This post was originally published September 11, 2014.
I haven’t posted in so long, because I was out enjoying one of the nicest summers we have had in a long while. Usually the summers in this area are hot and humid, and after the 4th of July, everyone just retreats to their air conditioning to wait for fall. This summer was different – it was a warm, soft summer, with temperate weather, beautiful sunny days, and firefly-filled nights. Our family took full advantage of it, and we were outside from the time we arrived home from work until dark every night that we could be. I didn’t get too many projects done. But during the week, I had lots of nice evening runs, and saw many beautiful sunsets, and on the weekends, we relaxed and relaxed some more.
This week, it is starting to feel like summer is coming to an end. A cold front in moving through today which will bring fall-like weather, according to the weatherman. It has been hot and muggy the last two weeks (as opposed to all summer long, like it usually is), but I am still sorry to see this summer end.
So other than enjoying the summer, what have I been up to? Well! Let me tell you.
For a while now, I have subscribed to Joshua Becker’s blog, Becoming Minimalist. Recently, I read his books Simplify and Clutterfree with Kids. Our house is small, and during the last couple of years I have been increasingly dissatisfied and perturbed by the feeling that I am living in a storage unit. Joshua and his family started out like us, and have now embraced minimalism. I found this idea very intriguing. I like the idea of clear surfaces, room to move about, and the ability to find things when I need them.
I took a week off work after Labor Day (just ’cause), and decided to spend some time going through … DAH, DAH, DUM … The Third Room. The Third Room is the third bedroom in our home. It is a sewing room / music room / storage room / dumping ground for all things we can’t place elsewhere. I went through about ten boxes of things and got rid of almost all of it. I got rid of three garbage bags full of quilting fabric, which I donated to a local guild that makes quilts for the NICU. I got rid of an entire box of video tapes – many went in the garbage, but some are in a box to go to the used book store. Same with CDs. I found a box full of cassette tapes, 95% of which are now either in the trash or in the donation box for Goodwill (we still have a cassette player, so there were a few keepers). I got rid of two garbage bags of my own clothes (I never shop for clothes, so I am not sure how I ended up with so many!). One box had nothing in it but an old bag of potting soil. It’s been stored safely in The Third Room for ten years! Why? Why? There is now a pile of things by the front door that have “exit strategies” – a box to go to the used book store, a box for Goodwill, a box for Freecyle, my old bass amp to go to Sam Ash, a box to go to ReTool (a used tool store), etc.
Getting rid of all this stuff is liberating and exhilarating. There is still tons to be done just in The Third Room, but I feel motivated to do it. The trick is the way you look at your things. If I open a box, and ask “What can I get rid of?”, very little will actually be “gotten rid of”. Most items will stay in the box. BUT, if I open a box, take everything out, and then ask, “What do I want to keep?”, only a few things, if any, will go back in the box. I will find a home elsewhere for those things that I want to keep, that bring value to my life, and everything else gets an exit strategy. And the now empty box gets added to the growing pile of empty boxes.