62. Take a Stand Against Stuff

Dear Readers, I have lots to say about too much stuff. Stuff is taking over my life, and I am taking a stand! In the last post I promised that we would talk about Richard Foster’s suggestions for simplicity. He gives ten (10!) suggestions. That is way too many to deal with in one little blog post. So what I have decided is to discuss several at a time — in no particular order, just as they come up in my life with Apple Hill Cottage. There will be other posts in between; so if you are not interested in dealing with STUFF in your life, they will be clearly titled, and you can just skip them. And please know, that I am not trying to make anyone feel guilty, ashamed, or materialistic. It’s my struggle; maybe it isn’t yours. And feel free to leave me comments.

I am sitting here in the car repair shop waiting for my car to be inspected. The TV is blaring out the game show Let’s Make a Deal, and I’m trying to write this post about how to simplify and get rid of stuff. Ironic, isn’t it?

Poor lady. She lost a trip to Belize, 2 iPhones, and $500 just because she was greedy. The host’s refrain is “How does fifty thousand dollars sound?”

Here’s the thing — We Can’t Escape It and We Can’t Avoid It. So we had better change our hearts to have Inner Simplicity and our lives to have Outward Simplicity. One does not work without the other.

Number One on Mr. Foster’s goal for outward simplicity:

1. Buy things for their usefulness rather than their status.

Buy a car for its utility or consider a bicycle. Don’t try to impress others. Cut down on your living space. Consider your clothes. Buy comfortable and solid. In other words, don’t let fashionistas and HGTV rule your purchases. This is hard, I think. Who wants to look dowdy or left over from the eighties? And who wants seventies paneling in their living room??? Please don’t take offense if you like seventies paneling…

and we've got some paneling we'll sell you...

and we’ve got some paneling we’ll sell you…

Where I’ve succeeded: The floor at Apple Hill is VCT — one of the most inexpensive lasting floors that can be purchased;

Ugly kitchen cabinet

This is what our cabinets looked like when we dragged them out of Construction Junction…

much of the kitchen stuff we purchased at Habitat for Humanity Restores, Construction Junction, etc.

We deliberately set out to buy re-purposed items for what we needed. I generally stand over the recycle bin and just toss in the catalogs without looking at them. But there are always a few I have to look at — Pottery Barn, J.Jill…

Our beautiful new brushed stainless steel kitchen faucet

Our beautiful new brushed stainless steel kitchen faucet

Where I’ve failed: Our faucet (if you are a regular reader, you knew I was going to say that. You can read about my remorse in this post.) I also tend to obsess over color and the decorating “look” I want.  There is nothing wrong with beauty and cheerful surroundings. God obviously loves beauty; it’s just a matter of knowing when it becomes an obsession or an addiction or an idol. That will be covered in another post…

What I could do better: Throw away all my catalogs without opening them. Better yet, eliminate the catalogs altogether. (I’ve gone to catalog choice and started eliminating them–and yes, I’ve put Pottery Barn and J.Jill on the list. I highly recommend that site.) I need to stay off Amazon.com. and Pinterest. I need to say No when people want to give me stuff.

What could you do better?

2. Develop a habit of giving things away.

This is a good time of year to give away clothing. Why store winter clothing that you haven’t worn? Why store summer clothing that you won’t wear? So that’s what I did. I went through my clothes

Lots of sweaters

Thirty-one sweaters — enough for every day in January. (That little furry thing in the top left corner is NOT a sweater…)

and I’m taking a garbage bag and a big box to St. Vincent de Paul. I’m down to one closet, one dresser and half a cedar chest. (The other half is for Mr. H.C’s sweaters–he’s got a bunch to go through as well.) And you know what? I only threw away some of that 80%.

clothes hanging in closet

My pared-down closet…

Here’s what I got rid of:

  • The clothing that I’ve been saving because I think it might fit me again next year, even though it hasn’t fit me in two years. (The ugly truth!)
  • A very stylish green sweater that I bought online (clearance) that just doesn’t look good on me.
  • Three sweaters that I haven’t worn in two years.
  • Pants and jackets that I’ve been keeping because I think I might like them next year better than I do this year.
  • Everything that I put on and then take off again because I don’t think I look good in it, even though it’s perfectly fine looking.

And here is a lovely photo:

1979 Buick Le Sabre being donated to Make a Wish Foundation

Michael’s Buick (affectionately known as Grandpappy) is being donated to the Make-a-Wish Foundation. It was a sad day, but happy too, as we thought about the blessings it will bring to someone. It started, and Michael drove it up the driveway one last time for it to be towed.

It was two days between contacting the charity, and the tow truck arriving to tow Grandpappy away. And now it’s lovely to back out of the garage and not have to worry about smashing into him.

Mr. Foster challenges us to give away what we are attached to, to prove that things have no hold on us. What can you give away?