Friday, December 26, 2014

Living Small is More Than Just Purging

The last few months I've been dedicated to purging belongings- dishes, kitchen stuff, books, furniture, clothes.

Some has gone to friends and colleagues. Grad students like free things.
Most has gone to Goodwill.
Furniture wise, I am down to the essentials, although I'm staring at a cheap bookcase in my office and thinking of ways to get rid of it. Same with a rolling tupperware bin in my bedroom.
Book wise I think I'm down to essentials, having completed the latest purge last week.
Clothing wise I still have one more round. Despite the fact that I hate girl clothes, am still holding onto skirts.  Part of me still feels like I need to hold onto the person people think I should be. But that gets easier. Once you get going it gets easier with every round of purging. Some items may make it through one more move in eighteen months because they're climate dependent clothing and I'm not rich so rather move it one more time than have to repurchase it.

Going through all this has changed how I view things. I used to sometimes shop at Goodwill. Now if I need more shirts or ties for work that's my first stop. If they don't have it I just wait and go back and check later. There is no rush. Who cares if I wear the same shirt? Or tie? Even if my students are so bored that they're keeping score, what does that have to do with me? Or how I feel about myself?
Not a damn thing.

I find myself viewing the things I want to hold onto (I've spent years gathering This-End-Up furniture) in a different light. At this point I don't need anything else. I may swap some furniture out (I hate my hand me down couch- it's clunky and heavy) and I rather have benches and better chairs than the crap vinyl chairs I have for my dining room table.
These days I rather re-organize things so I have more open space. Reshape my space. Which is a lot easier when there's less of it.

As a want-to-be professor there are some things I can't get away from, mainly books. But I'm no longer holding onto print outs or drafts once something is published. And I'm more judicious about what I get. And organizing what I have better helps too. There's also the fact that most of these books will eventually live in my university office, and not in my house. Although one of the things I like about having a separate room as an office is that once I leave it at the end of the day I am finished working, which helps turn off my brain.

But even with that, I've reorganized that space a lot. Over break I tend to do all the things I don't have time for during the semester. This break this included organizing almost all of the loose pictures that I've been lugging around. They'll be scanned and put on DVD then the cloud. The original pictures will probably be stored, then tossed. I spent the money to turn a ton of t-shirts and sweatshirts from my time in Manteo into a quilt so I can hold onto the items but they're useful and not just crap. I also turned my walk in closet in my office into usuable space with ladder shelves.
The closet was just a dumping ground when we moved in here over a year and a half ago. In some ways that was good because after not seeing any of this stuff in over a year, it was easy to purge it, particularly the papers. There are just two boxes of photo albums left (which I'm saving up to also scan) and two boxes of Mom's knick-knacks which I'm saving up to buy an IKEA display cube for.

Once you start getting rid of things you realize how little you actual need. And you realize that you think about organizing things differently. I got rid of my filing cabinets and instead bought cardboard banker boxes. Right now they contain materials for classes I'm in now, articles recently written and are stored. But when I move next, these boxes will go into the recycling bin because there will be no reason to hold onto them.

I have noticed that purging is additive. And it makes you think. Why do you need fifteen of the same shirt? Or sweater? Or plates? More than a couple of sheet sets?
The answer is you don't.
Would you rather spend money on another thing just to have a thing? Or take a trip? Or put into savings for something you really want?

I'm trying to live small in other ways. Smaller meals. Simpler ingredients. Tossing items as they come in the mail straight into recycling. Unsubscribing from things to declutter my inbox as well as my real box. Tossing crap. Not holding onto things just to hold onto. Taking pictures instead of getting. Thinking differently about what I purchase and why. I wait longer for things to see if I really want it. I make wish lists that I revisit later to see if I really want it.
I'm hoping too as a grad student that this simpler living will help me with a tighter budget now that I'm surviving on less than half of what I was last year. But mostly I feel lighter. I feel as though I look at things in a different light.

Hopefully, in a year and a half I'll have a university job and Nehi and I will be moving. I'm already looking forward to that move for a lot of reasons, but for how much LESS we'll move tops the list.

I waited two months over a sweater. Even waited past Christmas. When I finally purchased it, I feel like I earned it in some way. A friend of mine used to say it's all about perspective. And one of the best things about doing all of this is how it's a forced change of perspective.
We'll see what I do next.

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