Last night as I was preparing to do my taxes I pulled out all of my charity thrift store donation receipts. It was quite an impressive sight. There were also at least half a dozen times that I didn’t get a receipt because it was just a few bags or boxes. What struck me the most after seeing them all lined up like that was the fact that I don’t really miss anything that I donated. Sure I have momentarily regretted a few things, but when I really stop to think about it I don’t miss the items. The second thing that I thought of was how much my unused and unwanted stuff was helping other people. The nice ladder back chairs, the sofa bed, the brown footstool, the Aigner purses, the fruit cookie jars and salt and pepper shakers, the comforters, the mountains of clothes and shoes…are all benefiting someone else instead of taking up space and energy in my home and life.
Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist once said, “One of the greatest benefits of generosity is the realization that I already have enough.” This statement made a profound impact on my life. It really does work that way. The more I gave away the more I realized that I still have plenty of everything that I need.
I am much more selective about buying now, and even though I am a quilter and still love to buy pretty fabric, I make sure that there is room in my home for anything that I bring in. I also donate fabric and projects that I no longer have a desire to work on. This leaves room and time to work on and finish the projects that I do enjoy.
In the movie, “A Lot Like Love,” Ashton Kutcher’s character was always trying to get his “ducks in a line.” He thought that he had to have the perfect job, career, house, and future in order to be ready for love and to be happy. Two people in the movie pointed out to him that his life is “now.” It was happening while he was trying to get things lined up the way that he thought it should be. I saw a parallel with that and my own life.
I can remember big chunks (years) of my life that I spent working toward a goal or planning for a trip. When the goal was met or the trip was happening I was too consumed with “how it should be” to enjoy the “now.” I have been thinking about this in relation to de-cluttering. I have spent way too much of my life planning and waiting. Now that I am in the “doing” of de-cluttering it is so important to remember to “live life” along the way.
My in-home quilting retreat a while back taught me that making time for the things I love to do is important. I can get bogged down when I am in “active de-clutter” mode and don’t take time to quilt at all. My mood is so much better if I take at least a few minutes each day to hand quilt. But, when the house is in disarray from a de-cluttering session that is cut short by “life,” I don’t let myself enjoy quilting because I feel guilty that the things I need to be doing aren’t done.
I plan to repeat Joshua Becker’s Uncluttered course again in order to go deeper and make decisions about sentimental things and to continue to remove layers of other things as well. But, I need to get to the point now in my thinking and actions to be able to maintain my home and enjoy my life. I think one problem is that I mis-judge how much time a de-cluttering project will take, or I run out of time and must do something for someone else and stop what I am doing. Maybe I need to concentrate on getting “two ducks in a line” instead of a whole flock. And, I must remember that even if they are not lined up, my life if happening now.
A friend on Facebook asked friends to post one word for her to take into the new year. I did the same. The following words in bold print are the ones that my friends shared with me. I added my feelings and hopes for each of the words.
I am blessed beyond measure. I have my salvation, my son, my extended family, many friends, a good home, a pretty good vehicle, plenty of food and water, and enough fabric to make many quilts.
I look forward to a wonderful new year singing and worshiping the Lord, spending time with my son, extended family and friends. I also look forward to a wonderful year of quilting.
I hope to show empathy for my fellow man and help when I can.
I hope to trust in the Lord completely and to be able to trust the people I come into contact with.
I hope that I am able to participate in something delightful. I have a feeling that I will tonight as we are going to a Sacred Harp singing.
I hope that I will always remain appreciative of all of the blessings that I have received.
I hope that I will desire more knowledge of the Lord and study His word more as a result.
I hope that I will be able to believe in the good in people.
I hope to have fun at least every week. I hope to laugh more and quilt more and talk and listen to my son more.
I hope that the Lord grants me resilience in that the aches and pains that are part of my normal life will be at a manageable level.
I wish you a very Happy New Year full of wonderful possibilities!
I recently read an advertisement for a well-known quilting company that offered a new small project as a cure for having too many UFOs (Unfinished Objects). I am still shaking my head at that one. How could starting a brand new project help me to finish the dozens of projects that I already have started?
I guess they are taking the idea from Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball approach in that paying off the smallest debts first gives you momentum to pay off the larger ones. But wait a minute…Dave doesn’t say to go out and take out a small loan. He says to pay off the smallest one you already have. (His principles do work, and I highly recommend them.)
