16 Sep

All at once,
the world can overwhelm you.
There’s almost nothing that you could tell me,
that could easy my mind.
—Jack Johnson, “All At Once”

One of the transformations I’ve made over the past year is my desire to just keep things simple, stupid. Not that I ever purposively meant to be complicated or overwhelmed with stuff, of course. At one point after our separation, I became extremely overwhelmed with the amount of stuff that we had in our house. While it was difficult for him to move out, he was able to do so without thinking about all of the stuff he was leaving behind. Much of this stuff has been sitting in our office, guest bedroom, and garage since we moved into our house. It was just something that we both avoided dealing with. Afterall, who wants to deal with a bunch of crap?

poster for the TV show Hoarders

Sometimes I watch this show to remind myself that it could be WAY worse

But the consequence of our avoidance is now I’m left with dealing it all. And it completely overwhelms me. To a point, it keeps me trapped here in this house, in that I can’t move until it’s taken care of. Not that I’m ready to move, but I like the idea of being able to move, IF I wanted to.

Part of my journey to stay healthy even in the face of such an emotional time is to maintain my mental health. I’ve learned that my environment can have a huge impact on the state of my mental health. I have noticed that a cluttered space truly does lead to a cluttered mind. And sometimes I look around and wonder where did all of this stuff come from? I’m by no means messy but I definitely have certain areas of my house that are what I consider to be organized chaos. J There was one day where I was ready to get rid of absolutely everything I owned and just start over. This is still tempting.

Since I haven’t done that yet, however, there are certain things that I have done that have made a difference. For one, I’ve been reading several blogs for inspiration. My top favs are: Zen Habits, Life on Purpose: Be More With Less, and The Minimalists.

From them I’ve been able to gather ideas to help me simplify my life and keep me on that path. It’s not easy when our entire world is one mass marketing machine. Actually, that would be number 1 – fewer commercials, magazines, and exposure to marketing. This isn’t always easy, but one of the biggest differences is giving up magazines that I would occasionally read for entertainment. I began to realize that I would want things only after reading about it or seeing it in a magazine. Then I would get it and rarely use it or wear it. So now I don’t read them. The only exception would be a very rare fitness or running related mag and now when I read, I’m able to separate the difference between wanting what I see and just appreciating it in print. Commercials are fairly easy to avoid with my DVR. And when I am exposed to marketing, I take a moment to remind myself that these people’s jobs are to get me interested in these products. I know, I’ve been one. So me wanting something is simply these people doing their jobs well. It doesn’t mean I have to actually purchase it.

In Style magazine cover

One of the worst culprits and I can't afford anything in it! But seriously, that dress is beyond.

Along with less exposure to the mass marketing machine comes less shopping. I was never a huge power shopper by any means, but I did enjoy it. I’ve come to realize now that much of this was either for entertainment purposes or as a fix for something else. Buying a new pair of jeans really can improve my mood. This doesn’t mean it’s the only way to improve my mood, though. There have been times in my past where I have used shopping as a way to happiness. Of course the obvious problem here is the happiness is short lived and creates more issues when the bills are due. I’ve learned to not use shopping trips as entertainment and only go when I have a very specific purpose. I’ve also just found that I want less at this point. Yes, this takes practice.

I’ve already started to notice a difference in my thinking and my bank account. So I’ll keep practicing the art of less and know that eventually I’ll take further steps to simplify my life. But we can’t have the process overwhelming me now can we?

Love and Simplicity,

Let’s chat: What do you want less of in your life? What steps are you taking to make that happen?


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