It seems that “decluttering” is a major theme in people’s lives these days. I finally ordered the book all my clients have been raving about, The Life-changing Magic Of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art Of Decluttering And Organizing by Marie Kondo. It’s a cute little book that takes about three hours to read. I highly recommend you read it if you haven’t already. I have listened to countless stories from women who claim that they’re lives have been ‘forever changed’ by the concepts of this book and then I got ahold of it, and the same thing happened to me! Here’s what you can expect after reading this book:
You will go through your home, room by room, and swiftly turf all the stuff you feel doesn’t ‘spark joy’ in your life. Then you will lug huge bags and boxes out the door and drop them off at your local thrift store, feeling lighter, brighter, and surprisingly “free”. When I did this, I couldn’t believe all the extra crap I’d accumulated over the past twelve years- which happens to coincide with the time I have lived in a house, as opposed to an apartment. It’s interesting when you buy a house after living in cramped quarters for years, how the ‘stuff quotient’ seems to pile up- until after a decade, you take a good look around your home and ask yourself, “Why do I have so much stuff? Do I even need most of it? It feels like it’s moving in on me and has it’s own life force. What can I do?”
Then there was my office to tackle next- soon after I bought my first house, I had the good fortune of coming across a commercial office space I could afford to buy and work out of. I thought I had won the lottery! I sat there and marveled at the fact that I now had over 700-square feet of office space all to myself- what a luxury! Any of you reading this who have been to said office are well aware that it didn’t take me very long to cram all 700-square feet of it with furniture and stuff! Oh, what fun I had picking out paint colours, hanging art on the walls, buying furniture, and decorating to my heart’s content. Because I had such a huge office on the upstairs level, (which looked ominously empty), I did what any sane woman in my situation would do- I quickly bought the biggest desk I could possibly find to ‘make it cozy’. I have no idea how much my mammoth solid-wood, locally sourced desk weighs, but what I can say is that when the guys were moving it in, there was a lot of cursing that went on and they were completely drenched in sweat by the time it was assembled.
No not only do I have a 2100 square foot house full of stuff, I can also boast to have a rather large office space completely full of even more stuff. Don’t get me wrong dear readers- I LOVE my stuff and it gives me great joy to create a warm and inviting atmosphere for clients at my office and for family and friends in my home. What I don’t love is the feeling of being weighed down by all the stuff I have now managed to accumulate since I became financially independent and ‘successful’.
I want to share a cute story with you about being young and naive and free of the burdens of ‘financial stability’ and the ‘material comfort’ it brings…
Picture this if you will…
It’s June 1, 1996. I am 25 years young wearing a short floral dress with steel-toed army boots and a shaved head and have just landed in Victoria, BC with a freshly printed undergraduate degree in Social Work in my handbag. I resisted packing it in my checked luggage because I was afraid it would get lost and my entire future career would go up in a puff of smoke. I have just moved to Vancouver Island from the inner city of Toronto, Ontario, where I grew up and lived for over twenty years. The week before I got on that plane to BC, I had a giant yard sale and sold almost everything I owned including:
- my bed (a sad old futon mattress I’d slept on directly on the floor for over a decade)
- a Champion Juicer (a beloved prized possession I mourned for about 20 years after)
- most of my funky vintage clothes amassed from living in Kensington Market for most of my life
- almost all of my books which resembled the makings of a mini self-help bookstore/women’s studies library
- the military-style head shaver I had used for almost a decade to achieve my near-bald status which caused people to confuse me with Sinead O’Connor (personally, I found that odd considering we only shared a unique hairstyle and looked nothing alike otherwise)
- the rest of the furniture I owned at the time- a 1950’s funky table and chairs I lovingly dubbed, “The Elvis Dinette”, along with a single futon I had covered in a hand-dyed cover which served as a sofa/chair
The rest of my humble possessions (including a full set of cast- iron pans my father had given me and lovingly treated himself- needless to say- I regretted lugging those puppies all the way to BC) went into forty little square boxes I purchased at Canada Post and I actually mailed them by regular mail to a friend’s place in Victoria where I would pick them up when I found a place to live. I ended up living at the youth hostel in Victoria for quite a while until I found a cheap room to rent with about eight other twenty-somethings’ and eventually sat in that sad little room surrounded by all forty boxes and began to create a new life for myself. Once situated, I quickly set myself up with a rolling foam pad as my bed, decked out with washed by much-used bedding from Value Village. I had very little in the way of ‘stuff’- no money, no job prospects, a very limited circle of friends, and no ‘special someone’- but guess what? When I look back on that time, those are some of my fondest memories.
I had never felt freer in my life. I’m sure being 25 and full of hope, excitement, and ambition helped- but I really think that having next to nothing materially was a big part of it. And while I love my life as it is now, with more ‘stuff’ comes more responsibility. And with that responsibility, there can be worry. For example, I now pay for two separate alarm systems and two ‘contents insurance’ packages to protect all of my ‘stuff’. It seems a bit bizarre if you really think about it.
Recently, I’ve found myself fantasizing about living in a “tiny house” that allows you to live more simply in 100-400 square feet! In urban centres, you can also pay a pretty penny for a “micro condo” which is the same thing, only an apartment instead of a house. But who am I kidding? I’m not about to squish into a micro-sized living space anytime soon!
If you’re interested in decluttering and living with less, you should also check out some blogs on the whole minimalist movement going on all around us.