I realize that the accepted (and celebrated!) mandate of our culture is “MORE!”, but I think my house and I both breathed a great big sigh of relief last weekend as my husband and I filled the back of the pick-up with items to take to a local charity shop. Certainly, there is a good feeling that comes from choosing to help others, but honestly, my best delight about it all was the SPACE that was left behind and the unexplainable joy of lightening the load of STUFF that we no longer just love here at home.
I’ve done this for years. I’m on a permanent mission to make sure that wherever I look in my house there are only those things that perform a function or make me smile…and if something can accomplish both of those things at the same time, then all the better! To do that, I keep a perpetual give-away box going.
The give-away box is the place for everything from candlesticks and decorative pillows to extra cookware and clothing as I continue my quest for joyful function. I find that as I let things go, peace comes in…internally as well as visually. This practice has the additional benefit of making me more carefully consider my purchases and the expenditure of budgeted funds. Knowing that I will need to release something I already own and enjoy to make way for a potential purchase makes me take my time and really consider whether I will appreciate/use the new item more than what already currently works for me. My One-in-One-out rule is an exercise in self-discipline.
For example, I donated my dining room table this past weekend, as well–antique and perfectly serviceable, but one I’d bought as a place-holder piece until I could find just what I wanted. I’ve shopped for one I liked better for YEARS without success…and then…about a month ago I realized that I already had a table that I LOVED in my house that was the exact same length as my dining table. It was also vintage, MUCH more my style and it just needed longer table-height legs to make it work! (It was originally in an elementary school reading classroom from back when I was still there!) I now have a table I love at a height I can use in the dining room and loads more space at the foot of my bed where the table was previously located.
I know that we’re not all the same. Some people absolutely revel in excess while my soul loves the pared-down version of beautiful useful things. HOWEVER! I’m pretty sure that we could all do with a little more space at home (and whether you want to keep it open or fill it up later is up to you! grin), so here is my weekend challenge:
Look around your main living area and then…
- Take 5 minutes and put as many things as possible in their proper place. Just 5 minutes, then stop. I promise you–it will make a difference. (you can always repeat this step again later if there’s still stuff that really bothers you!)
- Take 5 minutes and note any items that are in need of change, repair or replacement. DO NOT automatically run to the store! Shop your own home to see if you already have something that will perform the same function. Don’t be afraid of changing things around! That lamp, side table or art piece that you thought was just for the living room might be great in your more private areas of the house and vice versa!
- Join my counter-culture revolution and start your own give-away box. Blessing others will bless you way more than you can imagine and will allow the items you keep to become visible enough to remind you why you liked them enough to buy them in the first place.
- Sit down, put your feet up and relax. You just might hear your house breathe a sigh of relief, as well.
Personally, we’ll have a house full of wonderfuls this weekend, so #4 will just have to wait for me…guess it’s a good thing I did this last weekend!
Grace & Peace!