I don't know about you, but I've recently discovered I have way to much of everything! And as I try ever-so-hard to work my way through these piles and piles of 'stuff' I wonder why I felt compelled to hold onto everything that came into my life over the last 20 years! Is it a security blanket of sorts? Was it the fear of running short or running out? Was I afraid I wouldn't be able to replace something at some point? Or was it just an inability to focus on the item's true place in my life?
I can't help but think back to the days of the pioneers --- folks piled all their belongings into covered wagons and worked their way across the country --- often getting rid of things along the way to "lighten the load." Oh I DO remember stories where women struggled with leaving the good china behind and the like. For some interesting insight into the life of women in a covered wagon in their own words, click on this link Women On The Oregon Trail, which is part of The End of the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center's website. And "Daily Life in a Covered Wagon" is a wonderful book on the subject. But for an eye-opening idea of what they actually had to pack into these "prairie schooners," check out Provisions For The Trail. Folks lived with a lot less back then and seemed to survive quite well. To be worthy of a spot in the westbound wagon generally meant that item was necessary for survival. We no longer live that way.
Circle The Wagons!
Are today's RVs yesterday's covered wagons? If so, will stripping myself of all the extras in my life be a freeing experience? Maybe, but first I've gotta get rid of the stuff! It's taken some hard work to come up with a method for that. Finally a system seems to be materializing.
- Over here in the bedroom we have the things that will go with us into the RV. A few dishes, cooking utensils, pots and pans (can't leave Dad's cast iron skillet behind --- or my favorite soup kettle!), clothing, computer-related items, bead work materials, sewing things, photography equipment, bird cages, pet supplies, etc.
- Across the hall is the stuff for storage --- things I can't bear to part with (Grandfather Clock; Grandma's Hoosier cabinet, the rocker I got when my son was born, etc.) and the things I don't have time to sort down and clean out.
- The main area in the living/dining room holds the items for sale/give away, etc., --- that seems to overflow like bread made with too much yeast. I never thought it would amount to so much. But it is, in a sense, the majority of the house.
There's a lot of junk to toss --- both mental and physical. Getting rid of one's life is, after all, not an easy thing to do. It's years of collecting things for no real reason --- I've discovered it's not so much that I intentionally collected things --- I just did not dispose of them. There IS a distinction. If you collect things you actively seek them for some given purpose. The act of keeping things is just what happens automatically when you find a place for something you have acquired through any of a number of avenues. Once the item is in its place, it simply "lives" there. Incapable of disposing of itself, and short of the dog destroying it or being broken by an uncoordinated family member, it simply remains in its space for eternity.
The Secret . . .
The secret to leading a non-cluttered life, it appears, is to look at every item that crosses your threshold to determine whether or not you really NEED it. Sounds overly simplistic, but think about it for a moment: if you don't have a need for something, don't like it, or will probably never use it, then do NOT find a place for it. Put it where you fall over it or where you will have to move it constantly. Like the thorn in your finger --- you will soon purge yourself of the obnoxious and offending item just to get it out of your way. "Ah, what relief --- I no longer have to move this out of the way in order to use the table." "My how nice it is to not be tripping over that THING every time I go into the kitchen." THIS is a lesson hard learned. But it's one I will definitely carry with me as I move into my new lifestyle.
Something New In; Something Old Out!
Many RVers function on the principle that for every new item that comes into the RV, something old must go out. Weight restrictions make it difficult to do too much collecting and still remain mobile. I'm sure at least some of you out there will remember the movie "The Long, Long Trailer" with Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz. One of the highlights of that movie was Lucy's rock collection --- I can still remember laughing hilariously (at the age of 10!) as rocks emerged from cupboards and a variety of hiding places, while Desi kept scratching his head over bent axles and problems getting up the mountain inclines.
Little did I know, as I sat there giggling over the whole thing, that someday I would actually LIVE in those mountains. And worse yet --- that I would (at some point) be hauling my OWN trailer through those mountain passes. I'm tempted to rent a copy of that movie and see how funny it looks now --- but I think it might be a bit overwhelming at this very moment. I've decided to watch it once I've made the return trip to California, hauling my trailer behind me. At that point, I may need it to regain my sense of humor.
For now I'll get back to my sorting, dumping and cleaning. If I'm lucky I'll find a long-lost million buried somewhere in this mess!!
Today's Assignment: Establish a new routine --- start going through your closets, draws, boxes, etc., every week. One draw a week or 1 closet a week should not be difficult. Anything you don't like, don't use and/or don't remember why you got it should go in a box. Every Saturday dispose of that box in some fashion --- toss, donate, give away. A box a week is good for your health!