Sunday, August 1, 2010

In The Beginning

House Heaven

I'm not a pack rat. I'm not a saver, a hoarder, or a compulsive shopper. My credit cards are paid off. There are no piles of junk in the house. I can see most of the dining room table at any given time. You won't see my placeon TLC.

For me, the problem is the closets. And the cabinets. And the drawers.

Somehow, every inch of storage space in my 1000 square foot, two bedroom townhouse is filled with my stuff. Occasionally there is an avalanche from my guest room closet. I sometimes catch myself buying something new, like a tape measure or a pair of scissors, because I don't have the energy to hunt for the one I own.

I have been trying to downsize for about six months. On three or four occasions, I removed several pieces of clothing from my closet and took them to my friend's consignment store. But somehow I always found myself at the mall the next day, thinking, now I have some space and I can get something that I will really wear. Taking a huge box of books to the used book store yeilded a similar result- you get a big store credit, and then it's so convenient to browse around the store. You buy books you may or may not want, because, after all, they're basically free.

One day recently, I read an article about a man living in an 86 square foot house. No, that's not a typo. It was like an epiphany. It was like house nirvanna. I thought to myself, "I bet his mom's birthday present is never late due to his inability to find the packing tape."

So I bought another book. Yes, I'm aware of the irony. But this was a really good, worthwhile book, called Scaling Down: Living Large in a Smaller Space, by Judi Culbertson and Marj Decker. This amazing book addresses more than just how to get rid of stuff. It identifies the emotional attachments we develop with our things. Even better, it describes the emotional lightness that can come from an unencumbered life.

With the help of my new friends Judi and Marj, I'm ready to go. I started by writing a mantra to help me get through the process (suggested by the book). It describes my desire to own only the things I really love, and to find a suitable place to put them.

I also put myself on a one month (or maybe longer if needed) shopping diet. Although I say I am not a big shopper, I find myself making tons of small purchases- paperback books, shoes on sale, nail polish- of items I don't really need. These little purchases add to the volume of stuff I own, and subtract from my bank account. The shopping diet should also help my tendency to buy new things to fill the space I just made (my mother says this comes from our Hunter/Gatherer roots).

So now I just need to roll up my sleeves and get started!

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