I offer instead the advice to finish the UFO that is closest to completion first instead of working on four or five at a time. At one time I had more than that “in the hoop” at the same time. I became so overwhelmed that I didn’t accomplish anything. Now I am hand quilting the borders on a quilt that is almost finished. I can’t wait to enjoy the feeling of accomplishment once I finally bind it.
I can see why Chicken Little thought the sky was falling. If you have ever been hit in the head by a falling acorn you would understand, too. I just spent the past hour working on hand piecing a quilt and guarding the crawl space opening for my house. You see, this week I learned that I have termites and fungus. The fungus is due to me forgetting to open the vents around the foundation of my house in the spring. When I went to close them for a recent cold spell I realized that I had forgotten. When the termite inspector crawled under the house he found fungus. He said that air flow would kill it and recommended that I rig up a fan under there and close the space with rabbit wire. I have a construction team coming on Monday to assess the termite damage, so I can’t put up the rabbit wire yet. So, I have been sitting near the opening making sure that no animals get in while running the fan to try and kill the fungus.
While sitting there and stitching all I could hear was the hum of the fan and my central unit when it kicked on and the frequent sound of acorns hitting my metal roof and sliding to the ground. I have been trying to stay calm about all of this. Hand stitching is great therapy. It is amazing how calming it is to hand stitch.
Instead of attending a quilt show this weekend I decided to go through two boxes of paper clutter that had been bothering me for months. One of the most ironic things I found in one of the boxes was a map and informational flyer about the same quilt show from three years ago. I didn’t go back then either. You see, I have spent the greater part of my life so far being busy doing things that I “needed to do.” I had so much stuff that I never felt caught up or free to do the things I wanted to do.
I have been becoming minimalist since May of 2016. On my journey I have donated countless van-loads of perfectly good things that I spent a lifetime collecting. This weekend I really feel as if I have turned a corner in my journey.
Tonight I had my dad over for supper. Because I spent the weekend getting through those last two boxes of paper clutter and catching up the laundry and dishes, I could enjoy the evening with him. We really talked and enjoyed watching The Andy Griffith Show together as I hand quilted.
The difference is that I woke up in an uncluttered bedroom and walked into an uncluttered living room and kitchen this morning. Even though I had to run an unexpected errand after work I didn’t feel stressed or rushed.
Even though I missed the physical quilt show I was able to catch one. A Facebook group that I am in had a virtual quilt show, so I was able to enjoy looking at the pictures. (Another plus is that a lot of the things I filed this weekend were quilt patterns that I hope to make one day. I also have a stack of patterns that I plan to donate or share with another quilter.)
My hope is that one day I will make it to that illusive quilt show, but until then I will keep working toward being un-busy so that when the opportunity arises again I won’t hesitate to go.
I read today on a Facebook quilting page about a lady that was dreaming of quilting during her retirement years. She had an accident and is now unsure of her future plans. This really resonated with me because I used to be the type of person who was always planning for the future, dreaming about a trip, hoping to spend hours quilting during retirement.
I can remember entire trips when my son was small that I was unhappy because something went wrong at the beginning of the trip, and everything was off schedule. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I was on the trip with my family and that I would never get those moments back.
A few things woke me up to the fact that my life is now. I should be doing things that I enjoy now instead of waiting for some future day that may or may not come. My mama didn’t see her sixty-sixth birthday. She drew very little retirement income after waiting all those years. The saddest part is that she was very sick for her last several years and wasn’t able to travel and enjoy the savings that she and my dad had worked for all those years.
I decided that I was going to carve out time to quilt. I quilted a lot the first year after I made this decision, but then I realized that I couldn’t enjoy my quilting to the fullest because “stuff” was getting in the way…papers that I needed to deal with, extra clothes, shoes, purses, linens, etc., etc., etc. One day a blog post by Joshua Becker of Becoming Minimalist caught my eye, and my life has been changing ever since. I read his book, The More of Less, took his Uncluttered course, and have since read blogs by many other aspiring minimalists.
The point of this post is this: don’t wait until tomorrow to start enjoying your life. Minimalism has helped me to clear away layers of “stuff” and find the true me. I am not so consumed with collecting anymore, although I do have a pretty impressive fabric, ruler, and stencil collection. I know that I have enough. Part of this realization came from giving away the projects that I had bought and had no desire to finish. That gave me more space and allowed me to feel as if I will eventually finish everything I have started. You cannot do everything and have everything, so why not do the things that matter to you and have only the things that you need to accomplish that.