A Blessing in Stressful Times

Guess what I don’t ever want to do? Go through my clutter. I like to have a clean house but I don’t really like to clean my house. I think that is why living with less is so appealing to me. Hindsight is 20/20. Let’s talk for a minute about how having less clutter has helped in a season that has nothing to do with my stuff.

2, 5, 10 years ago I didn’t think I would be going through a divorce, during a pandemic, 18 months after purchasing our second home, but I did, and I am. When I began the intentional pursuit to have less, I hoped that it would benefit many aspects of my life. It has but sometimes things happen in life where you actually get to see the worth of your efforts.

Stuff = Time. Every thing that enters my home is just one more thing that I have to manage, slowly nibbling away at precious moments that I want to cherish with the people I love. I keep this in the forefront of my mind when I make decisions to get rid of things and also when I choose to buy thing.

The last 6 months to a year have been an emotional tornado. I don’t consider myself an emotional person so to say that doesn’t come lightly. It has wrecked me. I’m in a constant fog, survival mode, praying that it all settles well and one day I’ll know it was all for good.

When I talked with our realtor for the first time to begin the process of listing the house 2 weeks after we finalized our divorce, it was a Tuesday. She asked me if she could meet with me on Thursday. Specifically, she asked me if Thursday was enough time to get the house ready for her to come. This question was weird to me and I’m sure my answer seemed apathetic. I said, “I don’t know what you mean, get it ready. The house is what it is. I mean there is no getting it ready.”

Because my mind runs at about the pace of a snail on a muscle relaxer right now, finally by Thursday I realized she meant enough time to clean up, declutter, whatever I needed to do to get the house in order. She confirmed this when she came over and I think she was relieved that I wasn’t just an upset ex-wife with a vendetta trying to sabotage the sale of my house by refusing to tidy up.

When she left she said there wasn’t anything to do except declutter the pantry (which was true), paint the stairs on the porch and pressure wash the siding (my ex was doing both of those). But really?! That’s all? In that moment I realized how much my stuff was NOT contributing to my stress. Years ago, my stuff was a constant remainder of how much it WAS stressing me out.

I really don’t like to clean my house. I can’t tell you the best way to scrub baseboards or clean grout lines. For me, having less made sense and it works. Being a single mom is demanding enough. Being a married mom with kids, or a working mom, or a newlywed, or entering a new career as a young professional or, hey, can we just say living comes with enough demands on its own?

Perhaps for the first time since the intentional pursuit to own less and shop purposefully, I’m seeing how this lifestyle is cushioning a stressful situation rather than exasperating it. It makes a difference that my home is a peaceful retreat and has been for years, with open spaces to move and relax in when I can actually relax. Looking back to when I felt suffocating in my things, I don’t know that I could deal with that in this moment.

There’s never going to be a time when I want to go through my clutter. I don’t want to do it when I have time to do it because that is time to relax and I don’t want to do it when it’s pressing because that is one more stressful thing to handle. My clutter is never a priority, never, so I’m going to continue to try my best to avoid having it.

If you find yourself covered up and you know that your clutter is exasperating your stress, change is possible, but give yourself grace and know that slow process is a proponent to creating better habits. Here are a few tips for daily living.

  1. Stuff = Time: The most simple equation to remember that the more you have the more time it takes to manage it.
  2. Keep a Declutter Station: The quickest way to create clutter is buying things. Buying is easy. There has to be a system that’s equally as easy to remove clutter. Keep a box in your house for this specific purpose. Think of it as a trash can but for your donated items.
  3. Stop and Think: Probably the most overlooked step of it all. Shop with a plan and then find the purchase, not make the purchase and then create a plan for the item. This is intentional consumerism.
  4. Don’t fall for sales: Quality over Quantity. Everything is on sale, all the time or it will be soon. Just believe that. There is always a sale. There are stores that completely run on the business model of routine sales. When this happens, understand that whatever you are purchasing is marked up to accommodate the sale. The sale is only happening to convince you that you are getting a deal. You’re not.

If these four suggestions help you, check out my curriculum here and may you find yourself on the pursuit to a Life Less Cluttered.

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