Saturday, January 16, 2010

purging is hard

i spent over 8 hours today purging the kitchen and it doesn't look like i touched it. what is it with us pack rats? why do we feel so compelled to keep everything, collect items, not let go of stuff? is this an american thing or does it span through the continents of wealth and prosperity? where does the root of this lie? what causes us to feel like we need this stuff, that we can't let go or live without it?

even as i packed stuff in boxes to ship off to the thrift shop, my partner was digging through the box, taking items out and running off with them, squirreling them away in his portion of the house and shed. wtf? these were not even items he purchased or wanted!

i am at a loss on how to let go of so much. in my future i hope to scale down to a converted bus/home and looking around my home, i could easily fill 10 buses! how does one make the jump and let go? how does one not only let go of stuff accumulated in their lifetime but sentimental stuff that was given to them by friends and family?!

this recent force of purging activity was brought about by visiting a friend's house. this friend normally comes to our house each week because she lives in town and we live in a semi-rural area where her boys can play and be boys. she also moved here a 2 years ago from new zealand. (she was originally from the midwest). her home is so sparse and simple. even in her cabinets with dishes and food, it is basic and simple. bare necessities of furniture, no piles of paper, receipts, old magazines, mail, etc. it was so nice, clean, refreshing and i was very envious. when i pointed out the sparsity, she said she was sure if she had not moved internationally several times over the past years that she too would have an accumulation but i doubt it would be as bad as my house. she just doesn't accumulate. she doesn't collect, store, hoard. oh to be so free!!

how does one break free from this cycle? i suppose/hope that what i've done today is a step in the right direction. possibly once i make one go around through the house, i can start a 2nd go around and get down to the nitty gritty...

it's especially hard with homeschooling kids. i try to keep around things that i think we can use. crafty things, fabric, etc. plus, trying to live a 'simple' lifestyle causes one to accumulate tools necessary for this simplicity....grain grinders, cherry pitters, foley mill, pressure canners, pasta makers, just to name a few. it's crazy. i was in tears last night thinking about the exhaustion i have over trying to live a simple life and raise my kids the 'right' way. i questioned the simplicity of taking 3 hours to make pasta for a meal (and even though i make extra for further meals, it still takes time). the flip side is buying items premade at the grocery store that are full of preservatives or spending a premium to buy foods that are not.

it is so exhausting and unrewarding (seemingly, to me at the moment) to live this life. i am drained. beaten down. i think if the house burned down today, there's not much i'd miss. but then, when i go to get rid of stuff, i can't let it go. WHY?!!! how does one break this cycle and let go?

one answer is to not visit stores anymore except when necessary. i love thrift shopping but i don't need it. all too often, i don't leave with what i needed but with great finds i just couldn't leave without. agh! it doesn't help that the kids are with me and do the same and i feel guilty...why should i buy myself all these good finds but refuse to let them have some too? that doesn't seem fair.

the good thing is, i want to purge. i want to get rid of crap, i want to let go. i am working on it. i got rid of a lot today and i'm sure i'll get rid of more before it's all done. it's hard to plan for the future when you don't know what to expect but i hope to try to strip it down to basics that will allow the kids freedom to create and learn while giving my mind the sanity of simplicity. looks like i've got my work cut out for me.


Lissa said...

You are on the right track so don't be so hard on yourself hun'. It will probably take more than a few rounds around the house too. It has taken me years and I still ebb and flow on purging. We have six people in 970 sqare feet so I have to take that into consideration too. I have a minimalist friend that has six folks but she has more than twice the amount of space so our homes are incomparable. I have to remind myself!

Fix yourself some tea and pat yourself on the done good!

BTW, hello! Long time reader delurking;)

Captain's Wife - Jennifer said...

We are fairly "bare bones" around here. I think what worked for me was get rid of stuff regularly. Each time I go through an area I get rid of even more. It is amazing what you can live without! And once you start letting things go, you realize that you don't miss that stuff...which makes it easier to get rid of even more stuff. The only thing I have ever even remotely regretted getting rid of was a salad spinner. It hadn't been used forever. And wouldn't you know, now I am going to grow lettuce and wish I had it! :) LOL Oh well, they are cheap to begin with and maybe I'll find one at a garage sale. Or I can just rinse in the strainer and shake inside a dish towel to dry. It will work out. :) The other thing is to shop only with a list and only when you need something - especially at garage sales and thrift stores. If it is not on the list, you don't need it. It is so easy to give in to a bargain. Sentimental stuff is the hardest...but I have come to the point of keeping what I love the most. I know the people who gave it to me love me enough to understand. And I also like to think about what Flylady bless others with your stuff. Anyway, I find it very freeing to get rid of stuff. You are doing a great job! :) Good luck!!

Maria said...

