da da dummmmmm
(and out of curiosity- have any of you read it since I last wrote about it? I saw Jen's post on facebook announcing that a bible study based on the book will be available on Dec 1, and I gotta tell ya friends- that excites me. That excites me quite a bit.)
As I mentioned before, the author Jen Hatmaker, wrote this book about 7 areas of her life where she saw excess. Food, clothes, media, spending, possessions, waste, stress. She made 7 simple choices to pare down each of these areas and to fight back against greed, materialism, and overindulgence.
While possessions wasn't the first item she chose to tackle, it's the first item I chose to tackle. Her chapter began with a count of how many square feet she lives in, and how many closets full of clothes she and her family have, and how many dressers/cabinets/shelves full of things there are everywhere in her house. And it hit me-
my house is no different.
There is stuff....everywhere.
I did 6 loads of laundry over the weekend, and here's the long and short of it- when all of our clothes are clean, we don't have enough room in our closets/dresser drawers to hold them.
The only exception to this would be the closets of the menfolk in my house. There are only so many Star Wars shirts available for purchase in the universe, and while I feel confident that my son has every one of them, they don't fill an entire closet. Nor do the hubs clothes, but what they lack in clothing, they make up for in legos.
Here's an excerpt from the book that I think brilliantly defines us (or at least ME) as consumers:
"I see it (on you, on them, in their house, at Target, on tv). I manufacture a need for it. Then I buy it. I use it a little or not. I store it/shelve it/stack it/stuff it/get tired of it, then wage war against it one day when all my little things are strewn about as escapees from their shelves and drawers.
I could blame Big Marketing for selling me imagined needs. I could point a finger at culture for peer pressuring me into having nicer things. I might implicate modern parenting, which encourages endless purchases for the kids, ensuring they aren't the "have-nots" in a sea of "haves". I could just dismiss it all with a shrug and casual wave of the hand. Oh you know me! Retail therapy!
But if I'm being truthful, this is a sickening cycle of consumerism that I perpetuate constantly. I used to pardon excess from the tension of the gospel by saying, "Oh, it doesn't matter how much you have; it's what you do with it." But that exemption is folding in on itself lately. Plus, let's be honest: what does "it's what you do with it" even mean? Are we really doing something honorable with our stuff other than just consuming it? I'm not sure carting it all off after we're bored with those particular items is a helpful response since we just replace it with more."
And that's why I chose to start with possessions.
That. Right. There.
Jen's words and thoughts felt like my own. I manufacture needs for things, and just like that *snap*, I've bought it. While some items see a good deal of action, others do not. And wonder of wonders, there are some things that I've bought that are still (gasp) in the box/have tags on them.
Sheesh, MK. Just...sheesh.
While Jen decided that she and her family would give 7 things away every day for a month, I decided to go through each category of 'thing' in our house and purge and cull until what we're left with is actually what we need and use on a regular basis. It wasn't hard to pick which category to go through first because it's something I'm constantly stepping over and picking up and putting away and cramming onto shelves and in baskets, and yes even sometimes kicking under beds.
We have egads of children's books in every single room of our house, and if I had to guess, I'd say we could easily cover every square inch of this house with a children's book if we needed to, say, make a book floor. And notice, I said children's books. This was the first purge. Tackling my books will be an entirely separate beast altogether. I may or may not have bought this house because of the gorgeous built-ins that run down the hallway because I knew this house could handle me and my enormous book entourage. Ahem.
As I was saying- you literally can't walk 2 feet in our house without seeing a kid's book on a dresser or a bed or the floor, so this seemed like a natural place to start pairing down our stuff. And don't get me wrong- I have nothing against children's books. On the contrary- I love children's books. My mother was a librarian for 30+ years for goodness sakes. I love that my kids love to read and can sit and occupy themselves with a book for quite some time, but when there are bookshelves full, and baskets overflowing, and piles on the floor that are growing....it's time to send some of them on their way.
I tackled this job during naptime because I'm smart. They can't protest to keep something if they're unconscious. I removed every book from the book rack, baskets, and storage ottomans in the living room, I found a stack in the mini, a stack in the master bedroom (and a few on the floor), several in the floor of the man cave and even more strewn about in the dining room. The only room I wasn't able to get books out of was the girls' room because dadblastit I'd forgotten to get them out before they fell asleep and no way no how was I going to chance waking them. (I must also mention that I didn't mess with Oliver's books because he and the hubs had just completed a purge of his bookshelf & removed all the princess books left there by his seesters, and anything that was below his reading level. Thanks, hubs.) I piled what I found on top of the kitchen counter and snapped a photo:
I went through each and every one and asked:
is there a sentimental attachment to this?
is this a book they currently like to read over and over?
is this book too 'young' for the girls now?
and this book-loving momma took those massive piles and turned it into this:
1 stack to be placed on the book rack and 1 shelf of the hallway built-ins, and 1 basket to be returned to its spot on the coffee table.
And, well...whatever books were in the nursery because the girls were still snoozing.
This is what my giveaway pile looked like:
I didn't count it, but I'm gonna go with lots. And you know what? After that first purge, I was already breathing easier. Why did that all of a sudden sound gross? Maybe because MM choked on some snot this morning and hubs and I had to clean up what SHE purged. Sorry for that mental image...
Anyway, ridding our house of these things that we weren't really using was quite liberating. Most of them were board books that the kids loved at a younger age, but our youngest is now 2.5, and already has the vocabulary of an 8 year old. She's not going to still for 'see dog run' anymore.
I still have a looooong way to go to make it through every category of 'stuff' in this house (kitchen items, shoes, clothes, dvds, purses), but I'm already breathing easier. We don't need all of this. We don't USE all of this. We have 47 VHS tapes and no working VCR for crying out loud. I actually went through toys one day last week while we were out of school and good gravy did we have a truckload of goodies for the 6-24 month set, none of which live here anymore. The girls toys are actually containerized in two baskets and in their dresser drawers and not covering every square inch of carpet as they had been previously.
Deep breath in.....cleansing breath out.
Feels good to clean out and let go. Feels mighty good.
And so, friends- I toss the question to you now. What are you hanging on to that you don't need/use? Are there things in your house that someone else could be enjoying/getting use from? Take a look around and I bet there's something you could send on its way.