Surviving the Stuff

Some days it feels like we are drowning in stuff.

The “keeping up with the Jones'” is constantly pushed in our faces as our culture is all about new cars, new furniture, new clothes, new shoes and the latest and greatest in all things technology.  Having a house filled with stuff is a status symbol.  Bursting at the seams is apparently a good thing?  When was the last time you saw an empty spot in your front hall closet?  When was the last time you saw only one car parked in a two car garage with no other vehicles parked in front of the house or on the street?  When was the last time you actually gave yourself a cool off period of 24 hours before buying a new pair of shoes or a new piece of electronics?

Right now, our basement is completely empty, save for the Lego room where they boys have all of their Lego.  It actually shows really well because it a big wide open space with only an area rug on the floor.  After living on a 39 foot sailboat for a year and learning to scale back our belongings to fit into less than 300 square feet, our five bedroom home with a fully finished basement seems huge!  We are living in a house that is twice as big as is necessary for our needs.

We have an “under the stairs” storage area where we boxed up some things and stored them while we were on the boat.  It includes my Christmas decor, extra clothes and some personal items.  We have not touched those items in more than a year, nor can I remember what exactly is in those boxes.  And yet, I have this almost compulsive need to go through everything to see if I might be missing something!  Richard and I could not recall about a third of the furniture in our home when we were discussing the sale of some of those items to our renters.  If you have not laid hands on something in 15 months, are they really necessary?  If you can not recall certain pieces of furniture in your home, are they really that valuable and useful to you?

They say that you only wear about 20% of your wardrobe, 80% of the time.  What are you doing with that other 80%?  Is it just taking up space in your closet?  They also say that you should only keep in your home or in your possession, things that makes your life easier or things that you find beautiful.  So, consider if the item brings you joy because it is beautiful or meaningful to you or if it is truly useful to you in your everyday life.  Then keep it!  Otherwise donate it so someone else can find it useful or beautiful or throw it away.

Here is a very simple example of scaling back and decluttering.  (I am not judging anyone, because I know my own linen closet is full!  I’m just sayin’)  How many tea towels do you actually use in a week?  Maybe two or three?  Upwards of four or five if you have cleaned up or dried a big kitchen mess?  How often do you do laundry?  Once a week?  So how many tea towels do you actually need in your closet or drawer?  I’d bet you continue to use the ones on the top of the pile, the ones that are freshly laundered.  Have you ever gotten to the bottom of your pile and thought, I might not have enough tea towels?  Probably not, so why do most kitchens have a stack of over ten or a drawer full?

I thought you might agree!



P.S.  The featured image is not my actual linen closet.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that!

2 thoughts on “Surviving the Stuff

  1. You are so right, Leah! This is exactly how we felt when we moved back to Thicket Drive after spending 3 months of travelling in a pup tent. And then again at Saprae when we moved out of the garage into the house. We can and really should live with so much less – stuff and space. I’m so far behind on your blog but I do know you are moving to Oman! That is awesome! Stay well.
    Love from John and I

  2. Great writing and so so true. Life on a boat gives you a very clear perspective of what is important and what is not. Best wishes to you, Richard and your precious boys. We miss you al.

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