Losing Steam

Thank you for your supportive words on my post about the state of my house. It wasn’t easy to write (or publish), but it was important to put out there. I really do believe that admitting to a problem in a brutally honest way is the first (and a very necessary) step to affecting change.

I continue to trudge forward on my initial sweep of the house, but I have to admit, I’m losing steam. I’m trying to remember that I have plenty of time (my whole life!) to par down my belongings, but there is a part of me that is impatient to see dramatic results and I’m starting to feel frustrated by how much work is required.

I’m also struggling with making choices that are in line with my new philosophy. Turns out three decades of intense consumerism are hard to turn off! I’m making mistakes, but I’m cognizant of them and I’ve had the will power to stop myself from making some clearly irresponsible calls (the DVD of a show I can have my kids watch for free on YouTube? NOT NECESSARY!) I’m continuing to put things on my list instead of buying them but some purchases slip past my defenses, cloaked in elaborate (and ultimately bullshit) excuses. Of course I’m going to struggle right now, I’ve only just begun, but still, everything feels hard and the majority of the time I feel like I’m failing.

But I keep moving forward. Every day I try to tackle on more problem area. Tonight I want to go through my make up and jewelery because they require little effort (I almost never wear either), but will produce dramatic results (the make-up/jewelry section of my room is always a total shit show).

I’m thinking more and more about what minimalism means to me and how I’m going to manifest its principals in my life. This first pass will get us to a place where everything we own fits easily into the space that we have. Will that be enough for us? Or will I want to par down our belongings even more? And will my husband be on board? I’m actually running into more resistance with him than I expected, but I think he’ll come around as the house transforms.

Already the house feels more manageable, even with all the work I still have to do. Each room is still messy, but I know where the individual items go so I don’t feel overwhelmed. I find myself quickly picking up my son’s floor before putting him to bed, just because I can. I haven’t even really cleaned my room out yet but there is already a nice path around my bed an the piles are smaller and less dense.

The hardest thing right now is getting rid of the stuff we no longer need. I’ve had to haul three huge bags to the dumpster at my work because we don’t have space for them in our garbage. I was lucky that my mom’s work was collecting women and children’s clothes last week so I gave five huge bags to her. I’ve sold about $100 worth of stuff on Craigslist and dropped a bunch of toys and some clothes off at our local consignment shop. I put two big bags of books in the donation bin at the library near my work today and I have a bag of baby gear that I plan on dropping by the Young Families Resource Center early next week. I’m still not sure where to drop off our big box of broken/obsolete technology and I’d like to give the blankets and bedding to a shelter where they’ll be put to good use. I have no idea what to do with the huge bag of DVDs. Our hall way is lined with giant IKEA bags full of stuff that I’m waiting to get rid of. Purging your home of access crap is hard work.

My god we have so much stuff. I just don’t understand why I didn’t get rid of most of it ages ago (like when we moved!). Why did I need to embrace an extreme idea like minimalism just to par down our belongings to a reasonable amount? It’s like I had to aim for a really drastic reduction of stuff just to get rid of what I should have been getting rid of anyway. I’m not quite sure what that is about, but I’m hoping I’ll figure it out at some point.

And with that I’m going to go clean out my jewelry and make up. Wish me luck.

{I just found this while sorting through the books on my husband’s side of the bed (we have built-in bookshelves on both sides of our room). Bwahahaha! The fact that I just found this workbook–totally untouched–while purging my belongings in an attempt to live more simply, is hilarious to me.}

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11 Comments

  1. You’re making progress – that’s great! You’re right in that you need to stay focused on how far you’ve come instead of how far is left to go. Celebrate each small success and just aim for one (or a few) more each day!

  2. Wow! You have done a whole lot! Really impressive totals pulled for removal already. Really lovely reuse done too. Other people are benefiting from your actions! Hurray for you!
    Does SF Public Library accept DVD’s for their fundraisers?
    Natural process to make a huge first step and them have some overwhelmed feelings. I want to give advice on your next step (get the ‘selected to leave’ items GONE) BUT that may not be YOUR correct next step. For me, I have found actually getting things OUT of my space lets me celebrate my achievements. That energizes me for the next step forward.
    Each person is different however.
    Once again, can I help? How can your readers support you? You are not alone, your cheering team is totally celebrating you and supporting you. De-cluttering and de-owning is a process and a life-long marathon … with occasional sprints, one of which you have totally just done!
    SO impressed and proud of you and your hard work!!!! GIve your self some praise just like you praise the rest of your loved ones (self praise can be so very hard to do). YOU HAVE EARNED REAL SELF PRAISE FOR THIS ACCOMPLISHMENT!!!!!!

  3. I just re-read the number of bags of items you have discarded again. SO IMPRESSED by your hard work and accomplishments!!!!!!!

  4. I am always daunted by just the logistics of hard it is to pare down. I’ve had a pile of kids books picked out to give away since February. I researched online and picked a specific non-profit I wanted to give them to, which means I need to take them there. And so they sit. And now I packed them up to move them to my new house to sit. You are not alone!

  5. You can do it! I am so impressed with all the work you’ve done already- maybe your “losing steam” just translates into “tired”. I’m so proud of you and know it will be worth it!

  6. Suggestion: not sure where you are in the Bay Area, but Hope Services has several locations and they take electronics/e-waste. Most of that type of stuff can’t be put in the trash. Another place to take it is to your local Household Hazardous Waste drop off center–should be easy to find by googling or checking the web site for your county.

    Also, animal shelters often accept and need used towels and blankets. Maybe other bedding too.

  7. Wow, you’ve accomplished a lot! I’m very impressed with all of your hard work.

    If you don’t mind me sharing a tip, I also recently organized my jewelry, mostly costume stuff, because I put it in storage while we were living at our temporary location. I know this is initially adding more to your belongings, but I bought some little plastic bags to store each piece in, like these: http://www.amazon.com/500-CLEAR-Reclosable-Zipper-Bag/dp/B002EDINF0. Then, I purchased the photo boxes that Michael’s will sell at 5 for $10 at various times throughout the year. I categorized three boxes into necklaces/bracelets, earrings, and rings. That way, when I’m looking for something to wear that day, I just browse through the box, can easily see what I have, and take it out of the bag to wear. When I’m done, I put the items back in their bags and back in the boxes. It’s really helped me to wear what I have, organize them in a space other than all over my dresser, and not feel tempted to buy more.

  8. Does your area have any groups that come to your house to pick up donations? We have a few that will pick up bags of stuff from your curb once a quarter or so if you label it for them somehow. It’s awesome. They aren’t all the first organization I’d like to have my stuff but usually they aren’t so awful that I’m unwilling to give them stuff because leaving it out on the curb is worth a lot in light of the time I save.

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