When I saw an episode of Hoarders at my sister's house, I was horrified and fascinated. It was like watching a car wreck: terrible and compelling. I found it impossible to stop watching, even though I felt so sorry for the people who assigned such deep emotion to their stuff, to the point that they couldn't sleep on their beds. One family had their children taken into protective services because they were unable to clear out their house! I mean, really!
I think part of what made watching Hoarders so disturbing was that it made me examine my own tendency to collect and hang on to stuff. I'm not talking about a room full of creepy porcelain dolls in their original packaging, but of the stuff that comes into my house stealthily: yard sale finds, cute dishes, toys, bags and boxes of children's clothes, crafting materials, books and magazines, video tapes, decorative items. There's the stuff I hang onto in hopes that I'll someday use them (three flat bed knitting machines?) And then there's the stuff I've carted from house to house for years in boxes out in the barn. I haven't opened those boxes in five years. I can think of a few books I'm missing, but as for the rest of it, it hasn't been needed since we moved to the homestead.
I've worked in a half-assed way over the years to sort a box here or there. Energy and time have been limited. But lately I find that my attachment to the things that used to be important to me don't seem to affect me emotionally anymore. The urge to minimize is at an all-time high right now, to the point that I'm even wondering if we need to live in such a big house. I've been drawn to blogs about tiny houses, sites that give advice on minimizing, and real estate websites.
Instead of feeling panicked at letting go, I'm finding myself pumped with adrenaline and challenged to find MORE to get rid of. Yesterday I spent the day in our sun porch, a lovely space that was packed willy-nilly with boxes of toys, bins of clothes, bags of craft supplies, and containers of papers. My mom kept the kids fed and happy while I worked. By the end of the day, I'd packed up three large garbage bags of clothes and six boxes of stuff to donate, a recycling box of paper to burn/recycle, and a garbage bag to discard. Picture the space those things took up in my house! I am getting through the toys now, and will attack our clothes tomorrow using this guide. I have found a new ruthlessness within.
Big changes are afoot at the Knitty Gritty Homestead. We're not sure where they're taking us just yet, but one thing's for sure: at the end of the journey, I'll be freeing up time and space to grow and dream, unfettered by the stuff that has tied us down for years.