Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Living With Less: THE Intro

I know I just wrote An Intro to The Intro two minutes ago, but, in my head, these were two separate posts.  So I've just gotta roll with it that way.  :)

Let me start by tell you what Living With Less is NOT:
There's an article in the recent August 2011 issue of the Martha Stewart Living magazine that I've been thinking about a lot lately.  Now I love Martha Stewart and the magazines she publishes.  But there is something about this article in particular that drives me crazy.

The article is all about this adorable family that decided to make their vacation home their full-time home.  And it mentions in the article that, since the vacation house they were having built was considerably smaller than the house they were moving from, they had to downsize a lot.  It talks about how they chose out their favorite items from their many collections to display in their home.  It talks about how the books you see on their shelves are only a fraction of what they own.  Which is all fine and good.  But what kills me is the fact that they didn't actually "downsize" at all.  They just put the rest in storage.

That, my friends, is what Living With Less is not.

What Living With Less IS:
Living With Less doesn't simply mean just having less of your stuff in your house.  It means owning less.  It means not having so much junk that you don't know what you own.  It means having one stapler and knowing where it is.  And it means having a stapler you love.

Living With Less means you have the permission--at any and all times--to get rid of the stuff you don't like.  And what's the big deal about that?  It gives you the following:

  • Room in your closets
  • Clarity of mind
  • Extra money
  • Freedom to live the way you want to live

Getting rid of the extra things in life is more than just cleansing your closets.

"But I might need it someday!"
I feel like talking about this is jumping way ahead of myself, but I think it needs to be said before you tune out completely.  

This, my friends, is the pack rat motto.  I can tell you this for sure because I definitely used to be (and I often still fight the urge of being) a pack rat.

So I'll give it to you straight.  It's true.  You might want that thing back someday.  But it's probably not worth the storage space between that day and today.  So sell it or give it away.  Somebody else can use it.  You don't have to keep every single thing.

To my fellow pack rats I say, "Let go of the junk!  Be free!"

What I want you to know:
Living With Less is an on-going process.  As long as you're alive and as long as you have stuff, the process will never stop.  My husband Bryan and I first started to try Living With Less when we were living in our very first (and very tiny) apartment as newly weds.  We (and particularly I) had brought all this stuff into our new home when we got married.

A lot of it, quite frankly, was Junk.  But we really didn't know it at the time.  Because, unfortunately, Junk often looks a whole lot like Stuff Worth Keeping.  And it's hard to tell the difference when you're not sure which is which.  But, the more you sort, the more you'll figure it out.  And the more you figure it out, the more stuff you'll realize is Junk.  And the more Junk you get rid of, the more you'll find room (in your home and in your heart) to treasure the Stuff Worth Keeping.

Note: If Living With Less is something you're interested in, I highly suggest It's Here... Somewhere by Alice Fulton.  I haven't actually read this book, but I have listened to Alice Fultion speak on several occasions at an informal lecture series organized by the women in my church.  During the lectures Alice shared several of the fundamental ideas from her book and discussed many wonderful ideas on Living With Less.

I want to mention her book here at the outset of my series because my ideas and methods have been heavily influenced by what she shared in her lectures and I want to give her the credit she deserves.  Her ideas about organization are timeless.  And well worth your time.


See the entire Living With Less series HERE.


Kathy Haynie said...

Just today Holly and I were talking about her recent move/downsize, and she said, "We were inspired by Katie." And your Living with Less choices have got Mark and me to thinking about getting rid of some of our clutter, too. Thanks, Katie!

Speaking of Living with Less...have I been zoned out, or did you just change all the buttons on the right side of this very cool blog? They are so streamlined and elegant - nice work!

Unknown said...

Nice post, you said it well sister! I saw the Martha article and had the same thoughts. Living with less is a major goal for me, and I will be interested in hearing more about how you have accomplished it.

One of the happiest times I can remember is when my husband and I moved temporarily to the East Coast and rented a tiny 1 BR apt. for 6 months. While preparing for that adventure I had to think long and hard about everything we needed to live with out of the 4000 SF house full of stuff we have here. I love to cook and have a cottage sewing business that I intended to keep working on while we were away so those were my priorities. I took some decor items that I loved to make it homey and the place was cute as a button, never any mess or clutter to clean and I felt happy and liberated. Our goal now is to drastically downsize in the next few years and live in a small cottage that is affordable and efficient. I know I have a lot of hard choices to make to get there, but I am so looking forward to having more time and money to spend on things that mean something to us, rather than spending it to maintain a collection of stuff!

Jennifer said...

It's late and I sort of can't believe I'm commenting on a blog at 12:19 a.m., but I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS.

I love it on so many levels and I can't wait to read what you come up with.

Janelle said...

This idea is somewhere in my psyche as I have 5 kids in 1300sq ft. We have WAY TOO MUCH. I love your use of capitalization - Like Pilgrim's progress. Junk and Stuff Worth Keeping sort of have a personality of their own :D Unfortunately, I was raised by a Hoarder, who also has a bit of a shopping addiction, and, we were REALLY poor when I was a kid, so getting rid of STUFF is scary - never sure if I'll be able to get new Stuff.

SO, I called in reinforcements. My aunt, who is an extreme minimalist, last week to help me sort kid clothes. I decided that since we wear our clothes to death, it was time to clean out, and I'm tired of my kids looking like orphans when we go to the store (the goal statement BTW). I also decided that handing down is good, but we don't need to keep every scrap of clothing & I don't need any more upcycling projects.

So, with the Goal in mind, and the "if someone in our house can't wear it again w/in 1 year" philosophy in place we went through every scrap of kid clothes - 5 Bags of trash, 6 bags of donation, and 10 every day outfits each plus church clothes is all there is - my laundry days just got easier.

Maybe I'll gain courage from this experience, and your series!