Free At Last: Simplifying and Letting Go of Stuff

Ceramic hula maiden and ukulele player © lynette sheppard

We had our Hawaii house painted white over the summer. And that’s where it all started.

Maybe the clutter was less noticeable when we had ash paneled rooms. Or maybe seeing the bookshelves and walls empty was like seeing our home as a blank canvas. Whatever the reason, Dewitt and I have decided to simplify, to declutter, to jettison stuff that is just clogging up our life.

Which is why we are ruthlessly attacking every closet, drawer, and space as if we are moving into a new home. And why our house looks like Hurricane Iniki looped back around for another pass right through our living/great room.

The inevitable disaster cleanup is taking a long time. We have to examine each article, tell its story, and decide: does it go or stay?

We have had an unfortunate habit of buying art and tchotchkes
in equal measure when we travel. And we have traveled a lot, it seems. We briefly consider opening an eBay store called “Tchotchkes R Us”, but decide that is another form of clutter – time clutter. And we don’t need that! So out with the majority of the refrigerator magnets, unused hair adornments, and small statuary.

We have enough shells to repopulate Waikiki beach. Or stock a gift shop in Florida. We need to look more and stoop less when beachcombing. We say aloha to them and move them on.

And the automated cat toy that promised “hours of delightful fun and play for kitty” that our teenage boy cat ran from initially and was bored by later? Off to the thrift store.

Unappreciated Cat Toy © lynette sheppard

How, oh how, did we manage to accumulate 12 golf towels in pristine (read unused, ever) condition? Ah, the accretion factor. Before you know it, you are buried in stuff.

I think we are doing pretty well, so far. We ditched our stereo system for a Bose that takes up a quarter of the space. Our music library lives on our iPod anyway. I’ve thrown out all those weird Easter egg and Santa Claus earrings. We’ve donated a number of the books that we have carted all over creation for years to our local bookstore and the library.

We even decided to release our kitschy little ceramic hula maiden and ukulele player after their years of service (and dust collecting). They lay on top of the trash bin for nearly an hour, before Dewitt rescued them and they were relocated to the lanai. At least they are out of the living room. We are making progress.

Rescued From The Trash © lynette sheppard

Their New Home © lynette sheppard

Second adulthood is a time of letting go. To be sure, there are losses – of youth, smooth unwrinkled skin, and temperature control among others. But letting go can be cleansing and freeing as well. We are making space for our next phase. We are allowing a freshening breeze to blow through our lives.

Will we live in a spare, clean, Zen home after all the excess “stuff” is relocated? Probably yes, for at least a month or two. Until we get the urge to frequent an art gallery or the neighbor island ABC store. Then I’m guessing all bets will be off and the whole process will begin again! Gonna enjoy it whichever way it goes. Time to drag out the Christmas stuff…

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6 Responses to Free At Last: Simplifying and Letting Go of Stuff

  1. Theresa December 4, 2011 at 11:54 am #

    too funny – and too true! Something tells me there will be new “decorative touches” in neighboring dwellings.
    Have you noticed that another element of life that seems to benefit from “clearing out” has to do with noise? Background noise such as tv’s, radios, stereos . . . turn them off and soak in the silence. Totally refreshing.

  2. Barb December 5, 2011 at 12:46 am #

    As I prop my feet up in my freshly “straightened” sewing room and enjoy a cheap glass of red wine, I am reminded of how sweet the simple things in life are! I have been threatening to ‘Zen’ my house for months….*sigh*….perhaps if I re-read this post a few more times I will be sufficiently inspired. In the meantime, I couldn’t help but think how cute those little Hawaiian figures would be on a wedding cake ….or a lanai!

  3. Anne December 5, 2011 at 7:27 pm #

    Yeah, baby!!! I found moving 9 times in 11 years was very helpful in downsizing and decluttering. Alas weve been in current place for 10 years, and it is crammed jammed. My spouse is a “shopper & stuff gatherer”. He has a hard time letting go of 3 sets of golf clubs (not used in 10 years), 5 bikes (1 is mine). We have our issues. Don’t even get me started on our closet. I sneeze in there, so know it is time for a major clear out. It is freeing to LET GO OF STUFF. Just keep the best. and send on the rest to it’s new home. What a great idea for a wedding cake topper!( My niece has a little vintage biz on Etsy. She makes nice spending change on groovy stuff she finds at estate sales, goodwill etc. She looks like the reincarnation of a very young Audrey Hepburn, so makes a great model for her vintage togs.) You’ve inspired me! Maybe after the holidays. We too need to paint inside and out.

  4. Barbara Younger December 12, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    Love this post and your photos. I think the couple needs to stay with you though. They look so happy to be rescued.

  5. Lynette Sheppard December 12, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    OK ladies, the little Hawaiian figures wanted me to thank you all for speaking out for them – they have a permanent home on the lanai end table – and a much better view.

  6. HighHopes December 29, 2011 at 7:04 pm #

    Isn’t it amazing how once you get rid of stuff, how little you miss it. All of the things (stuff) you thought you had to have or needed is less important. I know people who put things in storage because they did not have room in their house and realized they did not miss the items in storage. That was their clue to get rid of some things, some stuff. I too appreciate silence.

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