Sometimes I feel a little bit odd being twenty-nine and living in a house like this, in a neighborhood like this.
Let’s be honest: it’s a bit yuppy-looking. And the houses aren’t particularly cheap (though they were much less expensive when we bought our house four years ago).
The sort of neighborhood where the only thing you might fear at night is car with the base turned up loud or the occasional rowdy teen. The sort of neighborhood people retire to or move to when they can afford to move out of their starter home.
We have a garage, finished basement, granite, new appliances (we bought those though), almost a half acre double lot.
I have a room upstairs just for art. A room downstairs with gorgeous built-ins that held almost half my books the day we moved in (I have a lot of books). A fireplace.
We are incomparably blessed.
I should never have house envy based on all this. I have everything–truly! Yeah, the garage door needs fixing and yeah, we have that one door that won’t close right, and yeah, we’ve had to replace every single appliance and a pretty good amount of work elsewhere on this house, but still: I have everything.
This, though, is what the internet can do to you: it can make you feel you should apologize for the mess. For the back patio that you have yet to finish pulling together. For the camping hammock you have strung up that is comfortable if not pretty. For the little bonus room that is mostly used for laundry because it’s next to the washer and dryer but has that nice vaulted ceiling and you feel it should be something more.
It is the anthem of our world. It calls us: more clothes! more shoes! more food! more time! more money!
I make a goal: SIMPLIFY. Reduce. Clear out. Purge.
Instead of emptying my closet, this urge is funneled into fourteen checklists saved on Pinterest and scanning the internet for a new gray sweater to fill the imaginary gaps in my closet after I’ve stared at the packed shelf and racks in overwhelm.
This week, I actually did clear out my closet, and I removed the gray sweater that I liked in theory but did not suit my shape or style. I did order the new one, along with a top to replace the one I got paint on a few months ago.
I cleared out the Christmas decorations as I packed them up. Everything, including our tree, lights, and wreaths, now fits into three stacked plastic drawers and two bins. The fall decorations fit neatly into the fourth drawer.
I am waiting to run out of time and steam and stop this clearing out. I am waiting for the impulse to turn in to the Target or TJ Maxx or Michael’s I drive by on my way home from school each day to sing me that siren song of new and more.
But getting dressed for work was startling easy this week when I had twenty dresses to choose from and not fifty. My clothes don’t all fit in the shallow drawers of my dresser, but if I folded them properly they just might. The sentimental t-shirts will likely not turn into a quilt until summer rolls around again, and the bins of donations won’t make it out of the guest room until spring break.
That is okay.
I just finished Chasing Slow by Erin Loechner, which I got at the library partly because I knew I wanted to clear out my house and partly because I needed a kick in the pants to get myself started. Also, the cover!
I won’t tell you about the whole book just now, but I will share this quote from chapter 28, “Call It Beauty,” with you:
“More important than pursuing minimalism, for me, is pursuing gratitude. And I missed the mark today…not because I failed to be minimal. I missed the mark because I failed to be grateful.”
I am never ever going to be a minimalist. I’m just not. But I don’t have to consume mindlessly, gather clutter and possessions bought in a momentary effort to feel better or different about myself.
It’s mostly just about thought: the burgundy dress with the beaded fireflies you thought about buying for a month to wear to your high school reunion and a few other events is worth the sixty dollars you paid. The two tunics you got for twenty dollars each will hang in your closet for a year and you will finally set them in the bag marked “photograph & sell” in January. That is ok. You can start here, learn from the past, be more mindful in the future.
And for heaven’s sake, just because it’s on sale doesn’t mean you should buy it.