So. Much. Stuff

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I’m not much of a trendsetter. I tend to jump on bandwagons — right about the time everyone else has jumped off, and the bandwagon’s been put up on jacks and wrapped up for deep storage.

Tidy up

This is why I am just now getting to the craze that everyone else embraced long ago: the life-changing magic of tidying up. Penned by Japanese cleaning consultant Marie Kondo, “The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up,” rocketed to the top of best-seller lists around the world and sparked the KonMari Method craze. Marie Kondo’s KonMari Method advocates living with only those things that bring you joy.

The goal: If you don’t instantly feel joy with a possession, it’s time to get rid of it. This is tricky. Obviously, all the bills and payments books have got to go.

Less is more

In all seriousness though, as I age, I find myself wanting to have less stuff. It is ironic that I spent the first decade of adulthood collecting stuff. So much stuff. Family heirlooms. Vintage pieces. Practical items and conversation pieces — although, sometimes, the conversation was more “What were we thinking?” not “Wow, that’s neat.” Still, we had some really great stuff.

I used to think it strange when older people than I was at the time would say, “Oh, I’m cleaning out and giving things away.” They would espouse a life of smaller and less. I was, frankly, surprised. Who wants less when you can have more? One day though, I realized I spent an inordinate amount of time tending to, cleaning and containerizing our stuff.

Too much time

I happily took hand-me-downs and cast-offs. We weren’t hoarders. I promise. We just had lots of space to fill and fill it we did. In the last year, it’s like life has sped up. I love the blur of motion and memories and moments. I do not love that, too often, I was distracted, preoccupied or just plain stressed by the need to care for so much of our stuff.

Certainly, having dishes and laundry and dusting is a blessing indeed. It is not, however, a blessing to have so much stuff that one ends up spending nearly every day off just managing it. Or every morning getting dressed, wondering why I have B- (and sometimes C-) list clothing. On what day do we actually say, “Nah, I don’t really want to feel or look my best. This will do?” For me, that day was becoming every day.

On the bandwagon. Finally.

I’ve been scouring cabinets and cubby holes and pulling out things collected through time. I ask myself what each item means to us and whether or not the memory is lost if the “thing” is. In many — if not most — cases the answer is “no.” There is a solid, warm feeling, however, in clearing out and cleaning up. There is comfort in knowing we have what we need, an awful lot of what we want, and not a lot of extraneous stuff to cart around and clean around.
Although, it is difficult to find “joy sparked” by old tax records — there is a certain comfort in knowing they are paid (knock on wood).

What’s important

As my children grow up, yes, I want our home to be a haven for sentimental memories. However, I also want it to be a space where we make new memories. We can’t do that if we are held back by the things we “might need some day.” Some things we have to hold on to, but there is a fine line between “enough” and “too much.” As I’ve grown older, I realize our greatest blessings are found in people — not stuff.

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Warm, witty and just a wee bit warped, Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a native of Kent, Ohio, who survived childhood exposure to disco and grew up to marry and move to the country. Her column weaves her special brand of humor with poignant, entertaining, and honest portrayals of parenting, marriage, and real life. She currently lives in northeastern Ohio with her husband, two children, two dogs, two cats, and numerous dust bunnies who wish to remain nameless.

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