Wednesday, March 28, 2012

40 To 40 Day 9: On Getting Rid Of The Clutter

As I write these daily installments leading up to the big 4-0, I'm noticing that I really tried to make up for what I was lacking in my childhood. Tangible things became very important, because although I wasn't lacking a lot of things as a young child, there were significant things that happened in my life in which I (and my family) suffered loss.

In Jr. High my step-father decided to give the restaurant business a go. So he took out loans, and bought a place on Priest and Southern in Tempe, in the REI center.

Well he had big dreams, and his business sense did not match it, and eventually it failed. Then we lost our house, and moved into an apartment. Lived there for a couple of years, and during my sophomore year of HS a fire broke out in one of the other apartments. The entire complex was destroyed, and all of our things were ruined, mostly by water damage. I lost my viola, which at the time was the most precious thing to me. I still have my old sheet music, and you can still smell smoke on the pages. Very faint but it's there.

Through the kindness of strangers we were donated clothing and toiletries, and were able to stay with family members until we found another place to live. At school, a fund was started towards getting a new viola. Finally we moved to another apartment, and were able to get ourselves back on our feet. Temporarily. Then of course when I left home and eventually became Arizona's child, I hardly had anything at all. A little more than the clothes on my back.

Once I was given things, even the basic of things like clothes to last me through an entire week, I was sort of like a person who skips a meal and then over eats at the next one because your body is in starvation mode. My foster-parents did their best to teach me about money and saving, but give a newly-freed teen a dollar and she'll spend twenty. When I went off to ASU, I got my first credit card...

A few years later I marry Mr. Frugal. As in any marriage, money was one of the top two things we would argue about, but I think we both taught each other things as well. Bret taught me about saving, and saving the money to spend on the big things. I taught him that sometimes splurging on the little things isn't a total waste, and buying for others is also good too. I still liked my things though. Every year I was out early shopping the day after Thanksgiving, and the day after Christmas too. To buy stuff I didn't need, that just took up space. Add on to that children and all the things that go with them. We were drowning in things!

So what turned me around, what made me realize that I needed to clear the clutter? Of all the things in the world, running. Through running I began to clear the clutter from my mind. It's just me, and it was good. I started feeling better, and looking better. In that I found I needed less tangible things to hang on to. The things were my security, I was always afraid to let them go. I slowly realized I didn't need them. So I started purging. Who wants to waste time with stuff? What value does it hold? I've taken photos of some items so I'll remember them. Especially things the kids have made. I keep some items for my daughters though, if they want them someday. But clothes, shoes, make-up, if I'm not using it regularly or wearing it regularly it's gone.

So now we're currently installing new flooring in the house. Getting rid of the 13-year-old carpet and who knows what crap has accumulated with it. As I look at our living room and garage which holds all the contents of our upstairs, I'm getting antsy. So much stuff. There is no WAY I am putting all of it back, and several bags/boxes of stuff have all ready been donated. I emptied an entire cabinet just so we could get rid of it and free up the space for.... nothing. I get excited thinking about the huge China cabinet in our living room, and can't wait to tackle all the things in there.

I still can't part with my books though. Especially my Stephen King hard cover collection. :)

Clear your mind of clutter. Clear your body of clutter. Clear your life of clutter. It took me nearly 40 years to work all of this out, to let go of the attachment. I'm hoping some of this will rub off on my children. They have certainly not been deprived in their lives, and I hope they won't take that for granted.

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