Thursday, June 7, 2012

I am not my stuff

It's been a long, long time since I posted anything. Since having a baby in April (boy!) and busy with teaching during the school year, I hadn't found much time for crafting. I mostly just sat around on Pinterest (after bedtime, of course) and saved things for later. Now that my body is feeling a little more back-to-normal, I don't mind getting down on the floor for crafting time as much. LOL This post isn't as much about crafting as it is how my perspective has changed in the last few months.

 I've been following The Minimalist Mom a lot, and admire her views on "stuff." Her great blog posts have helped me realize that our lives can be richer with less stuff. She gives amazing advice about paring down clothing, toys, photos and yes, even her wedding dress. (Which, BTW, I am still undecided about what to do with mine.) I got to host my first garage sale at our apartment. My sister, mom, and mother-in-law came up to help. Including selling hubby's things, we made over $120. I was stoked! Not bad. But I had a lot of left over clothes, books, and Happy Meal toys. I had already spent all that time hunting down the things I no longer needed, I was determined those things were NOT coming back in my house. I separated things I could try selling at my mom's garage sale later, a pile to donate, and a pile to consign. It's been maybe a month since, and I was able to sell 22 books at consignment that didn't sell at my garage sale. Not bad at all!

 How does this fit in with my crafty-ness?! There's a lot of cute things to make out there--but some of it is just plain junk. A waste of many resources: my time, my money, and materials. You know, like any kind of craft or tchochke that might be cute for a week or so sitting on your shelf and then you're over it. I'm not into things that use popsicle sticks (maybe later when Gus is older), or making my own journal. I always sucked at keeping journals...which is quite logical and understandable if you read my blog "regularly."   :)

 I'm now more into things that have purpose.

I get much more enjoyment from crafting things that I know will either  make my home appealing to me (decor-type stuff), something I can use, or something I can make for someone else to enjoy.

 So, here's what I've learned in the last few months:

 1. You are not your stuff. Do not let the things you own define you as a person.

 2. Minimalism isn't about selling all your possessions "a la Monk." It's about getting rid of the things that you have kept that do not add value to your life, and do not take away value if they are gone.

 3. Minimalism is different for everyone.  Something you might keep might be something another would give away in a heartbeat.  To some, minimalism means everything you own could fit into a backpack. When you have a family, the game changes.  You can't just get rid of your husband's ginormous box of old PS games and manuals (ahem) because YOU don't want them and he NEVER plays them...its not your stuff. What I value might be different than my husband, and that's OK.  It's hard to accept sometimes what he may want to keep, but I have to respect that.

4. Don't let sentimentality get in the way--You don't have to keep every.single.thing. your Grandma/Aunt/Mom/Brother gave you just because they gave it to you. If you really, really are never going to actually USE it, get rid of it. Again, it has no value in your life and is just taking up space. Cherish the memory, take a picture of it if you must, write down the story about it to share with your children--and then let it go! For example, family heirlooms: some are amazing, some are not. Grandma's wedding dress? Sure, sure if its in good shape...Grandma's wig? Probably not.

Also, what I LOVED when I was ten years old is not the same as what I love now.  I no longer feel the need to keep every cat figurine in my collection (don't you DARE laugh now!), New Kids on the Block doll, my VW model cars, vintage hats and purses-- I can keep certain ones I like, or none at all.  What's valuable or important to me is going to change as I get older. I don't have to keep those things around forever if I no longer enjoy them. I can enjoy the memory, and then sell or give them away to someone else who might appreciate them more.

 5. Storage tubs are not the answer to your problem. Sometimes, yes, they are necessary. Since we have two boys, I do need to keep lots of clothes as hand-me downs for the next one. That's just practical and smart.  Our DVDs? Also a keeper, but takes up quite a bit of room. I have plans for getting rid of the cases and getting them into sleeves. Getting the things you DO want to keep and having them take up less space in the process is always nice.

7. Organizing is not the answer to your problem. There's lots of cool containers and gadgets out there to help you organize all your things so they look cute on shelves in closets and whatever...get rid of the stuff you don't need first, THEN decide how to organize what you really need to keep.

8. Don't buy something just because you can afford it NOW or because you can't find the other one. You get what you pay for. If it means waiting until you have more money to pay for something that is higher quality and will last longer, do it. Don't buy junk you'll just have to replace sooner. Everyone I know works very hard for their money. Why waste it on crap? I *am* guilty of buying tweezers because I couldn't find our other set for two whole I guess make sure that you don't have so much stuff, that you don't remember where you put things. Or you at least put things BACK where they are supposed to go in the first place.

 9. This doesn't happen over night. I am STILL searching through the things I own (and my family's) to decide what is needed and what is not. That doesn't mean my goal is an empty, bare-walled apartment with only a couple toys for my kids and one pair of underwear for me. LMAO!!! It MEANS that what I do choose to keep, I enjoy using, love looking at, or need. And while it seems simple to say--its an ongoing process. I've found out a lot more about myself, what appeals to me. And I'm becoming a more happier person because I don't feel burdened by the things I own.

So, I'll finish this with the most recent thing I've made in months for my niece's first birthday.  Its a reversible cross-over pinafore dress I made from Smashed Peas and Carrots. If I had my own little girl, I'd be making a lot of these for her! The greatest thing for me about this project (besides getting a much-needed crafting time in post-baby) was learning some more sewing skills. I'm not accustomed to sewing clothing, so I was able to get some more experience in working with a pattern as well as learning how to sew button holes on my machine. Here it is!

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