Saturday, June 26, 2010

Material Stuff We Own

I had a very busy spring. We had lots, maybe too many appointments. There was much running around. That is not my usual pace of life. I was not home often.

I discovered if you are always running here and there projects don't get done. Things I normally do could not be done, the necessary or normal and the fun stuff. I haven't finished a knitting project since December. I lost momentum when two projects gave me trouble and I was unable to finish them.

We were so busy we barely had time to eat. If you don't know, we cook and bake from scratch often here, or well, we used to. We were not home enough to make the meals. We began eating take out food more. I did resist the fast food, so give me that credit! We found ourselves starving and eating whatever was around at home, not necessarily the best nutritional options. We were so busy we didn't have a constant source of food from the grocery store. Sometimes on the way to a homeschool class I'd have to stop at a deli to buy my kids sandwiches for lunch. This costs more money than I like to spend (when I can make the same sandwich easily at home from grocery store purchased food). How hard is it to throw ham into a roll?

My husband began working a new job. He works 15 hours a day now. I have lost the luxury of having my husband home in time to make dinner. He loves to cook and he enjoyed doing that. Now it's on my shoulders but I'm often not home in time to cook before we run out to the evening appointment.

This brings me around to the title of this post. We were having a hard time taking care of our material possessions. We were going to appointments, eating and doing laundry. I kept the kitchen clean and the dishes were taken care of. The pets were fed and the fish tank was clean. But the rest suffered.

Let me clarify. When you barely have any time just doing the basic living takes time. I kept the place clean and the kitchen counters were neat. There was no clutter in any of our rooms except just the top of the dining room table and the room I'm still in the middle of converting from a playroom to an art and craft studio. Just keeping up with taking care of the basic stuff in the house takes time. I have not let myself slack on that in order to do big projects for fun.

When you are not home much you don't have time to do things like create things like homemade strawberry jam and soap. Those are things I enjoy learning to do. Regarding the nourishing things I did for myself, I slacked and I had to settle for second best like reading a couple of pages of a book on the sidelines of the lacrosse field.

I did start a garden and that took top priority since it's such a time sensitive thing. I did keep taking photos and carried my DSLR camera wherever I went.

I'm noticing the stuff I own that I have no time to use. As I see it I start to feel how unnecessary it is to hold on to. Time is precious. How do I want to spend it? Will I ever read that Oprah Book Club book that everyone raves about? Am I done with rubber stamping now? Have I given up on finishing that denim quilt made from old jeans I started in the late 1980s? (Please don't laugh. So much time went into it so far I can't bring myself to abandon it.)

I've been reading books and magazines while waiting for my kids at whatever they're doing: lacrosse, Scouts, and so forth. I feel more scattered about reading them. If the book stinks, I don't feel forced to finish it anyway. I have been so exhausted I haven't been staying up late reading. I've got a backlog of book reviews to write and seriously am considering why I still do that. It's becoming a hassle.

I don't know if it's a midlife thing or what. I turned 43 last month and I just feel like life is short. I have five years until my oldest goes off to college. How do I want to spend our time together? How do I want to spend my precious alone time? Talking on the phone to friends? Playing silly Facebook games? Chatting on email discussion lists about homeschooling? Blogging? Which of the many books I own will I read next? Do I want to focus on one or two projects or will I keep doing a little here and a little there in a shallow manner as I did all spring?

Oh, one more thing. I did do a major project of decluttering 80% of my unfinished basement and getting rid of 25 boxes then a truckload, donated to charity thrift shops. I decluttered my clothing and both of my kid's. I'm letting the clothes go that my younger son doesn't yet fit into, the hand me downs that he will never wear as his quest to do everything differently than his older brother is intensifying.

What's important in life is what we do with our time and the interpersonal relations we have with others. What is not important is holding onto a bunch of material goods we are not using now and have no plans to use in the near future.

It's so freeing for me to get rid of so much stuff since I was a certified packrat before. I'm even letting go of hundreds of books. That's a miracle for me! I still have lots I could get rid of; this is a process that is never-ending. I also continue to guard against shopping for fun and buying stuff we don't really need. That's the other part of the equation. Also, I no longer accept things just because they're free or almost free, or I because I think I might use them some day.

I've been wrapping my mind about enjoying what we have right now, living in the moment, not focusing on accumulating material things to use maybe in the future. I feel happy about my kids right now and I don't need to cling to their old toys lest I lose a piece of my kids. My kids are still here and they're growing up every day. I shouldn't suffocate them with old books and toys and clutter from previous phases of their life.

Right now some shelves in my ten year old's closet have picture books on it and some book series he hated and never did read. There are some preschool age, high quality toys. Why? He's into playing the electric guitar now and xBox360 and lacrosse. That child is not a packrat; he can let go of material possessions easily. The other day he gave his Yu-Gi-Oh! card collection (worth many hundreds of dollars) to his brother. I cringed as I bet when he's an adult he'll ask for his collection to show his own children, and it will be all mixed in with his brother’s. My older son is a packrat. His room is overrun with a gigantic LEGO creation right now and every shelf is filled with souvenirs, ribbons, trophies and mementos from his experiences. It's overwhelming.

I just want to spend my time doing worthwhile things not spending time organizing the stuff, looking for where I put it, and cleaning up around it.

I've said before that an epiphany I had was that the home we live in is NOT to be a museum of everything we've done in the past. I want it to be more of a reflection of our lives right here and now. The storage places like closets and the basement can have some stuff we don't use daily, that's okay.

I don't need a record of possessions to prove we learned that topic in homeschooling or that I had fun raising my kids or to try to capture some memory or emotion. The memories and the emotions are in my memory. The stuff we own doesn't hold those memories; they are just reminders of it.

I’m adjusting to my children’s needs for homeschooling activities and methods. This means I need to not use some curriculum I purchased. I need to let go of those books and materials as they are not reflecting our home education experience. I can’t feel the joy of what we ARE doing if I look around and see all that we’re NOT doing or all the resources that at present are “going to waste”.

It feels so good to let go of stuff!

If you are a packrat I hope something here inspires you. If it wasn't drastic enough I suggest you watch some episodes of Hoarders. The reality TV show is free to view online if you missed it on live TV or if you don't have a DVR to record it.

1 comment:

Love 2B Homeschoolers said...

“I can’t feel the joy of what we ARE doing if I look around and see all that we’re NOT doing or all the resources that at present are ‘going to waste’”

OK, you got me. This is my problem. So much money and hope I've put into all this stuff, it's so hard to let it go. It's hard to admit that my kids are just not interested in all this stuff I was so excited about. Argh. It's time though. The de-cluttering bug has been biting me a lot lately. I'm going to print out this wonderful quote of yours and read it often.

I can't stop in here as often as I'd like, but when I manage to I always come away so glad that I did. Thanks for the inspiration!