Saturday, March 12, 2011

Surround Yourself With the Things You Love

I love it when I start to think about something---really think about it--God throws reassurances in my path to gobble up. Like Hansel and Gretl, but without being almost cooked and eaten in the end. ANYWAY--that has absolutely nothing with what I'm going to write about but...I had to share. Because the God part is sorta connected. The cannibalism is not.

Okay, now that's we've got that settled, let's put on our serious faces and get down to business.

I saw a decorative wooden sign recently that said: Surround Yourself With the Things You Love. And I thought to myself, I should buy that sign, to remind myself of that. And then I had to laugh at myself because that's my problem. I love too many things! So I have to buy myself a sign to remind myself to only bring in to my house that which I love the most...and I don't really love that it would be counter intuitive. Oh, sigh...oh, me.

But instead I committed that little phrase to memory and I am capturing it for time immemorial on this blog. I have a lot of stuff. I always have. My brother and I were the long awaited grandchildren, the much hoped for next generation. So when we came along, there was a load of 'stuff' waiting for us upon arrival. Our whole lives we've been given and collecting things. My brother doesn't seem to have the same addiction for sentimental stuff that I have but nonetheless, he hasn't been able to completely escape the STUFF!

So as a child, my room was always filled to capacity. Then when we started all the moves from apartment to apartment it got boxed up for 'someday'. Well, getting married and have a whole house to decorate seemed like 'someday' had arrived. Except that...there was more stuff on top of the original stuff. And we got wedding stuff. And Curtis has stuff...albeit not very much stuff, not like me. And our house is just stuffed with stuff already. And we don't even have kids yet.

I feel claustrophobic just thinking about it. And the clutter is out of control. I think I'm secretly running a Clutter Factory and someday the Clutter Elves will bring me a fat paycheck for manufacturing so much clutter. There's clutter on every flat surface...the kitchen, the dining room, the living room, the computer room, the bathroom, the bedroom! CLUTTER, CLUTTER EVERYWHERE, and not a drop to drink...or something.

Frankly, I can't take it anymore!!!!!!!! So I'm trying to de-stuff and de-clutter the house. I've read many magazine articles and searched for tips online. I've tried several methods and plans in my battle against stuff and clutter. But the problem is--what works for someone else, Martha Stewart, my mom, whoever--might not work for me. The solution to stuff and clutter is apparently not one-size-fits-all.

So I'm overhauling my views about my house. Shifting my paradigms of housekeeping. For example, we have a ridiculously small closet in our bedroom. Ridiculously. Small. So my dresses and skirts have been relegated to the Nursery closet (so named because someday that room will be a nursery) and the Guest Room closet. So whenever I wear a skirt or dress I have to go all the way to another room to get it out and put it away. Now, really, this isn't that big a deal but clearly, it's not working for me. My skirts and dresses end up draped over the balcony railing above the dining room. After months of this behavior I realized--it's broken, fix it! I went through all our clothes and filled a huge garbage full of items we just don't wear. Or don't need. My husband had 3 blue long sleeve dress shirts, almost exactly the same. Really? And then I moved all my skirts into the closet. My next step is to try on all my dresses and donate what doesn't fit anymore along with all that other stuff. De-stuff which leads to de-clutter. Love it.

I'm looking around my house and trying to see why there's clutter. The answer is because there's too much stuff. So by eliminating the stuff, there's room to put the clutter away. Thus far I haven't spent a dime but I've managed to empty one large storage bin and two or three smaller boxes. It feels good to purge the house and elimintate the things we don't need or don't really and truly love. Life is too short to fill it with a bunch of stuff I don't love and have to dust around.

And my goal isn't perfection (gasp!). It's to make our house a home. Gee, I've said that before, haven't I? Ann Voskamp' s blog today speaks to this very idea. A 'perfect' home is not a perfect home. Museum quality cleanliness isn't warm and cozy. But neither is clutter and stuff oozing from every closet, nook, and cranny.

And remember how I started this post with God throwing out the crumbs? Well, the aforementioned blog is one of them. So is this blog which my mom sent me. Another is the following verse which I read last night:

Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.--Matthew 6:19-21

So what matters to me most? Having a bunch of stuff because it brings back a memory or I just 'had to have it'? Or emptying out so I can be filled up with things I love? Because my house is like my heart. I can hold on to the stuff I've always had or always wanted, or I can let God fill it with His gifts.

So...go clean out a closet or something! Or read Hansel and Gretl and think about how messed up children's stories used to be. Seriously.

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