The first step in any new venture is deciding.
Decide why you’re starting. Decide why it’s important to you. Decide to start. And decide to hold yourself accountable. Decide not to quit.
For me, this decision has taken over six years. You see, my husband is an Army veteran. Maybe it’s a military thing, or maybe it’s just a him thing, but he doesn’t enjoy holding on to “stuff”. He’d rather throw away things than have them sitting on a shelf or in a closet. He’d rather need what has has, than have everything he might possibly, one day, perhaps, need.
Me on the other hand, I grew up in a large family. A large, dysfunctional family. We loved each other with “stuff”. Expensive stuff, trinket stuff, more stuff, new stuff, red stuff, blue stuff. You get the point. We had a lot of stuff. With five kids, and two parents, that equals out to a WholeLottaStuff.
I can’t really remember a time when I had a clean bedroom. I distinctly remember a day in my young life that I wanted to go to Hobby Lobby with my mom and favorite cousin who was a few years older than me. I looked up to her, i aspired to be her, and I knew going with them that I would inevitably end up with something new.
I was told I couldn’t go until I cleaned my room. My room was mine alone, since I was the only girl, and it was a literal disaster. There wasn’t a speck of carpet visible from all my clothes and toys. My dad cautioned me, “If you go, your room will be clean by the time you get here.”
He kept that promise. I came home, and found my entire room had been emptied into giant black garbage bags. I cried. You see, I distinctly remember the anxiety of trying to clean my room, trying to wrap my head around what to do with all this stuff. Sure, I had a toy box, hangers, and laundry baskets. But the stuff far outweighed the capacity of any of that. There just wasn’t, physically, anywhere to put it all. But despite this, I wasn’t relieved it was gone. I was devastated.
You see, that decision was taken from me. I wasn’t able to choose what I wanted to keep, and what I wanted to throw away. It was just all gone. But what was gone, I couldn’t even tell you.
It turned out, he hadn’t thrown it away. He stashed it in his closet. I secretly went in there several times while he was at work, and scavenged through these bags, looking for the things I desperately wanted to save. I’d run back into my room, and I’d find a perfect little place for them. Sometimes, I’d even conduct exchanges, so he wouldn’t notice the difference.
After a couple of weeks, he told me I could have my stuff back, and where to find it. I laughingly told him I’d already found it, and didn’t want anything that was left. I let him throw it away. All of it.
Mind you, my room still wasn’t clean, and was still stuffed beyond its seams. But I made that decision.
You see, this pattern of behavior has continued all the way into adulthood. I’m thirty now. I’ve always struggled with throwing things away. Not because of some deep seeded emotional attachment, but because I might need it one day. I don’t want to throw away useful things, and need it later.
I woke up early on Sunday morning, and walked into my master bathroom to take a nice hot shower. What should have been a slow, intentional, joy filled morning was quickly greeted with anxiety when I walked into my bathroom and was greeted with overwhelming collections of “stuff”.
The mountains of bottles and potions that have been rejected but not discarded, still littering the bathroom counter and shelves. The under sink cabinet that hardly stays closed on its own because it’s full of more of the same. The mountainous pile of rejected clothes on the edge of my garden tub.
I decided, walking into my bathroom that Sunday morning, that my home is my sanctuary. My home is my escape from my day-to-day stress. My home is the safe place I’ve built with my best friend, life partner, and husband. I decided that day, I will learn to have so much more in life, simply by having less.
And so the journey starts.