Over the last year I've been simplifying and minimizing our household. It all started when we were going to move. I read all of the "how to sell your house fast" information and the one thing all of the experts agreed upon was that if you wanted to make your home more appealing to buyers you needed to get rid of the clutter. I didn't realize how silly that statement was until I had done it.
I made myself comfortable on the sofa and just took in my surroundings. I wasn't really prepared for how I felt. As I laid back, enjoying my home free of burdensome, dust ridden knick-knacks and stuff I'd probably never use an overwhelming peace came over me. I was enjoying my home. I had not done that in a while.
That's probably when it hit me. The fact that I was only content in my home when I'd prepared it for someone else. And, if I was able to live without this stuff for the duration of our home being on the market then did I really need it? If getting rid of all of that made my home more appealing to others --and me-- then why keep it?
When we decided not to sell right now (hey, the market isn't what it used to be) instead of bringing all of that stuff back from storage we went through the liberating process of going through it and getting rid of most of it. Then we took it a step further. We went through the stuff that was still here and got rid of a lot of it too.
I feel free.
Most of our clutter was easily eliminated by changing my heart and perspective on a few issues. I'll share them with you.
a pile of unmade decisions - That is what God showed me about the overflowing "stuff" basket on the counter. You know you have one! Each piece of mail was a decision unmade about when to open it or file it. Each pen was an unmade decision to put it away. Each invitation was an unmade decision about attending the function. We had procrastinated making decisions for so long that it had become a countertop mountain. Once we were done tackling that mountain we realized that it had only taken us a little over 10 minutes to make every decision the basket held. We don't procrastinate decision making any more. Before we decide to pile it we decide where it should really go and don't put off doing it.
don't plan to be broke - God has a way of speaking to me through others and this day was no exception. Grandma was listening as I ranted and raved about having to move all three boxes of baby girl clothing yet again because we had no room to put anything anymore. We'd make room in one area but only because we sacrificed another part of the house to store things. "These girl clothes," I explained to her, "are for my future daughter -- if I ever have one I'll need them." The words that came out of her mouth left me stunned. She said, "Amy, why do you plan on being broke? You'll be able to buy all the clothes you need when and if you get pregnant for a little girl. There is no reason to keep that stuff." She was right. I planned on being broke or unable to purchase things in the future. That isn't how He wants us to live. We have to trust in Him and have faith that He will provide. I also realized that there was someone in my community, right now, who needed those clothes. Had I buried them in the attic then I would have been another lazy servant like the one described in Matthew 25:14-30.
buy for purpose, not potential - I have creativity ADD. That isn't a real diagnosis. It's just one I've given myself. I see things and I immediately think of 7 different projects I can make with them. I buy it for the potential and not for purpose. Once I pulled out all of my craft supplies I realized that I had so many things that I was overwhelmed. I've learned that the key to true creativity is simplicity. I have donated more than 3/4 of my craft supplies to local schools, churches and outreach charities. Since then I have not stopped creating. I have room to create and I am not limited by the things that were surrounding me. Now I only shop for things at the craft store that I have a purpose for. If I see something that I think has potential then I take a photo of it with my cell phone and email it to myself. Then I file it away for the future...in case I ever decide there is a purpose for it.
We won't even talk about the amount of homeschool curriculum I had. I only have one child that I still teach at home yet I had 5 large boxes full of homeschool texts, guides, kits, books and media.
I am thrilled to say that after four months of simplifying our home that we have donated 3 truckloads of boxes and items to Goodwill, 13 boxes of craft supplies to local schools, churches and outreach organizations, provided 9 expectant moms with clothing and other baby items and enabled 4 families to homeschool their kids by donating curriculum and other supplies to them. I've never been happier about the condition of our home and in fact, I'm still simplifying. I've discovered that I like space more than I like stuff.
I created some one sheet printables to help through the sorting process. You are welcome to download them: Declutter (Give Away, Throw Away, Put Away, Donations Printables). Happy Simplifying!