One hundred forty. That is the number of items that stand between me and my completion of the Minimalist Challenge. I have already removed 325 (more or less) items from our little house by the river! I am thankful that my daughters were home for the holidays and helped me scrape together some of those piles and bags of stuff, but I think the last 140 are on me. Deep breath.
I think I can, I think I can.
So what have I given away? Lots of books (although we sold and gave away dozens of books before our move to Michigan), clothing (so many T-shirts!), Christmas items (do I really need poinsettia placemats?), shoes (those taupe pumps made me look even more middle-aged than I am), a yoga mat, a fold-up laundry hamper (college-dorm style), an old crock pot, an enormous electric roaster that I have used twice, cloth bags by the dozen, several pillows and blankets, and many, many other obscure items.
Is my house empty? Not even close. As a matter of fact, the area that started this whole business — my desk– hasn’t changed too noticeably. (I did dust it once, by the way.) It’s shelves are still full of my husband’s theological and counseling texts and several framed photos of our kids. The desktop itself is still cluttered with my ‘to-do’ items — Bible study materials, bills, mailing supplies, and the like. One of those organizational specialists would probably come in here with some coordinating accessories and make it look like there was nothing here at all, but, you know, I’m ok with its current state. I do use most of this stuff at least weekly.
And that is how most of the house is — trimmed down to the things I use at least weekly. So where am I going to get one hundred forty more items? I have a few ideas, almost all of them are going to involve standing on chairs or getting on hands and knees. I’m going to go into the hard-to-reach cupboard over the fridge and the tall cabinets in the laundry room. I’m going to look in the back of that awkward cupboard in the kitchen. Then, I am going to assess the utensil drawers — there’s gotta be some stuff in there that is just gathering dust. Oh, and the ‘Tupperware’ drawer — gotta throw away extraneous lids again. If all else fails, I can go back to my sock drawer, and that reminds me — the basket of mismatched socks! I probably have at least 20 singletons that can be finally released from their wandering misery!
And what will all this trimming do for me? Well, I am entering 2015 feeling quite organized, that’s one thing. But probably more importantly is the shift that has occurred in my mind. I have always been willing to give stuff away — that’s been rather useful in two inter-state moves. Yet shift has still happened, probably on a deeper level. I was in a thrift store yesterday (after dropping off 115 items!). I was looking specifically for knitting needles and yarn. The particular store I was in organizes craft items so well that there is actually a drawer labelled ‘yarn’ and a drawer labelled ‘knitting needles’. No kidding. I have been in the store enough times that I walked straight to those two drawers and found what I was looking for. And here comes the shift….in my usual fashion I took a walk around the rest of the store just to see if there was anything else interesting. And there was! Books, and puzzles, and unopened rolls of Christmas wrapping paper for less than a dollar! Everything with a white tag was 50% off! But I didn’t pick up one thing. My mind kept saying, “I don’t need that.”
And I don’t. I don’t need anything. I have clothing, shoes, a family, a beautiful doggy, and a very small (and organized) house by the river. I have (apparently) 140 things in this house that I don’t need and I am going to find them in the next five days. The next part of the challenge, which my thrift shop experience tells me won’t really be much of a challenge, is not to replace the over 400 items that have been liberated from my household. The next part of the challenge is to embrace living simply.
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth,
where moths and vermin destroy and thieves break in and steal.
But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven,
where moths and vermin do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal.