I am surprised by the numbers of you who have left comments telling me that you too find the urge to declutter and clean up your spaces now that the holidays are over, I really thought I was the only one who did this in January.
I thought I would add a few comments today on the subject of our belongings.
Stephanie Kaza teaches a class at the University of Vermont called Unlearning Consumerism. Sounds like a great class, right? That is until I found that her first homework assignment for her students is to list every thing they own, every last item. Even in my small space it would take me a while to list everything, thinking about the craft drawer alone. The premise of her assignment is to “begin to wonder where it all came from, what you are going to do with it, and whether, in fact, it is all really necessary.”
I’ve given some consideration to doing just what Ms. Kaza assigns her students as I go through my cleaning, but not sure I really want to see the list when I’m done, so maybe I will avoid this one.
Plato said “A life not examined is a life not worth living”
If I listened to Plato, and this sounds like good advise, then I should take more time with my decluttering and think about each item I still own and why I have it.
In the winter issue of Yes Magazine I spotted this: “Americans have so much, yet we are unwilling to give anything up, and are still reaching for more”
I think that may have pertained to me at one time, but I have transitioned to more of a bartering/sharing way of living. This summer I was able to benefit from a neighbor who shared her tools with me to garden. I also do my part to share what I own. In this way we are freer to own less.
Do we still need all the DVDs and electronics that we may own. Past generations told stories, played cards, and visited with neighbors when they had free time. How many times will you watch the same movie, re-read the same book, or play that hand held game…even I got bored of Angry Birds after a while.
I learned after the deaths of my grandparents that the things I took from their home to have a sense of them with me weren’t them, those things aren’t my memories, when I realized that I was able to let them go. My home felt like a museum of their life, not mine. I had to take ownership back of my home.
The idea that things aren’t our memories may help you to let go of other mementos. I used to save every concert stub from every concert I ever went to. One day I realized I didn’t need to have those stubs as I knew what concerts I attended. Why was I holding on to them? I tossed them and moved on.
If you are purging items from your home, as I am yet again, take a good look at what you no longer need. There are those with so much less than you and I. Here are some ideas for places and people who will gladly take your items off your hands:
- Homeless shelters: blankets, winter coats, gloves, and the like are needed by those who have none.
- Foster programs are always in need of items for the children. Most children when they are removed from their current home leave with nothing. There is an organization (sorry I forget their name) which takes new pajamas. When a child can at least have a pair of pj’s that are their own it makes it easier on them. Can you imagine being removed from your home and not being able to take anything with you?
- If you have decided to focus on weight loss this January, as many do, and want to rid your home of those “bad” foods why not drop them off to the food pantry?
- Hospitals will accept “new” hats for preemies.
- Schools, hospitals, libraries, nursing homes will all accept books and nursing homes will accept games as well.
I will leave you today with a quote from a favorite author Nell M. Rodgers
Nature abhors a vacuum. Create space for your metamorphosis. A cocoon holds a butterfly, but unless there is space the butterfly can never spread its wings