When Stuff Steals Your Freedom


Ever wander the grocery store aisles in a spacey fugue state, grabbing the same things you always buy because you don’t actually know what you need?

Ever stand over the trash holding an aluminum can, knowing you’re going to toss it, but hoping the guilty pause exonerates you from being a Mother Earth trashing jerk?

Do you hate emptying the dishwasher because the utensil drawer is so full, just getting a ladle and a whisk in there, requires jamming the drawer in a way that ensures it won’t open again?

Or is it just me?

Let’s agree, right out of the gate, these are first world problems, but I did all of those things last week and realized no matter how many housekeepers I hire, they will only ever dust around this problem.

I have to deal with it.

My house, which I love, has become like a stagnant pond. Too much stuff comes in and not enough goes out. Plastic grocery bags, clothes I never wear, mismatched coffee mugs – for the love of Pete, where do those come from? All of it has so clogged my sweet little swimming hole, I don’t want to swim anymore. So I sit down on the bank and sigh.

But I serve a God of order who created the universe out of chaos. I know order takes discipline but rather than do something, like apply some elbow grease to get this joint unstuck, I mope.

Know the feeling?

I don’t know, maybe it is my recent return to drinking raw milk or all the essential oils I’ve been huffing, but lately I’m concerned about how mindless I’ve become. It’s like I’ve been run over on the path of least resistance and I’m just lying there, which is weird because I’m incredibly intentional and disciplined in other areas of my life. What happened to the organic gardening, yoga teaching, recycling, bicycling, bread baking hippie?

See now there’s a perfect example:

I love to make bread and give it away. It makes people happy, but my baking drawers are so full of old flour, spilled flaxeeds and tiny spider colonies that I haven’t wanted to deal with it, so I haven’t made bread.

How dumb is it to stop doing things that bless me and other people because my baking drawer is a hidey hole for spiders?

Organize Your Closet

On Saturday morning, after I cleaned the bathrooms, I thought, Hmmm, wouldn’t it be nice, if my clothes were hung by color again (it’s efficient – try it). While doing that, I began tossing a few old things on the floor. When I was done, I had FOUR kitchen garbage bags full of clothes, shoes, purses and years-old crap from the shelves in my closet. (Hint – it’s all at the Mineola Goodwill finding new homes and creating jobs – Sweet!)

Now, if you’ve got a bunch of ankle biters who can’t go five minutes without hitting each other and yelling “Maaahhhmmm!” I feel your pain, but I’m telling you, make it happen because superpowers lurk in garbage bags full of ill-fitting, not-your-favorite clothes, loaded in the backseat of your car.

Power I say!

And since momentum is awesome too, I washed the liners on my shower curtains. I have literally never done that. Don’t judge. I also hate the smell of Kaboom and Fabuloso and I don’t want to breathe it in my steamy shower, so I put them away, and googled a homemade non-toxic cleaner. I made it in five minutes and cleaned everything, except the mirrors with it. Want the recipe?

1 part rubbing alcohol.
1 part white vinegar
1 part water.
A drop or two of dish soap.
A few drops of essential oil. (optional, but it smells good.)
Put it in a spray bottle and shake it up.

By then, it was 4pm and I stared at my kitchen like David did Goliath.

I took everything off the counters and scrubbed them. Same thing in the fridge – ruthless! I made every item earn its way back into the fridge, and many items lost their cushy countertop real estate because who says the way I configured it three years ago was the apex of countertop design? Change is good.

Clean Fridge

Sure this project ate my whole weekend, but already I feel more like a calm, accomplished grown up and less like a drunk on a treadmill.

So what if this Saturday, you made a deal to tackle that one closet and clean it top to bottom. Just one, then have a freezie pop as a reward. See how that feels, then maybe liberate another closet, then the pantry, and so on. See what that frees up in you.

Oh and if you want a little more strategy, check out Joshua Becker’s blog Becoming Minimalist. Then let me know how it goes.


2 thoughts on “When Stuff Steals Your Freedom

  1. You have accomplished a great deal toward a more peaceful existence — bravo! I especially like how you tucked in great tips for the rest of us. I, too, recently washed my shower curtain liner because I thought a friend might need to use the shower. Crazy how we would do something for others that we don’t do for ourselves. Jo @ Let’s Face the Music

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