Less Stuff, More Opportunity

Stuff has a peculiar way of creeping into your life. One. little. item. at. a. time. A new pair of jeans, that second garlic press, that trinket your Aunt gave you at graduation. It’s a constant influx. And over the holidays, it only gets worse. There’s times when it feels like there’s just no stopping the incoming tide, and then, all of a sudden, you find yourself drowning.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my stuff. Stuff makes life comfortable and enjoyable. From the tools that helps me build, to the clothes that keep me warm and dry in the dreary Seattle Winter. Stuff is great. But at some point, that stuff is holding you back.

What would you do if the perfect oppurtunity to live in another country presented itself to you? Think for a minute about your dream place. Maybe it’s Ireland, Spain or Brazil. Too exotic? Ok, maybe your dream place is across the country. But wherever your dream place is, could you pick up and go in 2 weeks? What would you keep? What would you leave?

This is what has been swirling in my head over the past month. With the big-fat goal of upheaving our little family and moving it half way across the country – what makes the cut?

This question has been brain-numbing, crazily harder to answer than I ever thought it would be. While one side of my brain is eager to declutter and rid myself of it all, I wrestle with another part of my brain that wants to be prepared – apparently for anything. Do I need an extra set of measuring cups? No, but I may some day. Do I need 10 pairs of jeans? Probably not, but I can’t decide which one to give up. And what about all these extra tools? I don’t really need them all, but I hate to waste.

And believe me, it’s that last word that causes so much problems.

Waste. It’s such a dirty word. And as someone that didn’t grow up with a bunch of stuff, it’s hard to ignore the urge to hold on to anything that’s still usable. So what’s a girl to do?

Lately I’ve been working on changing the narrative in my head. Instead of repeating to myself that I’m wasting I instead tell myself I am repurposing. While perhaps I don’t need that second garlic press, there’s someone out there who loves garlic as much as I do and could use one.

So instead of turning to the garbage can as a means for quickly dumping stuff I don’t need, I take that extra step of finding a new owner. Between Goodwill, Craigslist and Freecycle, you can pretty much find a new home for anything you have. Even worn clothes can be donated as “rags” to be used by painters. Does it take extra time? A bit. Does Craigslist Flakes annoy me? Sure they do. But at least I’m not adding even more crap to our burgeoning landfills while also eliminating stuff I don’t need.

So while I may not be ready to hop on a plane to Spain today, I’m one tool chest and three sweaters closer this weekend to my goal of being able to say yes the next time an opportunity opens to me.

Photo Credit: Humburg Spires WSA. Bureau of Land Management. Licensed under creative commons license 2.0