Have you come across that meme yet, the one that says...
"No-one is going to stand up at your funeral and say: 'She had a really expensive couch and great shoes'. Don't make life about stuff".
It made me smile, but it also made me think. Whoever came up with that little gem is spot on... At my funeral I'd like to think people would talk about who I am rather than what I have. If, at the end of my life, my loved ones were focusing on my 'stuff' then I'd be really upset. I'd be gutted if a relative got up and said "Joanna was a hoarder! She had way too much and didn't use any of it to help other people".
Often we buy things because we buy into the image associated with it. Like a nice jacket, or a nice phone. We like the vision of ourselves using it, or wearing it, and we imagine what people will say. But to be honest it pleases me more if I'm greeted with "You look well!" rather than "Nice jacket!" I want people to see ME, not my stuff. I want the impression they're left with to be about what I said or did or how I made them feel, not whether I looked groovy or have cool apps on my diamante-covered smart phone.
Things, gathering 'stuff'... Is it ever a healthy choice? Competing, comparing, consuming, envy. I see now how it traps you, ties you to a particular place and state of mind – makes it harder for you to give it up, even when you don't need it anymore. Personally, the more I have, the more I feel uncomfortable, burdened.
It's quite stressful, for example, thinking about moving house when you have all your stuff to sort out and pack away. And finding places to put it all! Argh... headache. Not healthy.
As I see it - enough is enough, but more than enough is too much. Who needs more than what they need???
So the first challenge I give myself for an all-round healthier 2018 was to SIMPLIFY... get rid of stuff we don't absolutely need. That includes stuff stored away in boxes... for a rainy day... or 'just in case'... who knows why we keep it?!
I started with my clothes. Personally I never wear a different outfit every day... I don't see the point. I have my favourites, and as long as I'm clean and not smelly I wear the same things for days and days! So why do I need all these outfits? The answer is........... I don't! Granted I buy mostly from charity shops and so they're not expensive or name brands, but even so, there's a limit to how many cheap clothes one person can wear!
Here's the wardrobe in my bedroom...
The wardrobe and shelves in the spare room...
The two large boxes I had stored in the garage...
All emptied out on my bed! Goodness... what a lotta stuff!
So, two hours later I've sorted through it all, put away what I definitely wear, and everything else is going. I have these two big boxes for charity. Another box I put aside for my Mum to look through when she comes to visit, and anything she doesn't want will also go to charity.
As well as all these clothes belonging to me, I also have boxes and boxes of old baby clothes and items, and no imminent plans for more children. They'll probably get mildew before I have another child, and then it's all good for nothing except to be thrown out. What a waste. What inconsiderate behaviour too - as there could be a mother or family down the road in desperate need of these things, and what I have could make all the difference in the world to them. I remember being a new mother and all the worry that comes with it - how can I afford all the things this baby needs? Will I be able to provide for him adequately? So my recent thought was - use what I have and don't need right now for the good of others.
This, shamefully, was all the baby things I was storing. Four big boxes plus a suitcase just of clothes. And I have a moses basket, bath, baby walker, three different baby carriers, and several other things still in the garage! It must all go to a family who needs it.
And a little tip - if you have clothes in hole that aren't fit for giving away, you can use the material for other things. One thing I do is cut material into strips to make hairbands... very useful when you have long hair and live in a windy place!
So I guess impressions do matter – do I want to give the impression I'm the kind of person who stores away unused things whilst people elsewhere are losing sleep worrying how to get the very items I have? What am I saying by presenting myself in this way? That I value material wealth?
Or do I prefer to give the impression that I value people? That I value health? I realised all our attitudes and behaviour towards 'stuff' says a lot about what we value. Perhaps it's time to simplify and...
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Many thanks, much love.