Wednesday, April 18, 2012


Simplify ~ to make less complex or complicated; to make easier

While on sabbatical for the past year I have been doing some serious cleaning, sorting, downsizing, and purging of junk. We have also painted most of the rooms in our house and thanks to some rather extensive hail damage to our siding, we now live in a gray house instead of the ugly gold one we used to have. My husband commented last night that it appeared I was getting our house ready to sell.  Eventually I would like to move again but no, that is not why I am cleaning and painting right now.

It has more to do with the journey of reflection I have been on recently.  By recently I mean 5 years or so. I now have the gift of time to really take action without having to feel guilty that I should be doing something else. The older I become, the less excited I am about holding on to things that are no longer useful or bring happiness.  Whether material possessions or relationships, I am learning that sometimes you need to let go. 

The following quote really hits home for me, especially after spending time in my basement yesterday:

“Anything you cannot relinquish when it has outlived its usefulness possesses you, and in this materialistic age a great many of us are possessed by our possessions.” - Peace Pilgrim

Wow! I needed to hear that. I do not understand why I have kept some of the "important" possessions I have held on to for years. Many things remind me of a happy time or hold tremendous sentimental value.  Like the purse, nylons, and shoes my Grandma wore to my cousins wedding about 8 years ago. I have them prominently displayed on a shelf and every time I look at them I smile and remember the day we drove through the country looking for the church where the wedding was being held. 

We had never driven in that part of the state.  We ended up on gravel roads and got lost.  How we found the place I will never know but we had a blast.  Unfortunately our little excursion caused us to be late, but that didn't matter.  We walked into the church and Grandma explained who we were to the usher and before I could say "we will just slip into a pew in the back" Grandma, (with me dutifully following behind) was marching up the aisle.  To the second row, behind the brides parents, with the wedding halted and all eyes on us.  Even now as I write this I am giggling, and have tears in my eyes, because my Grandma was so very proud of her family and she was not going to sit in the back of the church for such an important occasion as her nieces wedding!  Not when she had a seat saved for us in the second row (whether we knew that at the time or not). She held her head up, explained that we got lost, and smiled at me while she squeezed my hand letting me know that all was right with the world now, we were safe and we had found the wedding.

Before it was over.

But then I look at other things I have kept throughout the years - broken dishes and appliances, just in case we can fix them; 3 pairs of crutches (like we'd all have broken legs at the same time); magazines from the 80's; clothes we haven't worn in years; files and files of papers ~ receipts and warranties from things we no longer have; I could go on and on. Clutter that has no meaningful purpose taking up space in our home, or with sentiments that have far less meaning or carry memories of a bad time.  Like the hospital receipts from when my sons were both in Loyola hospital at different times, one for a burn, one from a head injury sustained in a car accident.  Both files brought back memories I'd rather not remember and I will never need to refer to them again, so they went through the shredder.  Finally after 20 years I rid our home of that cloud of dust and negative thoughts.  It made me feel so good I kept shredding.

Here is an explanation of minimalism that I found online: "a reassessment of priorities so that you can strip away the excess stuff ~ the possessions and ideas and relationships and activities ~ that don’t bring value to your life".

Whether the excess stuff is paper, magazines, books, weight, people, or negative thoughts, I am embracing the time I have been given to simplify my life.

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