Toss out ‘stuff’ to find true treasures


Celebrating a birthday a week before Thanksgiving means I get to celebrate the fact that I’m old and blessed all at the same time.

I have long said that while others may lament birthdays, I’ve found it best to embrace them. Growing older beats the alternative, right?

As I gaze into the mirror at laugh lines and grey hair, I think of my peers lost too early, frozen forever at ages 14, 16 or 23. I imagine what they, or their loved ones, wouldn’t give to have these “problems” of age and I get over myself.

Happy birthday to me

As a gift to myself and because I am old and have new pets, I scheduled a carpet cleaning. This is pure excitement for middle-aged folks like myself.

Every carpet in our home is at least two decades old. This, coupled with the fact that we can’t have nice things and spend an inordinate amount of time flinging plaster and sawdust around, meant we were long overdue.

In this process, we were asked to move all extraneous furniture. So we cleared out rooms to make way for the carpet cleaning.

Open space

There is something about empty space that just thrills me. My family, however, insists on having sofas, floor lamps and horizontal surfaces. They’re spoiled.

Nonetheless, I have fully embraced the idea of not having anything we don’t find beautiful or useful. Made famous by author Marie Kondo, the act of keeping only that which “sparks joy” has been my driving force as a homemaker since I was a young wife.

I feel like I can’t relax with too much “stuff.” I like when I, and my living space, can breathe.

Living with other people in a big old house with a big barn and ample storage means my ideal life and my real life often bear little resemblance to one another, but I try.

As the joke goes, the first thing one sees that does not “spark joy” is the endless paper clutter that enters our home. So let’s throw away all the bills!

Not really

They are “useful” in that they keep the lights on and a roof over our head. The fact that I get light-headed in a 30-foot camper if one bulb burns out should tell us all we need to know about my capability of roughing it like a hobo or living off the grid. The (paid) bills are blessings.

Paring it down

Still, like most of the planet, I woke up one day in my middle age and realized I was being buried in “stuff.” Worse, I spent hours buying “stuff,” putting away “stuff,” cleaning “stuff,” organizing “stuff” and paying for “stuff.”

At some point, I was buying more stuff to hold the stuff we already had. Something had to give. Or better yet, give away.

Now I’m known for my deep and abiding love of paring down rooms. My mother refers to my decorating style as “sparse.” I like to use the term “curated.”

We still have plenty of “stuff,” of course, just less than we once did. What we do have is generally meaningful to us or useful.

It is said that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I just behold a lot less than I used to.

It is said that I will donate or throw out almost anything that isn’t nailed down — and quite a few things that were.

This is true whether we are tossing unused household furnishings or old grudges, bad habits and anything we are still holding on to from the past that just doesn’t serve us anymore.

We can clean our home and our hearts and gather to give thanks for warm homes, warm memories, and warm hearts full of love for one another and the blessings we share.


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