“The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers…”
– William Wordsworth (1770-1850)
“Tis a gift to be simple, ‘tis a gift to be free…”
– Elder Joseph Brackett (1797-1882)
You don’t have to be a Shaker or a Trancendentalist to appreciate the wisdom of those sentiments. We burden ourselves with possessions and grudges and self-inflicted worries. Imagine living with less stress, junk and distractions.
It’s time to down-shift and de-clutter our lives -- and make a conscious decision every day to get out of the ruts we get ourselves into.
Do you have a co-worker who secretly drives you crazy? A sibling or child who has you on speed-dial when they’ve messed up again? A “fair weather” friend who cries on your shoulder endlessly but is never there for you? If you really think about it, they interfere with your life because you let them. At work, at home, or out socially, learn how to just say NO with a smile.
Your blood pressure is at stake here – do you really deserve to be in constant turmoil because of others’ behavior? Lower the boom and say (over and over), “Sorry, I’m busy right now,” or “Sorry, I can’t do that for you,” or “Sorry, my budget doesn’t allow for that.”
You well deserve time to yourself to day-dream, read a book, finish that project, take a bubble bath or a leisurely stroll without someone or something sinking its claws into you. Don’t let someone else’s non-emergency problems highjack your priorities.
And, could you survive a day – or an hour – without your cell phone, or computer, or credit card, or bringing work home? Scene: you’re having a much-needed heart-to-heart with your troubled teen – and someone’s cell phone chirps. Or: you’re picking up the dry-cleaning and some last-minute groceries on the way home, and you’re already thinking about the presentation you have to make tomorrow and so you forget the hamburger? Or: you’re late to your son’s awards ceremony because you couldn’t escape from some co-worker’s retirement party.
Think about it. These are choices you made, and you’re responsible for the collateral damage, pure and simple. Take a deep breath and focus on what’s really important at a given moment. It doesn’t matter how many things you can juggle – it’s which ones you did well when they needed doing.
What’s littering up your life?
Does it seem that no matter how much space you have, it’s eventually stuffed with -- stuff? Why do we hoard junk, then go out and buy more? Our closets and attics are groaning under the weight of unused and unnecessary possessions, many of which were impulse purchases bought on credit. And then we buy special boxes to put all the junk in and rent a storage space to put the boxes in!
Get out from beneath the possessions pile and get rid of it all, piece by piece. If you can’t sell it, give it away and let it make someone else happy.
Take inventory whenever you enter a room or open a drawer in your house. Do you really need that extra floor lamp? That jacket you haven’t worn in three years? That keyboard or weed-whacker or old bicycle in your basement? Never-used belongings are unnecessary responsibilities and burdens – get rid of them.
Even things you consider useless could be a boon to someone in need. Old cell-phones can help victims of domestic violence. Leftover construction materials can help build a home through Habitat for Humanity. Old eyeglasses, sewing/knitting materials, beat up sneakers, you name it – there’s someone out there who can use it, and there are many charities and non-profit organizations who can help you help others.
Are paper piles threatening to swallow your computer desk or kitchen counters? Grab one every time you watch TV and sift through it – hey! There’s that tax bill you couldn’t find last year! The user’s manual for the electric drill! A note from your daughter’s teacher! Your brother’s wedding photos! Recycle what can be and put the rest in labeled folders.
Do the same and clean out your computer files – two year old emails? Rough drafts of your granddaughter’s term paper. Delete, delete, delete. Clean out your fridge/freezer – bury the mystery meats, shriveled parsnips and half-empty Siberian condiments jars. Pull out a “junk drawer” and sift through it while you watch a football game – use worn out Tupperware containers to catch all those crayons, batteries, spools of thread, assorted nails, screws, picture hangers. Go through your glove compartment and trunk. Packets of ketchup, torn street maps of Quebec City, dried-out Chapsticks, seven ice scrapers, a punctured soccer ball. Duh.
One man’s trash…
Pile up everything you don’t need and will never use again. Find a new home for everything – and start by contacting the local churches and charitable organizations – Salvation Army, the Red Cross, the SPCA, the United Way, Catholic Charities.
Find a neighbor who needs what you have at www.freecycle.org. Go on-line and search for “where to donate” – you’ll find a special group somewhere who can channel your stuff to where it’ll do the most good. If you have a favored target group or cause you want to help (children in developing countries, service-members, veterans and their families, the disabled, etc.) you can find a contact. Go to www.missminimalist.com.
If you want to know if an organization is legitimate, check them out at www.charitynavigator.com.
To find an organization that will pick up your offerings, go to www.donationtown.com.
Some organizations offer free shipping to their warehouse. All organizations should be willing to give you a letter for your taxes. (Just don’t put it in that paper pile!)
So, start anew and afresh. De-clutter your life and get rid of the distractions, the junk and the emotional baggage!