My first time being asked to write a guest post! The Sort-It blog is great for organizing advice….especially when the organizer answers your questions personally. ūüėČ

Sort It ~ Professional Organizing for the Toronto Area

I have been following fellow blogger Jen at Pursuing ‚ÄúEnough‚ÄĚ for a few months now. She writes candidly about her battle with stuff, and all the fun things that contribute to it, like her kids. After a few comments back and forth on a post I wrote back in February (Can‚Äôt Touch This), I asked Jen to share her experience of putting that advice into practice. So, here we go:

I am learning that just because I am on a quest to simplify our family‚Äôs life, it doesn‚Äôt mean that anyone else is going to go along with it easily.¬† My son, especially, has such a tenderhearted, sentimental nature; it‚Äôs extremely hard‚ÄĒseemingly almost painful‚ÄĒfor him to get rid of things.¬† When he was three, it was precious and charming:¬† ‚ÄúMommy!¬† We can‚Äôt get rid of that book!¬† It has baby remembers all over it!‚Ä̬† Once he hit eight‚Ķ

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How far we’ve come…..

I’ve made all my snobby pronouncements about how people waste time on the internet:¬† too much Facebook, too much Twitter, too much Angry Birds, etc.¬† I can sit on my high horse and make those comments because I’m rarely spending time on them.¬† Checking in on Facebook once a day hardly takes over my life, and I’m not on Twitter at all.¬† I’ve even (gasp!!) never actually played Angry Birds.¬†¬†Maybe if I did I’d really like it…..but I haven’t bothered to try it yet.

So now I’ll ‘fess up to how I waste my time online.¬† (And I can really, really waste some time with this.)

I look at houses.

It started out of necessity: ¬†every time we’d move and be, literally, house shopping, I’d hop online and look at houses; sorting which might be a possibility and which we could rule out.¬† Even after¬†a move, though, and even now when we’re done moving (knock on wood), I love to look at houses.¬† When I’m driving the kids to school, or coming home from the grocery store, seeing a new “For Sale” sign in a yard prompts an immediate thought of Oh!¬† I’ll have to look that one¬†up!¬† The app on my phone should be disabled, and instead I downloaded another local real estate app.¬† (Because some listings¬†have more photos, that’s why.)¬† I can spend an embarrassingly long time scrolling through “Nearby Homes For Sale.”¬† When it was a hundred degrees last summer, I humored myself by looking at houses in Maine.

I have absolutely no pangs of discontent as I look; I’m not dealing with envy or jealousy, or frustration with our own home.¬† (I like this house so much that¬†my response¬†might be¬†something like,¬†that’s a cool house, but I’d rather have mine.)¬† I’m not desiring “more” or “better.”¬† I just like to look at houses.

What’s fun, on occasion, is to pull the map over to where our first home was; to zoom in on our old neighborhood and click to see homes for sale.¬† Looking through those photos, all those little identical¬†ranch homes…it really does take me back to where we were, years ago.¬† And I’m torn about the change in our standard of living.

Our first house had three bedrooms and one bath, which would have provided our (then non-existent)¬†kids¬†with their own bedrooms; though I suppose one bath¬†could have made for some occasional discomfort.¬† It had a living room and a¬†nice-sized eat-in kitchen and a one-car garage.¬† Laundry hook-ups were in the kitchen.¬† What more, really, even now,¬†do we need?¬† Admittedly, jobs dictated moves, but I wonder if we’d stayed in that town how long we could have lasted in that home; how long we could have made do with what we had and made it work–probably pretty well, actually.¬† At what point would we have been crowded and uncomfortable, with two kids in that little house?¬† Would we have just sent them outside more often?¬† At what point would¬†I have been completely frustrated with a one-car garage?¬† When would I have decided that huddling in a hallway listening to tornado sirens wasn’t enough, and I wanted a basement, now?¬† I truly don’t think we would have stayed there forever.

My husband actually mentioned¬†our first¬†home recently (commenting that we would have had that house paid off by now), and I asked him if he thought we would have stayed put, if jobs hadn’t interfered.¬† He smiled and pointed out that I would have found some classic Craftsman bungalow closer to “downtown” and we would have ended up there instead.¬† (Sigh.¬† So true.)

I¬†look around three moves later, though, to see the accumulation of the fourteen years of stuff after that first¬†house, stuff¬†that has grown and expanded to fill the space offered, and I do wonder how to get back to what we need.¬† To peel back the layers of excess and get down to the basic needs¬†of running a home.¬† Not a bare, spartan home, but not an extravagant home, either:¬† a comfortable, peaceful home, where people have what they need and aren’t buried by any more.

I thought this was the most amazingly beautiful description of what we should be striving for in our lives…what the end goal of all this “simplifying” really is. I hope you appreciate it as much as I did.

My Men and Me

For years I have tried to live out a simple life. To shake off the unnecessary, the excess. To sift through the stuff, to purge. This is a daily challenge, I have found. The journey of a lifetime. Often I have strayed off the narrow path of enough onto the paved highway of too much.

What is becoming clearer to me, is that there is more to a simple life than the making of one. That the process of reduction is not the life itself. There is a beyond.

Because after the simplifying, the sifting, the making smaller … there is something left. There is that which was deemed important and valuable and necessary. And the step beyond, the beauty of simplicity, the living of the simple life … is the caring for that which has been kept.

What is left is named treasure and the…

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