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16 April 2011

Scaling down and cutting back

I've recently been thinking about stuff.

Stuff is all the tchotchkes that litter our shelves.

Stuff is all the mementos we keep because it reminds us of someplace or something or someone.

Stuff is all the chattel around our homes that we can't get rid of because we're afraid to hurt someone's feelings.

Stuff is all the personal belongings that weigh us down and keep us rooted in one spot.

Lately I've decided that I have too much stuff. I have shelves and walls and boxes full of stuff that I have accumulated over the past ... cough, cough ... thirty years. Most of it serves no purpose other than to take up space, look pretty, and/or remind me of someone or something. A small portion of my stuff is there for beauty and aesthetic reasons. With my thinking about all my stuff, I've realized that I hold on to things for too long for a couple of different reasons. First, I can't let go of things that have been given to me by someone special because I don't want to hurt their feelings if I get rid of them (the things, not the someone special). Second, I hold on to things because I place a lot of value in past memories and moments. And I've come to realize that surrounding myself with too much from the past forces me to stay there. It doesn't let me move forward. And moving forward is the only direction I'm interested in.

I've realized that my stuff is actually holding me back. All of my stuff is preventing me from making some relatively big changes in my life. Because of all my stuff, I am hesitant to move to a bigger, better place. Why? Because there is so much stuff that I don't want to have to pack it all and move it and then unpack it. Because of all my stuff, I am less eager about moving far, far away to New Zealand or someplace like it. After all, what would I do with all of my stuff? Whenever something gets broken or damaged, I find myself very upset over a silly possession. While these may not seem that big of a deal, upon further contemplation, those things all really mean a lot to me.

With all this heavy thinking, I've decided to do something about it. I no longer want to be tied to stuff. Over the next few weeks/months, I am going to scale down and cut back on the mountain of possessions I have accumulated. I'm going to start with my curio cabinet which is currently filled with stuff that I only see/notice on occasion. I'm even planning to get rid of the curio itself (which was a gift from the ex). All of the stuff inside has no purpose other than taking up space. After that, I'm moving on to my hope chest to get rid of the high school yearbooks and stamp collections and other unneeded and unwanted belongings that I haven't seen in years. I mean, seriously, who needs their high school yearbook at 30?

Before I just start hauling things out and into the trash (or, more accurately, Goodwill), I need to establish some ground rules and criteria for reducing my stuff capacity.

First, if I haven't seen it in 9 months, it's gone. The only exceptions to this would be things like important documents and memorabilia that is more than just stuff (like my baby book and other family heirlooms).

Second, if it has no purpose other than reminding me of the past, it needs to go. Some things, like my pictures on the walls, serve to add beauty to my home as well as memories, so they can stay. But if it just boils down to memories, it may need to go.

Third, if I am holding on to it simply because I am afraid of hurting someone's feelings by letting it go, I need to come to terms with that. I'll call the person on the phone, ask them if they want it back or care if I dispose of it, and then take it from there.

Of course, everything will be on a case-by-case basis, but some general rules are essential.

It's going to be a slow process, but I hope it ultimately ends with me being a stronger more independent person, no longer ties to stuff.

While you're here, a vote for me?
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