My journey began when I was a teenager. I love Feng Shui and was constantly cleaning and rearranging my room to suit the flow. I was always purging my room only to re-accumulate over time. I loved the simplicity of a perfectly placed plant next to a stone to imbibe an area with a certain energy.
When I moved out of my parents’ house, I brought only the items from my bedroom. I had bought the bare minimum of what I needed to move in to a new place, such as kitchen items and a few towels. All of my clothing fit into an old antique trunk and it took only one trip in my little Toyota Corolla to transport everything I owned into the 500 sq. ft. apartment I was sharing with a friend.
I met my now husband a few months later and we moved in together within a few weeks of dating. He also owned very little. We slept on sleeping bags on the floor and owned only 2 bowls, 2 cups, some utensils and a few pots and pans for kitchen items. We didn’t even own a trash can. My husband was an experienced traveler who lived out of a backpack for years. He was accustomed to living with less.
When we moved up to our 530 sq. ft. cabin at the base of Pike’s Peak was when the accumulation began. We gathered beautiful items. Knick-knacks, art, stones, plants, books, solid wood furniture, sewing machines, tools and so very many non-functional items.
I worked for a time at a local health food store and I began accumulating damaged and expired supplements and body care. The kitchen cabinet and the bathroom cupboard quickly filled up with items that I hoped to one day use. Prior to this I depended almost entirely on coconut oil for all of my body care needs.
We are artists, so we began saving all sorts of items like broken bottles, corks, twist ties, wiring, beads, stuffing, old pillows and sheets, worn out clothing was bagged and saved for projects. It was all little things, here and there. Gifts from family and friends. Duplicates like more than one crock pot, blender, another set of pots and pans, toothbrushes, blow dryers, plates, bowls, coffee cups, and other things gathered in our kitchen. We accumulated so many functional items that we didn’t really need.
A few weeks ago I went into the bedroom to sit and think. The bedroom was cluttered with things and I felt restless and claustrophobic. For the longest time I didn’t understand why I felt this way. All of my clutter was beautiful little things, like amethyst stones, art, oil lamps, sculptures, and bones. I loved all of it individually but together it was jumbled in the kind of mess that you would see in an old movie with a crazy witchdoctor living in a cabin in the woods, complete with herbs hanging from the ceiling. I can imagine many people would be happy to inherit such items. In fact, I know many people that have been overjoyed to receive these items as gifts.
But to me, it felt wrong. I wanted to go back to my feng shui roots. To return to the time when simplicity felt more wholesome than all of this stuff.
We had been talking for weeks about moving into a larger home. We needed more space. More area to distribute our things. But when I think about it now. I wanted more space so that it would feel like we had less.
I’m not like other people that I read about that talk about their journey to minimalism. The things I had were not cheap, broken, or replaceable. They were unique, beautiful, and well-made. Antique oil lamps, Singer sewing machines, Quarts crystals the size of your fist, brass incense burners, and animal bones. They aren’t easy to toss or give away. But they didn’t give me the joy that I wanted.
I began to realize that I feared boxing up all of the things in my home to move.
I feared the idea of needing to leave all of this behind.
I feared the loss of all of my beautiful things.
I hated that I felt this fear.
When the fires came in 2012, our house was in immediate danger of being burned. We piled all we could into the Toyota Corolla and closed the door on our beautiful home with the full expectation that we would never see any of it again.
It amazes me now, to think about the fact that when I first left my parents’ house all those years ago, everything fit into that little car. Now we had filled it from floor to ceiling with only the things we valued most and left an entire house full of things to burn.
Amazing how far we’ve come.
The point of this story is that the things we accumulate aren’t always cheap or useless. Sometimes they are beautiful and unique, but if they aren’t serving you anymore, then it is time to move away from them. It is time to view them as what they are, beautiful things that would be so much more beautiful on their own. So much more potent and impressive if they stood apart, rather than jumbled together with other items. I kept the things I cherished most and gave them a place of honor and I find my home to be so much more beautiful than ever before. What do you see when you look through your home? Is their too much to see the real beauty underneath? Are all of your beautiful items keeping you from appreciating the items you love most?
Gift them. Allow yourself to let go. Find what you value most and let somethings burn. It’s worth it.