Friday, March 11, 2011

Project Simplify Project #1 To Have or to Be?

I've been thinking a lot about the phrase in the title as I've worked on my closet this week. It's actually quoted from the title of a book that I bought in my youth at the behest of a friend but haven't picked up in too many years. It's by Erich Fromm and explores the difference between society centered on people and relationships and society centered on always having and getting. As I cleaned out this week, one of the rules was to touch every thing in my closet in order to decide if it belongs in my life. I did and learned a lot:

  • Having too much makes it hard to access and use the things you actually do like
  • I avoid wearing things that need ironing because my ironing process is cumbersome-it takes a long time to get out the iron and all that. I have a plan to solve that problem, which is good. 
  • By simplifying the rules of what makes something worthwhile to keep, I was able to much more aggressively remove things that have not been useful for a long time. 
  • I keep things that aren't useful any more because either I fear I might need them at some point, or because I love some sensual aspect of them-the fabric or the way it is made-even if it doesn't fit or flatter me.
  • I fall prey to the fantasy that if I wear certain things I'll somehow become a different person-buying the me I want is easier than working to become the me I want. 
I know, deep stuff sometimes. But it is an important thing to get a handle on. It speaks to contentment, satisfaction with life, what I need to be happy and other things. And it's important to remember that "having" refers to stuff other than stuff. It's any thing or undertaking that takes the focus off of people and relationships and living life in the moment rather than always waiting for something to make me happy. I'm grateful for the chance to explore my tendencies and maybe get over some of my need to "have."  Fortunately, I have some balance and know the importance of being and also of people, so I'm not swept away by my stuff. I do feel overwhelmed by it at times, and frankly, that just should not happen. 

So here are the photos: 

Before. So now you know. 
The Sorting. A magic hat would have made it easier but
I'm proud of how I did all by myself. 
This many hangers were freed from their forced servitude. 
After.  It's a good start. I could have been braver, but even
in my cowardice, I filled up 4 large shopping
bags with stuff for Goodwill. 


  1. I really enjoy before and after pics. Thanks for being brave to share yours (I'm not quite brave enough to share the 'before' just yet lol).

    Enjoy the freedom that the de-clutter brings ;)

  2. Awesome job! You thought about this a whole lot more than I did! Though maybe I did because I gave myself permission to get rid of things I've been keeping for a long time!

  3. YAY and DOUBLE YAY! Purging like that is so incredibly exhilarating :)

  4. You know I tackled that same project this week while my Michael was out of town. It certainly helped to have Richard reading to me for the first four hours of the process (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)!

  5. oh, you are inspiring me. i have been having (not so profound but) similar thoughts lately about stuff. just stuff and too much of it and how moving it around constantly is ruling my life! i started on our dining/office space but i think i'm going to tackle the closet next....

  6. very inspiring! In some ways, I'm glad that my actual room closet is on the smaller side, not too much to hide away. My downfall is big bins of clothes for "off season" clothes. thanks for sharing your thoughts and bravery.

  7. This is a project I really need to be involved with. I will check out Simple Mom's suggestions!


Thank you for sharing your insights!