Friday, July 26, 2013

I need very little...

There is a quote by St. Francis of Assisi that I found years ago in a beach side art gallery, written in calligraphy on a small piece of paper, that I liked so much I bought it and have held onto it ever since. A somewhat less elegant version of it (read: sans calligraphy print) follows:

I need
and of
I need

Simple, elegant, clean, and to the point. Also, easier said than done, and I would know. I have been in the process of attempting to simplify for the last several weeks and the only "very little" I have encountered thus far is success. 

Perhaps it is a lost cause, but I continue to try and fit an office, storage space, an art studio, Rabbitville (otherwise known as my four antisocial rabbits and their hutches), the duck's sleeping area, and an exercise space into one room (commonly known as "the bunny room"), and not a large one at that.

And what have I learned in the last three weeks or so that I have been trying to clean up and clear out? 
1) The majority of my clothes I do not wear, but can't bear to part with because I love them and am determined to fit into them again. Eventually. 

2) Although I generally disapprove of collections, I appear to have acquired a collection of t-shirts (78 of them) and books (somewhere around - eek! - 534 of them.) In my defense, most of the books I own are reference/informational in nature; I have very few novels.

3) I am plagued by having too many interests and hobbies, which translates into a boatload of supplies. Instead of "I think, therefore I am" what we have here is a case of "I do, therefore I have." I sew, therefore I have needles, scissors, thread, bobbins, mats, rulers, two machines, and fabric, fabric, fabric: felt, cotton, muslin, polarfleece, and flannel. I draw and paint, therefore I have paper, pencils, pastels, paint, brushes, and palettes. I felt, therefore I have wools, needles, roving, etc. You get the idea. Lots of stuff in very little space.

The realization that I have very much, as opposed to the very little I was striving for, has prompted me to come up with some tips for decluttering, as well as stemming the tide of incoming items (otherwise known as future clutter) because at least one of us should be organized and it's not looking good for me. With that in mind, here we go:

The Unfarm presents: Decluttering tips and tricks

Do you need it? Do you use it? Do you love it? If you don't need, use or love it, why hold onto it? Pass it on to someone who will use it and love it. 

Not sure about an item of clothing? Ask yourself if it is something you actually enjoy wearing, or if you bought it because you like the idea of wearing it or you like it but it doesn't really reflect who you are. I will admit to being guilty of this in the past.

Have a hobby type item you're debating? Ask yourself if you would rather spend your free time doing that activity over another hobby/activity. An example of this comes from my brother who loves cycling but continues to hold on to several model plane kits that he has not found time in the last 15+ years to work on. Several times a year I try and get him to part with those kits by asking him if he would rather work on building a model plane or go on a bike ride. (He continues to resist my efforts the kits are still gathering dust on his bookshelf.)

And to prevent new items from entering:
It is very easy to get caught up in the novelty of something - a new hobby, a new sport, etc - and to go out and buy all the supplies for something only to end up with a cluttered house, a depleted bank account, and guilt over amassing a collection of items that lose their shine after the novelty wears off. Ask yourself if you really think you have the time and can sustain an interest in this new endeavor into the upcoming weeks, months or years.

On a similar note, I often see the work of other artists in some medium I'm not currently working in, and I will run out and buy the supplies and begin working only to be disappointed because it doesn't turn out the way I hoped it would because I have yet to find a store that sells boxes of experience or bags of talent. Should I find such a store, however, you will be the first to know.

These days, it is so easy to find cute little note pads or fabulous bags or beautiful journals or whatever your weaknesses are and to decide that this is exactly what you have been searching for to make your life better and you desperately need it, so I have taken to asking myself if I would still need it if it were some ugly color or had pictures of Spongebob Squarepants on it instead of Hello Kitty. I usually find that I can survive without it after that.

Ask yourself if you would still spend your money on whatever you're contemplating purchasing even if it means that you have less money to put toward some big goal or dream. I, for instance, am saving up so that I can eventually buy a real farm and add yet more animals to my menagerie. (But fear not, I expect I will always be an Unfarmer at heart - it's a lifestyle, not a property of a location.)

Think about how many hours you will have to work to pay for whatever you are planning to buy and ask yourself if it is still worth it to you if it means you'll have to work [insert number of hours here] hours to pay for it.

Do you have room for this new item? Do you know where you will store it or what you will get rid of to make room for it? 

If you would like to continue simplifying, you can check out the 100 thing challenge at some of these websites:

Time to sign off. The ducks need diapering, the dogs need pills and this stuff isn't going to get rid of itself.

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