Too Much Stuff!

hoarder

This is NOT the home of a hoarder. At least not the kind you find on A&E and grab your spouse to show them you’re not that bad. No, sadly this is my garage today.

I have an excuse, though!!!! We’re selling our house and the realtor and stager both told us we needed to ‘de-clutter’ so that potential buyers could see themselves in our home, not all of our junk. So we spent all of last weekend boxing and bagging, and eventually just tossing all of our overage into the garage. The house looks fantastic.

This morning, however, as I stepped out to the garage for a moment and saw this, it really got me thinking: Do we really need all of this stuff? Its been over a week since we put it out in the garage and we’ve been out to retrieve one thing – the binder with all of our favorite recipes so we could make Spicy Salmon.

I’d say there is a very good chance that we’ll pack all of this stuff up into a moving van and lug it to the new house without having the need to retrieve a single thing for weeks or maybe even months. We’ll unload many of these things on the other end at our new house and open boxes with a series of exclamations: “oh, I forgot all about that!” And THAT is where I’m going to break this cycle. I’m not going to sift through this mess in my garage right now, but I vow on the other end to NOT put things back into my new house that I both did without and completely forgot about for the weeks that it sat in my garage. I’m going to break ties with useless stuff in my life.

Sure, there will be pictures from the past that are important and we’ll hang on to; I’m sure there is some of the kids’ artwork that we’ve stashed in there for posterity. There are likely several dozen books that are important to us that will find a home on a bookshelf in the new house. I’m not suggesting flushing our memories.

But there are certainly pots and pans that we never use, or a few dozen beer glasses I’ve collected over the years. I’m certain there is 10 year old wrapping paper in that pile and there is bound to be a box of Franklin Planners from before 2000. My guess is that at least one of those boxes contains t-shirts I just can’t give up or toys the kids say they still “love.” These things all need to pass on to their next life. If they’re that important, they need to be used, repurposed, or displayed. If not, they are not going to add to the clutter of life anymore.

I’ll encourage you to look at your stuff today (before you have to box it up to move) and ask yourself if it is really adding value to your life? I think for most of us, me included, we too often equate stuff with quality of life. That is really backwards. What leads to quality of life is relationships, experiences, and learning. All the stuff does is block our view of the great relationships we have, hold us in place to avoid new experiences, and drag us into the past to hinder learning new things. So box some stuff up that is getting in the way this week and donate it to Goodwill or just throw it out. Let’s see how much space it frees up for people and other good things in our life. And if you see me between now and the time we move, remind me not to give in to the this pile of stuff!

Facebook Photo Free

chalkboard

Yesterday on my morning run I got to thinking about this past weekend’s activities and realized in horror that I had a FACEBOOK PHOTO FREE WEEKEND!

Once I calmed down my breathing and regained my composure, I started to reflect: Why do I care if we did anything this weekend that was worthy of posting to Facebook? How shallow am I that I was thinking about all of the cool things I saw my friends post from their weekend and didn’t have anything to share? Does every weekend have to be Facebook worthy?

You see, this past weekend revolved around the list above which we wrote on our chalkboard wall in the kitchen – not much exciting stuff there. The kids are going back to school soon so we’re getting in organizing and prep mode which is pretty much what we did this weekend. That isn’t to say that we didn’t have some great family time. We did our back to school shopping together (challenging), went for a drive in the country (fun for me), ate all of our meals together (always entertaining), Jo and I went to the Farmer’s Market in Davidson together (daddy/daughter time), and we got almost everything on our list done with minimal meltdowns (victory!).

So what is my problem? Why the Facebook Photo envy? Why the sense of failure? This morning I had a little longer run planned, so I had some more time to reflect on my Facebook Photo Free weekend. And here is the conclusion I’ve come to…I need to break myself of the prevailing belief that if something doesn’t get posted to Facebook it either didn’t happen or isn’t important. I have slipped into believing that I have to somehow show others all of the great things I’m doing or they aren’t important. While I do see the value in sharing some of the paramount moments of our lives with friends and family that we don’t get to see often enough, I must remember that posting those pictures doesn’t validate the experience. The experience itself and the impact it has on our lives validates the experience.

When our family spends the weekend camping in the mountains, it isn’t the cute pic of my kids hugging by the fire that makes it worthwhile, it is the fact that our 9 year old learned how to build and start a fire that is important. When my wife and I get to go away for the weekend or catch an infrequent date night, it isn’t the picture of us in front of the swanky restaurant looking all nice that makes the evening, it is the quiet in our conversation where we just look at each other and smile that reminds us what 14+ years of love has been like. When we get together with friends or family and enjoy days of great food, fun, and fellowship, it isn’t the posed shot we finally convince the kids to stand still for that makes memories, it is the first backflip off the top of the pontoon that stands out. And when I travel the globe and go for a morning run, it isn’t the selfie in front of some iconic spot that makes me love my job, it is the fact that the run is an important part of doing my job well that matters.

The fact of the matter is that our Facebook Photo Free Weekend was pretty awesome. We got the kids talking about what they would like about living in the country, we experienced the complete opposites that are Jack (2 minutes to pick out school shoes) and Josie (20 minutes to pick out school shoes). We got some great new books at the library and bought some local meat, bread, and veggies at the Farmers Market – both of which gave us interesting conversation over dinner. Jessi and I had a unhurried chat over coffee on the front porch one morning and both participated in some yard work (me begrudgingly). We had pool time and quiet time and family time throughout. It didn’t need a photo to sum it up and just one wouldn’t have captured all of the moments that made it great.

Make no mistake, you’ll continue to see photos of my highlights on Facebook because I’m still vain enough to think that people care about what I do and my mom likes to see pictures of her grandkids. But when you see those pics from now on, keep in mind that they’re just glimpses of life. Theres a whole lot more, good and bad, going on and that is what is really important.