Ohhh, sweet thing! I feel your pain!
I grew up in a house that was 3000 sq ft. Then we moved into a house that was 6000 sq ft!! It was so easy to accumulate stuff and not feel crowded. But, when Toby and I moved to our land and there were 3 of us living in a 300 sq ft house, we had no choice but to get rid of anything that we didn't use significantly in our lives. It was hard, but I would say to myself "have I used this in the past year?" or "will I die if I don't keep this with me?" and if the answer was "No", it usually went to Good Will. Somehow, now that we are in the bigger house, we have filled it up again! Especially Kaia. She is the biggest pack rat of them all!!! It's hard to keep everyone and everything in order when you're a mamma!
Oh, as we try to live these sustainable life styles, we have to remember that old tribes and communities weren't doing everything themselves. Everyone had their tasks. So, maybe you aren't the community member that makes the pasta, but you make healing remedies... so you get the pasta from someone in the community who makes it and someone else in the community gets the remedies from you. Or something like that. You can't do everything. It's so important to have others in our community who are searching for the same sustainability and to trade tasks with them so that we don't get worn down. Do you have people in your community like that?
Love you!

Gina said...

O, I can relate to so much of your frustration and pain! I have been going through a similar soul-searching path and have found myself questioning the 'simple life' and all of the crap I keep. (BTW, Maria makes so much sense!)

Personally, I think some of us are just magnets for stuff. I try to follow the advice (like getting rid of something before bringing something else in, etc), but yet the stuff accumulates. I do think people with really creative minds tend to collect more because you see the art or usefulness of objects so easily! You are highly creative and so an object will have so many more identities to you (is my guess anyway). I also think people are naturally "filers" or "pilers" and it is just how we organize data or things. I know I am the latter without a doubt (if I file something or store it away somewhere, no matter how good I am at labeling, I will forget about it). At jobs I have observed that "pilers" tend to be looked down upon by "filers" (and rarely the other way around) as being disorganized (and that is not necessarily true).

being in a similar pair of shoes right now I cannot give you advice (like your other commenters), but I also think you are on the right path (it starts with questioning the roots and learning to let go. It also helps if our partners are supportive. Sr is an "enabler" and talks me out of getting rid of things constantly). I can recommend that you do not watch the TV show (sorry can't remember chanel off hand) Hoarders. I see myself in nearly every episode I watch!!

Gina said...

P.S. Love the photo. Your house & garden is so beautiful

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry you're having such a hard time with this. Paring down is a tough decision to make sometimes but totally worth it in the end. Divorcing my husband and moving a couple of times have had me simplifiying. It was really freeing when I finally loaded those boxes and bags in the car for Goodwill. At divorce time I filled 4 of those really deep bins they have at Goodwill with stuff I no longer used. And that was AFTER giving the ex enough to set up his own kitchen! Now I kind of have an ongoing "urge to purge" and keep a box where I put things I think I can do without. If I haven't taken the item out of the box for a month or more then off it goes. When the box is full I take it away. I do the same with clothing as well.

Good luck to you as you make this journey. It will get easier.

Anke said...

I do feel the need to clean out and purge every so often. To me it is more important to not add to what I already own. Yes there are lots of pretty things and great bargains out there to be had, but if I don't need them, I won't buy them anymore. It was hard in the beginning, but I just kept asking myself "do I really need it"? If the answer is no, it stays put in the store. Another thing that helps me is not to go to any stores just to look around and browse, too tempting...
Don't beat yourself up, you are doing great!

Anonymous said...

I hear ya it is so hard. I also find that things I need take so much room. Empty jars just take space and its not something I'm willing to do away with at this point in my life.

Both Jeff & I have the "we might need it someday" syndrome. You know its hard to part with bits that could come in handy (tools, parts, etc.) even rarely when you have to drive far and replacement is pricey.... Oy I feel your pain.

Polar Bear and The Dodger said...

I find i have a hard time throwing away thing that people might say are trash because i hate the thought of stuff going into a landfill. i try to think of ways i can reuse stuff and that means definite stashes of crap. working at the preschool now means i can bring it to school and make crafts with the kids so that helps. i can't think when there is clutter. we have been in our house for a year and i am trying to be so mindful not to let it just fill up and up. it is hard! especially for those thrift store divas such as us!!! good luck and don't be too hard on yourself, at least you are being self aware.

CatHerder said...

