Simplify Your Life? Fondle Your Belongings.
Simplify your life? I’m enjoying the Tiny House Craze with tongue in cheek because, been there, done that. In 2002, we sold our 1400 square foot home, and sold or gave away the furniture, large power tools, winter gear, and assorted masses of junk. (Some precious things were stored for our old age on shore.) As near as I can tell, a sturdy sailboat is much superior to 90% of those tiny homes, and has a heck of a lot more storage. We have never regretted moving aboard and found we didn’t miss most things.
Now, about the storage. Boats are unlike tiny homes in two ways (well three if you count floating). First, boats are not ever square, and second the hull (that’s the outside wall to you) curves inward from the top down. Boat builders accommodate this by building interestingly shaped storage compartments along the inside of the hull. They aren’t large, but they are numerous.
Also, boat builders wisely don’t worry about squeezing in a dining table or a real sofa. Every piece of furniture is built in and has storage under it, behind it, or both. If you had asked me in 2002 (as many did) how in the heck I had successfully downsized to a boat, I’d have told you it was easy. “It felt wonderful to let so many things go. Freeing! Energizing! Plus, our boat is pretty big (47-feet) and there are storage spaces I haven’t used yet.” Fifteen years later, our boat was still pretty big, every nook and cranny is packed, and I can’t find things. The photo above is not my LaLuna, but you get the idea of the space we're dealing with.
In 2015, I knew it was time to simplify and I had found just the book to help: The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo First of all, if she’s so great at decluttering (and she is) couldn’t she come up with a shorter book name? If you’ve read it, you’ll know why EW and I call it “Getting Joy”. And let me be clear, I’ve gotten more “Joy” out of this than EW has.
Here are the things I took from the book:
- Take a number of months, don’t rush.
- Go through every blessed thing, one category at a time.
- Handle (EW interprets that as fondle) each item and ask yourself if it brings you “joy”.
- If it does, keep it, if not, thank it for good service and get rid of it immediately.
EW: "This makes me nervous, my tools don’t bring me joy and you aren’t going to throw them out."
Me: (rolling my eyes): "What we accomplish with those tools brings great joy. Of course we will keep them. Well most of them."
It was not a great success, though we did get rid of bags of clothes and did use her folding method to make better use of our space. If you watch it, you will learn and you will probably chuckle a bit. You will also understand EW's skepticism.
This year I’m going for a more drastic approach: The Anti-Zen and Joyless method. We have moved off the boat so that EW can do a whole bunch of messy renovations. Most personal items are with us in an apartment and pretty much everything on board is in boxes. First, I will clean each room, and then I will renovate a few lockers to provide better storage. Finally, every blessed item will be “fondled” as it is removed from a box. No joy? Out it goes.
After all projects have been completed and EW is ready to put his tools away, I’m going insist he does the same thing. Do NOT tell him. (He’s under enough stress right now.) But we are going to get “Joy” if it’s the last thing I do! (She said with gritted teeth.)
What is it about getting rid of stuff that causes stress? For me, going through cabinets and closets weeding out the unnecessary and redundant is incredibly stressful. Making the decision to get rid of most anything makes me anxious. Not even GOOD stuff, but stuff I haven’t seen in years. A perfectly good frying pan - even though I have 4 other perfectly good frying pans, letting go of one makes me sweat. I have three boxes of perfectly good, relatively new, somewhat expensive clothing. For over 2 years I’ve not been able to button nor zip any of them, but I’m keeping them because… I spent a lot of money on them! They are all so nice! If only…!
So here I am in a brand new home Kurt and I built. As Barb noted above, we also had the perfect opportunity to sort through belongings, one at a time. We had the perfect opportunity twice, actually. Once, going into the moving box; and again coming out of the box. “How’d that work out?”, you ask. It didn’t. Just look at my huge, wonderful new closet. It's just as big a mess as the small messy closet from Dallas..
What IS it? This makes me crazy. Unlike Barb's "Before-After" images above - I have no "After" image. Yet.
I, too, have the Tidy book. (If you don't already have the book, there's a summary of The Art of Tidying Up that will give you the gist of it in less time. How's THAT for simplification?) Her instructions to hold each possession, one at a time, to determine if it gave me joy was difficult. EVERYTHING gives me joy! That 4th frying pan is cool! I don’t need it, but I’m sure joyful when I look at it! Those 3 boxes of clothing 2-sizes too small for me? Whenever I lose enough weight and fit into them again - boy will I be joyful!
What’s a girl to do? I have to take the emotion out of it. For me, joy or no joy; if it hasn’t fit for over 2 years, it should go. If I have several of the same thing and I rarely use ANY of them - at least 1 should go.
I do need help with this, because I DO want to simplify my life. In May I quit my 8 to 5 job. In addition to simplifying what I do, trimming down what I own is key, too.
This book, Real Life Organizing, seems to be a better fit for me. I'll let you know. Today is the first week of September. By the end of September I’m committed to, at a minimum, having distilled my wardrobe down to what I’ll call a “capsule wardrobe”. Not sure exactly how to define that, but will work on it. I’ll post updates on a weekly basis. If anyone wants to go through this with me, let me know. I’ll send out an email at the end of the week next week about it. In the meantime, comment here with tips and ideas. I’m serious.