I have been blessed with visits from five of my dearest friends this week – two sleepovers with friends from afar and three local girlfriends just dropping by to chat or for a meal. I feel so blessed at the start of my journey to have time to visit with these important women in my life. I feel a little like they are sending me off on a grand adventure.
One adventure has begun before I have even left the house. Here is how it began:
One of my visiting friend has recently downsized her home from a large split-level to a small two-bedroom cottage (for her, her husband, three children, and dog). And she is nothing short of transformed.
We talked long into the evening and I realized her transformation: she parted ways with her stuff. All of the safety nets of things that we build around ourselves to insulate us; all the deal-with-it-later messes and broken items; all of the too-damn-much that surrounds us.
Like me she is a savvy thrifter and enjoys the second-hand-store hunt for the perfect Hanna Andersson PJ's; the groovy Danish modern chairs; the quality European blocks for pennies. And like me, she got herself a little buried. (Okay, a lot buried.)
So she and her family determined to dig themselves out.
The called the thrift store for a pick-up and proceeded to fill the truck. And then the dumster. They touched every single item they owned and asked this vital question: "Do I love it?" or "Would this belong in my dream house/dream life?" And if not, they let it go.
They downsized from rooms and rooms filled with gorgeous Waldorf toys to a simple dollhouse, a wooden castle, and one doll for each child. Done. Enough. Go outside and play.
They downsized from closets brimming with clothing and a large overflow of additional sizes in the basement to four adorable season-appropriate outfits for each person with no back-up. Four is enough if you have a washer, and the children mix-and match to create plentiful options. Their dresser drawers are empty and so is their to-do list without all of those things to clean, put away, and otherwise tend to.
They unloaded those tubs of too-big-now-but-will-fit-later kids' clothing, believing in the abundance of the universe. We don't need to hoard these things. We can pass them along and then welcome the right items in our world when we want them.
In short, they are free. Their stuff-burden has lifted.
As she and I talked I started to feel a familiar discomfort in my stomach. A feeling of being on the precipce of somthing really big – of major transformation coming in my own life. It was a little hard to breathe to be honest, as I reflected on just how much I have burdened myself with by way of treasures and finds and just-in-case.
All of my labeled bins of big-kid clothes in the basement seemed vulgar suddenly, and so did our packed closets, dressers, and baskets of playthings. And with a slightly-sick-yet-very-excited feeling in my belly I went to work. I worked from my children's bedtime until my own and proceeded to fill my van with items I do not need.
The next morning the kids and I started right away moving toys and clothes and decorations out the door. They selected formerly-precious playthings to pass along to friends. We joyfully let go of so very many things. And we feel fantastic. I got rid of the jeans that I still wear even though I hate them; the dressy clothes I haven't worn in a year; the beloved Birkenstocks from high school that are useful yet ugly. I let the kids unload things that were treasures to me but ignored by them – a fairy bower, two wooden race cars, some Waldorf dolls. And we feel absolutely free.
And we've only just begun.
Our dresser drawers are easy to open, the playroom is spacious, there is less what-to-wear drama in the morning, and we're all lighter for having less stuff. I even resisted the urge to sell anything. That is just another holding-on that I need to be done with. I gave away my Moby Wrap to a (pregnant) farmer-friend, a brand new nursing bra to a neighbor, plenty of soft-soled kid's shoes to little friends around town, and a fancy kid snowsuit to a little one I love.
I'm done. Divorcing the stuff.
I share this story because I truly think it is changing me. And I want to invite you to join me. Can you fill a bag today? A box? Your car? It might just change everything.
Are you in?
Post your progress in the comments how much you send down the road and together we'll transofm our families.
Edited Spring 2011: I've just begun hosting a Simplicity Parenting Book Club here on Clean. Join us, won't you? You don't even need to read the book – or be parents for that matter. There is value in the discussion for us all. Find it over here.