I have begun the purge as well. I STILL didnt finish the kitchen, but got two drawers, and two lazy susan cabinets done. Can you believe by the time i threw out all the empty bottles and expired stuff, only half the large lazy susan was full. it took me an hour to scrub it clean. I fixed my 20 yr old veggie bin by patching the chickenwire and nailing the back on and lining the shelves. It was such a sense of satisfaction looking at things less cluttered. If you read my blog at all you may remember the big ATTIC PURGE a few months seriously on a roll...29 years of stuff hubby and i have is a commodity, and i feel no need to keep up with the Joneses.We are looking to downsize our very large colonial home to a modest 3 bedroom home on the west coast of florida..and i refuse to carry all this crap with me..good luck to you! Stay out of the mall! :-)

comfrey cottages said...

kristine, purging is sooooo very hard! you are right that you must keep many things available that could be of benefit homeschooling. we just can't get around a certain amount of stuff when we have children to entertain/teach! maria made a good point, that we lived in a community where we could exchange our talents/ gifts it would be so much easier! myself, i think you are way to hard on yourself kristine! you are such a multitalented, multi tasking mama you just need to purge here and there and be relaxed about what does get done, and know that you will get where ever it is you choose to be eventually! i am very proud of you,and all you do and how you are raising your children kristine. be good to yourself honey, and don't get down on yourself about stuff accumulating! such is life with a household full of children and joy:) big herbal and honey hugs to you

tansy said...

thank you everyone for your sweet, supportive comments! i am just tired of being a slave to my stuff, if you know what i mean! i hate being tied to all of this. i'm sure the fact that i'm depressed and as someone pointed out in my previous post, my adrenals are shot. i am working on remedying that which will probably wipe out the anxiety attacks and hopefully the depression as well and then maybe all this won't look so bad, lol. my problem is i think about people living on so little in third world countries and i think i am very selfish and privileged to feel i should own all these possessions. after all, we can't take them with us, can we?!

welcome lissa! thanks for your supportive comment! 6 people in 970 square feet?! wow! we are 6-8 people in 2000 sq feet and we feel cramped, lol!

maria, yes, the community thing is sweet. unfortunately, i don't have much of that here. my close friends are close at heart but not in distance...we all live about 30 - 60 minutes apart from each other. ugh.

gina, i was thinking of you when i wrote this. i remember you going through this a while back and i am feeling your pain! i am definitely a piler and if i file, i too forget it...out of sight, out of mind. and even in my piles, i forget, lol!

kathie, exactly! it is hard living with our feet planted in 2 worlds. and thinking of all the what-ifs can be so freakin' exhausting!

catherder, it is a good feeling. and amazing how little we really need in the kitchen, isn't it? i have yet to tackle the FOOD portion of the kitchen. that is next but will have to wait until i finish up my hrz deadline. sigh. malls are not my problem. i loathe malls and most stores in general. it's thrift stores that are my weak spot. i LOVE thrifting!

polar bear, yes you know it! but then, when i let the kids craft i feel guilty because now we have MORE junk around the house, lol. i'm a basket case!

Anonymous said...

Lissa- We're also 6 people in a 950 sq feet house! :wave

I do think you should resist the urge to purge until you have some recovery from your possible adrenal issue/ funk. I have, in times of depression, made mistakes that took time to correct once the fog lifted. It's best to focus inward, don't look at the wholeness of your possessions/ mess/ life, just get through this winter and noursish yourself for spring. Then, when you feel more yourself, you can make decisions that really can create change if you want.

Anonymous said...

I too wonder how I collect so many things. Could it be we are saving for a time with replacing items will become more difficult? Is it a prepper thing?

Jill said...

Way to go! I have such a hard time purging, passing along, and pitching out things we no longer can use. I tend to think 'what if' and 'but maybe' (and Gina, I'm a piler!). My husband is the guy who always says 'Don't get rid of it, I can fix it.' But he never gets around to it. We've been it our house for a year and half and it's starting to feel crowded...

Howling Hill said...

I get the urge to purge in the spring. This urge has been really strong lately, I think because it appears we're to have an early spring in New Hampshire this year.

Wolf and I live in a 600 sq/ft mobile home so the walls tend to crawl in on me. Usually I let it get to the point where I can't stand it anymore then I drink some caffeine and just toss everything out the door. My theary is this: if I haven't used it in 6 months, or if I forgot I had it, I don't need it. Then I freecycle it or throw it away.

The challenge is to NOT fill the empty space I've created when I purge.

Anonymous said...

Howling Hill is right - not refilling is the challenge! =)

Anonymous said...

Oh I know this struggle so well! i've been trying to cut down my own belongings [while I still live at home and it's all in one room - my bedroom] and yet in the past year it looks like I've done nothing! I know i've given away over 150 items of clothing and donated boxes of stuff [i've even volunteered at a charity shop and had to price up my own items!] and yet looking around, there's so much.

And it's all so sentimental! and I have parents who don't understand simplicity or minimalism who keep saying it's waste to get rid of it/I spent so much on it etc.

I wish you luck with this and have to say it's just about taking slow, deliberate steps. those items you don't think you can remove - photograph them or put them in a box [labelled with the date it was filled] and hide it in a closet for 3/6 months. if it's not needed in that time; take it to a charity shop WITHOUT opening it. :)

I know this one can work :) as i've tried it.

This is a common thing and I hope you'll start to see/feel achievements soon.


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