcase which collects garbage daily. Could the books we don’t read be sold or given away or at least packed up until we plan on actually reading them? Or the rickety or ugly lamp that annoys me every time I look at it. Could it be painted or repaired or replaced by one I like better from a garage sale?
Yes. I could probably do some of these things. I need to be cutthroat about the amount of stuff I allow back into the house. I have been given a gift. Everything is in storage and I only need to move in what really matters. The rest can and should go.
These are the questions I’ve been asking myself as I consider moving day. What kind of people are we right now? Truth is, we get up, make breakfast and lunches for the day, we school in a haphazard sort of way, we drive to various activities, we get home, we eat, and we watch a movie. That is the truth.
But what kind of people do we long to be? Deep in our hearts, we desire to be outdoors and enjoying nature: birding, hiking, walking and talking, mountain-climbing, biking, canoeing, kayaking, rock-climbing, and paddle-boarding. Yet, while we were at our old house, we rarely did these things because the camping stuff was lost on the back of the garage shelves. We couldn’t find the tent poles or there was food rotting in the camp boxes. There were a variety of obstacles that kept us from getting out. We weren’t set up for success in the areas that deeply matter. Moreover, we had to clean the items that weren’t important to us. We needed to dust furniture we didn’t want to sit on. We needed to vacuum rugs we wanted to escape from. We had to mop floors that, if we were doing what we really wanted, wouldn’t be used much anyway.
If this is who we long to be, then all of the paraphernalia needed for these activities should be in easily accessible locations of the house or garage. This is what we should first organize, polish, and lovingly care for.
Elida mentioned the phrase “premier real estate.” Things we don’t need or use are out on the counters or taking up the closet space while things we do need or use are tucked in the back or covered in other things. It’s frustrating. We should arrange things so everything is handy. If I haven’t used it in a few weeks, why is it out? Why do I have it at all? Toss or pack away.
Paul and I used to have our bikes in the living room. Instead, the television takes up the premier real estate spot. We’ve never been avid TV watchers — yet, there it sits, like a great eye in the front and center of our living room. What would happen to our habits if it were placed in a back corner? Or tossed? Would it free us up to pursue our dreams?Not only would the space be available, but the temptation would be cleared away.
If books were lovingly arranged in the living room, would we all read more? Would we talk more? Wouldn’t it be nice to spend the time I usually spend on dusting the furniture on repairing a bike so when I go to ride I won’t be frustrated by a flat — an event that might keep me from going at all.
I want to write a book. Paul wants to paint. Maybe these activities should take up the premier real estate in our living room. As I go about my daily activities of laundry and cooking, the computer in the front room would be a visual reminder of who I really want to be.
As I cook and clean and drive, I’m taking inventory of all that we have, who we are, who we want to be, and hoping to arrange the home so that it aligns with our deepest desires. Excess is the enemy. We must clear out space to run the path for which we’re destined. We need to eliminate every item that would hinder or cause us to stumble. Sometimes we get stuck in a rut of how things must be arranged. Our parents always placed the couch here and the dining room table here and the clock on that wall. But…have our parents really lived the dream? (Mom, Dad, don’t get offended here — I’m speaking in generalities, not specifics). Did they arrive? Did they attain their deep desires, did they do the things they dreamed about, and did they follow their hearts? Or did they get sucked into conformity, complaisance, and compliance? I don’t believe we need to criticize, but we should assess. They made their choices, but it’s our turn. We really aren’t much of a generation unless we change things. It may be the time to break the mold and lean the paddle board against the mantle, park the bikes in the hallway, hang the snowshoes on the wall, and store the hats, gloves and binoculars by the door.