Wednesday, August 14

Too much

I like things simple. Clean. Uncluttered.

But I don't always know how to get there. Throw me square into a pile of junk, and I have no idea where to start. Set me down somewhere tidy and I will be able to keep it that way.

Since having children (well, and even since having a husband) this is not realistic. My life is cluttered, in more ways than one. And there are parts of that I like, because the messiness is often reflective of a life well-lived. A full life.

Then there's "too much." Over the years, I have gained a greater appreciation for what "too much" means. For a half-dozen years now, I've been taking part in garage sales, selling hundreds of dollars of STUFF each spring. You think I'd have nothing left by now, but unfortunately that's not the case. (How is it possible, since I have less money to spend on stuff than ever before!)

I know I am incredibly blessed. By and large, all the stuff in my house represents a loving and thoughtful gift or act of kindness, mixed in with the occasional "what the ...?" buys that my kids have talked me into over the years.

But it's more than I need. And I know this because if you take a worldview of our financial situation, it's shocking. Reading Interrupted by Jen Hatmaker recently has re-opened my eyes to that fact, to the truth that even being poor in America has its distinct advantages. A few stats from her book:

  • The wealthiest 1 billion people in the world average $70 a day.
  • If you make $35,000 annually, you are in the top 4 percent. At $50,000 annually, you are in the top 1 percent. (what?!)
  • We spend more annually on trash bags than nearly half the world spends on all good combined
  • 8 percent of the rest of the world owns a car
  • One-third of all American families own 3 cars

It's hard to imagine. Scott and I are decidedly smack in the middle of middle-class when it comes to our salary, which is comfortable. But there are times when it feels tight. That's the reality of life in America. But when you look at those numbers, it's almost unfathomable (did I spell that right?) that we feel this way when the rest of the world doesn't. Or can't. 

And the bigger question: what should we really be doing with all of our excess?

My oh my.

So at our house, we are challenging ourselves to live on less, to have less. For those of you who know Scott, this isn't much of a stretch. He's the guy who claims he can live in a cardboard box (um, yeah...). I'll admit to being more of the "keeping up with the Jones's" type. This challenge is definitely a stretch for me.

But one benefit? An uncluttered house. And that just started with the basement. I know the photos aren't great, but you get the idea:


And after

Clutter removed and the rest organized. Selling or donating the excess. It's a place to start.

Challenge ON.

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