Monday, September 16, 2013

Lines in our story

I read something recently that made my breath catch in my throat.

"Every place we've lived has carved its impression on us. 
And nearly everything we have writes a line of our story."

This whole decluttering / simplifying / slowing down experiment has had a profound impact on me.

I sometimes - morbidly - think about what is going to happen when we're not here anymore. Who is going to have the awful task of going through our stuff and deciding what has meaning and value, what to keep, what to send away? A horrible horrible task for anyone, that can only be made worse by having to sort through a lifetime of possessions that should never have been there in the first place.

But morbidity aside, I'm still on track with paring back. I think the most important thing is that mentally I'm on track. I don't want all this stuff around me. I am  happy to own less. It seems an enormous task, to approach a lifetime of stuf, and it is, but every day I'm removing things that are not needed, wanted, or loved.

The most profound part of this journey for me has been what is going on in my head. I'm owning less. But more importantly, I want less. This quiet whisper is stronger than my frenzied culling. By wanting less, the inflow of stuff has slowed down. Things still come in - I will never be a radical minimalist, nor do I want to be - but only with thought and conscious decision.

The boys turned four recently, and with that, of course, came queries from beloved family about what to buy them as gifts. I was nervous to admit out loud that they didn't need anything new, that we were trying to reduce our stuff, and that we wanted our kids to learn that more presents do not mean more love, that their happiness does absolutely not depend upon a mountain of accumulated stuff.

But you know what? Everyone got it.

The boys received truly thoughtful gifts. Things we'd happily have given them ourselves amidst this journey. An annual pass to the Science Centre, tickets to Underwater World, an amazing world globe, some dress up costumes, and a cubby house perfect for adventures and imagination, built by hand with love by daddy and Grandpa.

This week is an important one for me. I have taken a week of holiday with the sole purpose of decluttering and spring cleaning. It's the first time in my life I have ever done something like this. Taking holidays to clean? Am I mad? Probably.

Collecting memories. Curating possessions. Cherishing only that which has value. I will probably be repeating this  like a crazed woman by Friday.


  1. Oh Jen you're not mad at all! I've tried so many times to de-clutter only to end up with 9 or so boxes labelled 'To Sort'! I'm a wonder woman at packing things in boxes, which does clear space but I don't have the time to sit and 'sort'. There needs to be a rule of thumb when deciding to keep or throw things out! Or maybe there is one and I just missed that memo!

    I love the thoughtfulness into the boys presents! I usually tell people flat out what she needs. This year I have been making presents and not buying. Hopefully Sunny will treasure her mama's handmade gifts for years to come and pass them on.

    I think I'll be taking a page out of your book this Christmas also and asking for a few experience passes.

    Good luck with your venture!
    Sophie xo

    1. Thank you Sophie. I'm a bit the same. Our house is generally neat and tidy, but it's just tidied and neatened unnecessary stuff. Oh, when I think of the time wasted sorting, labelling, organising, and tidying things that should never have been here! Hope you're having a lovely week x

  2. I absolutely hear ya. What an insightful post :) I wish more people would slow down the need for accumulation. I personally believe that the need for 'stuff' is often an attempt to fill a void for something else missing in their lives. I also like that you are teaching your boys that love is more meaningful that gifts. Those that can do without, are those that are blessed with a truly content life..... Or something like that :)

    Good luck with the decluttering.

    1. I think we're programmed to buy buy buy without even giving it a second thought. I hope the lesson is a valuable one for the babes. x

  3. A week of cleaning and decluttering sounds like heaven to me! You are on quite a journey. I can't wait to see/read about how it has all gone for you. The road to less is a journey well worth taking. Elaina xo

    1. It's exhausting, and confronting, and emotional, but oh so worth it, as you know, having been there. I wonder what took me so long? xx

  4. I made a promise with myself at the start of the year, to not buy myself a single thing for a whole year. It also set off the desire to declutter. It has been amazing. So when we moved last week, life was easy, there were very little items that we have to move that were unwanted. I only have one 'stash' to deal with all of my uni work. Ten years of it.

    1. I think that's amazing! I actually just announced to T yesterday that I wasn't going to buy anything non-essential for me or the boys for the rest of the year. It didn't even freak me out to say it. After last week's mammoth decluttering effort, I feel so.... clear-headed and focused. Does that even make sense? I'm sure you know what I'm talking about. I hope the move went well xx


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