October 10, 2014

Replacing Things with Genuine Living.


Do you know what hurts more than stepping barefoot on a lego?

Stepping barefoot on two legos.

No—it’s Barbie’s shoes—evil plastic particles that they are. Wait, nope, actually, I think it might possibly toy metal airplanes.

Yes, that.

They usually draw blood, so for sure that wins.

Guess what sucks more than a rainbow loom bracelet in the washing machine? A rainbow loom bracelet in bathtub drain—yeah, just try to snake that mass out—good luck.

Know what looks and feels better than 45 random objects of artwork from the discount home furnishing store cluttering your walls and shelves? One really great piece you bought on vacation from a local artist. A framed picture of the beach where your child first met the ocean. A found object of great beauty, interest and sentimental value nestled in amongst the worn edges of your few favorite books.

Things that have actual meaning.

You picking up what I’m throwing down here?

Enough with the stuff!

I am. So. Over. It.

We have enough.

Actually, we have too much. Way too much. An abundance and mostly of useless shit, to be quite honest.

Consider also the fact that I am 99.99% sure that the following things all move faster than my six year old son when asked to return his toys to their designated homes, put away his laundry or, gasp, get dressed.

1. Molasses in January.

2. Turtles walking backwards.

3. Runoff from the polar ice caps.

My two children—being the first world citizens with three sets of grandparents that they are—have:

a. More toys than they have space to contain.

b. A total lack of understanding of the direct correlation between the care and status of their belongings and them, unfortunately.

c. A mother who believes in the general approach of a place for everything and everything in its place.

This trifecta of facts creates quite the catalyst for contentious debate in my household. A real surprise, I realize.

I have been slowly working on shifting our life from one filled with stuff to one filled with experiences. We have been developing an attitude of gratitude, with and for our world and our friends. We are attempting to live every day to the maximum level of awesome, by actually living it.

Not observing it. Not talking about it. Living it.

However. We are learning. A lot, actually. And together. It feels good to purge, like, really.f*cking.good.

And, in addition to offloading material possessions, I have also been busy building a different repository.

It’s not perfect. We’re not minimalists by any stretch of the imagination but we’re creating a healthy balance with small steps. Our paradigm is slowly shifting.

We are learning that less is more. Truly.

We’ve even downsized our home three times, from about 3000 square feet to 1800 to 700. Yes.

700 square feet, for three human beings.

Full time.

Why? Because we don’t need a bunch of empty unused space, especially one filled with purposeless objects. We are never home anyway. There is quite simply too much awesome happening outside and around us all the time.

We are evening and weekend warriors.


We explore our city. We daytrip to neighboring counties. We walk, bike and run around the neighborhood. We visit our friends. We climb mountains—not the highest ones though, since this is clearly not a Rodgers & Hammerstein musical—go to yoga in the park and host block parties on the street.

We do not live at home—not really.

Home is kind of like base camp, actually. We sleep there. We eat there. I’m pretty sure there are clothes there and I heard a rumor that there is a machine available that washes them.

Sometimes we hang out there. We feed an occasional sherpa—aka, babysitter—at our kitchen table.

But, really, we don’t spend a whole lot of waking hours within the ever so charming walls of our small encampment.

Is it ideal? Sometimes not. There are days I miss having a dining room and big kitchen but, luckily for me, I have friends that do.

Great friends. Friends I would travel to the ends of the earth and back for in a heartbeat. And those friendships are something worth keeping.

Friends are a collection of value.

What I am learning in this process is that we really don’t need much.

A lack of cupboard space has encouraged weekly shopping, including more fresh produce and whole foods. The days of super-stocked pantries and freezers are gone. Ditto to preservatives. We eat cleaner, healthier and more simply. I’ll be dammed if it doesn’t taste better anyway.

Small closets have helped me prioritize my wardrobe—the part of it that doesn’t include yoga clothes—because they fit nicely in a drawer, thank-you-very-much.

Small closets have also led me to an amazing clothing exchange on social media and whenever I get bored with my threads I just do a little trading.  Boom—problem solved.

Lack of storage space prompted the donation of twelve tubs of Christmas decorations. Yes. Twelve.

Because properly bedazzling the living shit out of every corner of your house with red, green and glitter proves that it’s the holiday season. Obviously. How else will people know you have the holiday spirit?

Or not.

Instead, let’s throw a wreath on the door, decorate a simple tree and go find some snow to play in together.

As much as I love, love, love my suede turquoise heels, those beauties are not gonna ride with me when my soul leaves this earth. Bad news for Cole Haan, good news for me.

At the end of our lives, we will remember our experiences, the people who shared them with us and the way we felt.

Let us devote our our time, energy and money, to building things that are sustainable, lasting and genuinely valuable.

Costco might miss us but our friends won’t.

“Everything we possess that is not necessary for life or happiness becomes a burden, and scarcely a day passes that we do not add to it.” ~ Robert Brault


Love elephant and want to go steady?

Sign up for our (curated) daily and weekly newsletters!

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: wallconvert

Read 3 Comments and Reply

Read 3 comments and reply

Top Contributors Latest

Michelle Sweezey  |  Contribution: 7,440