After 40 some odd years of carefully maintaining my ever growing stash of stuff, why am I now committed to decluttering and downsizing? I mean, I do have enough storage space in my current home. The living areas of my home appear generally tidy and not especially clutter-y. And even though my closets, drawers, cupboards and shelves are packed, they are neatly packed. I can even find what I want, most of the time. So what’s the problem, you might be asking? Well, go get yourself a cup of coffee or other beverage of choice and I’ll try to explain. Go ahead…I’ll wait.
It all started about 25 years ago when my sweet husband and I took our honeymoon trip to New Orleans. Neither of us had ever been there and we chose it strictly because it was within driving distance and sounded interesting. I’m also a bit of a Francophile and I knew there was a heavy French influence in the city. I’m sure we would have enjoyed our honeymoon no matter where we went but there was truly something magical about New Orleans. I’ll never forget standing on the observation deck of the Royal Orleans hotel and looking out over the quaint French Quarter and across to the Mississippi River. It felt like another world and I was smitten.
We’ve returned several times over the years and eventually my husband even began to share my passion for this place. (Okay, some people call it an obsession but since none of them have psychology degrees I don’t pay much attention to their amature diagnoses.) Anyway, this past August we spent a glorious nine days there and began to discuss the possibility of moving to the French Quarter someday. Unfortunately Hurricane Katrina set her sites on this beautiful city and while we were able to get out mere hours before the airport shut down, many others were not so fortunate.
We were terribly saddened by what happened in New Orleans but were still eager to return. We were finally able to do so a couple of weeks ago and were heartened by what we saw in the French Quarter. They still have a long way to go in the recovery process, and other parts of the city are virtually destroyed. Still, our enthusiasm for this unique place has not been dampened and we continue to dream of moving there. While perusing the Times Picayune, I happened to notice that there was an open house for a condo on Royal Street so we decided to take this opportunity to get a close look at the inside of a real, French Quarter residence. It was truly lovely, with 12 or 14 ft. ceilings, gorgeous crown molding, exposed brick walls, French doors, and tile floors. There was also a very pretty, shared courtyard. Aside from the half million dollar price tag, the other shocker was the size. It was only 880 sq. ft. Mind you, we currently live in almost 3000 sq. ft. and also have an 1,100 sq. ft. quest house. Both of these houses are FULL! If we ever want to live there we have some major downsizing to do. We’ve also got to figure out a way to afford it, but that’s another subject.
So, for now, I am using our New Orleans dream as my incentive to sort, sell, throw away and give away. Realistically it will be at least a few years before we could even consider moving but in the meantime I am working toward that goal. I decided to start with books and magazines. After nearly a decade of homeschooling we have amassed an impressive collection of educational matter. So far I have attended one homeschool book sale at which I sold nearly $150 worth of books and curriculum. I deposited that money in an envelope marked “New Orleans” as further incentive in my quest for clutter-free living.
I have another opportunity to sell books in a couple of weeks so I continue to cull my collection in preparation for that. I currently have hundreds of books stacked in boxes and in piles on the floor of our library, awaiting this sale. I should take a picture and post it here but that would require that I knew how to do so. My daughter, the computer whiz, married last summer and when she moved out, I lost my in house tech support. One of these days I will lure her over here with promises of homemade cookies or something and get her to show me a few things.
So now you know why I am decluttering. The funny thing about it is that the more of it I do, the more I want to do. I mean, it was hard to start the process but it feels so good to let go of some things that I just want to keep doing it. It is truly freeing. My husband and I were talking just this weekend about how simple our lives were when we first married. We rented a one bedroom apartment for the first nine months before buying our first house. The apartment was tiny and we had very little *stuff*. I could clean the whole place thoroughly in about half an hour and there was no yardwork. Even though he was working at least 50 hours a week and I was in college full time, we still had oodles of time to play tennis with friends, eat candlelight dinners together, relax, take showers together, and all that fun stuff newlyweds like to do. Over the past 25 years we have gradually accumulated kids, cars, pets, furniture, books, and all manner of *stuff* that requires upkeep. Even though I don’t work outside the home, I have no problem keeping busy every day. But what I really want to do is write. I have a book in the works and a few other writing projects in the wings. Unfortunately I find it difficult to focus on writing when there is a litter box to clean, or laundry to do, or floors to mop, or a garden to weed. That is the other impetus for simplifying our lives. A smaller, uncluttered home with minimal upkeep needed would allow me to really take writing seriously. My husband is convinced I have a best seller within me somewhere if only I would just buckle down and write! And with housing prices what they are in the French Quarter, a successful book or two will be necessary if we are to afford to live there.